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OneRouge Community Check-In: Week 190

Updated: Jan 29



Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is supposed to be a movement "to transform society into a more just place." It was a direct response to the public lynching of George Floyd. New offices led by Black people sprang up all across the country following the direction of the White House itself. 


Two years in, there were questions about whether DEI departments were performative or sustainable. Three years in, those same indispensable roles started to disappear. But why? And what happens to the people, particularly women who get caught in the crossfire?


We've been hearing about two such women recently. Dr. Claudine Gay was President of Harvard for 6-months before she was accused of plagiarism and stepped down. Dr. Bonnie Bailey was ignored and disregarded by her leadership to the point she unalived herself. The decline of DEI is little different from the demise of affirmative action: these people deserve no support or compassion because they were just getting handouts anyway.


On this Friday's call, learn with us and hear from our featured speakers who will talk about how DEI is about to DIE.


 

Notes

Casey Phillips:  And if we can just start on fashion for a second just for a second, Dr. Bell we're continuing not to be realigned, but the good news is today I have a great friend in this Kina. We have coordinated we are together, but I did still want to welcome you to the space, Dr. Bell, even with that blue shirt, sir.  Even with the blue shirt,  


Dr Flitcher Bell: I have on the blue with the little brown color.  Thing that you have on the brown color with the blue. 


Pepper Roussel: It does feel slightly attenuated, Dr. Besto. 


Dr. Bell: Can we all just get along? 


Pepper: No. Is that a smart thing? No.  But good morning. Good morning. Thank you all for being here. You know how much I appreciate you spending part of your Friday mornings with me. The conversation today is going to be led by three amazing black women, and I cannot wait to hear what we all have to say. All right. What would they have to say? I know what I say. Today, we are talking about how DEI is about the D. I. E. And that title came from our very own Kina Reid. And so with that said I'm going to step back, Kina, and let you introduce yourself. Let us know  who you are, what you do, and how you're connected. Your five minutes starts now.  


Kina Reed: Lord have mercy. Help me with the brevity. All right. I'm very southern in the fact that I go up and down the Mississippi River. So I'm going to try to be as concise. Good morning. I'm glad to have people on the call. I appreciate y'all showing up  in terms of this conversation. D. E. I is about to die. I didn't know that Pepper was going to take me seriously on that topic title until I saw it in the email and I drawing that conclusion, not just as someone who literally runs a organizational firm built around helping organizations commit to diversity, equity and inclusion. From a justice approach, right? Justice focused approach. I drew that from also being someone who is paying attention to the proverbial tea leaves out there. So when I think about the commitments that people have made to work with me as a consultant, with my agency, all that stuff, and being able to mark the metrics, so to speak of engagement being able to decipher Oh, for example, this time last year. How many Black History Month engagements I had, contracts I had in comparison to like, in 2020 2022 in comparison to right today, right? I can't help but to see the decline, right? So there's that very personal, professional component of, oh, I can see the difference in the amount of discovery calls I get. I can literally see the decline, but also because just to poke fun a little bit at Fox News a few weeks ago, and I'm sure if you haven't heard by now Alaska Airlines had somewhat of a airplane disruption one of the bolts on the side of the door of the emergency landing fell apart, a lot of Basically, the airplane was falling apart in the sky. Thankfully, no one was hurt, everyone survived, the plane landed, all that stuff. But some news pundits, I'm gonna tell you what channels are, news organizations, made commentary from a national global news organization to assert that maybe if Alaska Airlines had put more time  An effort into the construction and quality control of their planes and less effort on their D.E.I. strategies, maybe that plane would be efficient. Alright? Now, that clip was only extended and people like Elon Musk, the owner of X, and other Giants of industry also added to that premise, which is maybe people should stop trying to really instigate DEI efforts because really all DEI was doing was causing people to die. All right, so that was literally a premise that was put out in the atmosphere a couple weeks ago, and the irony is not lost on me as a black woman in this society who has both done DEI. Formally now, but also informally in the 20 year higher education. And this conversation feels personal in so many of the ways, because not only do I have the experience of being a DEI consultant now, I spent a very huge component of my professional life in higher education. I'm going to leave my time. I don't know how much time I have left, but I'm going to leave with this. Gaslighting happens even in places where your lived experience should be valued. And for Black women in particular, the expectancy of us to place others first, especially in service of social good and enterprise, is everyone's default, especially in the West, especially in the continental U.S. And then I'm going to say this with my big chest, and don't get mad at Pepper or anybody at OneRouge, fire me if you have concerns. I resign from LSU in 2020, the same school that had decided to officially close down their DEI office the same school that has a Black man as a president the same school that had the audacity, or maybe we should say the caucasity, to put hashtag Black Lives Matter on their website in 2020 when they still wouldn't provide PPE for its mostly Black football team that same summer. And so  it is very easy for people to use the rhetoric of justice, use the rhetoric of service, and not embody any of those principles at all. And because Black women often sit at the forefront of social change, social demand, and righteous indignation, it's easy for people to take our concerns less seriously, even when they're used to seeing us show up for ourselves and other people all the time. I'm cold. I'm done.


Pepper: Because you know what? You had a minute and 20 seconds left. And then you gave honor to God and I'm just waiting for the honor board to show up because you know what, it's too much today, but it seems like we are going to church early on this Friday. God bless. All right. We will stay in the theme in the same vein of working with DEI and what does it look like for black women who are in these spaces? We are going to kick it over to Tyra Banks, not the model. But giving model vibes, honey. 


Tyra Banks: Thank you. 


Pepper: You're welcome.  So here we are, Mrs. Banks. Five minutes starts now. Who are you? What do you do? And how are you?  


Tyra: I work for the Louisiana minority business development agency business center. We're a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. So we have these business centers all across the country and Southern University houses hours. And I will say I started off with that to say. I know firsthand that even in minority serving organizations, black women leaders still are not getting a fair amount of support. They're not getting a fair shake. There's not always transparency around the fact that it is often minority groups that are shaping so many things. And so we see on the outside how let's say a certain technology gets burnt, but we don't see the many. Colorful faces that are actually driving that technology that are doing that research. And so I started off by saying, I serve in a minority serving organization to say, even that is not enough to move the ball forward and to support the many people of color in our community. I come from a business background. I have my masters from LSU college of business have been in business for myself for 11 years, and I can tell you there's a difference in just the resources. That women of color bring to the table in terms of our network our name recognition in the community. I'm not a client. Peter. I'm not a cash. Yo, right? I don't have those certain last names  and then in terms of the types of support that we can garner. Once we are in positions of power or even just positions of authority, right? So being able to call a thing out without somebody saying I'm an angry black woman or being able to identify microaggression and use it as a teachable moment. And not as a Tyra might go to HR type of moment. Those things feel like they don't exist for us. And so I talked to so many women of color that come home. We kiss our kids. We smile at our spouses, but we're hurting inside because somebody doesn't see either our value or our humanity or people  dumb us down and say, we're a diversity hire, right? Y'all, we've heard that recently, right? When it comes to Ms. Claudine Gay. And so it's time out and it's also time and I'm a follow along. With Kina, I'm not going to be politically correct on this y'all because we've got to rebuild our community. And that means we may need to say some really tough things. I want my white sisters and my white brothers to lend their voices because yes, there are a lot of organizations that are using the DEI rhetoric, but they're not internally. Put their staff, their teams, their leaders. They're like it is enough to have a diversity statement, but it's not enough to integrate certain things inside your culture, like hanging pictures of diverse professionals awarding people, not as a D.E. I. Award, but awarding people of color because of the contribution they bought to the table. Those are the kinds of little things that are going to help rebuild us as a community as a nation. It's time out for you. My white sister being able to say I'm with your girl after the meeting. No, don't say after the meeting, baby, I need you to go and risk it. Like I'm risking it and say it during the meeting.And that's when it's going to shift. I believe we won't even have to call it DEI anymore. We could just be loving each other. 


Pepper: We'll speak while we are talking about. Indeed, say a tire. I felt an amen in my spirit that I was trying to hold on to a little bit there. But working in spaces and organizing and mobilizing people is something that Omari does. And so Omari, we are going to open it up for you. Please let us know who you are, what you do and how you connect. 


Omari Ho-Sang: Good morning everybody. Good morning. I am Omari Ho-Sang  and I am a community organizer across the state of Louisiana, formerly the Senior State Organizing Manager for Black Voters Matter, now focusing my efforts on All Streets, All People ASAP, which is an organization that works to engage everyday people. In long term systems change with a sense of urgency and I think today's topic is very much in line with systems changing that we need to focus on with a sense of urgency and need to really create some broadness. But no 1 particular topic that I was asked to lean in on is massage and are, which this is actually. My first time ever speaking about this publicly even using the word publicly. And so I learned a lot when really preparing for this work. But a point that was made earlier about how the money is looking funny. Since 2020, I saw a quote on Instagram the other day, or three, it's one of them. 

And someone said Black Lives Matter for about one fiscal year. 2020. So I just had to lift that up. And it was a black woman who said that Aja Monet who does a lot of powerful work across the country, but I wanted to also lift up three people. Anybody who knows me knows that as a community organizer, my spirit guide is Ella Baker. She was the mother of the civil rights movement. And she dealt a lot of people don't know. A lot of people know the civil rights movement was very male centric in terms of the leaders that we saw.  But we also know that there were many, plenty, artful, brilliant black women behind the scenes doing the actual organizing, the relational development, the relationships and community helping people to identify their own power.nAnd something I thought was beautiful about Ella Baker, despite the fact that she was having to push back against  misogynoir, which was not a actual term in that day. Is that she believed and she's often quoted saying strong people don't need strong leaders and many times we get caught up in these top down bureaucratic male centered leadership structures, sometimes even in black led spaces. And that it is okay. And it is not  hurting our people to push back against that. And many times people have been persecuted for pushing back against those types of structures. So I want to lift her name up. I don't have long. I also had to lift up Sojourner Truth, who I was today years old when I found out that ain't I a woman was not her actual words. That speech was not her actual words. It was very much changed around and given a Southern accent. And she was from New York and spoke Dutch growing up. So I thought that was important of how Even as black women, we are grouped into these monolithic groups, and we are so diverse and powerful in our diversity. And then I also have to lift up the legacy of Sarah Bartman. Many people have heard of Sarah Baartman, but it speaks to how black women are sexualized. And it also speaks to, just as Dr. Bailey's story, it speaks to how misogynoir can be a deathly or have deathly consequences. So I encourage you all, if you haven't heard of any of those women or some of them, one of them, and would like to check out the others, I'm gonna drop some links in the chat if I can just so y'all could dive deeper because they were, they, their stories tell a story. And I'll close with this, there is an 11 year old black girl that has been sitting. In prison or in jail since before Christmas in New Iberia perish.  So when we think about the consequences and the impact and most importantly, the role we want to play in this. In pushing back against the system. I want us all to recognize there are people who are suffering now that need us.So I encourage everyone to check out that story and I'll put in a link in the chat on that. Thank you so much for having me. This was my first time, hopefully not my last. 


Pepper: Wait, hold up. What are you trying to go? 


Omari: I'm not going nowhere. I'm just putting on mute. 


Pepper: Yes, please pay attention for killing her abuser. And y'all don't seem to understand that is a thing that. That black women in particular do not have the privilege to do and not, I'm gonna bring this down just a second, we're gonna bring it back up and and allow space for righteous indignation, but anybody who ain't black and is a woman who kills her abuser whether intentionally or otherwise  We go to prison. Makes me wonder why.  Anybody who ain't black and is a woman who Says and calls out that they are being abused, that they are being harmed, that they are being beaten, are ignored. Makes me wonder why. Some say it's because our skin is dark and you can't see the bruises. But you can see a black eye. You can see a busted lip,  and you can hear my words. If I'm telling you, it's not for kicks and giggles. I'm not telling you that I'm being beaten or abused or harmed because it gives me some sort of amusement.  But it makes me wonder about people like Dr. Bailey  who said for I don't even remember how long that she was not getting the support that she needed. She was asking for help. She was reaching out for support.  Can one of you give that story so that I can stop talking of who she was just in broad strokes? Anybody who wants to do a little deeper dive can if you haven't heard about her.  But also what happened to her?  And what does that look like? Not having support in everyday life. Omari mentioned in, dire consequences. So I want to expand upon that. 


Kina: Okay, I guess I can fill in the gap here. I've not publicly talked about this, and so I'm a little  at a loss for words about how to communicate out what I'm still trying to process in.  But because I don't want there to be gaps, I'll try to speak to those. So Dr. Bailey  was a black woman who worked at Lincoln University, which is a public historical black, a land grant university in Missouri. So she was at HBCU. She had spent  most of her decades long career. And higher education. And I think it's interesting that she wrote a dissertation and I wrote down the title of it. And her dissertation was entitled my sister myself, the identification of social cultural factors that affect the advancement of African American women into senior level administrative positions. And so in this dissertation, what she does is a. What it seems like, I have not read the dissertation is that she details the experiences of women who are in higher education particularly at HBCUs as that, and I think that's interesting and that should be earmarked and highlighted for a reason. And she spoke to more than a dozen black women in leadership positions. And I think the She capped it at people in North Carolina. I'm not really sure but she talked about how they've been overlooked for promotions, advancement stereotypes discriminated against and so  it is not without,  again, full on righteous indignation that she is  in her dissertation talking about what she's experiencing directly. And that she gets at the end of life, that it's those very, the very same conditions that she spoke of in the dissertation that propelled her to make the choice that she did. She talked about how black women in academia face disproportionate roadblocks and discrimination  with very little protection. From institutions. And I think I'll quote her a lot from her dissertation. She talks about black women, particularly being treated like the help outsiders, keeping them away from the table,  having a voice and discounting their experiences, skills and value to higher education because of their race, age and gender. All right, so she was an intersectional she did intersectional feminist work and so I think that gives some background to who she was and the legacy she's left behind. Again, I do want to really highlight that part of, she writes, she gets fired on January 3rd. She commits suicide on January 8th. She sends an email to the president. And I do think it's important to name this the white president of the university that is a historical black college that she works at  whose name doesn't need to be named cause he doesn't matter. But of the day she gets an email and in that email, she is accused of everything except for being a child of God. But she makes a boundary with him. And her final email to this, the president that says, you're not to have any contact, you've caused enough harm and mental damage. And so what I'm going to try to remember about this is because there are lots of different legacies she left behind. There are lots of big feelings and we haven't There's a lot of conversation to be had, but what I'm going to choose to lean into is that this is one of the last things she did, is she made a boundary for herself. And that is such an important strategy, that Black women, all people should actually utilize boundaries, right? But often times than not, we are not conditioned to create boundaries for ourselves. Because  throughout the West, but in particular the United States, and because of the legacy of chattel enslavement, Everyone  has been conditioned to look at black women to provide support and care, right? Even to our detriment, everyone. And then also I've just would challenge people to really also think about the fact that for a black people who are the descendants of enslaved people, cause not all black people are descendants. So that's important to recognize. As we are, I think one of the people on the panel said, we're very diverse. As a group. But for those of us who are the descendants of enslaved people we were bought to this country to serve white folks and whiteness. That's literally why we exist in the United States. That's why we're bought. And I would argue that all of, people of the global majority who've come to this country were initially initiate, initially invited to be here, although we weren't. It's service of white folks and that legacy because it's not often acknowledged and you can't treat a wound unless you reveal the wound. And so I'm set up. I can't speak for any other black woman in this space. I can only speak for me. I'm pre conditioned to serve everybody around me because that's a part of my epigenetics. That's part of my, how my community has been set up, right? And so that's what I'm going to maintain is that at the end of her life, she made a boundary. And so every day of mine, I'm going to make sure that I'm making boundaries because I know that No one's going to offer those to me. I have to demand those for myself. 


Pepper: You got me over here tearing up, girl. This is ridiculous. I opened the space, Tyra, Omari, do y'all have, Omari, excuse me, do y'all have anything else that you want to add to that, through your experience, your lens? 


Omari: The only thing I'd add is that, and it was probably mentioned before, that I, has been, Because I'm not a sociologist or an anthropologist or an expert, I'm just a black woman who has lived my experience and I've recognized in my experience a lot that these systems are so internalized. And so many times the offenders don't look like an offender, like they would be an offender. And as we pointed out, and as we  set those boundaries. Maybe recognizing within ourselves how we may have internalized some of these pieces because boy, oh boy, when I write my book, it's going to be very interesting and it's. It's almost been some, one of the saddest kind of touch points of my career that I've had to battle the pervasiveness of how white supremacy and misogyny and misogynoir is internalized. So I just wanted to lift that up cause I forgot to mention that earlier, but Is it Joaquina? Am I saying your name right? 


Kina: Yeah, you're fine. But Kina works. 


Omari: Kina. When Kina was talking earlier, it just brought all that back out. So I wanted to lift that up.  


Pepper: So I want, Omari, before you go too far, I really do want to give a moment to Misogynoir.  Help us understand what that even is. It sounds like a made up word. 


Omari: It is because it is.  But misogyny though, misogyny is of course a particular disdain against women. So misogynoir with the noir added, which means black and French is a particular disdain or hatred for black women. Yeah, it's a fancy word. It was coined. I think it was around 2008 or 2009 by Moya Bailey. Who has studied it. I think she I'm not exactly sure what she studied, but she's a professor. She works in higher education, and she has written much about, the discrimination that black women have faced queer black women have face and the importance of creating our own spaces. Again, when we talk about drawing boundaries, it's okay to create our own spaces because. When we go back to the internalized piece, sometimes we have to unpack our own internalized ways that we function and the way that we've incorporated this and the way we deal with one another. Because if we can't deal with one another as black women,  then it is hard to be outward. And I think Kina mentioned this earlier too, black women dominate the social justice space. As leaders. And so when we are suppressed, when we are oppressed, when we internalize these things, it impacts the world. It impacts the community because of the position that we hold when it comes to pushing back against these systems. This work is so important and it's so immediate and I'm looking forward to just learning more because just preparing to talk about it today. I learned a lot. 


Pepper: Oh, go ahead.  


Kina: Because I hear the question so loud, even though no one's asked it, right? And I think the question that I'm hearing is so loud for the people who may not identify as Black women or Black folks or people in the diaspora, right? The question that I'm hearing that is so loud is,  why does this matter to me, right? What has this got to do with me? I'm a good person, even if I'm not Black, and my friends are Black, and the women that I work with are Black, and the people that I do community work with are Black, and the populations I serve are Black, right? I'm a good, insert non Black person, right? Because I also don't want to set up the dichotomy that These are just black and white issues, right? So I want to name that, right? If the question is I'm not the, I'm not Dr. Mosley. I listen to black women,  my radio is on hip hop. I'm being facetious here, okay? No one's radio is on these days. Okay, never mind. So this is, I'm going to answer the question. So I've shared about this in this space and a lot of the work that I do with clients is around this concept of curb cut effect, right? I'd love to teach people about this. Okay. I love it. It's one of my favorite things. All right. So when city planners decided a while ago that they were going to respond to the issue, the mobility when it comes to infrastructure, right? Someone's we need to make streets more accessible. We need to make curves more accessible. So we're going to try to build in ramps. And ironically, there were a lot of people who were pissy about that. They're like, listen, why do we have to change the way we design curbs? Because some people might have mobility issues. All right. That's a whole different conversation. Sometimes in life, you got to shake off the haters, but either way it goes, there was a determination that was made that we're going to put curb cuts in the street to help those. Who have mobility concerns. All right, people with rear chairs, so forth and so on. And guess what? They found out that not only by providing that infrastructure change that help those people who have mobility concerns, but all different types of people who weren't even that group were able to benefit from the curb cuts, right? These are parents with strollers, Teenagers with roller skates and skateboards, it turns the temporarily disabled, so it turns out curb cuts, even though they were designed with one unprotected group in mind actually ended up supporting so many other groups. So the idea is that when you create infrastructure changes or policy changes to protect one particular population, guess what? Those benefits can actually help people who are outside that group. And so what I always want to impress upon my clients and organizations and people who do good work like this group right here OneRouge, is that sometimes you make a decision for one group and one group only. The least protected, the least supported, the least resourced. And that, what comes up from that It's amazing. So when I'm saying, because I don't want to speak for any other black woman in this space or any other black person in particular is that in Louisiana, and I don't have to give you all the stats because this is where this is who y'all are. The data points already about who is experiencing the most. Intimate partner violence, the most environmental racism, the most racism. Y'all have the data. So when groups, for example we know the black maternity stats. In our state, right? And so what would it look like if organizations were very strategic about putting supports in place and resources in place for black people who were birthing, right? And yeah, people are going to be big mad, let them stay mad. That's my energy all the time. But here's the thing, that's going to be all types of people when we center the least protected. And so for the people who are like why does this matter? Cause black women are on the call saying, Hey, here are things that could protect us and protecting us is more about is not just about protecting us. It's about protecting society. It's about creating infrastructure and policies where other people benefit when the least protected are think about it as reversed top down. It's interesting that Joe Biden right now. It's going across the country saying he's got Biden economics, which is the reverse of a trickle down economics. But I would beg to differ and say black women economics is the reverse of trickle down economics. Because if we live in a world where black women are cared for their children are protected, right? Then that can't help, but to create the kind of positive shifts that everyone in our society will benefit from. 


Tyra: Amen. I want to piggyback on that by saying. At every level of influence that you have, whether you serve on the board at your church, maybe you're a leader in your Boy Scouts troop for your kids, or even at your place of work, you have to, and I'm saying you for us, right? We have to use whatever influence we have to try to change policy or even push perspective development, right? Sometimes it's not even the season to get a policy pass because we got to first teach people to see it from a different lens. Black women have not always been able to have needs to even state that I need something. We've oftentimes had to figure it out because there were not already special programs developed, or those programs went away in the case of LSU, or maybe you arrive at the office in the case of UNO, the woman's program is understaffed. And so there's a woman's support center. But there's nobody there, right? There's no intentional focus from leadership on down to say, let's make sure that this is always staffed and ready to go so we can address women's issues. And so wherever you are in a place of influence, push that create safe spaces. I love what Turner did. I believe ExxonMobil has one too, where they have. Culture groups, and I'm not even sure what their formal term is for it. But if you identify as a woman, there's a group for you. If you identify as a person of color, there's a group for you. And oftentimes, people will look at stuff like that and say, that's pandering. But let me tell you what it creates. A safe space Where we can collect power, because if I'm one person going to the president and saying, Hey, this thing is an issue over here, then I'm one voice. But if the entire group of us  can go to the president's office and say, Hey, we've documented 300 accounts of this particular thing happening now, that voice. Create a ripple effect, right? Because it's not just one lonely person. Another thing some companies are doing this where HR develops a panel that receives your complaints or grievances. So now it's not just, me going to my one white boss. And saying, Hey, this is an issue, but it's me being able to express that to a panel. So there are people who are able to see if you retaliate against me. If I'm, magically after being here years, you finally find that I plagiarize something or you want to drag my name out in the public, right? You want to pick this fight with me, but then now there's a, it's less likely to happen because you can't just target me. There's a whole group of us. There are other people on this panel, for example, that are watching this. I also want to say something about women of color having needs. Oftentimes, when we look at the education dynamics. We are the most educated in our families. Oftentimes we're the first generation business owner, first generation to graduate college. And so that also means you have to look at what is the dynamic in that family after that. Now I'm the earner. I'm the one with the leadership job, with the flexibility. So who is my family going to lean on? And right back to that programming, right? So if I've been programmed to take care of everybody around me, And I've been programmed, especially in communities of color. We have just this extended family approach a lot of times, right? And so it's my sister's kids are just like my kids, my cousin who lives in Texas, if she calls in the middle of the night, because I'm family, I'm gonna drive out there. And so because we have that dynamic inside of our families, and many of our families are not high income earners. Instances like I'm the only one in my family with a car, or both of my mom and mother in law are both sick dealing with chronic illnesses, as we see prevalent in our community. And so I don't have childcare, just a plethora of childcare. I don't have a mom who was able to retire and be full time grandma. And so when we think about black women in leadership or even rising up in the organization, we have to look at these other things that we're fighting. And so things like scholarship opportunities for professional development. Company sponsored or church sponsored or nonprofit sponsored professional development and education  giving people time off to do internships and fellowships and having flexibility around our schedules because something as simple as. I'm the only 1 that lives in the same city as my little cousin. If she has a car accident at Southern University, I'm driving there.  And we, my, the quality of my work will not diminish just because I have flexibility. And so I think that we need to create spaces for black women to say what we need. We need to create internal systems, whether that's in our churches, nonprofits, or jobs where marginalized groups don't have to go it alone, where we can collect our power and speak with one voice while also still having our individual voices because we recognize that everybody's life. Situation needs are going to be different. 


Pepper: Come on with a word on this fine woman who's riding. So I want to get to the chat. And for those of you who are have burning questions, please drop them into the chat. This is a comment from my very own Morgan, and I expected nothing less. Since we laying it out, I will say this as well. If you benefit from colorism, right? So back to what Kina said, whiteness.  It is not about white people. It is about whiteness.  You can be white adjacent, you can be allured by the not as black as the others isms.  If you benefit from colorism, you need to lean in as well on the unencumbered support of our monoracial, dark skinned, black siblings. Don't be that acceptable shade. That gets weaponized against the culture. Amen, Ashe. Amen. As we are talking about what it, and shifting to Tyra opened the door to what does it look like to be supported in workplace? for black women. What does it look like for us to have right? So my work product will not diminish if I have the same flexibility that has supported my colleagues. The fact that I seem to need to be monitored more often than others is offensive on absolutely every level. But how do we get to a place where we all have what we need? Not just that I identify it, right? Because I've been identifying stuff for years now. Ain't nobody listening. What needs to happen for us all to be in a place where we are actually getting the support that we need? 


Kina: Tyra said some well, all of y'all are amazing, but again, I want to, I always want to try to back up some of the things we're saying we have lived experience. That should be enough. But sometimes for some people, they don't take our word for it. And that's a whole different conversation. Tyra, you talk about. Being the only person who has access to certain resources because of that economic disadvantage, right? When you are that person who is everybody's person, right? Literally, you're time poor, right? Time poverty is another issue I talk about in my workshops and with clients, right? Time poverty refers to the lack of disposable time. that someone has. Now, traditionally, people who are assigned women at birth or who identify as women typically are more time poor than their male counterparts. But when you start breaking that down by racial or ethnic lines, again, no surprise here in the United States, Black women are the most time poor people in our society. All right. And I thinkOneRouge kind of highlights that because Black women are usually the drivers of social change. And so again, I want to limit. I'm not saying that we're the only time poor people, but we are the most time poor, right? So I'm going to put this article in there. And so when we talk about creating some flexibility, it doesn't sound like we're just creating flexibility because we want to be nice to the black woman in our office. It's because we are literally the world. I have the least amount of disposable time to do things like get a massage, to go to a therapy session, because what's the point of offering mental health support at work if I don't have the time to access it, right? And then let's talk about the fact that, okay, I've made a decision because first of all, I had to have a whole conversation with mama and them about how I actually need therapy, not just Jesus. So now I finally came up to the point where I'm like ready to do it But now I have to find a therapist and guess what? There are not a lot of people who look like me who are therapists and there's no way in hell That I'm gonna talk to Casey Phillips I'm using you Casey Philip as an example as a therapist because you don't have my lived experience So I'm gonna find someone who looks like me, but that's hard so again, even time poverty what are the, again, infrastructures, policies, what are the processes that respond to those things? I think part of the struggle we have, and again, in social enterprise spaces, is that we're thinking that people can out good. Systemic oppression  and that's not great enough. It's not great enough that we have great relationships with Casey Phillips or other people who are not black women, right? We can't out good or out kind systemic oppression. All right, we just can't. It has to be baked into policies, processes, and infrastructures. All right, at the end of the day, and I only use Casey as an example because I think Casey could go with the flow here, but I actually don't care about how nice or kind the next non Black person is towards me. Because if you're not nice or kind to me, that doesn't impact my material reality. What impacts my material reality is the systems, the processes, the practices, and the infrastructures that change that stuff for me. So I think a lot of times, especially in non profit spaces, people are like we're delivering and we're good people, but we need infrastructure policies and processes that reflect those real life material conditions. 

Pepper: Ooh, child. ATB, what you got to say, baby?


Alfreda Tillman Bester:  Ooh, so much, Pep. So much. First of all, Tyra, Kina, Omari. You guys give me hope. I keep telling y'all every week I need to see my young women coming up to replace me because I am I'd okay. I Just want to say a couple of things I think most of my father passed away when I was six years old and my mom raised four little black kids People by herself, one of the most brilliant human beings I've ever known. And one of the most profound things that she ever said to me was  you never let anyone else define you, you let them know who you are. And I have tried throughout my public life. To make sure that I share that with other people, black women in particular, because they're more the people who are in my sphere, but not just black women, white women, LGBTQ people you don't let anybody. Define you, you tell them who you are. And the other thing is to not internalize other people's crap. They projected on you because they are so insecure and who they are to have. A whole party co op the laws of our nation to try and make us subservient to tell us that we are inferior by co opting our government. Come on, y'all wake up and smell the coffee. We got to put our boxing gloves on and let's get out here and fight for our children who are coming behind us. So I am just thrilled that you that the three young women who presented here today have embraced their responsibility to the whole of society, but also I want to share one other thing with you that a friend shared with me a few years ago. And now, boy, it was really profound. I have it on my cell phone. She sent it to me as a text. It says “Givers need to set limits because takers rarely do” stop letting other people take your space, your time, your space inside of your head. They ain't paying no rent. Okay, I'm done. 


Tyra: And let me tell you, they will continue to do it. I think, a lot of times I've been in a nonprofit space for all my life, and a lot of times we think the tide is going to turn and people's minds are going to change. These people are teaching their kids. They're raising the next generation. They're developing internal systems to perpetuate racism and sexism. So these folks,


Alfreda:  What we have to do, Tyra, is the exact opposite. I sent the young man out of my house. A few years ago with a master's degree that I paid for and he took Pennsylvania but the one thing that he knew he knows is who he is, because we taught him at home, who was he was first, not who he was, but who was he was first, and then the who he is what we taught him to be, and that's a kind, considerate, and A human being who cares about the whole of humanity because that's what he saw modeled at home. Don't let other people take your space. Don't let other people take your children. Tell your children who they are and tell them to, you can't ignore the crazy, but you don't internalize the crazy and then you fight back against the crazy. 


Tyra: Amen. I think a part of our fighting back is understanding that there are folks out there that will dehumanize us. And so we have to create spaces where we are humanized and we have to continue to fund. I think that's another thing, even though I don't make a bunch of money, I try to donate to things. I think that's another thing that we can do  collectively in our own little ways. Find ways to fund movements that reshape like auntie B say reshape the mindset because.


We can't rely on the other folks to do it right. We used to think even I look at the banking community. We used to think that with the fines that are levied upon them for discrimination in lending that they would stop doing it. And guess what? They gladly pay half a million dollars. They're not going to change their internal policies. And so it's going to be up to us to be very active in doing that. And I think it comes from a couple of things. Number one, taking time to lift our voice. So if there's a lunch break that you can take to go speak at the public service commission meeting or to go speak at the legislature, take that lunch break. Try to do that. Lift your voice. Number two, voting and encouraging the rest of the people in our family to learn about the folks that we're voting for, and then hold them accountable to making sure that these types of changes are made, that these shifts are happening. And then lastly, I would say that we can't just push for these shifts to happen in education, because we recognize that there are the folks who are going to come back to Auntie B's point. They spent 50 years. I think Black history has been around for 48 years. They spent almost 50 years telling us, African Americans, you were enslaved, you came over. They were okay saying that, but the minute we started saying, let's teach more than that, people said, oh no, we can't do that because then white kids are going to feel sad and feel sorry about themselves. Nobody cared when African American students couldn't see themselves as astronauts and doctors. And so we got to recognize that's the world we live in. We can't play with that. We have to be so intentional and so focused because as you notice, they will like Auntie B said, they'll go hijack the laws of our country to make sure that we stay in our place. And so it's going to be upon us, I believe as a collective to continue to push back against that in systematic ways, not just in those silent summer camp kumbaya type of ways, but in the You'll never get elected again in this city if you don't move X, Y, Z in those types of ways.


Pepper: Let me just say, ATB, first and foremost, thank you, Tyra. I love that. From now on, you are Auntie B. Secondly, but not nearly less important, I cannot tell you what joy it gave me for you to literally adjust your wig, child. 


Alfreda: But Tyra, what the other one thing I'm going to try to say this is the last thing, but it probably won't be, but the one thing that we learned first week of law school is you don't let anybody else define, define the narrative. Don't let anybody else take your narrative. So when you hear people talking nonsense about white children being made to feel bad because we acknowledge the who and the history of who we are, that's just nonsense. That's somebody that sat in a room with the, with some crazy people that came up with something and said, let's just go say this. The more we say it, the more somebody's going to start to believe that. Don't Y'all stop internalizing other people's nonsense. It's just crazy when you heard it the first time and it was crazy when you heard it the 100th time it was still crazy. Don't internalize that nonsense. 


Kina: I don't have, I don't know if there are parts of the chat that you're going to call out. But I just want to add on. Okay.  


Tyra: And to those who are married to the patriarchy and operate a secret whiteness.  Woo. I need to have a whole podcast episode on that. Please.


Tia Fields: And this came from a conversation with pepper and keenness. Yes. 


Omari: And I think that I just want to add, there's so many points I want to add, but. I'm learning so much from y'all, but that is why. A lot of those folks operating in secret because on the surface level, they appear to be successful. And then, in addition, sometimes we get caught up in our own echo chambers and we never go beyond the choir. We have to, we all on this call, I'm learning new things, but I agree with everything that I'm hearing, but when it goes in terms of infrastructure and systems change, we have to go far beyond the choir and we have to have real conversations by people who are impacted by these systems because many times the blindness that we have, like for me, I'll speak for myself, the blindness that I may have in the work to say, oh x, Y, and Z is doing great work because they had a great event but all in all within their organization, this is hypothetical. They may be abusing all of their employees, right? Or we know that something great and powerful has happened, but the people in our community that are suffering the most don't ever feel it. And so when we go in the community and we ask for people to go vote, or we ask for people to show up to a city council meeting or any other decision making body, and they push back on us and say, why, what's the point? Because nothing has changed. It is because I think a part of that is a lack of infrastructure around civic engagement. education, political education, and most importantly, popular education, speaking to people in our community in a way that they understand and in a way that is actionable. And I think a lot of us count ourselves out of the change, right? I don't have time for that. I got work. I don't have time for that. The time poverty that we were just discussing. And so like how we got to go beyond the choir, but how that looks, what that infrastructure looks like. I'm so interested in like really developing thought partnerships, because if we don't go beyond the choir, if we don't reach the people that need it I think we can continue trending to where we're trending. But this conversation has been so powerful.  


Tyra: Omar, that is a powerful comment. I think absolutely when we. Put together our thought groups and we develop new strategies to push for I think keeping things like open meetings and virtual attendance options with comments being shared with city council or legislature or whoever, because that opens it up for people who have disabilities or limited access to transportation and also those of us that are time poor. It's of course, I want to be at the city council meeting. And I also need to tutor my son in math. And I'm also the one that's going to the Boy Scouts meetings because his dad is a truck driver, right? So we also have to be very realistic about opening up the door for people to have that level of input in civic life.


Omari: Yes.  Amen. 


Pepper: Amen. Ashay, I'm going to ask this one last question cause there, I, there's just so much in the chat. I can't even get to child. But. Since we are in the vein of fixing problems, which I enjoy doing much more than just talking about them, although we do need to identify it, right? You got to acknowledge a thing is a problem before you can where you can focus on it and fix it. This one came a while back. How can we ensure that efforts? are authentic and will lead to meaningful change as a systemic issue, right? We are talking about what does it mean for us to actually have support. We've also talked about adjacency to whiteness. This question talks about tokenism and performative allyship how it's detrimental to say that you're doing a thing and to, if you're going to talk, if you're going to say about it, be about it, right? But not everybody is like that. Not everybody does that. So how can we make moves to ensure, besides like the standard, I'm going to leave this space open to Reverend Anderson and Auntie B to talk about how we need to go vote. But how do we ensure that this is a, that we are making authentic, meaningful change? 


Alfreda: Okay, so I said that I did tell y'all that I was trying not to, okay, so anyway,  y'all, listen to me. Y'all listen real good, because all y'all on here are probably younger than me.  Don't worry about whether it's authentic.  Use it at the time that it is there and take advantage of the opportunity because everything is for a season, y'all everything. So while you're there. What you're experiencing, whether it is intended to be real or not, you take advantage of it. That's, you can't worry about other people's alter. I'm sorry, I'm going to go back to Sunday school. Y'all know, y'all knew it was coming,  but the word of God says that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose. If you are in your purpose, you don't have to worry. Look, you can't see the stuff that's inside Pepper's head. Some of it is a little foggy, but you can see what she's doing and you can see how you can benefit from it and how your community can benefit from it. Bloom where you're planted and then be prepared that when that, when the season is over. You are ready to move on to the next thing. Don't try to stay there forever. You just bloom where you're planted. Don't forget about all that stuff. Just use it while you're there. 


Pepper: Yes. Listen, we are at nine 30. I only asked y'all for an hour, but I'm going to go ahead, miss Kina. 


Kina: I was just going to say, try to normalize. We live in a society of norms, and I think we forget how significant social how we have awareness around things, how that normalizes things. For example, the only reason why the dollar bill has power is because we all agreed we have social contracts, right? The dollar bill is just money that's green. You can say it's not even backed by gold, right? It's because we all say out loud the dollar means something. So let's make sure that we're normalizing. Let's make sure that we're normalizing that Kina Reed can come work at the walls project and have what I call a posture of demand, right? So let's start normalizing these things and make it something that It just is, right? I love so much of what I've learned from amazing, dynamic women in our own city like Maxine Crump that talks about how people didn't stop smoking in hospitals because people were like, you know what, this is just bad, right? They stopped smoking in hospitals because the social contract created by policy says Hey, this is now against the law, right? So this goes back to I can spend less energy trying to make interpersonal exchanges work for me, but put a lot of energy in normalizing the things that will make the world more inclusive to all people, right? It's not good enough that the D shows up at your workplace, which is diversity, right? You need the E equity. You need the I inclusion. And then you need the J. Okay. Which is always have a justice approach, meaning how is this impact in the community we're part of, right? So normalize, make it normal that you know what, hey,  Black, Indigenous people, the global majority lead meetings in these spaces. We make it normalized that lived experience matters, that we're not gonna let people who talk about something be outside of that lived experience. Normalize those things and every level of the professional and personal life you have, right? So that  The more it just gets done, the more people see it, the more we expect it. 


Pepper: And on that note. I'm going to just leave that there as I mentioned to y'all and was, we were warming up. I offer Casey a space to say something. 


Casey:  Yeah, that was just nervous laughter. I want to say thank you to Kina, to Omari and to Tyra to Alfreda Everybody who shared in the chat, which I wasn't able to read as much because I was listening. Thank you all for the learning moment. And actually, let me say it differently. I love Fridays because it makes it shows me that I need to be a better person.  And the organization that I am entrusted to lead also not only needs to do a better job, but needs to be more vocal to make sure more people more systems, more organizations are as well. So that's it. Just learning moments today. Thank you all very much. And community announcements, but for thanks for the speakers. And thank you. Pepper and Tia.  


Pepper: Yes, please. Thank you to the speakers. Ladies. I could not have asked for a better way to start my Friday and you can see the love that is already in the chat. I thank you. It's just all there is. And so please Tyra, we will make sure that you, Tyra, not the model, but giving model vibes. Can we put that somewhere? Giving model vibes. We're going to put that on the back. 


Tyra: Anyway Facebook status today. 


Pepper: Thank you. Yeah.  We will make sure that you get the recurring meeting. Omari, if you want to come back, thank you for Tia for connecting us. We will make sure that y'all, that you are here just the same way that Kina comes and hangs out with us. With that said, what is going on this weekend, y'all? What's happening, Baton Rouge? Reverend Anderson.  


Reverend Anderson: Good morning. Amazing presenters. Amazing. Just One Rouge and I'm still wrapping my head around wandering around in Pepper's head.  But having said that, I just want to give the most amazing shout out yesterday and I put it in the chat. There was a kickoff lunch in here in Baton Rouge  about L.A. 40 by 2030.  That was hosted by Louisiana Center for Health Equity about addressing the health disparities in this state that are literally and figuratively killing us and the amazing Alma Stewart and all the work that was done and how we sometimes. We don't recognize that powerful change happens when people step out of the norm. I also want to give a big shout out to Marcella Hernandez who in the last two days  raise the important issues around a welcoming city  and addressing head on the issues around the governor's executive order and how we are coming to our Children,  both at the eye care prevention summit on Thursday and I'm sorry on Wednesday and then yesterday in New Orleans at a conference.And I think it's important to know that  We have such powerful leaders right here in our own space, and oftentimes we don't recognize them and we don't give them their flowers while they're yet alive. With that being said, I'mma move to the thing that also makes me happy. On Sunday,  there will be the krew of mutts,  downtown, and the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition, for the first time ever, will have a booth. You just have to come to see how we are connecting, but I promise you there is a connector. And it's going to be fun from its start to 10 o'clock and it'll go all the way till 4 p. m. And what could be wrong with a good Mardi Gras parade of puppies? So there's that event. On Saturday is the Gus Young Mardi Gras parade. And so a recognition that will be going on, assuming the weather's all good and all that kind of stuff. And I believe that is at 1 o'clock in the afternoon.  And with that, I'm just going to say have a wonderful weekend.  


Pepper: Thank you, Reverend Anderson.  Auntie B?  


Alfreda: Pepper, I put it in the chat, but everybody was so excited. We couldn't read everything that was in the chat. But on this coming Tuesday and Saturday, not tomorrow, but the next Saturday, we're going to be talking about  the lived experiences of our immigrants. community, and especially in light of Jeff Landry's executive order 2405 which literally puts the target on the backs of people who appear to be other. We're going to have the amazing Dauda Sesay the show on Tuesday as well as Reverend Anderson who works in that space. We invited Marcella, but she's not able to make it that day. But Dr. Bell and I, along with our other co hosts will be talking to our community and. Hopefully giving them some hope that there are those of us in this community who are welcoming to all and those who are trying to keep people out. I just want people to remember that they were all immigrants,  and it's terrible to get into something and then just pull up the ladder, but in any event, we'll be talking about that next Tuesday, and it will air a second time next Saturday. So please listen in. If you have an opportunity at WTQT 106.1 FM here in Baton Rouge, WTQT 106.1 FM, 5 30 PM Tuesday.  


Pepper: Thank you, ma'am. I saw Dauda when he joined a little while ago. Yeah,  Dauda is here.  


Casey: Pepper, can I make sure you can give a shout out for someone else that wasn't able to be here today? And I would like to amen it. I'm looking at Rodneya and all the work that she's done over the years in the arts and culture and woo, so much of this conversation, Rodneya, I couldn't help but come back to you and just the sheer exhaustion that you have had to pull through. Put forth over the last two decades on a lot of different levels. And but one of the institutions that we can all agree that does incredible work in the city of Baton Rouge is the Baton Rouge Gallery. And without the Baton Rouge Gallery, actually, true story the Baton Rouge Gallery, the Walls Project wouldn't have existed without the Baton Rouge Gallery, because we knew nothing about running the non profit. And the late Derek Gordon The giant of this world, who used to run the Arts Council asked the Baton Rouge Gallery to be our fiscal agent, and that started everything that the Walls has been able to do. So I would ask everyone on this call, if you were in Baton Rouge, Louisiana this weekend, and need to let out some strange vibes and celebrate, to come to the Surreal Salon tomorrow night at the Baton Rouge Gallery. It's one of the most interesting parties in the city. And if you like the costume, go check out the website, but show up and show up for the Baton Rouge Gallery. I'm thinking about their, all the work they did with Maxine last year in the exhibits that they brought. That's very relevant to this conversation today, and they're a very important voice in the city. So if everyone can go out and support obviously, I'm a super fan, and I just want to encourage you all to go out and support the Baton Rouge Gallery tomorrow night. 


Pepper: Thank you, Casey, for lifting that up. Hey, Dauda, you want to tell us about the executive order you're going to talk about? 


Dauda Sesay: Good morning, everyone. And I just wanted to say first, shout out to the One Rouge. As the name goes, One Rouge, we are all one. Regardless of where you're from, yeah, whether you're black, green, blue, yellow, we are all one. And we breed in the city of Baton Rouge. And that's all we're gonna do. We're gonna make sure that no one left out in our states. Everybody's included. And if someone is down, we can come collectively to lift them up. If you are up and then yes, you're gonna see how you can lift others as well to come into the space. And that's what we're just preaching about. And our governor, we're welcoming and let's have a conversation. If there's anything that you fear, yeah. Fear don't solve issues. Let's face it on together. We will work together as a team. This is from Louisiana. Yeah, so that's all I just wanted to say. But I just wanted to thank each and every one of you for supporting every one of us here and in the city and make people feel immigrant and the refugee community feel welcome. To Reverend Anderson, you have been a champion for everybody, that privilege, and thank you so much. And Pepper, I won't say much. About the executive orders just listen in, and you will get more there.  


Pepper: Yeah. Very good. Looks like we got, what, three t shirts coming out of today? We'll give you credits out of Fear Don't Solve Issues. And Reverend Anderson. 


Rev. Anderson: I'm sorry. I forgot these and they are so important. And first of all, thank you, Dottie, so much that just means so much to me. Supertax day is Saturday, February 3rd. It is huge. It's early this year. It's going to be at the Goodwood Library, but people don't need to pay to get their taxes done,  and there's going to be an amazing assortment of community partners there to help, but I wanted to make sure that got lifted up. The other thing I put in the chat, which was super important, is that the Metro Council moved their meeting  so that meeting is the 31st.  It was, it would have normally been this past Wednesday.  Was postponed mostly so they can all go to Washington, D. C. for Washington Mardi Gras, but it is going to be held on the 31st at  in the Metro Council Chambers at City Hall, and it is important  that budget just came out,  and budgets are moral documents, and We must demand accountability and transparency and how our dollars are spent and that is where many of these decisions are made. But very little information is often given. And so I can't stress enough. If people can review the documents,  check the agendas out. And if you can be at those meetings. attend them, but you can still email and you can call and give your elected officials your concerns kudos, attaboys, whichever one you want to do. 


Pepper: Gorgeous.  All right, y'all, it looks like we got a lot of stuff going on. To echo the shaking, the nodding heads. Tax day is an amazing opportunity. It is through VITA generally last time I volunteered, it was earning under 30, 000 a year, which is a whole lot of folk. And all you got to do is show up. There's not a you don't have to be on public assistance. You don't have to have a note from your third grade teacher. You just got to show up and get. Filing your taxes. It doesn't cost anything  to you. You baby. Come on. 


Brianna Perkins: On my end, you broke up. So I didn't hear that part.  Yeah. VITA as in volunteer.  I can now. Okay, there we go. So yeah, it's the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. I'm Brianna Perkins with Capital Area United Way. I'm sorry I'm joining on my phone today. But the income cap has almost doubled since you volunteered, Peppa. It's now I think, 66, 000. Is the income cap that we have for it this year, but technically the VITA program doesn't have an income cap. So if you know anybody or you know a specific community that's struggling to get their taxes prepared and they have their W2s and all their information, invite them out Saturday, February the 3rd from 8 a.m. to 3 p. m. to get their taxes done. Thank y'all. 


Pepper: 66, 000 a year, child. I talk about like half, what, everybody who working? I don't, listen,  call your friends, call your neighbors, talk to people who standing at the bus stop, tell them go get their taxes done, y'all. And please tune in on Tuesday and or Saturday, WTQT 106. 1 FM to listen to Aunty B talk with Dauda about the immigrants.  Executive order that has just come down with that said, y'all. I thank you so much for being here. And please, there is no need to apologize for joining on your phone, on your iPad, on your laptop, on your desktop, in the park, in a box with a fox. We don't care. Just we are glad that you are here to spend your Friday mornings with us. We really, genuinely appreciate it. And thank you with that, we will see y'all back here,  same bat time, same bat channel. Have a great week, y'all. Have a great week.






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