When we started releasing episodes for the first season of 2050 TrailBlazers, we were overwhelmed with how many people with privileged identities reached out to us asking about how they could start being an ally, or how they could become a better ally. So many conversations started with, “I’m here, I’m listening, and I want to help.” That’s why, this season, we’re taking some time to focus on what allyship truly means.
Andrew Greenia is a Facilitator & Curriculum Designer at Embracing Equity, where they are dedicated to highlighting racial justice in education through racial and ethnic identity development, critical consciousness, and critical action. Andrew brings his experience to 2050 TrailBlazers where we focus on the dynamics of allyship and how we can create meaningful relationships that break down barriers and foster inclusivity. Andrew has done extensive work in this field, and he contributes an incredible level of expertise to this conversation.
In this episode, Andrew Greenia is tackling the question: What is allyship? We’re starting with the building blocks of this conversation - defining the terms we use. From there, the conversation builds into a much deeper discussion around how people with privileged identities can continue their practice of unlearning and undoing to become an ongoing ally.
This episode is pivotal in the conversation around allyship - you don’t want to miss this!
What You'll Learn:
How to evaluate allyship as a dynamic concept, a practice, and a verb
How to investigate the ways that racism positively impacts life as a person with privilege
The best ways to interrogate power dynamics within race and culture that we have learned over time within our own lives
Why so many diversity programs fail
How to grow comfortable naming the problems within the diversity and inclusion movement, and clearly defining the terms we use
The best ways to grow comfortable with our discomfort in conversations around diversity
How we define power, and why that impacts diversity and conversations in this space
How to check our assumptions
Starting conversations on diversity and inclusion without being inflammatory
Why Diversity Programs Fail - Harvard Business Review
Becoming an Adaptive Leader - Ron Heifetz
Peace is Every Step - Thích Nhất Hạnh
DEEP (Disruptive Equity Education Project) - Dr. Darnisa Amante
Rianka: 00:00:00 Andrew, welcome to 2050 TrailBlazers.
Andrew: 00:00:04 Thank you so much. I'm so grateful to be here,
Rianka. Thanks for having me.
Rianka: 00:00:07 I am so excited for you to be here. Um, and especially to kick off season two of 2050 TrailBlazers because we're talking about allyship, what it means, how to be an ally. And I came across you. I found you through the XY planning network, a diversity committee Webinar. So each quarter as a member of the xy planning network, um, you know, we have access to webinars that they do on a quarterly basis, one being diversity and you were the speaker for April. So I, I've been holding off on this conversation since April of this year. So I am so fired up to finally just talk to you. So the XYPN Webinar, what it was about was building blocks of allyship and it was perfect timing because around April is when a lot of people started listening to 2050 TrailBlazers. And what I found so pleasantly surprising is that a lot of people started coming to me and asking Rianka how can I help?
Rianka: 00:01:26 And, you know, it's expected, almost expected for black and brown people to be pro diversity and speak up for diversity and always raise our hand when we, when we are the only ones at conferences and saying, Hey, yeah, there, there could be, um, you know, a little bit more, uh, hue here, you know. Um, but what I found so surprising is that white women started to reach out to me and white men started to reach out and saying, we're listening, how can we help? And that's why I was thinking, all right, let's kick off season two and just have the entire theme of season two being about allyship.
Andrew: 00:02:15 I love that. I think that's so important, Rianka, and I appreciate both of what. Yeah, the dynamic in conferences and spaces. And then I think allyship both being about both, um, folks in marginalized then marginalized identities and with privileged identities. So grateful to be here and I think really happy to be kicking off season two with you around the topic of allyship.
Rianka: 00:02:34 Yeah. And one of the things that you mentioned in the Webinar. Well, well see, I'm so excited. I want to, I just want to kick it off, so bef, before we kick it off, just tell, tell the listeners a little bit about yourself and why you are the perfect person to be to help me kind of embrace this conversation and, and kick off season two.
Andrew: 00:02:54 Well, I, I appreciate the use of perfect person, but I'll, I'll, I'll say that I don't know if the perfect person, but I think I'm at least someone who would be a grateful to engage in this conversation with you and I think brings a little bit of background experience, uh, through, uh, my professional work and in personal life really being steeped in a equity work, diversity, social justice. And so a bit of my background, um having worked as a community organizer doing political advocacy work in Detroit, in Chicago. Um, and then being a working in education experiential education for nonprofits at that. And then most recently um working at the University of Maryland, uh, facilitating intergroup dialogs around race and identity. And then most recently just graduating from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, studying human development and psychology and having done a and in the process of doing a lot of training and facilitation and consulting work around diversity, equity and inclusion, leadership development and adult development.
Rianka: 00:03:50 Yes. And you even crafted a paper, which I will definitely share in the show notes and for the new listeners the show notes you can find on 2050trailblazers.com, but you authored a paper called do you want to be my ally and exploring white involvement in student organizations historically serving students of color. And I read it and I encourage all the listeners to, to, to read this as well. I thought it was very well put together.
Andrew: 00:04:23 Yeah, thank you. Thanks for reading old 28 pages or whatever it was and going through it, Rianka.
Rianka: 00:04:28 It was long but it was good.
Andrew: 00:04:31 But I think, I mean, here we are on the topic of allyship and that was a, um, I used as my thesis of studying sociology at my Undergrad at Loyola University Chicago and then built it out into a publication looking at the dynamics of allyship and looking at white students who have worked and participated with student organizations historically aimed at serving students of color. So these were the black student association and these were the Pan Asian student association and even the South Asian, a capella group. And so what motivated them to participate with these organizations? How was their participation received? Was it welcomed? Was it not? What was the impact of that action? And just really exploring how they made meaning of their relationships across racial difference, across ethnic difference and just really in a lot of ways. And what that, what that meant for those relationships.
Rianka: 00:05:22 Yeah. And when I was reading your paper, I was thinking about it through the lens of just the financial service industry and specifically within the financial planning profession is that, um, it's kind of like almost opposite instead of, you know, I guess white people come in to, you know, being involved with organizations historically serving professionals of color. It's more so now professionals are of color are now coming into a predominantly white industry. And so the dynamic is definitely changed, but I think that's why, um, we have fewer numbers and our voices are much smaller versus, you know, those who are in power or historically have been in power in the financial service industry and why being an ally is so important and there's different definitions of allyship for the basis of our conversation. Let's define it. And what I loved about the Webinar that you put on is that, um, you mentioned that ally ship is dynamic. It's not static, it's a verb, not a noun. So to be an ally means you have to take action, right? And it's great to have a sticker of our allyship, you know, is only determined who we ally with. It's only one part to go through a training. Part two is to take action. So talk to me. What is allyship?
Andrew: 00:07:00 Yeah, thanks for that question. And just starting their defining our terms. I don't, I often think about when we have dialogues and engage in conversations around really difficult topics, right? Maybe taboo topics that we may not often engage with. I don't know if we often really define our terms and you may say allyship and I may say allyship and we think we're on the same page, but we may not be. We may be understanding those words very differently. Um, and that translates to a lot of different sectors and words and definitions for me. And I take this directly from the anti oppression network. Right? And you named a lot of the terms that come up for me in that definition, but folks long before me defining this and analyzing this, really saying it's, yeah, it's an active, consistent, really arduous practice. Right? I like that term practice because it's something that I know for myself, I'm never perfect.
Andrew: 00:07:49 I'm not, and that's sort of why I playfully say around perfect or expert. I'm no expert, I'm no know person who solved and has answers, but I'm very much in practice of unlearning and reevaluating what I've taken in to understand this identity has power in someone working where you as a person in a position of privilege and of power. I'm glad you said that. Word. Power to work in solidarity with a marginalized group. So in short, it's an active practice process of a person of privilege working in solidarity with someone who identifies with marginalized identities. Right? And so for me, holding identities as a white person will be working in solidarity and allyship with people of color as a man working in solidarity and allyship with men, non binary folks, folks who don't identify as men. Right? Which in our society are more marginalized. Right?
Andrew: 00:08:40 And so what does it mean to actually engage in a process that is dynamic, that is shifting, that is not static and that yeah, that is not this sticker of approval that says, I went to this training, I got the sticker, I wear it proudly and now, I am an ally, but rather, how am I continuing to engage in the practice, the process of Allyship, which I'm, I'm, I struggle with often because I want to just be done with it. I want to, I want it to be over. I want to be an ally. I want to move on, but it's not that easy Rianka. Yeah.
Rianka: 00:09:08 I love what you just said, Andrew, you said that. And I love two things. Well, I love everything you just said, but two things, two things I want to point out is allyship is one. Again, it's a verb. It's an action. It's an action that is continuous in practice.
Andrew: 00:09:29 Yes.
Rianka: 00:09:30 So it's not a one time thing. It, it's something that we have to be very cognizant of almost on a daily basis. And another thing you mentioned is that you're unlearning. What did that process look like for you or process? What does it look like for you today? Because I'm pretty sure you know, it's a continuance, you know, evolving thing.
Andrew: 00:10:02 Very much so. Yeah. So for me, um, yeah, I, I remember I was in college and I first heard that word of unlearning undoing, right? I think of a poet I love Nayyirah Waheed, um, she wrote a book called Salt and one of her poems is, getting yourself together. What about undoing yourself? And it's offered by the fix. Right? And I think about how often my perfectionism, my adherence to, to cultures that say I've got to be buttoned up, I got to show up as my best self, right? And rather how do I enter spaces as my authentic self and how do we make room for that? That's, that's what inclusion is, right? And so for me, I think of cultures of, I'll use my identity as a man of masculinity and what masculinity of, as we ascribe an I've ascribed to that culture is we don't do emotion, right?
Andrew: 00:10:50 Oh we do, but it's. But it's anger, right? And it has to show up in a certain way. So what that's done to me and as I've ascribed to that and just very much in real time Rianka like unlearning, undoing some of the exploration of what does that mean for me as I sort of acknowledge pain that I felt in my life. What does that mean? That I acknowledge or hurt or sadness, right? Um, and in ways that as a man, men don't cry. Men don't acknowledge that men even don't talk about that with other people, let alone other men. Right? And so for me that process has looked like striving to, uh, initiate and model and strive and in small ways, right? As much as I'm able to be vulnerable and to, and to, to, to role model with my friends who are, who are men and say, how are you doing?
Andrew: 00:11:40 How are we feeling? Right? And if you know what, what's, what's the common answer to how you doing, Rianka, what do you, what are you supposed to say?
Rianka: 00:11:46 Fine,
Andrew: 00:11:48 Fine. And we leave it at that, right? What does it mean to actually answer that question? What would it and granted not to say go to go around to every person you meet and say, well, actually Rianka if you asked me, I'm not doing so well and, and really go deep and to spend all day there, and what I am saying is that what does it mean to actually in moments with those who we call our friends, our family, our relationships. I know for me as a man to actually really answer and strive to answer that question. Some of that unlearning is even been developing a journaling practice. It's just been spending time with my thoughts in a mindfulness practice and just saying and taking stock of what do I feel?
Andrew: 00:12:23 Even even my sentence structure, my sentence stems have often started. I remember being a mentor of mine, another man, right? I think I attribute a lot of my own growth to the men, the people of Color, the women, uh, the folks in my life who have really invested in me and called me into to understanding and moments of saying, Hey Andrew, I asked you how you feel, but you started with I think what would it sound like? Does it start with I feel, and I've, and I've literally done that practice with myself and when people ask me how you, how are you doing, how you feeling? Just reminding myself to start that sentence with how I feel or in my journaling, just to start a sentence with I feel this has actually called me into deeper understanding of my emotions as opposed to keeping it as an I think.
Andrew: 00:13:09 And so it's very much some of my undoing it. I, I think just to round out sort of the, some of my thought on your question is this, to know that this stuff isn't done alone, right? This stuff is done in community. This stuff has done in relationship and so as and relationship with ourselves, that's really what allyship is, is also saying. And I think that's where we get to. It's not about me ally ship, right? A racial justice, racial equity and, and black liberation, right? They're not about me and they involve me, right? When we look at our systems of power, of oppression, of where, um, those, those, those abilities lie. Um, I do have a stake in this. I do have, and we can go deeper into some of the reasons for that are, you know, sort of my own fastest in relationship to racism, um, as someone who benefits from it every single day and I'm, what am I able to do that interrogates that within myself?
Rianka: 00:14:07 Yes. So yes, I definitely want to talk about how I'll just use your words how racism benefits you every single day. Absolutely. Let's talk about that here. On 2050 trailblazers we talked about the realness. We don't use code words 'round here, you know, so, um, so definitely want to talk about that and I also want to talk about, and so then we'll kind of circle back to that. I was reading a, um, and I'll put this in the show notes as well, uh, a Harvard business review paper article about why diversity programs fail. Um, it's, it's a article, uh, a research paper that everyone needs to read who, whoever is in the, um, who, who, who was ever in the president, the vice president of firms and organizations, the person that's directly involved with hr, the person that's directly involved with any type of diversity and inclusion program.
Rianka: 00:15:14 You need to pick up this paper and read it. So one of the, one, one of the things I want to talk to you about specifically is that you are very comfortable with naming things, Andrew. You are very just like with what you say, like how, you know, racism, racism, you know, benefits me, um, you are very comfortable with saying white or people of color black. Um, and I shared this in season one I wasn't comfortable with saying with saying those words and I kind of grew into it and Phuong, she helped me say Rianka, you know, if we are really going to move the needle with diversity and inclusion, we can't use code words like we have to name it. And so that's what I'm doing. And however, why does the word diversity stress out some white men? And I asked that question and I'm going to read a passage from this article.
Rianka: 00:16:11 Um from the Harvard Business Review, so it says diversity language and company policy can stress white men out as researchers at UC Santa Barbara and the University of Washington found when they put young white men through a simulated job interview, half of half of them for a company that touted its commitment to diversity and half for a company company that did not, in the explicitly pro diversity company. Subjects expected, discrimination against whites showed cardiovascular distress and did worse in the tape interview. Why does the word diversity stress out some, not all because you're not stressed, but why does it stress out some white men?
Andrew: 00:17:44 That's a great question. And while I don't claim to speak on behalf of all white men, right? I think we also have to acknowledge that there is some, as we call 'em, uh, there's some group membership, right? And what I mean by that is when we talk about oppression and we talk about power, we defined it on four levels. We defined it on internal, interpersonal, institutional and ideological. You can sort of see this like ecology of like starting as an individual person and then working your way out and how the ideological infects all of that. Right? And so, given that, um, I think to your point of why are or your thought around being specific, right? I love that, uh, that call, right? Because for me it's been very much in practice for me as well. I've gotten much more comfortable talking in naming dynamics which demonstrates knowing. But it also makes us clear right around what we're talking about.
Andrew: 00:18:42 And I think when we think about even the trainings that this hbr article refers to it, and I'll even say as a Harvard Grad, I only listened to Harvard Business Review, now I have to. My bias is only around Harvard. Nothing else carries weight for me anymore so we can make, can acknowledge some bias there. And, I think it brings up some really good points in that when we talk about even just the words white, right, are the words race like this didn't come out of nowhere. Right? Our responses are very much a part of that ecosystem, that social, that socialization, that says particular things about what it means to discuss these topics. And I think for now what you referenced, around white men feeling blood pressure go up feeling stress around these things. That's real, right? I don't think that's made up that, those, a real, a biological reactions to this.
Andrew: 00:19:33 But let's ask ourselves why. And I think what, what I've learned and what I've sort of gathered from, from my own experience and personal and professional, is that I think you've, Ron Heifetz talks about technical and adaptive leadership, but specifically the understanding of, uh, people aren't afraid of change. They're afraid of loss. I love that. And when I think of what it means for white men who may not necessarily maybe pro diversity pro antiracism I, yes, of course I want to see racism go away, not even on a superficial level, maybe on a deep level. And when we think of, when I go back to Ron Heifetz, he talks about he uses model and adult development called the immunity to change ITC for short immunity to change. And in that it goes through this whole process of these hidden assumptions, these hidden commitments that we have, the assumptions that we make.
Andrew: 00:20:26 And I would offer that as a white culture is white men, particularly if we had the assumption now that mentioning race or talking about race means that you are a racial bigot. Right? But we don't check the assumption that says, can you talk about race and be racially conscious, right? Can you talk about race and not be immediately labeled a bigot? Can you talk about race and actually be a pro diversity and pro building relationship is as can we talk about race in a way that actually brings us together and doesn't further divide us? And so when I think about white men discussing and talking about race, if we make the assumption that talking about race means I'm a bad person, right? Means that I'm a racial bigot. Of course I'm not going to talk about race, but if we actually start to check that assumption and say, can we talk about race in a way that doesn't immediately lead to this label and do I have the experiences under my, my, my tool belt that says, I've talked about race, I've had experiences in which race was held, race was named and it didn't immediately get inflammatory.
Andrew: 00:21:31 It was a dialogue. It wasn't debate, right? I just don't think we have enough, and I'll say as in white communities and then around white people, right? I think that there's, there's this understanding of wanting to be a, of course things like politically correct, which I know is a charged word or even a term I recently came acquainted with was just evasive or evasive racism, right? Aversive racism, I think. Yeah, aversive racism which talks a good game, which talks about diversity in these and it still doesn't really do the heavy lifting, the internal work and really the analysis, the check those assumptions and say what is, what is coming up for me right here? And instead of leaning into some discomfort, um, I think we stay in safe zones. And when I think about white people, particularly United States of being entitled and being expectant and for myself being expectant of comfort, being expectant of spaces in which I feel more than welcome to representative.
Andrew: 00:22:28 Let's take the financial planning industry. When I walk into a conference full of people who look like me, of course that's comfortable. Of course I see myself in that. Right? And so when I begin to entertain the thought that something might be, might be wrong with that, right? Or it might be exclusionary about that, that puts me in a state of discomfort and I have not been used to that. That has not been my experience, my socialization. So I will do anything I can to, to, to prevent that kind of thing.
Rianka: 00:22:59 Kind of like survival, right?
Andrew: 00:22:59 Absolutely. Yeah. I think in a, in a certain way, yes. Uh, I think it's so, it's so survival. It's really a preservation of the status quo, status quo, which is inherently inequitable. It is inherently a discriminatory is, is unjust, Rianka: 00:23:18 right. So I am, so this season, again, it's going to be a bold, fearless season and I'm going to be talking to some very public facing, um, professionals who are white and I'm so excited because I'm, I'm just really excited. Because they are they're role models. They're examples of you can still be white and pro diversity. You can still be white and pro inclusion and there's no fear for that. If anything, it's made their companies better. It's made their organizations better. Um, you know, I use diversity, uh, in the previous season. Um, the best example is food, right? I grew up with my American household. Never had any other type of cuisine other than southern and then I met my high school sweetheart, he's Haitian and then I had Haitian cuisine and my life has been changed ever since. And then I got used to having different taste on my palette and exploring other this food and I'm just like, wow, could I have been okay living the rest of my life eating cheeseburgers and hot dogs and fish sticks, yeah, but what I have truly lived. No, no. And so it's the same as when I see diversity and bringing inclusion in and just, um, you know, having an array a mosaic as what you say you don't like melting pot. I remember that from your Webinar mosaic of people and just the different cognitive diversity that they can bring to the table. It will make your organization that much more powerful.
Andrew: 00:25:13 Yes. And thank you for remembering the mosaic and I got that from somewhere else where I think about it stuff this melting pot that is assimilation, right? It's this mosaic that actually celebrates the diversity that's within this constellation that makes a bigger picture. Right? And I think just to your point around food, I think if I think in, uh, in, in the work of diversity, equity inclusion, we often think about if you were introduced to new food, you might have the mentality that's a zero sum game. So new food means your food goes away. And I'm not saying that some changes need to be made and some, I think the food analogy is a little bit different than culture and yeah, I think there's some change that ought to be made. And what does it mean that we can hold both, right? It's not this either or this duality, this, um, this is taking over the zero sum, but rather what does it mean to actually be able to say yours is, is unique, rich and valuable and as so is mine. And how can we bridge that understanding of, of what one another brings, right? And would often to the point of you re rose around coded language, right? When we often say a particular things around cultural competency or inclusion or even a melting pot. I think what, what we're often saying is still that, that language around a status quo and around still, let's just, let's keep things how they are.
Rianka: 00:26:28 Let's dig deeper, Andrew with the zero sum. So I'll let you know that through 2050 trailblazers I've received some twitter trolls, which I kind of expected
Andrew: 00:26:41 it comes with the territory.
Rianka: 00:26:42 It comes with the territory. I'm proud, you know, God built me very strong so I just blocked them. No, I'm joking.
Andrew: 00:26:51 Just black people disagree with you.
Rianka: 00:26:55 No, right. No. Right. That's not dialogue. So go ahead.
Andrew: 00:27:01 No, what I'm saying also some little self-preservation. You don't need trolls all up and down on your timeline. Like
Rianka: 00:27:07 I don't need that ain't nobody got time for that. So, but I, I think, you know, as I'm reading, because I read everything, I may not respond to everything just because there's only 24 hours in a day. Um, I read it and I'm just like this person or persons have the mentality that it is zero sum game. It's like, Oh, if I, if I bring in more diversity, then what does that mean for me? Right. And I don't think they've ever, I just like what you said and I just want to dig a little deeper. So let's. Let's let's help the trolls understand what, what we're trying to do here, you know, like the zero sum game mentality.
Andrew: 00:27:59 One of my favorite authors and social activists and his name is Thích Nhất Hạnh and he's a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk and he talks about a lot of things and his favorite, one of my favorite books, Peace is Every Step is like transformed my, my practice and just way I see the world. But he talks about this idea of inter being and he gives the analogy of when I'm reading a book and I look up into the sky and I see the clouds, I ought to be able to say it's those clouds that give way to rain that give way to trees that give way to our industry that allows me to read these words on this page. Right? And there's a relationship between what I hold in my hand and what's in the sky. Albeit very different forms. Um in a lot of different ways and I offer that one because it just, I think, reminds me of my, my relationship, uh, to even things that I really want to distance myself from and I've found in my life that particularly in doing this work as a white men, I've wanted to be seen as the good one.
Andrew: 00:29:07 I wanted to be seen as, oh, and if he gets it, he's not like the others, right? He's not like those white men. He's that like those men that you know, only talk or only anger getting to fights. They're not like those white people that are. So um just different or adhering to norms or discriminatory. He's not saying those things. He's not acting those ways. And I prided myself off of my, my relationships to people of color, my relationships to women, uh, the depth of those relationships and wanting to even implicitly maybe not always on face value, but wanting to say that's what they're doing wrong. Push them away, look at them. And I think it can feeds into this us versus them mentality. And I found that it's the moments in which I want to really point out other's flaws, that those are really the things that I struggle with most.
Andrew: 00:29:53 And so I'd known as a number and I don't know if it's 100 percent of the time, but I would wager and offer that. I wonder when people, um, I think there's space for dialogue or poking holes or really just engaging in. I'm trying to understand more deeply as opposed to I'm trying to criticize and bring down and I wonder what the relationship of that person is with themselves. If they have the framing of I'm trying to bring you down Rianka what does that mean about what I care about myself, my relationships to people and my inter being, my relationship to the world around me. And I think good begets good positive begets positive, right? I. And I'm not saying that we shouldn't have space for some dialogue, some critique, some, uh, you know, even some, some disagreement of course. And uh, I think about just this, us versus them.
Andrew: 00:30:44 And I think we can speak on our administration these times that we live in, you know, really just breaking down. I mean, we look at nearly celebrated the celebrated, but we honored the two years or just one year since Charlottesville, right? And we think about how president trump in response said, you know, there were misbehaviors on both sides. I'm paraphrasing, but it's this, it's this false equivalency, first of all, but it's also this ability and you hear in the rhetoric, not just in that moment, um, but in a lot of ways. And I'm not trying to all put it into one person or one figurehead. Certainly that that's the representation of a lot of the difficulty and struggle within our country and our world. Uh, it's a, it's a representation of that. And, um, I think of this, this is wanting to dehumanize, wanting to push away this, wanting to, uh, make someone else lesser.
Andrew: 00:31:36 So I feel like more is really out of this place of scarcity out of this, back to, you know, to bring it back in this place of zero sum, this place of I'm so a clawing for crumbs because I'm not in the space of abundance and a space of what could we do together. I just want mine of this space of individualism and the spaces I were called white culture, right? That is mine and not really communal. That is not really relational. That is not really a something of abundance or togetherness. But rather I'm going to chastise, criticize, to dehumanize in order for uh to validate or to strive to validate my, my own humanity, which is I think so, so, so deep. And um, you know, I, I continue to really wrestle with, but I think it speaks to that. um just that notion of I have this, therefore you can't have this.
Andrew: 00:32:25 And I think, and I may be miss quoting the study only slightly, but I think of studies it might, might've been a Harvard Business Review for all I know.
Rianka: 00:32:33 I'm sure it was Harvard Business
Andrew: 00:32:33 Uh, but it was absolutely, it was definitely, Harvard, but it was talking about the effectiveness of diverse teams and diverse and let's be clear, right? Diverse teams, meaning people of color, meaning across difference of gender, race, sexuality. Uh, and I think just as an aside, I think something important in this conversation especially on allyship is to think about what we even as I say the word race, I say the word gender. Where does our mind go? And I'll say where does, where has my mind often gone. When I think of race, I think of people of color. When I think of gender, I think of women and folks who aren't men, right? When I think of sexuality, I think of gay, queer.
Andrew: 00:33:13 Although when I think of race, I could also be thinking of white. When I think of gender, it could also be thinking of men, right? It's sort of that subtly. See, it's that invisibility, right? It's that norming that why would I even recognize or name, what is already of course, right? What is already norm. So just just as an aside, even in this conversation is I'm trying to explain around diverse teams or race, so I'm talking about white people, people of Color, black folks, Asian folks, specifically, right? Folks of other races and what they found was that initially in some of the beginning stages of working as a team, they're actually less effective, right? Because you're dealing with our histories and our way of interacting with folks who may have different insights, perspectives on the world and experiences that actually were justifiably so may, may actually inhibit your ability to perform as a team and what they found over a certain amount of time.
Andrew: 00:34:05 Is that actually the teams that were more diverse around identity and actually did the work to actually embrace that actually were way more effective in longevity in the long term. And so what I. What I think what we offer encountered organizations is we often. I think to your point around just the training, just the mandatory training, the sticker stamp of approval of allyship. We throw it on the board and we say how are we doing? And then we have superiors or cultures or authorities that say, is it effective? No, it's not scrap it. Right. But we actually don't give it, you know, we don't really do it, do it a solid, like we don't really go forth and say, you know, with a long-term view and say this could actually be way more effective, more vibrant. Um, if we actually stuck in this and did the work that it took.
Andrew: 00:34:51 Right? It's not just gonna happen by osmosis just by having folks in the room. I think it does take some real work to, again, to unlearn to undo and some other things. Um, and I think that's just an, I think an important piece of the conversation to know that this stuff is this, is long, this stuff is arduous, this stuff is, is not overnight. And I think the way in which we often approach these organizationally is start a taskforce, have a training, and it's often in response to. Right. I know in my experience
Rianka: 00:35:20 It's often reactive.
Andrew: 00:35:22 Exactly. Exactly right. And so I think we can maybe go into this or I think about how, uh, you know, let's take the financial planning industry and, and you're, you can speak on a much more and more than I can. I won't, I won't project to be a, an expert here by any means. And I think about, um, the reaction of saying it's all white men. And so now let's bring in folks of color. Let's, let's recruit, right? Um, if we're talking just around racial identity, right? Let's recruit, but what does it mean to actually retain?
Rianka: 00:35:54 Yes, Andrew
Andrew: 00:35:56 And what does it mean to actually, let's say you have an incident, you know, but however that might show up in the workplace, you know, then you had this training in response to, um, and it's to your point, reactive and what is actually the relational trust that you're building that allows you to hold those incidents that hold those moments when they happen, right? I'm going, I'm already going into this mandatory training because I've seen this before. I know that this is ice, that you're treating it as an isolated incident. I know we're treating this as reactive, but there's actually no real culture or behaviors, values or beliefs that say this is really important. This might just be checking of the box. This just might be a one off. Right? And so what does it actually mean to enter a space in which this is how we do business, this is how we work, right?
Andrew: 00:36:39 We value these things in a proactive way because they matter and not just in ways that I know how this plays out. I've seen this before. I can, I can just show up and go through the motions and I think I rounded out here to say, you know, I offered sort of those, those four i's of oppression, if you will, and that interpersonal, ideological, so on and so forth. I think are these trainings, uh, and a DEI diversity, equity, inclusion work as a whole lot of ways people approach it. And in my experience, what I've often found that organizations do is they hang out in the interpersonal, the hangout in the. Andrew said this to Rianka. Let's talk about that interpersonal level stuff. And while certainly important is a very striking, salient level of oppression, of discrimination. It's often one, not done in a, in a proactive or a long-term way, but it's also doesn't talk about what is the other stuff in place structurally, culturally, ideologically, even internally, what informed by my doing it.
Rianka: 00:37:43 Institutionally
Andrew: 00:37:44 Exactly. So, and I think that, I mean, even for myself, I, oh, I think it's hard to put your finger on that stuff and it's, it's harder, it's a bit more elusive and it takes pretty unskilled and being able to identify those things so that I know there's some good, uh, uh, leaders of organizations, that are really making strides in being able to do that and then help folks figure that out. But I think a lot of that, um, I think a lot about that in terms of how we go about these trainings and how we go in. Um actually approach the work at least organizationally.
Rianka: 00:38:12 Oh my gosh. Andrew, I have, you just throughout so much. Um, I have so many questions. Let me figure out where I'm going to tackle or what, what am I going to tackle first? All right, one of the things that I mentioned, which I think ally ship can definitely, uh, be a part of conversation is retention. And I've shared very briefly, um, in one of the episodes, um actually, I don't think I shared this, I think I was sharing this with someone, so I'll share it now is that, you know, the industry, the profession in and of itself is doing a great job bringing awareness around. You can have a career in financial planning, you know, become a certified financial planner. Um, you know, there's campaigns around it, um, you know, career paths being put in place there, you know, you can be in the financial service industry and not just be a financial advisor, you can go to the fintech space, you can be on the marketing side.
Rianka: 00:39:23 Like there's so many different career paths, right? Which is fantastic. It's Awesome. You know, we're bringing more people into the profession. We're growing the profession. Um, we are directly targeting younger professionals. You know, students to think about financial planning as a career. We're targeting women. Um, the number of women that has held the CFP designation has remained the same for the past 13, 14 years at 23 percent and then the number of people of color which was just released by the CFP board, um, you know, for black people, I think that holds the CFP is 1200, Hispanics I think maybe is like 13, 14 and Asian, um, are a little bit more. And there's also some criticism on that. It's like, well, why did it take so long? And my stance on that is like they did it and now we have a foundation to measure upon so that we can start projecting forward.
Rianka: 00:40:30 Like why are we harping around, why did it take them so long? Let's just acknowledge, right, it's here. We have a foundation, so let's build upon that. So that's great. We're bringing folks on, um, or we're helping explore this as a career path. How do we retain them? Right. So, and this is from an institutional standpoint, which is, you know, the four i's that you mentioned is where we need, as an industry, need to have hyper laser focus on creating cultures. And institutionally, well, how to retain these women, how to retain these people of color. And I'll share my experience real quick. So I grew up, um, in Norfolk, Virginia and um, went to high school in Virginia Beach. Virginia beach is diverse. Well, at least the high school I went to was very diverse. I went to Salem High School, shout out 757, and it was a fantastic mixture of Asian, Filipinos.
Rianka: 00:41:46 It was a lot black, Hispanic. Um, white. And we all were friends. Like of course we had our group of friends, but we all were friends. So I graduated high school. I went to Virginia Tech, Love Virginia Tech. Nobody talk bad about Virginia tech, go Hokies. But I experienced culture shock because it was all white people. Like in all of my classes I was the only one I was put into or got accepted into a leadership program which even isolated me more because now I'm in a totally separate dorm specifically for this leadership program. And um out of, you know, I'm trying to. Maybe it was like 202. I was maybe one of two in this leadership uh this leadership community and I had to figure out as a student how to become comfortable again within my own skin. I had to wear that every single day and show up to class.
Rianka: 00:43:05 Okay. I am very grateful for the student service center because, and the counseling that they had there because I had to go there a few times. I sometimes was the first black person that a white person has met and they were not afraid to share that. Like, Oh, Rianka what? What kind, what kind of name is that? First of all to. Um like, you're the first black person I've met. And I was like, oh, okay. Um, how do I respond to this and this like, oh, your hair is different and you know, just different things like that. And I'm just like, ok, how do. So not only was that homesick, I was in culture shock. People were, they were pointing out every single day how I was different from them and let's, let's not get into how many times I was challenged as a freshman in these leadership classes.
Rianka: 00:44:05 But it helped me grow to the person I am today and as a professional. So when I enter into the financial service industry, specifically within the financial planning profession, I was not shocked. There was no culture shock for me. I was used to it. I was used to being what I call a chameleon, which I'll talk about in some later episodes, which I was suppressing who I truly was. That that's what I've learned. I was truly suppressing who I was. My concern is for the professionals who have not had a chance to be comfortable within their own skin, um, and kind of figure that out as a student. Like I had the opportunity to figure that out as a student. That's why I'm so confident when I'm the only person in the room. Um, I notice it and you know, I'm like, okay, like this is, I'm, I'm used to this.
Rianka: 00:45:06 There's recruiting happening directly to HBCUs, historically black colleges and universities to come into the financial planning profession. That's fantastic. That's awesome. That's creating a, a, you know, a diverse pipeline. However, they are going to be culture shocked. What are institutions doing? So is it the institution's responsibility? And this is a very rhetorical question, I don't expect Andrew to have the answer, but is it the institution responsibility or is it the professional responsibility to help? And this is, and this is what I mean because, and I'm so sorry, I'm just getting fired up about this. And so when, so when I'm just thinking about this conversation and I can see like someone trying to explain this in like a Facebook group messaging and um, the response unfortunately specifically from white people are like, well what about me? Why don't I have a specific resource to help me assimilate, you know, but it's like, but you don't get it, right.
Rianka: 00:46:12 It is like, it's a culture shock and so it's just like what are the ins? And I'm so long winded, what are the institutions doing? What is the profession doing to help retain? So all of that to say, for those who have not had the privilege of figuring their self out and their own identity as a student, which I had the privilege to do, there are some people figuring this out as a professional. They're figuring this out as a professional trying to get through these programs because some don't go through the RIA space, which is registered investment advisory firm, which you get a salary and your job is to learn, um, some go into the broker wirehouses, the broker dealers where the first year your job is to learn. The second year is for you to eat what you kill. And on top of trying to learn on top of studying for these various, various licenses on top of studying for the CFP, you're still trying to get culturally assimilated with being the only person in the room. They have to wear that every day. I have four years to figure that out. Sorry.
Andrew: 00:47:31 Please, please don't apologize. I just, um, what you're sharing I think is so powerful. I just appreciate you sharing your experience there are actually a lot of points of certainly the different way, but have resonance for me. Um, if I can share, I think, uh, um, you know, this growing up I grew up in and around Detroit, Michigan. I grew up in a white working class suburb two miles north of Michigan or two miles north of Detroit and I went to a, a, a private school in the city right in the city of Detroit. Actually similar to what sounds like your experience is actually pretty representative of the Detroit Metropolitan Region, racially, ethnically, and um, and it was growing up in a working class household. I grew up in also a multiracial household. My oldest brother, I'm the youngest of three boys. My oldest brother is biracial black and um, so growing up with his experience and growing up with just my own navigating a multiple worlds, right.
Andrew: 00:48:25 Growing up in also predominately black communities and feeling very comfortable from a young age looking to black authority. Um, and I say black specifically is a lot of my upbringing was mostly black and white, along that binary. Um, and I think of how much that informed, uh, from a young age what I was comfortable with also uncomfortable with, but then I think of most recently, this past year I spent, uh, in graduate school and I think about coming in as a first generation graduate student coming in as a, someone who grew up working class, right. And was pretty a little fearful, right? Of like, oh, what am I going to experience? I don't know, especially at Harvard School of Education, you know, what's going to be here, am I going to feel comfortable? Um, what resources will be at my disposal? Right. And I noticed how quickly after only a couple of months being there, um, you know, of course coming in with imposter syndrome and feeling like, oh, do I belong?
Andrew: 00:49:17 And for me that dissipated. I'll be honest, that dissipated fairly quickly for me. And then I looked at my peers and friends who are people of color holding other marginalized identities and they go, no, that really never went away. And not to say 100 percent of me ever, whatever environment you know you're in, I think there's always pieces of you or that may not show up in its full way. And that's okay. But I think about how much my dominant and privileged identities facilitated my comfort, right? My identity is a white man, right? Lent itself to some of the culture. Even if I held other identities that may not have fit in so, so seamlessly. I wonder. I mean, I wonder, right? I don't know for a fact, but it begs the question of what was it about these identities and a culture that.
Andrew: 00:50:04 And I'll say I found to be loving critical, relational in many ways and look fondly on the people I met, the experience I had at HBSC. And um, what does it mean about our institutions, which is not only, you know, the way I went to school, but also other schools and in cultures and workplace environments that actually say what's the culture here? And I think about a sort of, to something that you, you, you mentioned Rianka. And I've heard from peers of mine that it may, you may relate to this, that it was another courseload being a person of color in higher education. It was like I'm going to my classes, and I'm still I'm teaching in a formal classes to my peers who see me as expert and looking for my opinion and I'll be honest, as a white, as a white person, right? As white man, right.
Andrew: 00:50:52 A lot of my learning has come from people of color come from women come from, you know, Lgbtq folks, right? Has absolutely come from them. But I cannot claim to have the expectation that every let's say around race. Every person of color, every time is a position in able or even wanting to invest in my learning that way. Right? And for me to be entitled and expectant upon that is how much weight I wonder. Right. I don't know from experience, but I wonder is being carried into these organizations, into these cultures. And I think the other thing that you said that really struck me was around, you know, of course, how do we support, you know, members of the Lgbtq community, people of Color, women in the workplace, of course. And what is, what is, what does it say about the culture that is present, right?
Andrew: 00:51:40 What are the values, beliefs, behaviors that are actually creating the need for that additional support? Right. I think about allyship and I think about, uh, my own, I love the term positionality and really what that encases is, um, where am I situated in the world given the intersection of my identities, my social identities, and where does that position me and my ability to have power in the world. I mean, we all have it. It's just where we're situated that may vary, uh, you've mentioned chameleon. I, you know, I think about code switching, I think about the ability to show up in different, you know, different locations in different ways. But I think about my own work. And I, I, uh, I think about the get your people like, people, Andrew get your people. Like usually when someone says something outlandish stuff and they'd be like, get your people man, like what you're doing. It's like that. I think about allyship is like get your people
Rianka: 00:52:33 yo, that is so funny and I don't. Half of the people who listen to this probably won't even know what you talking about Andrew.
Andrew: 00:52:40 So, get your people means a who
Rianka: 00:52:44 It's a colloquialism for
Andrew: 00:52:49 basically who do you relate to? Who, who looked like you, who, who share some characteristics and experiences with you. And so for me as a white person navigating as a racial equity work and I. I used the example of racial equity in that. That's been a very salient identity for me. It's been very intersecting, but it's very much been a is the focus of a lot of my dialogue work, my training, consulting and I say that because what is, what is white work, right? I think if in the financial industry and in professional life and personal living, my work is not to run to communities of color and say, let me help you. Let me I mean that's, that's, that's akin to some colonialism that's akin to some savior mentality. It's akin to, you know, and it's not to say there's not that solidarity that work with that relationship, but it, and it is also to say, what is my work as a white person my positionality?
Andrew: 00:53:38 My impact to work with white people to push on cultures that I represent, that I look like, that I assimilate, that I find comfort in what is my ability to identify that to work with my people. I don't mean that to say my people, your people in that us and them, but I think people who look like me in that way who share some
Rianka: 00:54:00 Get your people
Andrew: 00:54:00 some thank you. Um, but what is, I think my work, and this is very much, again, very much in process of thinking about what is my work with other white people in ways that even several years ago and in my upbringing, what I even think about that, to think about racial equity work as a white person with other white people, even folks listening to this may go, what? What would that even look like? Right? What does, what does that mean?
Andrew: 00:54:21 Is, is race even present? And I'll say race race is present even in what we don't, we don't often, I'll say I don't right in our cultures often don't consider that to be a facet of the work. And so when I think about all that to say I think about cultures and think about the work of retaining retention and recruitment, um, yes, I think about affinity groups in the workplace, you know, for women. And maybe if you participate in those, I'm not sure. Absolutely. I think there's, there's room for processing and support from folks who may be experiencing things similar to you. Right. And uh, what is the room for actually creating the conditions where we actually prevent or proactive, right in some of the very things and dynamics that contribute to people who aren't historically represented in industry of being pushed out. Those are the questions I seek to answer. I think I really find a lot of a community in I think are often the hardest ones to talk about.
Rianka: 00:55:25 Yeah. I have two questions for you and I want to say them both just so I can say it out loud and we can remember one is what, what is the role of, and I don't mean to say this in a way that is a burden upon your shoulders that you have to answer this question um in and speaking for white men, but like what is the role and in this view of ally ship, of the role of the white man? So that's my first question. My second question slash comment is you bring up a very valid point of it is very privileged for a white person to come up to a person of color and expect us to actually share with you what it feels like to be a person of color in and, and, and to be the only person in the room like for us to open up.
Rianka: 00:56:25 It's, it's a rush of so many different emotions because you don't know the struggles, um, that we encounter on a daily basis. And it's so much mental and it's so much. It's just a lot. And I say that in, in a, in from a racial diversity standpoint because yes, I understand there's social economic diversity. Understand there's gender diversity specifically right now I'm talking about racial diversity, um, because, um, I always hear the person, well, what about me? You know, like I'm thinking about these trolls of just like, well, yeah, what you're saying is, well, what about me? I grew up poor and I'm like, I'm not dismissing that. I'm totally not this missing that what I'm talking about right now is my experience from a racial perspective. And um, so thank you for saying that out loud. Um, and, and I think so many, quite a few people came up to me over the years of just like, Hey, can you talk about what it means to be a woman, specifically a woman of color in the financial planning industry. I'm just like, what, you're asking for a lot and you want me to say this on a podcast. You want me to say this in an interview? You want me to write about this? Like you're asking for a lot, sir.
Rianka: 00:57:49 And so now I finally got very comfortable with saying it out loud in a, in a, in a way where it's just not about me because I'm bringing other people on like Andrew, um, so that we can have this dialogue together and it's very comfortable and it just so happens that thousands upon thousands of people are listening to this conversation and hopefully it impacts you in a way that you start to feel comfortable in stepping in your own truth and your authentic self. So that was more so of a comment. But. So let's go back to the question. What is your role? What is the role?
Andrew: 00:58:28 I think both of those are powerful questions that, um, that I actually start with the second and more speak to, I think some of your comment and question and it's sort of feed into that role. Right? And I, I'll start by saying I think it was actually pretty alleviating or relieving for me and to think there's no playbook. It's not to say that there are not some practices and things that we can do. I'm not saying that that should stall us out and it's to say if we're looking for some magic playbook that's going to tell me one, two, three, ABC, it doesn't exist. Right? And, and even if I had one, it's not a one to one, like my, my roles my experiences, my perspectives, even as someone who we can go down a list and hold all the identities that I hold, it's, you're still going to show up in the world differently than I do.
Andrew: 00:59:14 Right? So I even, as I preface that to say, even as I offer my own perspective and I think some real, some gifts that I've been given from, from folks around how to sort of approach this work. Um, it's, I don't, I just, when I heard that there's no playbook, right? Actually allowed me to say I'm going to be imperfect. I'm going to mess up. And so I, I say that to say what does it mean to create the conditions in which I can be imperfect or, and I think both outside of myself but also inside of myself. And so I love the, and I mentioned this on the Webinar you saw was around the Leo Tolstoy quote, and I found this and I'll give credit to Dr Darnisa Amante and DEEP, which is the disruptive education equity project. Um, uh, she does a lot of racial equity work and her organization is phenomenal.
Andrew: 01:00:00 I got just a mentor of mine and just phenomenal. Um, but she talks about
Rianka: 01:00:06 We'll put her in the show notes.
Andrew: 01:00:07 Yes, she's, she's fantastic. And her organization is doing some really compelling work. Uh, but she, she offered that quote of Leo Tolstoy, which says everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves. I think he, he said himself for this. Maybe I paraphrase it, but that's the sentiment there is everybody wants to change the world, but it's as if it's outside of ourselves. Right? And I think, I think the cultures that I've been steeped in, I'll say from my role and what is, what is white work, what does it work as a white man in the world? The diversity, equity inclusion, which I would offer is the world, right? Um, I think I so often want to skip over the diagnosis of the problem and want to rush immediately into action, right?
Andrew: 01:00:51 And I'm not saying action not important, but what I am saying is how are we spending the time and developing the practices that allow us to even identify what are the issues we've been trying to tackle? Right? And I would offer that, uh, our mindset, our initial reaction to go out at people, right? Apt Communities, right. Go out and serve. And I'm not, I'm not saying that there's not room for international service and collaboration in solidarity that's embedded in anti-oppression's. Identity, you know, defining of allyship and it's to say what is my work as a white men to undo, to unlearn, to go to therapy, right. Was huge for me to have a journaling practice. Huge for me, right? To develop specific relationships. And I say this to your earlier point around what does it mean to put that weight upon people of Color on racial equity or racial diversity.
Andrew: 01:01:42 Right? And I think here a lot around consent and we often, I often think of consent in terms of a relationship or a gender and sexuality and know consent around two partners, right? I often, I would urge us to think about it in other ways such as how to even have the conversation. So let's say Rianka, you had maybe said something in class or you know, I have a, you know, and we're assuming that I have an established relationship with you before entering this conversation. Right? I think that's one thing we often don't think about is what's the container in which we're having this very conversation, are you a stranger to me? I probably shouldn't randomly go up to you and ask that because there is no understanding of where we're coming from. Right? And I may not because I may think of myself just as an individual right. I'm not part of a larger group. Um, I'm just, I'm just asking you a question Rianka, but in fact, if I came up to you, to ask that question, it sounds like I'd be one of hundreds, thousands of people who have asked you those same questions. Right? Just tell me your experience, but to my understanding in my purview, I'm only seeing it from my, my individual lens and so what I want.
Rianka: 01:02:49 That's a good point. Can I pause right there. That's a really good point because from Andrew's view, Andrew, think he is the first and only person who has asked this question to me. Little does he know he's the 50th person and so it becomes very draining and so yes. Yes. Thank you for pointing that out.
Andrew: 01:03:14 On that. In this work we often talk about intent versus impact, right? And so my intention in asking what is it like as a, as a woman of color in their financial industry. My intent, absolutely. Good natured, goodhearted learning frame. I want to know the impact of my, of my asking of that is, another one. Just more like this is on me. I'm about to represent because I've had lived a life it sounds like, or I'm assuming, right? And I make assumptions, right, which in college and at VT like I've had to represent more than just myself in which I operate in a world where we talked ideologically on in the news and movies and media as it just one facet. I don't have to represent myself because I am. There are many versions of folks who look like me and there's not that association, so that intent versus impact fees.
Andrew: 01:04:02 Given the relationship. There might also be this ability for me to say, Hey, Rianka I had this thought come up, or I read this thing. I was wondering if I could process it with you. Do you have the space today to be able to talk about that? Or there was another time we might be able to have that conversation and I say what my mother said to me growing up, but she said, you can ask any question you want as long as you can hear no for an answer. As long as you can hear no as an answer. I love that because in my asking that of you, it's not to say that's exempt from power dynamics and you know the. You may feel pressured, but hopefully we've created a cultivated relationship in which I'm able to genuinely say Rianka, I'd like to have this conversation, could we have that? And is there a time in which we could discuss that and that hopefully puts it on you to be able to say, actually Andrew, like it's a great question.
Andrew: 01:04:49 You're asking go talk to this person or read this book or Google like. And I think that's the other piece, you know, we even jokingly might be like Google it and while I wouldn't claim to say racism will be solved and I will un-internalize all my racism by googling stuff and just reading. But I think it's both, it's relationship, it's all that. And I would really encourage like, what is the work look like? It looks like reading, right? It looks like, like picking up some books it looks like, um, you know, really doing that understanding and that folks will never, no one will ever be able to speak for you, Rianka, more more than you. And if I'm curious about what women of color face in the financial industry or in corporate America or you name it, I would offer that there's probably someone who's crystallized that in some words somewhere that you can go read and be able to at least garner some more understanding that is outside of yourself.
Andrew: 01:05:45 Right? And so I think about this ability to read and digest and learn information, right? Both interpersonally, but also via resources that are, that is the magic of the Internet, that is the magic books, of the written language. And then also to be able to approach that via a question. But I think about a, if you've been there, you know, some folks will say, you know, how's your day? And even in my, I'm messed up, right? Even in my, my trial I mentioned earlier, I want to, I want to share how, how I feel, right? So therefore I've had people ask me, how are you feeling? So I'm like, this is my time. I'm going to unlearn some masculinity here. And then I just pour out all what I'm feeling. I, oh, go on and on and on. And I get that stunned look and I get, Ooh, you're dealing with a lot.
Andrew: 01:06:28 And then what does it mean that I'm, then we have a situation. Right? And then it's well did I just burn that bridge? Does that person just walk away? Do I do acknowledge and is my ability then to say, Rianka, I just want to apologize. I want a name that I just feel like I said a lot of things to you and I feel like if that was too much and I just want to say, how did that land on you? And was that too? How did that feel for you? And you might say, actually that was cool. Like you, you went in without asking you, you just went in and started sharing. Okay. Um, that was okay. Or it might say, hey, next time I'm happy to let you know, happy to hold space for you. I'm happy to listen.
Andrew: 01:07:03 And, um, you know, I've, I've also have a lot going on and now I'd love for us to find a time in which you could, I could really feel present and add to that conversation. So I think about consent. I think about intent versus impact. I think about entering a space of dialogue. Um, and I think about really having, done some, some personal work. I imagine that it might sound different to you Rianka if I say, Hey, I read this book by this author, woman of Color, what Audrey, Lord, one of my favorites. And I think about, let's say let's say I at least did some, I at least displayed some understanding, some knowing, some work. Even if you're not ready to have that conversation, I imagine that it might even some different than tell me everything there is to know about this
Rianka: 01:07:47 Andrew. I mean because that's how I was going to transition and just mentioned like just showing that you care by not just asking a blanket statement but just sharing some of the research that you've done. And this is where, this is where I'm coming from and why I'm asking this question. And then second that with do you have time to talk about it right now? And if not, then I would love to kind of, you know, find and space to talk about it because randomly coming up to me at a conference and just blurted this out and just like, Hey, yeah, tell me about how you feelin' right now. That's probably not the best time for me to talk about it, but you know, especially if it's a friend or a colleague who has turned into a friend in which I respect our relationship, I want to give that time and thought.
Rianka: 01:08:38 And at that present moment I probably can't. So I love the kind of role play that you were doing there. Of, you know, I've, I actually care about this and I'm showing you that I care because I've done my research and now I'm asking you a question very intentionally. And then I'm asking a second question of is right now the great time, is a good time. And so I want to. I'm being very mindful of the episode length, and you know, I was, for the listeners, I was chatting with Andrew ahead of time, I was like, all right, I'm going to try to keep these episodes at, to at least 50 minutes at most an hour and, but you see why we can't keep it at an hour. Oh my goodness. I'm just, you know, looking at our time. So I'm just going to ask, um, a couple more questions and if there's definitely something that you want to make sure you, you mentioned and for the listeners, definitely let me know, but one of the things that I found so impactful, um, that I didn't even know was the picture that you showed during your webinar and it was the 1968 summer Olympics and I'll make sure that this picture is in the show notes, but yeah, let's talk about this.
Rianka: 01:10:08 Um, so first I want explain, explain what the picture is and then I have a question for you.
Andrew: 01:10:16 Thanks for raising this. I love this picture and that it's a picture. It's an iconic photo from the 1968 summer Olympics and you recognize there's a three medalists were standing on the podium, those being Tommy Smith, John Carlos, and a third man I'll speak to in a moment. And they're raising their fists. Um, it was traditionally known as the black power salute, although Tommie Smith in his biography years later, um, would talk about it as a human rights salute. And what's happening is it's this iconic photo that is often deemed as very representative of black power, of liberation, of, of really taking a political stance at the Olympics. Right? And what, what a, what a courageous move that was. Right? And there's another story that I think really relates to our conversation in allyship, which is that third person in the photo and the third person in the photo is a man by the name of Peter Norman.
Andrew: 01:11:09 And Peter Norman was a silver medalist from Australia. And you might say, oh, he's just, he's just along for the ride. He's just in the photo. But actually Peter Norman. And I also love the fact that we don't know his name, right? Because again, it's not about him, but involves him in that Peter Norman, um actually, if you notice Tommie Smith and John Carlos, one is wearing a right glove, one is wearing the left. Those were Peter Norman's gloves. If you notice too on the left breast that Peter Norman, he has an Olympic project for human rights badge. Right? And he said his quote was, I'll stand with you right, Tommie Smith and John Carlos before they got on the podium, he said, I will stand with you and I just wonder how we can how we're able to use that phrase in our allyship. What does it mean that I will stand with you?
Andrew: 01:11:57 I will not stand over you and I will not stand in front of you. I will stand with you. I think a lot about allyship is just showing up. It's just being present. It's just naming it right. It's just doing that. And so, um, you also notice part of the photo or it's not in the photo, but Tommie Smith and John Carlos were their, their metals were stripped. Um, I think years later they actually US Olympic committee apologize and think they were re-given. I might be misspeaking there, but the fact that was Peter Norman faced a lot of criticism when he went back to Australia have faced a lot of repercussions and consequences. And so it's just to say, and I think to really some questions that I would offer that we ask ourselves as allies, not just as a white person to people of color and black power movements, right in the way that Peter Norman did, but it's to say whatever our identities and allying with a community of people that have been historically marginalized.
Andrew: 01:12:47 It's to say what's at stake for me? Where am I in this? Right? It's asking questions like, you know, just taking stock inventory of what are my privileged identities, what are my marginalized identities, right? How am I engaging in, what are my practices of self-reflection? I think of Paulo Freire, a wrote a book called Pedagogy of the Oppressed, the seminal book and like Liberation Education. Um, but I think really a transmittable to a lot of different to life. And it talks about this word practice, which I love, and it's practice meaning the balance of reflection and action. And just to be a reflect, just to stay only in reflection is to be inactive, right? Is just to be a shut in a room somewhere. And maybe you're reading a lot of books. I mean, that's, that's great. And without action, what, what good is it? And if you only sit in action, you only sit in activism without the analysis without the reflection.
Andrew: 01:13:42 Without that, why am I here? What is my why? What is my stake in this? What is my relationship to this work? Asking that in critical ways. You're only just guided by, uh, you know, the, you know what's in the air that month, right? But what does it mean to actually hold both, to actually say, to be someone like Peter Norman and say, I can actually empathize. I, I know there's a documentary on him called salute or not by him. I think it's by his son came out in 2008 called Salute. And it talks about his own ability to empathize and think about is an own experience seeing the aboriginals or indigenous folks who were in Australia be so systemically and interpersonally marginalized and to be able to resonate and empathize with the struggle of black Americans and people of color in United States and said, I will stand with you. This is important to me too. Albeit in a different way. Right? And so I just, I love the, what that, what that illustrates where Peter Norman for that picture and specifically allyship.
Rianka: 01:14:43 Yeah. Yeah. So here we have Peter Norman didn't know his name before the Webinar. Um, but I've, I've, I know that picture and I think many people know that picture. Many people assume a lot when looking at that picture. So to understand that backstory, to understand the two gloves that are being held up by two black men are actually the white man's glove, like Peter Norman's gloves. Um, and he gave his gloves to them. He wore a pendant of saying, you know, I'm standing with you. And He, and he was on the pedestal with them and he received some backlash for that. And if I understand you correct the, um, the two gentleman as well received some backlash.
Andrew: 01:15:37 Oh, Tommy Smith and John Carlos received the most backlash. I think that relates into when we talked about positionality and risk taking and vulnerability. Um, you know, I think as I think particularly in allyship, what is my ability to take risks and be vulnerable in ways that, you know, I don't think it's, I don't think it's a stretch Rianka to know that me and you could say the exact same thing in the room, standing side by side, right? We could say it the same way, same caden, same words, and it will probably be received differently, am I, but I was. That I think is important to understand in the context of allyship and what it means to take action, what it means to actually model and take risks in a way that also lead to some consequence. Right? Um, and I, I think about also allyship is what am I willing to sacrifice, right?
Andrew: 01:16:29 And I think that's a personal question that we all ought to ask ourselves and I, I strive and continue to redefine an answer and what, what am I willing to sacrifice for, for equity, for social justice, right? And to know that, you know, there's, there's, there's some change change underway. Um, I think of, if I can just offer, I think of something you've written, I think really important just to include in this conversation is thinking about just the role of dialogue, right? As opposed to we often approach these conversations and approach understandings of allyship with debate, which you're right, you're wrong that us versus them, but what does it mean to actually engage in dialogue which is from a place of curiosity, which is from a place of mutual understanding, which is combining both your head and heart, which is actually a seeking new options. Open ended, open to new. Um open to new ways of being in the world. And so I think about as we approach this work from a dialogical stance, there's not just the way that's interpersonal recognized having a dialogue, right? Of you and I are having a dialogue, but is actually to say what's the dialogue of having internally, how am I asking myself these questions and being open to where that leads me, right? How am I engaging in that reflection and action, which are so, so critical.
Rianka: 01:17:41 Yes, and I think you're leading me into my final question, which is, and you probably just answered it, but what advice or should or suggestions do you have for professionals who are seeking to become a dynamic ally? And remember there's a, there's a difference between being a static ally wearing a sticker on your shirt or wearing a tee shirt that says you're an ally and being a dynamic ally. Changing that noun into a verb. What advice or suggestions do you have for these professionals?
Andrew: 01:18:20 First, I would say to answer what are your ongoing consistent practices that allow you to engage in reflection? Right? Um, and so for me, I mentioned I, I can't stress it enough in terms of developing a specific coaching relationships. I mean, that's the consent piece of saying there are particular people in my life that I say a Justin Fritas who's a trainer with the People's Institute for survival and beyond. They do anti-racist organizing. I had a relationship with Justin and said Justin, you're engaging in this coaching practice. I would ask that you be my coach right around sort of my own development identity and relationship to this work. Right? There was a consensual relationship finding, identifying who are your people. It's also saying, how am I engaging in practices that allow me to reflect on how I show up, what's important to me, how I'm making meaning and what's coming up for me as I engage and enter some discomfort.
Andrew: 01:19:13 Right? And so that for me looked like therapy that for me looked like journaling that for me, it looked like quiet time and that may not be for everyone, but I think identifying what are your practices? Is it working out? Is it playing basketball? Is it, you know, fill in the blank there. I also think about, um, thinking about who you're, who's, who's at the table and who is making decisions. Right. I often think about how engaging in diversity, equity inclusion work, we'd like to have it as window dressing. We like to say the words we like to include it in our mission statements and what does it mean that those practices are actually changing how you do your work, not just what you're doing and what I mean by that is not just what you're saying, but how you're going about your work in that.
Andrew: 01:19:56 Uh, in community organizing we talked about not about us without us, right? And we're making decisions about certain folks right? Often if we look at the financial industry, looking at who's not at the table, right? How are we ensuring that those people are actually given not just a positional titles, right? But are actually given the power and decision making within organizations, uh, to be, uh, in collaboration and changing that culture, right? So I think about yeah, not about us without us and the decision making. And then third, and there's a laundry list, but I think of just coming from me now is I'm putting your money where your mouth is. Money, money isn't everything and it is something, it is something. And so now is it to say I'm just gonna and I think about allyship, I'll say for my practice is analyzing the relationship of charity versus justice, right?
Andrew: 01:20:53 In saying that charity is often a model where, um, people in the example of let's say food people need to eat today, people are hungry, charity would be let's make sandwiches, let's make food, right? Let's feed people great important. And we're looking upstream, we're being proactive, not just reactive and saying, how are we preventing people from even being hungry in the first place? What would it mean that people have the means and capacity to already have food, right? And so what does it mean when we're saying put your money where your mouth is, support organizations, it's the actually investigate how we conceptualize a money or foundations and to actually say what does it mean to say I want to support this cause I'm going to support people, let's say around racial justice or you know, let's use the example around Lgbtq issues, right? I'm going to support Lgbtq led, you know, and if we want to be intersectional Lgbtq led people of color led organizations that are community centered, I'm going to support those organizations.
Andrew: 01:21:52 Right? And this it's no shade to I think really large international organizations that are also doing good work. But I think for my own practice and just also my own understanding and relationship to local communities, how even in the practice of researching, understanding who, who, who does benefit, who and how can I get more information and talk to folks about where might we be able to support, um, and, and, and give money and I'll note without strings attached. I think having worked in the nonprofit industry, often receiving funds and grants and found, you know, foundational money or, or giving, um, is often attached to what they think we ought to be doing. Um, and so we actually had to switch what we found to be most effective on the ground working with, uh, communities to actually appeal to those, to those donations. So I say that to say, um, I would, I would consult folks who are much more knowledgeable than I am on that, but I, I think I'd be remiss if I was talking with you in the financial industry Rianka and then did not say that a money and wealth redistribution.
Andrew: 01:22:54 I mean you all are, you know, very knowledgeable and experts on this more than, more than I am certainly, but to think about what does it mean to actually build wealth, to redistribute and to actually a contribute to the work that is existing and how can we build upon that I think is really knowing your history and knowing what you're entering, but before making the assumption, I think in the example of our conversation and our roleplay, right? If you Rianka, it's actually saying what's happened before me and really doing some of your diagnosis to say what's here before me? How can I learn from, how can I work with not at and how can I really continue in those, those processes of learning, of undoing and unlearning.
Rianka: 01:23:32 Wow. Thank you so much, Andrew. This has been a phenomenal conversation, a very dynamic, very, I mean, so many key takeaways that we will make sure we put in the show notes. Um, and just thank you so much for your time. I appreciate, you know, all of what you just shared with us and also your vulnerability and your authenticity with just sharing your knowledge and, you know, giving the financial industry, um, some, some things to think about. So thank you.
Andrew: 01:24:11 Thank you, Rianka. I really appreciate the invitation and the space to be here and just be in dialogue with you. It means a lot to, to be invited here. I appreciate it.