What I Learned About Juneteenth Now and Beyond, My Personal Commitment
Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2020 by Rae Shanahan
As a leader, here is what I am doing to ensure Businessolver works to continue to create an environment of inclusion, diversity, equality and anti-racism.
Prior to the last few weeks, I didn’t believe having a diversity initiative was the right thing to emphasize. My opinion was this would only emphasize our differences. I was raised to treat everyone with respect, to support anyone who has different skin color, religion, sexual presence or gender identity. This is probably why it is so hard for me to understand why humans treat other humans in this unacceptable manner. I appreciate the need to acknowledge the differences to get our systemic beliefs and views banished for generations to come.
I personally commit to these items in my own life and I will strive every day to also bring these calls to actions to Businessolver. The Anti-Oppression network outlines a series of responsibilities I am embracing. (I have converted these statements to active, first person “I” statements.)
I am not acting out of guilt, but rather out of responsibility:
I actively acknowledge our privilege and power and openly discuss them.
I recognize that as a recipient of privilege I will always be capable of perpetuating systems of oppression from which my privilege came.
I will listen more and speak less: I will hold back on my ideas, opinions, and ideologies, and resist the urge to “save” the people I seek to work with as, with adequate resources and support, they will figure out their own solutions that meet their needs.
I do my work with integrity and direct communication: I take guidance and direction from the people I seek to work with (not the other way around), and I keep my word.
I do not expect to be educated by others: I will continuously do my own research on the oppressions experienced by the people I seek to work with, including herstory/history, current news, and what realities created by systems of oppression look, feel, smell, taste and sound like.
I will build capacity to receive criticism, to be honest and accountable with my mistakes, and recognize that being called out for making a mistake is a gift—that it is an honor of trust to receive a chance to be a better person, to learn, to grow, and to do things differently.
I embrace the emotions that come out of the process of allyship, understanding that I will feel uncomfortable, challenged, and hurt.
My needs are secondary to the people I seek to work with: I am responsible for my self-care and recognize that part of the privilege of my identity is that I have a choice about whether or not to resist oppression; I do not expect the people I seek to work with to provide emotional support (and I’m grateful if they do).
I do not expect awards or special recognition for confronting issues that people have to live with every day and redirect attention to the groups I am supporting, and the issues they face, when I do.
Juneteenth is a time for celebration but it’s also a time to reflect about what’s happening now and what’s happened in the past. It’s a time for empathy and a time to think about how we can change for the better. And, to not just think, but make those changes a reality.
“Honoring your full humanity doesn’t mean turning away from your role in creating harm; It means holding yourself with compassion so you can practice true accountability without punishing yourself.” – Lisa Olivera.
To learn more about how leadership can make real changes with empathy read our special report below.