In this episode of The Forum Podcast, Jennifer Brown (Jennifer Brown Consulting), Sean Coleman (Destination Tomorrow), and Ray Arata (Better Man Conference) examine the complexities of marginalization, intersectionality, masculinity, and power, through the lens of allyship.
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We can expand our potential for connection and belonging despite the stress of uncertainty and inequity, by listening to and learning from people who aren’t often seated at the same table. This fireside chat will highlight various shared and disparate lived experiences, in a way that acknowledges the reality that we can be both under-represented and under-estimated, while also carrying privilege that can be leveraged for positive impact.
- Expanded focus on the intersection of masculinity, race and gender
- An experience of learning, listening and lifting lesbian, trans/queer non-binary voices
- Providing an example of what an ally conversation can look and sound like
The Forum on Workplace Inclusion 2021 podcast series is sponsored by Best Buy. more diversity in tech means more ideas that can change the world. Learn email@example.com slash more of this. Did you miss the opportunity to join us live at the 2021 forum annual conference, or maybe you’re hearing about the US largest workplace dei conference for the first time? Well, for the first time ever, we’re offering our complete 33rd annual conference workplace revolution on demand. The on demand package includes access to our workshops, book readings, half day featured sessions, art and wellness workshops, our marketplace of ideas exhibitor showcase, half day, higher education industry session, 16 trend talks, and five General Sessions. That’s the forum 2021 annual conference on demand visit Forum on Workplace inclusion.org. To get access today, we get to engage people advanced ideas, and ignite change because of the generous support from our community. If you find our resources meaningful or valuable, please consider supporting the forum today, visit Forum on Workplace inclusion.org slash donate. That’s Forum on Workplace inclusion.org slash donate. Thank you very much for your support and generosity. With that, I’d like to say thank you to all our listeners and subscribers, you help support the growth of the podcast and reach new listeners. If you like what you’re hearing on the forum podcast, please consider writing a review on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you’ve already written a review, thank you. Please consider sharing our podcast with a friend or family member or a colleague you think might find value in the content. Word of mouth is the best way the form grows. So thank you very much for listening and sharing. Thanks again and enjoy the show.
Ben Rue 01:45
Hello, and Happy Pride Month. Thank you for tuning into the Forum on Workplace Inclusion podcast series brought to you by Best Buy. I’m Ben Rue, program associate here at the forum. We’re really looking forward to today’s podcast pride, pronouns and privilege how intersectionality informs our ally ship journey with Jennifer Brown of Jennifer Brown consulting, Sean Coleman, of Destination Tomorrow and Ray Arata of the Better Man Conference. We can expand our potential for connection and belonging despite the stress of uncertainty and inequity. By listening to and learning from people who aren’t often seated at the same table. This fireside chat will highlight various shared and disparate life experiences in a way that acknowledges the reality that we can be both underrepresented and underestimated, while also carrying privilege that can be leveraged for positive impact. In this chat, Jennifer, Shawn and Ray will examine the complexities of marginalization intersectionality masculinity and power through the lens of allyship. In this podcast you will get an expanded focus on the intersection of masculinity race and gender and experience of learning listening and lifting lesbian trans slash non queer non binary voices and will be provided an example of what an ally conversation can look and sunlight.
Ben Rue 03:02
Jennifer Brown is an award winning entrepreneur, dynamic speaker and diversity and inclusion expert. She is the founder and CEO of Jennifer Brown Consulting, a strategic leadership and diversity consulting firm that coaches business leaders worldwide on critical issues of talent and workplace strategy. Brown is a passionate advocate for social equality who helps businesses foster healthier, more productive workplace cultures. Her book inclusion diversity the new workplace and the will the change will inspire leadership to embrace the opportunities that diversity represents and empower advocates to drive change that resonates in today’s world. Jennifer’s second book how to be an inclusive leader is a shortlist owl award and knowledge Book Award winner in business categories and provides a step by step guide for the personal and emotional journey we must undertake to create an inclusive workplace where everyone can be can thrive.
Ben Rue 03:57
Sean Coleman is the founder and executive director at Destination Tomorrow, overseeing the LGBTQ community center in the South Bronx. Mr. Coleman is also the managing partner of Sean Ebony Coleman consulting a firm specializing and working to increase dei strategies for LGBTQ communities and consults for the transgender strategy Center, a collaboration of transgender led consultants.
Ben Rue 04:22
Ray Arata is the founder of the better man conference in one day event with resources support and community to engage men as allies in creating an inclusive culture. Ray’s personal mission involves going into the corporate world and getting male executives to stand up and stand strong when it comes to including and advancing women. Ray brings his 22 years of healthy masculinity work with men on how to live and lead from the heart to the very relevant topic of enlisting the engagement of men to support and become integral to the strategies of dei Ray is committed to the transformation Other gender perspective from which organizations engage with all stakeholder groups, customers, employees, investors, partners and global community. In addition to his coaching and training practice, Ray is a keynote speaker and is the author of wake up, man up, step up, and is very excited about his upcoming book, showing up how men can become effective allies in the workplace due out in January 2022. Without further ado, I’d like to hand things over to Jennifer, Sean and Ray.
Jennifer Brown 05:33
Hi, everybody, this is Jennifer Brown. And I am delighted to have this conversation today with my colleagues and dear friends Sean Coleman and Ray Arata. And you know, the title of our session is pride, pronouns and privilege. And we besides loving the alliteration of that, there are deep, deep and meaningful words for all of us, the three of us have presented on these topics before and had these really soul searching and beautiful and vulnerable conversations about our own intersections, our own experience of the world, seen through our various identities. And I think that’s what makes this conversation so unique is that we are going to endeavor to in a role model, the ways that we show up for each other in all of our identities, the ways that we are in solidarity with each other the ways that we can express, you know, the fact that we are on our journey and learning together on our own journeys and talking about not always getting things perfect, because perfection is not the goal. And it’s not even really possible. But being okay and almost expecting the imperfection and talking about and being open about the imperfection, as we learn about the subjects like the ones we’re going to talk about today. So I also want to say that Ray and Sean and I know each other deeply from the better man conference. So for those of you that don’t aren’t involved with the better man conference, please check out our the website and Ray can tell us where to go specifically. But some of the themes we’re going to talk about today are ones that that come up in that conference. And, and the conference provides space to really stretch out into these because they’re complex and deep. And we need space to metabolize it metabolize our learnings and also being community and experiences together. So I’m just really, really honored to have you all Ray and Sean. And I guess I’ll Sean, I’ll start with you. If you’d like to introduce yourself to the to the audience. however you’d like to share your diversity story, contextualize your background, I don’t know how you identify, and how you would like us to kind of start off what we what we’d like to ask to keep in mind.
Sean Coleman 07:51
Oh, well, thank you. Thank you so much for that nice introduction. And for having me today. I am Sean Coleman. I am the founder and executive director Destination Tomorrow. We are direct service organization that caters towards LGBT community members and the Bronx and on city wide in New York City. I’m also a consultant that deals with DEI issues for companies and corporations, organizations that want to better engage members of the trans and gender nonconforming community. And lastly, I’m the contract manager for the gilliat Community Impact fund. And what we do is on a national lands, we look for grassroots trans and gender nonconforming, black and brown run agencies or grassroots organizations to support and to fund. And so far we’ve given out about $300,000. And we have another $300,000 to go. I identify as a husband, a father, a son, a brother, sometimes a pain in the neck. I’m still, I’m still on my journey of learning and identifying what masculinity means to me, I am a trans male. And for those that don’t understand what that is, simply means I was assigned female at birth and I have a beautiful journey and to my male hood my maleness and I’d love to share and I’m here to share what that actually looks like. What I would like to get started with his making sure everyone understands that in order to come into a space and acknowledge all of the the the layers and complexities of who I am. There has to be a safe space, right. So I want to just to make sure folks understand and if you’re ever going to replicate a discussion like this, you have to first make sure you’re taking the necessary steps to ensure you have a safe space for folks to be vulnerable enough to share exactly what prior pronouns and privilege means to them.
Jennifer Brown 10:01
Thank you, Sean, let’s beautiful. And thank you for the call to action for us to, to respect the safe space, the brave space and to set the container carefully. Because this is this is raw, but it’s so personal so deep in us. Yeah, thank you, Sean. And I know we’re going to talk about what take that apart and kind of talk about what does that mean in practice as we go together. So thank you for that. So Ray, tell us about you, and whatever you’d like to share.
Ray Arata 10:30
Thank you, Jennifer. Hi, everybody. What would be valuable for all of you to hear? I was gonna ask this question. So first and foremost, I think it would be helpful to share that what’s behind the man that founded the better man conference in 2016. Nine conferences ago, and co founder of the better man movement, the orbit I’m a partner at that supports organizations and men to be allies and inclusive leaders behind that is the fact that for the better part of 20 years, and I’ve lost count, I know it’s more than 10,000, and less than 15,000 hours of working with men on how to live and lead from the heart to make that journey of wokeness, so that they could become allies and leaders, because after all, men are the over represented and under leveraged, underutilized majority whose time has come, we need not look past all the world events, to speak the obvious, but I just want to share that that that the work we do. And the work I do is all about heart. And it’s about humaneness. And the term I started using several years ago was healthy masculinity, as opposed to unhealthy masculinity. So I invite the listeners to consider healthy masculinity as a cornerstone of inclusive leadership and what it means to be an ally. And it’s different for everybody. And I’ve had wonderful opportunities with Jennifer and Sean to explore what these concepts mean, as it pertains to intersectionality. And we’re going to, we’re going to take a look at that today. And so if I was to answer the question, you know, what is it that I want all of you to know about the men is that there’s far more men out there than you realize that want to be part of the solution. And it’s a function of meeting them where they’re at. And without shame or blame and encouraging, inviting, sometimes challenging them to come come along and get off the sidelines. I’ll stop there.
Jennifer Brown 12:53
Thanks, Ray, also a good cause Good call to action, for all of us not to let our biases about what men are capable of, to rule our behaviors and our attitudes towards change, you know, and that is precisely why that my time in the community of better man is so transformational for me, because I get to see the exact behaviors that I’ve always craved being demonstrated, you know, that the learning journey happening in real time in front of me, is just incredible.
Ray Arata 13:27
I forgot one thing since this is a podcast, I identify as a cisgendered, white heterosexual male with loss of privileges. If you were looking at the video, you would only see me sitting down, but I even have Tall Guy privilege. I’m 6’3. So try to get that out.
Jennifer Brown 13:47
Yeah, just say that. Yeah. And Sean, I’ll you know, you probably have something and white identified as well. Sure. Short lack of privilege. So yeah, but but mighty small but mighty. And you know, fighting a fight every day. So my pronouns are she her hers and I find as a cisgender voice, it’s I’m so I’m so passionate about bringing that conversation to every stage in every conversation I’m a part of and making sure I disclose as much about me as I can. And role model the disclosing of that and, and you know, falling on my sword when I need to, to say I didn’t say that well, or I forgot to bring that up and I should have and, and learning in public. And I think role modeling that piece have to be vulnerable to that because it’s so much. It is so difficult, especially these days with how polarized we are, to we feel we don’t have room to learn. And I know that the three of us are so passionate about, about keeping that door open for the learning and protecting that space for learning. So Sean, you know, you can riff on that and and I’m really curious, you said something about your journey of masculinity. Yeah. You know, I just wonder, do you know, why do we were having a conversation about healthy masculinity because it hasn’t been so healthy,
Sean Coleman 15:10
Right. For me, and let me just go back to how I identify because I gave you a glimpse of the right so if we’re gonna do the entire thing, I identify he him his pronouns. While I’m trans male or trans masculine, I also identify as straight but, and some folks can conflate their gender and sexual orientation. So I always have to say that part that portion as well. And I’m happily married, um, for the last seven years. My journey to masculinity was was, was and is still incredibly challenging, right? Because society has told me what masculinity looks like and how it performs. So at times, a lot of the things that I did was performative to keep in touch with one or keep in step with what society told me, a black male should should be and how she how he should act, right. And it’s taken me a while to, to kind of recognize that I have the luxury, the unique luxury of becoming a man by my own design. And all that means is, as I’m acknowledging who I am, and all of the complexities that come with me, and not, I’m not allowing other people to, to have it up for debate whether those things equal masculinity, right? If I become too emotional, it’s like, well, men are men are emotional, men don’t cry. And it’s like, well, maybe yours doesn’t. But this one does, right, and making sure that I can come into a room and be comfortable enough to like really articulate that I tell you a story, I run my own organization. And in the very beginning, you know, I was I was socialized as female. So I, you know, you have that, that you don’t want to speak too loud, because you don’t want to come off too aggressive. And you have this really, really a passive, if you will, behaviors. So in the very beginning, when I started my journey and started working as an executive, some of those behaviors crept in. And I don’t know if it was because I was intimidated in those spaces. Or because I was doing what I initially I was taught to do. So it’s taken me a while just to unpack those things, right? To I can speak up and be assertive without being aggressive, because I had gotten to a point that I allowed aggression to be to be that defining masculinity, because I thought if I weren’t, if I if I didn’t really, really, really assert myself, they wouldn’t see me as a man. Or they would, they would discount what I’m telling them I am or who I am. So it’s taken a while to kind of like really, really kind of unpack or unwind those behaviors, there’s still times that I’m, I’m a bit standoffish, or a bit passive, right. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. And it’s taking me a while to be comfortable with that. So I mean, that’s, that’s just some of who I am, I’ll stop it there and give others an opportunity to speak on it.
Jennifer Brown 18:11
I love that you’re being away like inclusive of all the parts of you, and honoring of a more balanced humaneness in you, and I know, but gosh, I feel like we all have stories about the performance of gender that we do in arts, particularly in our earlier days, before we we discovered this kind of conversation and the conformity of it, the narrowness of it, the inauthenticity of it. And the masking of how we really would be most comfortable expressing ourselves, which is, most of us a little of this, a little of that, taking the most the best and the most effective, the most true for us, and blending all of that together and would not be incredible. If we could walk that path and Sean, you had to write because, you know, you, you you have lived and made these choices, and they’ve elicited probably a lot of like, big reactions in the world. And you’ve had to grapple with so what do I keep and what do I jettison? And, and what do I show people and and then how are their gender norms and expectations triggered by my authenticity. And so just having these feet in multiple worlds is, is, I think leads to this deep emotional intelligence personally, of being able to kind of see to inhabit this middle space and and re you inhabit a space outside of you were just saying earlier, outside of I think what’s expected of men that look like you when you walk in the room right you use you stepped apart from what was expected and what is expected and have, interestingly a kind of outsider experience too. So tell us about breaking out of that what we what we refer to as the man box. In your work and in your life, and, and and and how do you experience that and, and the incorporation of all of who you are into how you show up in the world.
Ray Arata 20:11
So, as I was listening to you, Sean, I was like, wow, I started to remember, you know, my journey as a young man. Like way back in high school. I’m the prototypical white male jock, knew everybody at school. And Jennifer, you taught me about covering, and I didn’t realize it, but at a very young point I was and am very emotional man, I didn’t realize that it was my inner feminine wanting to come out and be given permission. But I didn’t have anybody model what that could look like. So I learned to cover so instead of joining theatre, because I was going to get the wrath and judgment of my job, friends, I was an usher. And, and so as I went through life, I had a wake up call that through some feedback from my then wife and mother of my three kids, and my boss at work, I got to see how my behavior was impacting other people. And so when I ended up doing an initiation into healthy manhood of men’s weekend put on by the mankind project, I really got a chance to begin my process of waking up. And it was then from then until now, but I’ve had to routinely be at choice about how am I going to show up with these men and with women? Because with the men, I would get the looks and the judgments and the crop, what are you talking about, or re we don’t want to talk about that. And with the women I until they heard me start talking, the projections of me being like the rest of them. So I’ve had to kind of swim my way through, and continue to just be in my heart, speak my truth, and learn what it means to be an ally, to people that don’t look like me. And so there’s been a lot of isolation. Some reward a lot of work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. would not have it any other way. Now, I’m not sure if that’s answering your question. But that’s kind of like what came up for me. When I was listening to Sean, everyone, we all have our different journey, right?
Jennifer Brown 22:33
We do we do. And the risk we take in breaking out of the conformity. You but we but we’ve talked about risk. I mean, Sean, what is the equivalent of the risk that you feel in your authenticity? And I guess like, how does that how do you experience that because we, we carry around our identity, we have to deal with the microaggressions the stereotypes through the double and triple standards, you know, and I think we’re all we’re aware of that Ray you walking through the world is different than me walking through the road is different than Sean walking through the world. So So tell us what feels risky, Sean to you. And I know you’ve you’ve taken a lot of risk in your life to live your truth. So what is that like today for you?
Sean Coleman 23:20
Well, when you asked what is risky, it’s like what is not risky, right? For me right now, being a black man in America, who also happens to be trans identified. So on some days, just showing up is risky. By knowing what message I have, once I get there. Um, I’ll give an example of how I I’ve, I’ve taken some risks. Oftentimes, when I do my trainings, because I’m a trainer as well, so I wear a lot of hats. While I just didn’t realize it. Oftentimes, when I when I do my trainings, I don’t identify as being trans, right? Because my workshops are centered around gender, and sexual orientation. And we sometimes get in these discussions around how those two can flower folks conflate those two, and automatically assume that if you’re trans, you’re you’re gay, identify it on and those kinds of things. So I normally don’t identify as being transgender when I do the presentations, and we have the most robust conversations until the end, and about 30 minutes before the discussion is over. I disclose that some folks will say why why would you wait until the end? Because I think I get the true authentic folk show up when they don’t know that they are actually speaking to someone who identifies this trend. gender. And and I leave enough time to ask questions. And my grandma used to tell me there’s no such thing as a stupid question, right? So you can pretty much Ask me anything, I have the toughest kid ever, you can ask me anything. And I make sure that they understand that just as I asked them to provide safe spaces, I’m providing a safe space to ask the dumbest question you could possibly ask, do it here. So you don’t go out there and, and offend or embarrass yourself. And we have incredible conversations. Now, it doesn’t always happen that way. I had one experience, where afterwards another black male, who I felt we had, you know, this camaraderie during the workshop, didn’t want to continue after this close. And he actually, he actually wanted to leave, and we allowed him to leave. Um, I think I didn’t take it personal. I know that the message I have is not for everybody, some folks are going to take it, and others will reject it. And even when they’re rejecting it, there’s going to be little nuggets for those folks that are willing to take it. Right. So in him leaving, then it allowed me to say, you know, what did it bring up for him? Why is this topic? So triggering for folks, especially males, and we, again, had a 30 minute discussion, but a discussion that allowed folks to walk out of that space, somewhat understanding what it means or how it feels to be trans identified, right. And it also gives them the opportunity to say that they actually do a transgender person, because folks will say, I’ve never met one before. And then I can leave and say, Well, ya met one now? It turned out to be a really, really great experience when walking out because they allow us in a space to like, really, really unpack like, why is it so triggering it, even though that was the topic that we were discussing on gender and sexual orientation?
Jennifer Brown 27:03
What an unforgettable experience. Yes. Ray.
Ray Arata 27:06
Yeah. So I’m, I listened to your question about risk. And, and what I want to say, first of all, to both you and Sean, is that I as a white cisgendered, male, the risk that I can do and will continue to take comes with a responsibility, and most importantly, what I’m going to call a minimal, minimal risk to harm. And so earlier, and I was talking to the two of you earlier, and we talked about discernment, you know, who’s the group that you’re talking to? And what are you going to choose to say, I imagine, for the two of you, and a lot of our listeners, psychological safety, and physical safety is huge. And so when I go into a room, especially with all men, I’ve learned that part of my job of being on the planet is to go first, which means to take a risk, which means to be vulnerable, which means to be the example why? Because if I do, they can. And so I wrote down three words on my on my little notes here, and I wrote down white, male, fragility. Most of us and I assume most the listeners know, Robin deAngeles book and one right, white fragility. And what many people may not think about is male fragility, or white male fragility. And my message to the listeners, especially the men is your emotional experiences are valid, your fragility is real. And it’s incumbent upon you with the support of other people that look like you to breathe into that fear, that fear of being judged and what you think might happen and to keep going, because we will net we as white male identifying will never know what it’s like to be in harm’s way just by virtue of how we present and for Sean, for you to be able to share that your I just want to acknowledge your brother and how much risk you’re taking every single time. It’s, it’s fuel to me, like, like, you’re not gonna like me, whatever. You know, you might not be my friend anymore, whatever. You’re going to leave. Okay, that says more about you than it does me. You know, I’m tempted to say man up but in a positive way. Yeah. But I’ll leave that so I just, I wanted to just put that in there because I think it’s important.
Jennifer Brown 29:50
That fragility piece, Sean, you know, I I wonder how you perceive it’s funny because Ray, I thought you were gonna be very judgmental about the fragility, right? The message of, you know, don’t be fragile meaning don’t make this all about me, right? This is this is a learning opportunity. And it’s not about my emotional response or my discomfort, right? This is how we talk about fragility is like, don’t be this. But I, but what you also talk about and have taught me so much about is the inner life, the emotional life of men, that has not been able to breathe. And we talked a lot about between the three of us the humanity, that we need to extend and inclusion were to all people. And, and yet, the short supply of that, when we when it comes to kind of pointing at certain people that are assumed to be the perpetrators of privilege, and I’m putting air quotes. And and what I’ve discovered and better man, again, is the diversity of men, like all the different identities, both visible and invisible, and all the covering behaviors and, and the healing that needs to happen amongst men so that I can be healed and operate in a more psychologically safe world. So that I don’t have to cover so much. Because I’m not encountering the the sort of lack of, of emotional intelligence or self awareness or breaking out of those patterns, you know, and so putting myself around humans, like the two of you, it gives me these alternate truths that I’m able to live into and imagine and I hope to see more in the world. So. But Sean, I wondered if you wanted to elaborate on that? Because I know that you, you know, you see it through your own prism and lens, and I think in a really beautiful way.
Sean Coleman 31:45
Elaborating on the fragility of it all.
Jennifer Brown 31:48
Yeah. No, it’s a big topic.
Sean Coleman 31:52
It is, right. It’s not just big, it’s also triggering. Because for and for so long, and so many ways, I’ve operated with this certain level of fragility, right. And fear. And I can relate wholeheartedly to to you when you speak about creating better spaces, or men in better spaces to make it safer for you, right? Because in some ways, I need the same thing. You do. And I need them to understand. I’m not just the human side of it, right. But at the end of the day, that we’re all brothers, and we may have gotten here differently. But what we are still over this. The I think the one other thing that we haven’t touched on, or I haven’t touched on, is that that privilege piece, right? And how privilege shows up differently, depending on what circles you’re in. Because in some spaces, they would consider me a privileged trans person, right? I have employment, I have a beautiful home and wife and all of those things. And things that a lot of my trans brothers and sisters aren’t afforded. Um, especially the black trans women. And I think it has more to do with massage. And and I’m sure we’re not, we don’t have that such a big topic, and we don’t have time to touch on it. But I’m sure it has a lot to do with that. Right? In that How could you have started out as male, and walk away from that, and the punishment that the world gives anyone who had that privilege, and walked away from it. So I think and in certain ways we should be centering conversations around privilege and how he shows up, and how he shows up differently. One of the things that we’re talking about today are so, so nuanced and so layered, and there’s so we can walk in so many directions, right? And then when I speak about the fragility about, like, even even in movements right now, right, how fragile my existence is. And let’s say, the Black Lives Matter movement, where I show up as an ally and I because the first thing you see is my brother, and then a black, and you show up and you want to be there, but there’s still this sense that if they knew who you truly were, you wouldn’t be accepted in that space. Right? And just how heavy it is to walk and knowing that and knowing that the very folks that I identified uniquely with other very folks that can cause me harm if they knew who I truly was. So I think when we speak about fragility I mean, I can just roll off a wall on and on with it. And, and still, because we can’t leave this is not a Debbie Downer moment, right? And still have the grace to show up, and explain and teach and be humble, and, and be accepting and be patient. Because we’re all works in progress, right? I didn’t get here overnight, and others won’t either. So being willing to to, I don’t wanna say put my body on the line, because that sounds so dramatic. But in some ways, that’s what it is. and be willing to do that to make sure that these discussions I had like, and then I’ll also say, I didn’t have anybody to model what it was to be a black trans man of a certain age of a certain age. I’m glad it’s a podcast, you can see all the gray. But I didn’t have anybody to model that. Right. So I think it’s important for young black trans men to understand that some of those examples of masculinity you can walk away with, you can walk away from and, and I know how fragile you are, in this existence and in this body, and I’m telling you that it can get better, but it depends on how you shape it, and and how you show up.
Ray Arata 36:20
So, Sean, just to riff on what you said, I think it’s fair to say that you and I, and many others, are a mystery right now, of healthy masculinity. So instead of walking away, let’s just say Out with the old and in with the new and that it’s an inside job. That’s one thing and with respect to privilege. I seek to humanize privilege. And to help people understand that it doesn’t mean anything’s wrong with you. And that, sure, there’s earned privilege. There’s unearned privilege. But really what matters most is once you become aware of that, or once I become aware of that I have an advantage that somebody else don’t doesn’t. That’s, that’s a hard moment for me to choose how I’m going to use my privilege, which as I was listening to you talk I realized, as you are as you struggle, or you shared, struggled, if they really knew who I was, I’m at a point in my life, hell in my whiteness, that I know who I am, and I’m willing to let you know all of whom I am. And I’m willing to deal with all the consequences. Now, several other white guys may not be there. And that’s an another example of privilege. I can do that.
Sean Coleman 37:40
Ray Arata 37:41
You can’t yet or you could, but the consequences may be too severe.
Sean Coleman 37:46
Ray Arata 37:46
That’s why we need each other as brothers and allies.
Sean Coleman 37:49
Ray Arata 37:51
Let me go first, right.
Sean Coleman 37:53
And that’s truly what allyship is right? Allyship makes space. It doesn’t leave, it makes space for whatever you need. And I think folks get that wrong. Sometimes they want to be an ally, they want to put these things together for you. I don’t need you to put it together for me, I need you to just lay it out. And let me step on it. That’s all I need from you as an ally.
Ray Arata 38:14
Jennifer Brown 38:17
I love this so much. It’s so beautiful. Thank you, especially Sean talking about being the outsider in a group that you’re supposed to be an insider in and and never quite feeling like people see you or that it’s risky to show all of who you are within the context of one of your own identities. How long have people been feeling that way about their identities, identity groups? And just because we’re in we have a marginalized identity or multiple marginalized identities doesn’t mean we’re also really enlightened and skilled at I think everything that we’re talking about today. I mean, I’ve seen in the LGBTQ movement, Sean, that you and I share extremely different paths within that movement.
Sean Coleman 39:02
Jennifer Brown 39:02
And we have so much work to do.
Sean Coleman 39:04
Jennifer Brown 39:07
Yes. And so let’s stay on the ally question for a moment. And and I, I’d love to know is that the only word that is that the word you like? I, I always get a very interesting reaction with that word. Some people. It can it. I think it leads to this pride of I’m an ally, and I’m sort of done with the work versus what I always share, which is you’re only an ally of someone in an affected group deems you an ally and it is something that is a journey, not a destination, something that’s earned constantly. And so I wondered, guidance wise, I feel like we’re all allies and really accomplices which I love that word especially, we’re in solidarity with each other and we’re sort of utilizing the different parts of our identities to make the world safer for each other. And when Like you just said, Sean to, to perhaps lay something down and get out of the way to perhaps, you know, share platform with each other and elevate each other’s voices. And so Sean, if you could encapsulate, what, what, what, word do you like, what do you prefer? And what would you add in terms of your own favorite kind of definition for the way forward for those of us that want to be in support of each other?
Sean Coleman 40:23
Jennifer Brown 40:25
Sean Coleman 40:25
Because we’re all up to something. And I’m hoping is good trouble,
Jennifer Brown 40:32
Sean Coleman 40:35
I’m hoping is good trouble. But if you’re conspiring with me, that means we’re in the thick of it, and you’re taking the same risk that I’m taking, you understand in a struggle, you understand that there could be some damage, and we may have to do damage control. But we’re knee deep in it together, right? Ally is this buzzword that folks have grabbed onto and won’t let go? And I don’t completely I don’t completely think they understand what it means. Right? Well, maybe they do. Why? Because maybe it means something different for them than it does for me. I don’t I don’t, I’m this is difficult, but I don’t want an ally, I want someone who’s going to conspire with me to change systems, because we know that that systems need to be changed. I want someone that’s going to conspire with me to create something that folks say that can’t happen, right? This this human aspect of this just united front, when we speak about LGBT communities and Black Lives Matter and all of these other spaces, I want someone that’s gonna conspire with me, when we’re looking at political systems that need to be completely revamped. Whether it’s criminal justice, or racial justice, I want someone who was knee deep in this with me. So that’s what I’m actually looking for. And I think that’s what we all should be looking for. I think we should take a real hard look, especially if you consider yourself an ally to a certain system or a certain community. What is that? What does it say for you? Why did you Why did you take that that role on? And how can you be a better ally? Right? And I think being a better ally, is asking folks, well, how am I doing? That can be a difficult conversation. Hey, hey, I’m trying to show up for you. But how am I doing? And, and being open to hearing exactly what that person feels or that community feels like in your ally ship?
Jennifer Brown 42:26
And you just said, you know, intent versus impact, Sean. And being afraid of the answer, right. So therefore, though, we don’t check our impact, you know, we’re afraid of having that conversation. But you just said it, and I want to repeat it, you know, how am I doing? You know, a phrase another way, here’s my intent. And here’s the impact that I’m endeavoring to create. How is that landing? Is that having the desired impact? And what would what different behavior or actions on my part would have a better impact? You know, according to you, not according to me, because our lens is so limited. And we can never understand. I’m not even sure we can understand that impacts. It has to be articulated, I think, from the recipient, we can wait, but we have to do our own work. And I know we’ve talked about this on the protocol to, you know, don’t come to me expecting me to tell you every step you need to take come to me having done your homework. And and so I know all of us, like if somebody approaches me, I’ll always say so what have you, you just don’t have some context for your question. What have you been reading? What have you been studying? What is your understanding of this right now? And then Sean, we talked about this, like, when I make a decision, like, is this person, you know, have they worked, done their own work and come to me prepared? Or are they relying on me for the emotional labor? Right? And then we decide, you know, how much do I want to give to this compensation or not?
Sean Coleman 43:51
Yeah, and to also, with trans folks, they expect us to do all of the emotional labor, they want us to walk them from A to Z on what it’s about, what it’s like, how it feels, why, like when a simple Google search will answer some of those questions. And then we can kind of really, really dissect what you really want to know, and what we really should be discussing. But too often they expect us to do all of the emotional labor. And and and they also call out that that our intellectual property in some ways, right? Because we package it together nicely. And sometimes these are allies. But we package it together nicely. And you turn around and it’s now become a book or workshop or training, and you’ve become the expert when it’s actually my lived experience.
Jennifer Brown 44:42
So much in that, thank you for pointing that out Sean. Ray, comments?
Ray Arata 44:46
I use a slightly different term. And before I share what that term is, my intended avatar is men. And my intention is to get them on the journey, to becoming an ally. And I have to remember that while I’m a subject matter expert, as the two of you are, most of them aren’t. So, the term I use for myself and them is forever an ally in training, that that skirts around me trying to say I’m an ally, because I’m not unless someone says I am. So if I name it, that I’m an ally in training, that’s the first thing. Second thing is, is what I’m really trying to do is to help men consider instead of waiting for your behavior, to have a spotlight put on it, like your language or behavior, what you did or didn’t do set or didn’t said, why not be evolved, and put yourself on the journey and make a commitment, I have something called the better man pledge, if you will, that has men and Jennifer, you, and Sean, you know, theses four steps but acknowledge that I have bias and privilege included in there is an understanding of man box rules and behaviors. Two, take responsibility for the impact of my bias and privilege. And when necessary, clean it up as the content versus impact thing. Three, listening with empathy and compassion and four, commit to new behaviors and actions. So if they do all of that, they will eventually per your allies continuum, go from unaware to aware to action to being an advocate. So the one of the words I do like a lot is advocate, but you have to do all these steps in order to get there. Those are my comments.
Sean Coleman 46:39
Yeah. Totally agree.
Jennifer Brown 46:42
And we need and we generous patient, gracious, teachers, space holders, facilitators, like the two of you to construct a no build container, and hold the space. And, and not, and not be triggered as much as possible as we’re, we’re doing that right, which is I think, I think of it as it stretches me every day to hear the the stupid questions you talked about Sean, like the, you know, and some of those are questions that make me remind me of the marginalization remind me of the journey, right, and, and sort of, I don’t know, almost like re stigmatize or traumatize us all over again. And yet, we, and yet remaining in in that conversation is the greatest act of love, that we can give anyone, it’s, it’s just, to me, it’s sort of this profound test over and over, that we undertake, to stay with people as they move through the journey. And it is the most sort of ultimately, I think, generous Act, the opposite of which is sort of I can’t stand it, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s rude, it’s harmful, I don’t want to be part of it. But I, I do believe learning occurs in community, it encouraged between us, and it’s so lovely to you know, have have time with both of you in these ways, and in these spaces to like, literally come together and conspire and conspire together, like, you know, if people need help over the humps of identity and over their biases, the fact that we do this with love and graciousness and, and forbearance and understanding we’re works in progress. And so how could we possibly stand in judgment of the process that others need to take, because we’re all taking the steps to so I love it, I feel we’re out of time. But I want to give both of you a chance to you know, share any final thoughts and also to direct our audience to where they can follow you and get involved and have hopefully your voice in their ears and your your books and thought leaders to fund themselves.
Sean Coleman 48:56
Final thought this was amazing. I just want to say to Ray at every opportunity, I get to share space with you. I appreciate because you always make me think, right. As as I said earlier, I’m still defining my masculinity. So you give me an opportunity, like really test some of those theories out to appreciate you so much bother. And I appreciate you including me in the better man movement because it gives folks an opportunity to hear from a black trans man from New York City, who you know, didn’t come from much but was able to accomplish a lot. You can find me on social media Sean e Coleman across all platforms. I am considering another another job. Probably by the time this airs. You’ll all hear about it. But I am considering a run for office in New York City Council. If all goes well, I’ll be announcing next week. So I’m looking forward to that and I do all of these things. And again, I’m again scared to death and putting myself and another position that can be incredibly dangerous. But but but I have to because I need my community to understand what’s possible. And and that if you can dream it, you can be it. And that there’s, there’s no, there’s no end to what you can accomplish. No one is going to give you anything but as long as you can you believe that and you work for you can accomplish it. And then just around pride I think my proudest moment is the fact that I can stand in my truth in any space that I’m in now without fear of judgment, or ridicule, that my proudest moment comes at the fact that I stand in who I am, and it’s accepted. And if it wasn’t, I’d be fine with that, too.
Jennifer Brown 50:45
That’s gorgeous. And so loving of you, Sean, and we’re so excited for your run, by the time this airs, you will be in the thick of it, though, you know, we conspirators will be lining up around you, you know, and doing whatever you deem necessary and checking in on our impact to make sure that it is serving you in your endeavors. So thank you for what you all that you do. And Ray final thoughts and where folks can find more information about you.
Ray Arata 51:18
So the word partner comes up. In a lot of work I do, I talk about what it means and what you need to be an ally and inclusive leader, which is a conscious partnership of the head, and the heart. So Sean, when you blessed me by saying, every time we’re together, you It makes you think, right back at you every time I’m with you, it makes me feel so. And the same is true for you, Jennifer, both arise in me when when I’m with it, when I’m with you, I always learn. And so I just want to acknowledge both of you. Because that’s what partnership is all about. None of this work can be done alone. So why don’t we partner, right, so so that’s one thing, you can find me slash the better man movement team on the betterment conference website. And it no matter what page you’re on, if you scroll to the bottom, you can sign up for our newsletter, and you’ll get a chance to see the blogs that are coming out regularly. There’s always cutting edge stuff, we’ll be doing quarterly calls, that’s how you’ll find out or actually it might be actually a community call once a month. And the conferences, the virtual conferences that we’re going to be doing throughout the year. And by mid March, I’m going to finish my my next book that’s going to serve and answer the questions that men are sitting in. What do I do? What do I say? What do I not do? What do I not say? what companies are saying? How do I support the men? And what people who don’t identify as such? How can we support and be supportive? So I’m really excited. And you’ll be able to find out more about that later. But for me at right after this call. As a matter of fact, I’m going to have to get back to the drawing board. It’s been a great pleasure. I acknowledge Ben too, for having all of us here. So thank you.
Jennifer Brown 53:12
Thank you, Ben and the forum. Thank you, Ben, thank you to the forum audience and all of you listeners, I hope this was really enlightening. And you take this coconspirator role to heart. And we all sort of join and create a more equitable world and use our voices and step forward with courage, because we need to be seen by so many. So thank you, everybody.
Ben Rue 53:39
Thank you so much to all three of you for sitting down for that wonderful fireside chat. Thank you to our listeners for joining us and a special thank you to our sponsor Best Buy. You can learn more about Jennifer Sean and Ray and their work by visiting their websites. Jennifer brown consulting.com destination tomorrow.org and better man conference.com . New episodes of the forum podcasts are available at Forum on Workplace Inclusion dot org forward slash podcast. You can also find our podcasts on Apple podcasts, Spotify, anchor and Stitcher. Thank you again for listening. Have a great day.
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