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raceAhead: #MeToo? Yes, You Too, Weinstein’s Enablers and Sanctuary Cities Saved

I’m cautiously optimistic that the #MeToo era is not a fluke, and that the unprecedented outpouring of harassment stories might turn into real accountability and real change. But to do that, we’ll need to add another mantra: Yes, You Too.

Just like we cannot have a real conversation about ethnic diversity in the workplace without an understanding of racism, anti-blackness, and systemic violence, we cannot have a conversation about gender equality in the workplace without understanding the insidious dynamics of power and sexual harassment. It’s just not possible to lean into a system that devalues women and consistently allows men to cannibalize the bodies of unwilling participants. We need to stop advising women to do so and start asking non-harassing men to stand up.

The through line to so many of the #MeToo claims is bystander men (and plenty of women) who do nothing to help the accuser or hold the abuser accountable. Some examples are simple, like this gut-punch from the recent revelation that television host Charlie Rose harassed at least eight women. One learned the hard way that Rose had a habit of appearing naked after a shower when assistants worked from his home office:

She said she told someone in the office, and word got around. A few days later, she said, a male colleague approached her, laughing, “Oh, you got the shower trick.” The woman’s sister confirmed that her sibling had told her about the shower incident soon after it occurred.

The shower trick was just a cost of doing business if you were a woman fighting for a spot in a competitive industry.

Other examples are more sinister and egregious, as evidenced by this tour de force reporting on Harvey Weinstein’s cronies from Fortune’s Shawn Tully. Weinstein’s abuse infected every aspect of the business and was enabled by the most powerful people at The Weinstein Company:

The story has been so big that it has let another scandal disappear: a corporate backstory about how a group of billionaire board members from the worlds of Wall Street and entertainment let Harvey Weinstein stay in power. It features an all-star cast that included James Dolan and Dirk Ziff—and later, in cameo appearances, Paul Tudor Jones and Marc Lasry—who oversaw an almost unimaginably toxic corporate culture built and led by their friend, according to two directors who long opposed Harvey Weinstein.

In an extraordinary case of governance-gone-awry, these distinguished figures—brilliant in managing their own ventures—allowed themselves to be deceived by a charismatic mogul, whose blatant business abuses, including allegedly spending millions of dollars of TWC funds on his own personal projects, mirror his serial alleged abuse of women.

Male allies who witness or are aware of a culture of harassment, particularly if it’s perpetrated by a powerful, serial abuser, have a lot to lose if they stand up. It’s a tough call. In some cases, they may make a calculation that nothing will change anyway, no matter how morally repugnant the behavior might be. In others, they are afraid of the backlash and losing their livelihoods. And I imagine in plenty of circumstances, they decide it’s just “boys being boys” and it will blow over eventually.

The math is somewhat similar to the calculations women make to preserve their own careers and bodies, except for one thing: Women have to do the math constantly, in service of not being attacked — by bosses, colleagues, vendors, suppliers, customers, prospects, advisers, conference organizers, interview subjects, and investors. Is this safe? Am I sure? Did something bad just happen? Did I bring this on myself?

In fact, scheming for our safety and dignity has long been an important part of our career planning and networking. Until now, many women have been resigned to the fact that the world isn’t prepared to either believe us or equitably yield outsized power over a little breast grab or the old shower trick. So we skip the late night beer bong parties and steer our friends away from handsy power brokers.

So yes, you too.

Change will not happen if men aren’t willing to share their part of these risks. The story of women at work is far more complicated than the magical feat of dancing backward and in high heels. We’ll need everyone on the dance floor if we’re going to make it right.

On Point

A federal judge blocks the executive order to cut funding to ‘sanctuary cities’A federal judge has permanently blocked President Donald Trump’s executive order to cut funding from so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ yesterday, calling it unconstitutional on its face. The Department of Justice decried the decision, saying in a statement, “the District Court exceeded its authority today when it barred the President from instructing his cabinet members to enforce existing law.” U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who issued the ruling, disagreed.Fortune

Code2040 raises $5.6 million to expand its work diversifying tech
It’s a big raise, and comes from the Knight Foundation and others. The D&I in tech start-up, co-founded by Laura Weidman Powers and Tristan Walker plans to use the funding to continue its expansion in New York City,  grow its community of members from 5,000 to 40,000 by 2020 and expand its work inside companies like Airbnb, Lyft and Slack.
TechCrunch

Where is the Latinx talent in front of and behind the camera?
Herb Scannell, the CEO of Latinx digital network mitú, begins this op-ed with a sniff: The most recent Emmy’s were touted as the most diverse award show in years, “despite the lack of Latino representation in any major award category.” But why shut out a demographic that produced  $2.13 trillion in GDP in the U.S. in 2015? “Latinos only represent 5.8 percent of speaking roles in media despite the fact that we over-index as frequent moviegoers,” he says. The U.S. Latinx population skews young, mobile and are social media savvy, and want to see themselves as something other than sombrero-wearing props or good-natured maids, he says. “Young Latinos represent a massive audience with tremendous spending power, and they want to see themselves represented on screen.”
Ad Week

National Trust commits to raising $25 million to protect black historical sites
While we’ve been having a long overdue conversation about The Lost Cause, the Daughters of the Confederacy and General Robert E. Lee’s troubling personality, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund has committed to preserving sites of African American importance. The multi-year effort will be financed in part by the Ford, Open Society, and JPB Foundations. One site slated for restoration is Shockoe Bottom, the center of Richmond, Virginia’s slave trade. Just in time, too: The site had been largely razed and repaved. I bet this effort could use some corporate support, but that’s none of my business.
NonProfit Quarterly

The Woke Leader

On love, with a side of turkey
For anyone who grew up watching the fine choreography of Thanksgiving meal-making performed by the family matriarch, this poignant account will surely bring back memories. Wesley Morris recalls his mother toiling away for hours with her programs blaring (The Price Is Right, Mrs. Miniver) while prepping a turkey that always came out slightly differently every year. But the sides? The gravy, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, creamed pearl onions, greens, candied sweet potatoes, stuffing, sometimes a ham? “You could rely on them for the comfort certain foods provide.” Every year, “[h]er brother Aamir would take a couple of bites and pretend to be dying — of happiness,” he says. We learn so much about Mr. Morris in this lovely essay, not the least of which is this: He is his mother’s son. Bring tissues.
New York Times

Beam me up, Olaniyi
Nnedi Okorafor is an award-winning author best known for her African-based science fiction for children and adults. In this delightful TED talk, she reads a short excerpt from Binti, her novella about a young African girl who is accepted to the “finest university in the galaxy.” It’s part of Afrofuturism, a different and emerging type of science fiction, one that is infused with African traditions and cosmologies. “I was born to two Nigerian immigrant parents and raised in the United States, one of the birthplaces of classic science fiction,” she says. “My science fiction had different ancestors, African ones.” She helps us imagine a world where Africans are among the best the Earth has to offer, and who move through the world with strength and acceptance. “I couldn’t relate to these stories preoccupied with xenophobia, colonization and seeing aliens as others,” she says. “For Africans, homegrown science fiction can be a will to power.”
TED

When monstrous people make beautiful art
We can thank Claire Dederer, the author of the memoir Love and Trouble, for this chewy long-read designed to help us cope with the world we live in now. Namely, what do we do with the art we love if it was made by a monster? Awash with so many Cosbys and C.K.s, Polanskis and Weinsteins, do we turn away from the things they’ve made? Her answer is as complex as the question. She even gives herself a thought experiment, in the form of watching Woody Allen’s masterpiece, Manhattan. (The essay is worth it just to observe her attempt to process that existential mess.) But she washes out in a surprising place, that gave me pause. What does it mean for women artists to be considered monsters? The answer, equal parts mundane and chilling, may surprise you, though it shouldn’t.
The Paris Review

Quote

The city of Kinshasa was plagued by traffic so severe that its very economy was affected. Because of that first traffic robot, within two years, Kinshasa was able to join the modern world and compete in the global market. After the success of that first one, more robots were stationed at other Kinshasa intersections. Then they were upgraded with moderate artificial intelligence in order to process information more effectively and placed in the most traffic-crippled African cities of Lagos, Nairobi, and Cairo. This is where they worked even grander magic. The thing was, people liked and obeyed the traffic robot cops more than the human police.
—Nnedi Okorafor