My last week in review was three weeks ago. It’s not that I have stopped reflecting on my work in fact it’s the opposite. I reached a point where I thought I was reflecting too much if that makes sense. My therapist has told me that I think too much, that my analytical mind wants to figure out the why and more importantly (to me) the how. It’s why I have always gravitated toward self help books. Starting at 16, I read self help books to try to make sense of my new life in the United States, to figure out how to navigate high school. Since that time I have read self help books on and off and most recently off- on the advice of my therapist. She said to stop reading those books to better myself and instead sit with myself, take the thinking mind to rest and ignite the feeling mind. I tell you this bit of insight into my personal life because it will explain why I haven’t been writing down the week to week in the last three weeks. Or at least I think it helps me explain to myself why I haven’t followed through in my weekly reflective practice.
As you may know I have Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in my portfolio. It’s large. It’s hard. It has changed the way I see the world and more importantly how I want to be in the world. I have shared with you the readings, the webinars, the podcasts related to my learning and now I am ready to write a bit more about how this work has affected me personally. It may resonate with you or it may not, regardless, this is how I choose to be reflective this week.
In the learning I have done to date it is evident that searching for a toolkit, a checklist, or even a self help book on DEI is not the way we move forward in this work. It starts with self examination, where am I situated in this work? What are my unconscious biases? How do I interrupt the biases I hold to do better next time? It is an ongoing process and I am never finished learning. Which could be why it is exhausting. Not exhausting in the sense of late night emails, endless report writing, or that feeling of never catching up. It is emotionally exhausting. I am not saying that because I want to elicit any feelings of “poor Amanda” or “woe is me”, rather to acknowledge that regardless of where you are coming from or what your story is, DEI is emotionally exhausting work and it should be.
When we examine our biases and start the process of interrupting our patterns and begin to self examine where we are situated in this world, in the workplace, in our communities, and in the boardrooms we bring a level of awareness that was not there before. My equity flag has always been on feminist issues, particularly feminism in the workplace and more accurately in academia. It is where I experience unfairness, inequity, and unconscious bias. At a previous job I was told that I was not being promoted because well, frankly Amanda, some men don’t want to see women rise up. (#truth #exact words) And yet, I find my need to wave this white feminist flag to be…. well… small potatoes. You see I am a white woman, heterosexual, middle class, grew up in a nuclear family, am a fourth generation post secondary graduate, have little debt…. the list can go on. It is a list that says “I am privileged. I grew up privileged.”
Last week I went to stand at the Legislative buildings in solidarity with Indigenous peoples, who were rallying against Canada’s illegal actions to the Wet’suwet’en peoples- their lands, their rights, their peoples. I stood there with others from BCcampus to show support to the ralliers. I went to the legislative buildings because I wanted to be in action. If you have heard me speak at conferences or in webinars I am dedicated to starting each talk with a land acknowledgment to acknowledge the rightful owners of the land- Indigenous Peoples. I am also engaged in the BCcampus book club- we have been reading Thomas King’s “The Truth about Stories”. I have attended numerous workshops on Indigenous practices. I am doing all of the “right” things. It is not enough to be aware. I have to do something. I realized that land acknowledgements, reading indigenous authors, attending workshops – that is the easy piece. As Max FineDay says “Canada has become comfortable”. The hard part is standing up- being there- to be in action with others. Showing up to and for others.
My executive coach refers to difficult conversations as courageous conversations.
In a podcast about Public Libraries the speaker said “revolution begins with the self- there is vulnerability in sharing self learning”. And yes, this post feels vulnerable- what do I know? Am I being an effective ally? Am I sharing too much of myself? And I know I will fail. In fact I have failed when I look back on some of my decisions. Cindy Augustine in the “The New Rules of Work” podcast says “how do we improve so it’s better the next time”. This is what I seek to do- improve, lead with inquiry and curiosity, have courageous conversations. I am never finished learning.