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Newsletter editor Lily here.
Over the past week or so, there’ve been a lot of important conversations happening around what it means to be an ally to the Black community as well as to communities of color and marginalized communities at large.
On the Chairman Mom side of things, in addition to checking out our upcoming virtual events on anti-racism parenting (June 17th), becoming a better ally (June 19th), and taking part in economic allyship for Black women (June 30th), you can also take a look at several thought-provoking Chairman Mom threads on allyship below and weigh in. And on top of that, Sarah is building a group of allies to work through Layla Saad’s Me and White Supremacy workbook for those interested in doing so.
It all started a few weeks ago. I had my kids for the entire week and was desperately trying to find something to occupy them that wasn’t a screen and didn’t lead to bickering. I pulled out a “Draw your favorite Pixar characters!” book that we’d bought on our last trip to Disneyland…and never used. (It’s on my newly created “I’m bored” shelf in the kids’ imagination room. They’ve rapidly learned that those words immediately lead to an activity like shrinky dinks or making emoji bracelets or their own underwater snow globes.)
This past weekend, I put work aside for a few days, and I started Layla Saad’s Me and White Supremacy. In some ways it is a surprisingly gentle book, acknowledging that we were all born into this and it is never too late to start working to make the world more just. At the same time, it is not a book that is going to let you sit back and nod and tell yourself it’s addressed to other white people. You have to do the work that Saad leads you to do through 28 days of journaling prompts.
It’s pretty powerful, painful, and amazing. She says that because the work is emotional and hard and no one is giving you an “ally” prize at the end of it, sometimes it helps to do it in groups. Those groups are ideally non-Black people, since we should NOT rely on Black people to be our emotional labor as we unpack our roles in a white supremacist system. We’ve got a lot of non-Black women in this community who seem to be looking for ways to become more anti-racists. (I know because hundreds of you have signed up for this event or this one or this one.) So if you’d like to do it with me, I have a thread about that today.
“Only one of you raised your hand when I asked if you were actively looking for a new job, but every single one of us is auditioning for our jobs every single day.” That was the sobering but also perfectly encapsulated wisdom that career coach Joanna Bloor shared with a group of women at a virtual Chairman Mom event two weeks ago.
If women needed some sort of unfair advantage to bring them back to parity in the job market before, the game is permanently changed post-COVID. They’ll need a lot more than a temporary Band-Aid to adjust to these times. The same goes for individual employees when it comes to managing their own careers, keeping them on track, or ideally finding opportunities to accelerate them right now.
There were some tepid celebrations a few weeks ago when Fortune announced there was a “record-high” number of female CEOs running Fortune 500 companies this year. That “record high” number to celebrate? Thirty seven. Out of 500.
More disturbing: As Fortune’s The Broadsheet pointed out at the time, not a single one of those 37 was a Black woman.
We have harped and shown data and pointed out and griped about the importance of companies becoming more diverse, but while some gains get made in some demographics, Black women remain wildly underrepresented in American boardrooms. Meanwhile, new data shows that they are paying the highest price, economically speaking, in this recession, according to The Washington Post and others.
Newsletter editor Lily here.
One of the bright spots over the past week or so has been the fact that anti-racism books are not only selling out right now, but they’re also outselling a number of the biggest literary releases of the year, such as the Hunger Games prequel.
There are mixed emotions associated with this uptick. On the one hand, it’s important that so many people (particularly white people) are taking an interest in how they can help combat systemic racism and racist institutions like law enforcement.
I don’t know about all of you, but I am still reeling this week from what’s going on in our country.
I imagine many of you feel the same because more than 100 people signed up for Breeze’s event on anti-racist parenting before our Zoom membership capped out. I upgraded our corporate zoom account so that more of you can come, so sign up now if you hit a waitlist earlier this week. If we max out that tier, I’ll upgrade it again. This is a crucial topic and Breeze is one of the best people in the world to address it.
I am so sorry to anyone who tried to join last night’s Chairman Mom virtual dinner about homeschooling. We decided at the last minute to postpone it as I was watching the news coming out of Washington. As the person who was set to be in charge of the discussion, I didn’t feel right leading a conversation about a mostly privileged group of working women struggling to care for their kids and still work during this time.
That’s not to say it’s not a challenge and a problem. But I didn’t feel it was close to the biggest problem we were facing. And I know a lot of members in our community have been protesting, doing work in this area for decades, and are, frankly, fearful for their children’s lives. A discussion around summer camps felt tone-deaf and inappropriate. (I’ve rescheduled it for Thursday.)
Reading the news has become terrifying, devastating, and heartbreaking in recent days. That is saying something compounded over the terrifying, devastating, and heartbreaking news in recent years, whether it’s children in cages at the border, mass shootings, or of course, this year’s outbreak of COVID. I am not going to do what I normally do in this space which is to share my feelings and experiences on this matter. A major problem with white women in this country is an obsession with our own feelings.
When I was young and coming up in my career, I used to eschew vacations. Part of this was that cool girl in me of wanting to prove I was such a hardcore workaholic who could be counted on by my alpha male bosses. Passing an unstated test. The same way I put off having kids and pretended to be totally cool with work outings to strip clubs. (Ugh.)
But there was another reason that wasn’t performative. I was absolutely working my a** off in a business tilted against me. I came up in an old media world where journalism was even more zero sum. You had a scoop or you didn’t, and if you missed it, you couldn’t hit publish a hot take moments later. There was a set number of column inches in each paper or magazine, and everyone was compensated based on how many they got at the expense of someone else. For page one and covers, the fight was even more cut throat. And with the Internet gobbling up classified and ad revenues, 10% layoffs had replaced annual holiday bonuses.