Pause on the Play : Conversations on Diversity
Question, what does diversity mean to you? Inclusion? Why should it matter? Today’s video kicks off a new series we’re calling Pause on the Play: Conversations on Diversity. This collaboration is with Erica Courdae - our resident subject matter expert - she helps facilitate some thought-provoking no-nonsense conversations.
Below are the audio, YouTube, and transcripts of the interview. Pick the one that works for you and enjoy!
Erica Courdae is dedicated to expanding how multicultural entrepreneurs, coaches, managers, lawyers, and creative small business owners interact with the world. Through powerful conversations meant to create dialogue and connection, Erica seamlessly challenges them to perceive their reality through a different lens. Topics including diversity, equality, and inclusion make for the awareness that she uses to create mind shifts for impact. In life and in business. Erica believes talking about important and necessary topics in a safe space creates change and helps people feel comfortable, open, honest, and forward focused.
IJ And we are going!
EC - Alright so, I know we were talking about that whole what is redemption? What salvation looks like? What it looks like when somebody makes a mistake and wants to learn better, do better, know better, act better. And feel like you make a mistake and your tethered to it forever, you’re not given the space to say, “I want to find out why this was hurtful or why this wasn’t right” and “I don’t want to be this person forever.” It’s very often that people aren’t given that space or the space is very readily given to some people without a second thought. Is there a gray area where yes, somebody can make a mistake and you can work on it? I might not be happy about it. I might even need a break from you, but you can come back from it versus NAH SON you’re done! You’ve done this and that’s it. I just can’t.
IJ You know, I think that it really just depends on the person. It makes me think about judgement. Who am I to say when a person goes so far that they can’t be forgiven?
IJ And how much of that - holding on to the lack of forgiveness - how much is that hurting you and not them?
EC Well and that goes to that statement that a lot of people make that redemption or forgiveness is not for the other person it’s for you. When you forgive somebody else that has nothing to do with them. Forgiveness given for someone else’s action is more so you’re not carrying the burden anymore. Because if something is done to you or it affects you that forgiveness is so that you’re not having that shrewd on you anymore. You don’t have that weight on you. So (let’s say) I’m not going to forgive you, that means that your very likely to still have that bitterness, have that anger, have that weight and you suffer
IJ Yup! You’re the one walking around with all that. While they’ve moved on with their life.
EC They’re like “Huh? The what? I forgot all about that… what happened again?”
IJ (laughing) Real talk!!
EC Right. But then what happens when it’s you? Do you forgive yourself - even when somebody else forgives you? If you happen to be the one that was the offender?
IJ I think that’s a big one. There are a lot of people out there that might be better at forgiving other people than they are themselves. And when you don’t forgive yourself, I think a lot of time you carry that weight of what you did wrong or what mistake you made or whatever throughout the rest of your life and if you believe in the Law of Attraction, what you allow to take up space or energy grows. Now because you’re holding onto the lack of forgiveness in yourself - let’s say for example for stealing candy out of a store - now you’re going to constantly be thinking about that subconsciously which will make you more likely to steal again. Or if it’s for hurting somebody, you’re going to be more likely to hurt somebody constantly holding on to the guilt that you hurt somebody in the past. It’s still there, you’re still thinking about it. You’re thinking about what you don’t want to do; you’re going to do it.
EC I think too that people hold themselves to this standard that they don’t hold other people to. If somebody else does something to you and your trying to figure out your way through it your like “okay, this is something that wasn’t intentionally done to me I just maybe was a part of this situation.” Particularly if you’ve talked through it and you’re actively trying to move through it. Yet somehow or another when it’s you on the other side that record constantly plays. “Oh my gosh I can’t believe I did that… How did that happen?” You’re less forgiving to yourself than you are to others. In a lot of ways it means that you’re stifling your own growth. If you are actively acknowledging and saying “Look, this is not my intention I apologize for any harm I did” and then you try to move forward from if but in your head you have not forgiven yourself - you have to let go of it - it doesn’t work. You look at people sometime and you’re like “Man, they’re just not moving forward” but maybe you’re not moving forward either. Maybe this is something you are doing to yourself.
IJ Yeah, I can definitely see places and relationships that I’ve watched, and people that I’ve known that have been there. They made a major mistake but constantly living in the mistake over and over again because they didn’t forgive themselves. Now they’re a shell of themselves, so you look at them a year 2… 3… 4 years later and had they just moved from that placed and focused on being better they would of actually been able to repair that relationship. But because they held onto the mistakes that they made or the thing they didn’t live up to it actually made that relationship disintegrate even more. The very one that they were trying to repair. The very one that they felt guilty about messing up. Definitely been there before.
EC I’m going to get heavy a little bit. So, I think there’s a lot of things around… ummmm…. let’s say race or sexuality for example where if there’s an offense there is redemption an exemption in that case? If you have someone… let’s say a white person says you know what there’s been a lot of offenses done to black people and these things are not okay. And they decided to carry this guilt. And walk through life which this as they’re trying to figure out “okay how do I move forward with this”, I don’t know that that’s necessarily helpful. Does it help to torture yourself? Is that something that’s supposed to make it better? You’re carrying guilt but it might not even be your guilt. The guilt might be more because you weren’t acknowledging of something or you didn’t know it was there and now you’re trying to figure out how to fix it and you’ve taken on millions of people’s burden to figure out how to fix it. And you’re one person
IJ Well, I think it’s like the non-person of color walking around saying “of my people are terrible, we did horrible things to people of color. I want to fix it.” There’re many ways you can go about trying to (air quotes) “fix it” - I’m going to put that in quotation marks because you can’t really fix it what’s done is done.
EC Thank you, and that’s the whole thing. There’s no fixing it’s what’s now.
IJ It’s what’s right now and if you want to fix something that can’t be fixed you be a good person now. You make equal opportunity decisions when you’re hiring for your business. If you are deciding on people to be in your ad campaign, pick people who look like the world we live in instead of just your race but sitting here and “oh I want to fix it” and walking around with the guilt from the other side that I’ve seen people do. Beating themselves up, “oh my community is so racist” but how are you now helping people that don’t look like you? You’re not; you’re just beating yourself up.
EC And it doesn’t help anybody. When you come from a place of dis-empowerment how are you supposed to empower somebody else?
EC And a lot of it does just come from this place of not only having awareness and consciousness around the decisions you make but also awareness and consciousness around who the people are that you feel as though were offended. If you say I want to create a more diverse and equal opportunity environment that showcases people that work here in the same way that that’s the type of diversity I want to see in the people that we’re serving. But you don’t understand those people. You’re not trying to figure out what they’re challenges are. What makes them different? Why things that you take for granted are going to feel different for them. So, I think sometimes when there’s not that dialogue there then it’s difficult to feel like “I want to fix it!” Fix what for who?? Who are you fixing this for? You have to understand what is it that you’re doing and as a general statement everybody’s needs aren’t going to be the same. You’re trying to find a way to get some understanding to start with and then begin to have that dialogue of what these particular people that you want to support - what kind of support do they need? What is it at their core that fuels them? As opposed to “All Black people need this!” “All Mexican people need this!” “All Muslim people need this!” “All White people need this!” No
IJ Nah, not at all. I mean I think that applies to racism and it applies to equality, it applies to so many different things. But I think that applies to everyday relationships too. If you’re in a relationship with somebody and you fucked up you can’t fix that mistake just saying, “I fucked up so bad, I want to fix it, I want to fix it!” You have to know what does that person need for it to be fixed. What did you do and how did that affect them? How do you undo the damage of that affect? If you’re not even talking enough to figure the effects of what you, or your community, or your workplace had on somebody then you’re just arbitrarily throwing random shit at them trying to fix it.
EC It’s a check the block. “Oh, I’m sorry, I want to fix it!” Do you though? Do you know what you’re fixing? If my kids do something wrong and they turn around and say “Oh, I apologize” I say, “Do you know what you’re apologizing for?”
EC Because I don’t want you to say “Oh, I’m sorry. Oh, I apologize” but why though?
IJ You’re saying kids, I see adults! “Oh, I fucked up I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” but do you know why you’re sorry. You’re 30 years old but do you know what you messed up on?!
EC Because somebody’s mama didn’t ask them that question! And they took the blanket I’m sorry…
EC They took the blanket I did something wrong, what do I need to say to shut you up. What do I need to say to check this block so that you will think I heard you and stop talking! (Laughter)
EC But I have zero acknowledgement around now only what I did, how it affected you, how it affected me, how I can do it better, and whether or not there’s anything that needs to be talked about at that point. Sometimes it needs to be dialogue sometimes it needs to be time because everything isn’t going to be “Oh, I’m sorry”. Somethings are going to run a little deeper than that and is there’s no awareness or acknowledgement around it it’s not going to get better. It’s not going to change, and you’ll keep having this same Groundhogs Day conversation about “I’m sorry” ... I feel like I’ve been here before why are we doing this again?
IJ Yes!! Like I have deja vu you keep making the same mistake, but you said you're sorry, you feel so guilty you're walking around like a sad little puppy dog sorry as hell about what you did.
IJ But you’re still going to do it again next week, because you don't understand what you did wrong!
EC no, and then I'm looked at like “Well what’s the matter?” What’s the matter with you!? Do you understand that what you did was not okay? And there’s this piece around… again something that happens with the (my) kids… that even adults I don’t think get, if one kid says, “I’m sorry” and the other kid says “Okay” and keeps it moving the first kid is like “You didn’t accept my apology!” Now you’re in your feelings because this person didn’t respond how you wanted them to, to your transgression.
EC That’s not how that works! That’s not how that works at all! You can’t show up and be like “I did something to you. I screwed you over, I fucked up. But now I said I’m sorry, so we good right?” That’s not how any of that works, it doesn’t go that way! Unfortunately, I see it a lot, sadly, with sexual abuse it’s almost this “But he said he’s sorry” so that's supposed to be it. Sir, SIR, no NO that’s not how that goes! And with race relations its tough. If you have someone that does offend you what can happen is, particularly if you’re coming from a place of “Let me have this conversation with you, let me tell you where I'm coming from, why it triggered me and try to create dialogue with you” - in most cases the problem lies in that fact that there is no dialogue. You can't figure out how to do better if nobody will talk to you about it, there is no point of reference. There’s no place to have the conversation. You try to have this dialogue and now the person that did it is in their feelings like “I didn't mean it that way, that's not what I said, why are you so sensitive?” Am I sensitive? Or are you feeling sensitive because you offended me? Even though you didn't mean it that way that’s where it landed. You can neutralize my feelings because it’s not comfortable in this moment. That's not how this works.
IJ I think a healthy dose of “that’s okay” at the end of the sentence is needed sometimes. It’s okay if I'm upset about what you said. It’s okay that you made a mistake. Not being okay with those things is the reason people aren't talking in the first place. To figure out okay why did this make me feel a certain way. You’re just trying to put water on the fire.
EC Well it's not being okay but it’s also the “I’m good, I know who I am”. It’s just like a person that’s says something like “I’m not a racist” - the fact that you said that makes you questionable. I’m going to need you to understand that
IJ (Those who say) “I’m not racist! I have 3 black friends!”
EC 3?! You can count them??
IJ 1 2 and 3!
EC You know all their names… that’s is not how that works! Not how that works at all! And the fact is when you decide you don't need to embark on certain conversations or certain types of knowledge-based expansion because (you feel like) “Oh I'm not this person, I don't do this, I don't do that” we all have a place to grow. We all have preconceived notions, some of which are ours, some of which are given to us and some are fed to us through society. There’s any number of places you could have picked up something and if you’re not willing to say “Hmmmm, I didn't think that was an issue but… I pissed somebody off… and I need to question where that came from because I don't want that to be an issue. I want to make sure I don't have deeper rooted things that maybe I just didn't have any awareness of because it never came up.”
IJ Well I think you're on a whole other subject at this point which is called empathy. Most folks realize they pissed somebody off but not give enough of a fuck to try and figure out why. Let me just put water on the fire again, you know?
EC having to have empathy in a lot of cases means that you have to say “It’s not okay that I did something to you that made you feel a way that I didn't want you to feel. And I'm sure that you didn't want to feel. So now I want us to work to a place where you don't feel that way. And then hopefully I don't offend again in that way” (They) aren’t perfect and may do it again somewhere else and forgive (them) if they do, let work through that too but being able to say a simple “My bad I'm really sorry I didn't mean that can w2e talk about this?” Or just “I’m sorry, if you need me to give you some space for a minute I totally understand.” It's different in every situation. Being able to say, “I did not mean to do something to you that I would not have wanted done to me and I now want to figure out how we move forward.” Weather that’s dialogue, weather that’s space, weather that’s time or it may be a combination in whatever order. Just being able to say I would not have wanted this; I am sure this probably doesn't feel very good. I would probably feel XYZ about it. So, let me let you feel how you actually feel - without putting my sprinkles of shit on it and tainting it.” That's not how that's supposed to go. At the end of the day you might now feel anything. I need to give you that space to feel – or not (feel) about it. Some people will feel a certain way and then it’s like “I didn’t even pay that shit any attention, I didn’t even notice it.” And now you are in a place about it. But it wasn’t yours.
IJ Yup! I would love to continue that conversation on the dialogue of what does that look like? To not just be sorry but to actually try to understand and put yourself in that person’s shoes. Figure out how you made them feel and then move forward.
EC Takes putting on your big girl panties (laughter) and being willing to not just be wrong but acknowledge that you were wrong and say “You know what I have some things that I need to work on, and I may need some help with that. That maybe outside the scope of what I am equipped to do on my own. Or, I may not have the information or support people around me to get me to where I need to be. What do I need to do to be better?”
IJ Yea, that a big one…
EC Whole lotta layers. Just like anything else just saying there’s a lot of things in a gray area. Being able to say that every situation is not black and white. Its not cut and dry. This is where I am this is where you are, and this is where we would like to be. We have to figure out what it looks like to move through this. And to give grace for being human.
IJ Exactly. Alright well we will pick this up on the next one (laughter)
EC (laughter) That’ll work, that will work!