Issue 10: July, 2020
In This Issue
- Black Lives Matter
- A Time for Transformative Change
- Fall PCC Workshops: Running Good Meetings, and Tools for Getting Unstuck
- Offering Coaching, Training and Facilitation via Zoom and Mural
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I grieve, with so many others, the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the many other people of color who have been killed by police abuse of power, and I stand with those calling for a deep reckoning with the systems of white supremacy that dominate our culture and the transformation of policing. I am committed to continuing to deepen my learning and practice around addressing racism and white supremacy. If you want more information, please see these resources on White Supremacy and Systemic Racism and the About Me page here on this website.
A Time for Transformative Change
We are living in a moment that feels very different from any I’ve lived through so far in my 58 years, and which seems to provide us an unusually strong opportunity for transformative change. Let me offer an example.
I’ve been doing executive coaching for several years with the director of a medium-sized nonprofit that has been, and still is, largely led by white people and that has been working for a couple of years on a strong equity and inclusion effort. About 18 months ago, we began talking about a challenge the leadership team was facing; two of the members needed flexible schedules and the ability to work more from home for a while to be able to deal with situations they were facing in their larger lives.
The team was struggling with feelings of resentment and frustration, and questions about how to do this – and how to write a policy about it – in ways that were “fair to everybody.”
I suggested that what they were actually wrestling with was – or should be – the patriarchal and white supremacist norms about work and what is required to be a “good employee.” [Here is an article on white supremacy norms in the workplace.] We talked about strategies for facilitating the conversation, and explored the idea that what was required to get past the “fairness” conundrum was a deeper acknowledgement of the link between the equity and inclusion work they were doing and these questions.
By April, we were having a whole different conversation. The leadership team was trying to adjust to the realities of all of them working mostly from home and having many more needs for flexibility and “work-life balance.” Suddenly, putting new expectations and policies in place did not seem like it was going to be hard and take a long time, they were “just doing it and figuring it out as they went.” And everyone was a lot clearer about the need to do so, and the impossibility of being able to be a “good worker/manager” and a good – say – parent, without such a shift.
Prioritizing the Wrong Part
I was struck a few weeks ago by a reframe of the sometimes violent responses to the killing of George Floyd:
Here’s an example of how white privilege sounds:
You keep saying, “It’s horrible that an innocent black man was killed, but destroying property has to stop.”
Try saying, “It’s horrible that property is being destroyed, but killing innocent black men has to stop.”
Priorities. Makes sense?This came to me listed as a “FB meme” and I asked readers to let me know if they knew where it came from. My thanks to the two folks two responded that it was likely a Tweet from Randall Telfer (@randallTelfer), and that the last line was not quite an accurate quote (it’s corrected above). My thanks also to Randall Telfer, for sharing this clear articulation.
As in the example above, it seems like COVID is – or can be – doing this kind of reprioritizing for conversations about norms in the workplace around flex time and work-life balance. It is my deep hope that the willingness to reprioritize will go well beyond that particular arena.
What if instead of the usual “Equity and Inclusion are important, but it’s really hard to do it and we are stretched so thin already,” we said “It’s really hard that we are stretched so thin already and that Equity and Inclusion work feels so hard, but it’s critically important and it must be a central priority”?
We are in a time of opportunity, both because of COVID-19’s impacts, and because we – and by we in this moment I mean white people – are being asked to reach for a similar epiphany about the way the construct of whiteness and the system of white supremacy has poisoned all of our lives. Racism has always been a problem for white people to address; we created it. But maybe now more of us can see it as such and recognize that it needs to change NOW, and not in small, incremental ways, but through deep examination and a strong commitment to big changes.
Invitations to Engage
You will find resources for learning about whiteness and systemic racism, and a few on gender and class, on the resources page here.
I also invite you to engage with me, if you are interested, in being part of a community of practice around facilitating brave spaces in which we can do this work; share your experiences, your confusions and questions, your discoveries, so we all get better at it. I don’t know how we can best support each other in this critical work, but I want to find out. If you are interested, please contact me.
Upcoming Workshops at PCC
I am doing two workshops through PCC’s continuing education division in the next few months. These will be offered online, each as three, 90-minute sessions using Zoom and Mural (one of my favorite new tools).
- Tools for Good Meeting Facilitation on three consecutive Thursdays, October 8th, 15th and 22nd from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. (NOTE: the PCC website will say it ends at 8:20, but we will go until 8:30.)
- Tools for Getting Unstuck on three Thursdays, October 29th, November 5th and November 19th from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. (NOTE: the PCC website will say it ends at 8:20, but we will go until 8:30.)
I am offering training, coaching, and facilitation online
I am currently supporting organizations and individuals primarily online, using phone, Zoom and Mural, a powerful and easy to use tool for visual collaboration.
© Tasha Harmon, July 2020. All rights reserved.