raceAhead: How to Be a Better Ally

Hello everyone:

Right now I’m traveling back from the Massachusetts Conference for Women, an extraordinary event that convened more than 10,000 women (and plenty of people of other genders) to talk about their work, the world, and a more inclusive future. I’ll share footage and quotes when they’re available.

But I wanted to take a moment to thank my three panel-mates who participated in this morning’s working session on breaking barriers.

Our experts were Kate Gulliver, who oversees the talent team at e-commerce site Wayfair; Sam Rapoport, the senior director of football development, National Football League; and Cecile Richards, a national leader for women’s rights and social and economic justice, perhaps best known as the former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

All three are qualified, committed, and dedicated professionals and all three are blonde, white women.

The Conference itself is strongly committed to diversity in all forms and the programming reflects that. But as it turned out, these three remarkable experts were available at that time, on that day. It happens in the conference business.

So, we brought it up.

At their suggestion, we kicked off the panel with an easy and straightforward acknowledgement that resonated with the crowd. Then, we made sure to cite data and stories that represented all women and came prepared to highlight areas where white women could better support underrepresented ones. It was a simple act of modeling allyship and I was glad to be a part of it.

We hit upon many subjects but we all agreed that the most powerful inclusion tool is also the simplest: Listen. Listen to women of color about their lives and the barriers they face, and believe them. If you’re in a position to design a conversation, team, project, system or company that addresses these barriers, then you’re doing the work as an ally.

But acknowledging what’s true is a great start.

On Point

The fallout continues from Elizabeth Warren’s DNA testThe Senator's decision to take and release the results of a DNA test to end President Trump's taunts and prove her Native American bona fides appears to have backfired. In addition to drawing ire from tribal leaders and other progressive allies for amplifying racist tropes, the move has done nothing to end the critique. Advisers, worried that she’s dampened enthusiasm for a potential presidential run, are putting together a redemption plan, which may include a public apology.New York Times

Veterans Affairs diversity officer told to stay silent on white supremacist violence in Charlottesville
Newly released emails show a “tense exchange” between Georgia Coffey, the agency’s chief diversity officer, and John Ullyot, the VA’s chief communications official, over how to respond to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. last year. The president had blamed “many sides” for the violence that killed one person and injured many others. A public response from the VA disavowing the violence was necessary, Coffey argued, because the agency’s workforce was upset by the incident. Coffey was told to stand down, to not upset the president. People of color make up some 40% of the 380,000 VA employees.
Washington Post

On Facebook, you are the product
British lawmakers publicly released old emails and other documents that provide a troubling glimpse into how the company thinks about its users’ personal data. The documents show that CEO Mark Zuckerberg considered selling data to outside developers and used access to user data as a bargaining chip with companies and competitors. Some communications make it clear that Facebook understood the risks of making this data available. While the behavior isn’t surprising, it's at odds with the company’s stated mission of making the world a better, more connected place. “Facebook has proven that it is very, very good at making money from the personal information it collects from its users,” says Recode’s Kurt Wagner. “Facebook is a ruthless business, and your personal data keeps it alive.” Other leaked documents show the public media attention and the company’s many missteps is driving serious dissent at the company.

Denmark plans to send “undesirable” migrants to an island
Lindholm is an island about two miles off Denmark's mainland. It had once been the repository for cattle suspected of harboring disease. Now, Denmark’s immigration minister wants to repurpose the island to house asylum seekers who are rejected for any reason. "They are undesirable in Denmark, and they must notice!" Denmark's Immigration Minister Inger Støjberg posted to Facebook. The plan was adopted as part of a larger budget bill, and the minister, who is part of the anti-immigrant parliamentary majority, says that if the asylum seekers are caught anywhere else, they will be jailed.


The Woke Leader

Carbon emissions are on the rise
A new study shows that carbon emissions are heading for record levels this year, due largely to increased coal and oil use worldwide. According to research from The Global Carbon Project, carbon emission levels plateaued between 2014 and 2016, but are now ticking upward. The U.S. is currently the worst offender, though that number is declining. While China and India have also increased emissions, the EU’s emission numbers have declined slightly. Delegates are currently meeting to discuss implementation of the Paris Agreement, an effort to keep the average global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius. In other news, the EPA is poised to kill a rule designed to cap greenhouse gas emissions on new coal power plants.

We don’t all miss the WASPs
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat wrote a column defending the ruling class of yesteryear, an erudite call to make America great again that has triggered a powerful and well-deserved angry response. Using the occasion of the passing of George H.W. Bush, Douthat weighs in with the notion that we as a nation are yearning for an elegant style of Establishment leadership, well-mannered gents who kept us free from drama and sex-scandals and the inelegant venom of white resentment. “Put simply, Americans miss Bush because we miss the WASPs — because we feel, at some level, that their more meritocratic and diverse and secular successors rule us neither as wisely nor as well,” he said. Oh no, said Twitter. More critique below from Libby Watson.
Splinter News

Military service has never saved veterans from racial violence
Speaking of noble leadership, one underexplored element of post-Civil War and Jim Crow history has been the racial violence directed specifically at black soldiers who fought during the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. “Because of their military service, black veterans were seen as a particular threat to Jim Crow and racial subordination,” explains Bryan Stevenson, the director of the Equal Justice Initiative. “Thousands of black veterans were assaulted, threatened, abused, or lynched following military service.”


You crushed us to build your monarchy on the backs of our blood and bone. Your mistake wasn't keeping us alive. it was thinking we'd never fight back.
Tomi Adeyemi

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