Why I decided to remove – “All races, ages, sexual preferences, and flavors of womanhood are welcome” – from the description of my podcast Ripen.
It’s not that I don’t want Ripen to be inclusive, but that the truth is, at this point, it’s not actually inclusive. That statement is just that – a statement.
And not only is that not enough, it’s actually part of the problem.
The problem that’s worsened when I add something like that to my website without doing the deep work internally and externally to back it up. I’m checking the “I’m diversity sensitive” box, but not challenging myself to create actual change in what I’m delivering or how I show up. And not shockingly, lip service to change does not actually create change!
More likely, me making this statement at this time actually perpetuates the whiteness / heterosexuality / cisgender cultural norm that blindly demands everyone should just fall in line and be happy with content and communities that aren’t actually created for and sensitive to their unique experience.
I starting to think critically about my attempts at being more inclusive after attending Andrea Ranae’s super impactful webinar, 5 Ways to Use Your Business as a Tool for Social Justice (I encourage you to check out her offering, Coaching as Activism if this is resonating with you).
Andrea challenged us to think about where we are coming from in taking actions like claiming inclusivity or using stock photos with people of color (which I have not done but I’ll admit has crossed my mind). Are we grounded in truly being inclusive? Are we clear about what that means to us? Or are we trying to assuage our conscious or make sure we look good?
Andrea also challenged us to get honest about our capacities to actually hold and create safe space for the people we are trying to include.
Reflecting on this, my honest truth is that I haven’t done the work to get crystal clear on my values and what concrete steps I can take to reflect those in my business. And I haven’t done the work to make my podcast and my community a safe and supported space for people different to myself. I sincerely hope it’s not actively unsafe, of course, but I also acknowledge that it’s not yet intentionally supportive and inclusive. I have only shared my own (straight, white woman) perspective and only interviewed other straight, white women.
Also it is important for me to realize that though I may want to be inclusive, I will never be the best person to serve these communities different to me because I have not walked in their shoes and shouldn’t presume to know what they might need.
I firmly believe that sharing my personal challenges and growth vulnerably and doing my best to help people does ultimately help society and the world to be a better place. However, claiming inclusivity, trying to be more politically correct or sensitive to those different to me on a surface level only, does more harm than good.
So what am I going to do instead? How can I do better?
First is commitment. The commitment to keep trying even though I’m uncomfortable, uncertain, and way out of my depth each time I wade more into these topics.
Second is learning more. Continuing to read books, attend webinars, take classes which challenge my limited view of the world and help me better understand the systemic and cultural forces which create hierarchies of privilege and power.
Third is personal reflection and inner work. Looking at the ways in which my business and my life come from a privileged frame and how I participate in and perpetuate systems which do not reflect my true values. Exploring more specifically what my true values and intentions are and how I can better live those values in integrity, and truly be a more supportive and safe space for those who are marginalized by society.
Fourth is to keep having this conversation. Listening to perspectives which are different to my own. Sharing my process of exploring social justice and issues of race and discrimination even when I’m scared and uncomfortable. Featuring different voices and perspectives on my podcast and using my platform to highlight some of the many powerful, inspiring, and diverse teachers who are out there doing this work with far more experience, wisdom and grace.
That’s my commitment. I know I’ll be far from perfect, but all I can do is keep trying.