(B-school and silencing in the age of “we’re not having it”)
This week was a long week for many reasons… George Floyd being murdered at the hands of police, Minneapolis is on fire, and let’s not forget that many of us are still practicing social distancing.
This combination of factors creates the need for us to connect online, to process our emotions, to learn and grow, and stand in solidarity with Black and Brown folks everywhere. I am a light-skinned biracial woman, and there is an immense amount of privilege that I acknowledge because of my complexion, and still, I live in fear every day that the next George Floyd could be one of my sons, my fiance, my father, my cousins, nephews, or friends.
For those of us who are entrepreneurs, particularly coaches whose work is deeply personal and who’s brands intersect with our “regular” lives, we need to be able to show up in all spaces to process the implications of our social climate in our business, we also want to know where are leaders, and “influencers” stand on these subjects and more and more people are voting with their dollars.
So, when I woke up on, what I hoped to be my Self-Care Saturday, to endless tags, screenshots, an DM’s telling me that Marie Forleo basically told people that they can have these discussions on their personal pages and that her team isn’t working on the weekend, I realized I wouldn’t be having a Self-Care Saturday.
It would be a ShowUp Saturday instead.
You can do a quick search on FB to see countless threads and many explanations about how Marie’s response was fucked up. So that’s not what I’m here to say. But I do have some thoughts about why we should not be here in the first place.
- This is NOT the first time
In fact, this isn’t the second time either. There have been other times where I’ve gotten screenshots from B-school when people were silenced, where they were told that topics of this nature aren’t’ appropriate, where Marie has been called out. She should know better.
Each time, there’s an announcement made that her team will work with a DEI consultant to come up with a plan on how to move forward. And then… it happens again.
2. THIS IS NOT CRISIS MANAGEMENT WORK
The problem with calling a DEI expert to help when something like this happens is that it’s totally reactive and unsustainable. Successful change work requires a SYSTEMS approach. Becoming an equitable, inclusive business fundamentally changes how you operate. It is SO MUCH MORE than coming up with community guidelines and a scholarship program, and knowing how to “say the right thing”. You need to commit to growing your business with DEI at the core, not as an afterthought, not as a “diversity initiative”, and not for the sake of being a better White person. This is long-term work.
3. This is about people’s lives, not about you being a better White person.
Right now, you can give me the demographic profile of a person (age, race, zip code) and I can pretty accurately predict that person’s life outcomes. Understand what I’m saying here… Based on race and zip code alone, we can PREDICT someone’s educational attainment, life expectancy, long-term socioeconomic status, the likelihood of arrest, and more.
This is systemic racism.
And THIS is why coaches should care.
Coaching is an industry inherently designed to empower and transform people to have better life outcomes. But if when Black and Brown people, can’t get access to quality, culturally responsive coaching then the coaching industry is REPLICATING SYSTEMIC RACISM.
Additionally, business can be a tool for liberation. It is a tool for economic empowerment, and if financial resources are used to disrupt systems of oppression, on mass, we will finally see the changes we need in the world. So if we’re not teaching entrepreneurs to use their businesses as a tool for liberation and build explicitly anti-racist institutions, then we’re just creating more businesses that will replicate systems of oppression and racism.
But, I promise you… this too is figureoutable.
There are things you can do, ways you can be, to do better, and to truly become anti-racist in your practice and your business. This is NOT something that we haven’t figured out… there are people who do this. I have been developing my expertise and teaching these strategies to non-profits and entire school districts since 2008. It’s not Rocket science but it is science.
And, it’s not a to-do-list kind of thing. So I’m not gonna give you the top 10 things to do to make your business more inclusive because That’s Not How That Works (which also is the name of the podcast I co-host that you should totally check out).
What you can do is follow me on IG Trudi Lebron and if you’re an entrepreneur join my FB Group Business Remixed to get more information and learn to build an inclusive, equitable business, and become an anti-racist entrepreneur and leader.
PS: This was hard to write. And harder to post because I love Marie Forleo. She is one of the people who’s brands call to me. I’ve often said, “I want to be the Marie Forleo of Impact-Driven Business”. But this is an example of how we can hold the nuance of someone who has taught you so much, who you care for, but has also disappointed you. Both of these things can be true at the same time.