Podcast Ep. 69: How to be an Ally While Also Being Marginalized

Jul 27, 2021

In this episode of The Forum Podcast, Dr. Theodora Philip (TAP Consultants, LLC) and Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel (The XauSky Group) explore being an ally as Black Caribbean women, and through storytelling, they share strategies to advocate and promote equity at work and in society.

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While much of the focus in recent times have been on racial, ethic, and LGBTQ+ discrimination and disparities, who is an ally, how to be one and the actions that should be taken to promote equity of the marginalized they support is more complex than the headlines. Fundamentally, discrimination and inequities are related to a spectrum of characteristics that involves just being human. These include but are not limited to age, culture, disabilities (innate or acquired), gender, indigenous heritage, religion, spirituality, socioeconomic, political views, among others. The challenge becomes when the ally themselves show up in society or are perceived as a member of the marginalized group under attack.

Learning Outcomes
  • Define ally from the perspective of a marginalized person, who seeks equity at work & in society
  • Share ally stories and strategies that promote self-reflection, understanding & clarity of role
  • Explore ally-ship (identified & assumed) with targeted, context and culture specific interventions

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The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion 00:00
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Ben Rue 02:06
Hello, and thank you for tuning into the Forum on Workplace Inclusion podcast series brought to you by Best Buy. I’m Ben Rue Program Manager here at The Forum. We’re looking forward to today’s podcast; How To Be An Ally While Also Being Marginalized with Dr. Theodora Philip of TAP Consultants LLC, and Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel of The XauSky Group. While much of the focus in recent times have been on racial, ethnic and LGBTQ plus discrimination and disparities, who is an ally how to be one and the actions that should be taken to promote equity of marginalized based support is more complex than the headlines. Fundamentally, discrimination and inequities are related to a spectrum of characteristics that involves just being human. These include but are not limited to age, culture, disabilities, either innate or acquired gender, indigenous heritage religions, spirituality, socio economic political views, among many others. The challenge becomes when the ally themselves, show up in society or perceived as a member of the marginalized group under attack. Dr. Theodora Philip and Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel explore being an ally as black Caribbean women, and through storytelling they share strategies to advocate and promote equity at work and in society. In this podcast, Dr. Philip and Xaulanda will define ally from the perspective of a marginalized person who seeks equity at work and in society. Share allies stories and strategies that promote self reflection, understanding and clarity of role and explore ally ship identity identified and assumed with targeted context and culture specific interventions. Dr. Theodora Philip is the owner and CEO of TAP Consultants LLC, with over 25 years specializing in business transformations Dr. Philips expertise provides clients with both a guide and roadmap to navigate the intricacies of corporations government agencies, small to medium sized businesses and nonprofit organizations. A 14 year veteran of civil service Dr. Phillip successfully administered and assessed fiscal activities of over $1.7 billion, directed the efforts of a division charged with analyzing the fiscal budgets of 65 government agencies and provided counsel to the legislative and executive branches of government. A transformational leader who firmly believes in the importance of small business development as a stimulant for local economic growth, Dr. Philip has utilized her expertise and formal training as a degreed and certified business professional to secure millions of federal dollars assist public and private entities in interpreting guidelines for efficiency in Management, reporting spending and delivery of KPIs to meet funding requirements. Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel has over 20 years of experience in business and hospital administration. She began her career in manufacturing as a purchasing agent with the Virgin Islands alumina Corporation, and eventually led the entire purchasing and inventory control team as the Buy/supplier administration with the St. Croix aluminum. In 2001 Xaulanda transitioned into the healthcare field and assumed the role of director of purchasing and inventory control at the Governor Guan F. Louise Hospital and Medical Center throughout her 11 years at the hospital. Her demonstrated leadership operations and communication skills earned her numerous executive management positions. In 2013. She was recruited by her former CEO to work in Minnesota on the transition team at Northwestern Health Science University. During her time in Minnesota, she discovered her passion for coaching and leveraging the strengths of each team member to create a thriving workplace environment. She is a life coach practitioner and has a mastery level certification which complements her transformational servant leadership style. In 2017 Xaulanda moved to Orlando, Florida, where she is currently the senior consultant for Urbander specializing in strategic marketing, business development and diversity and inclusion, as well as co founder of The XauSky Group work passion, consulting and coaching.

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 06:40
Thank you to The Forum on Workplace Inclusion I am Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel, founder and chief passion officer of The XauSky Group. And it’s an absolute delight to be here today with my colleague, Theo, how are you doing Theo?

Dr. Theodora Philip 06:56
I’m fine. Hi, everyone. I’m Dr. Theodora Philip, and the founder of TAP consultants. And I’m, I’m grateful to be here today. Thank you so much for having us.

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 07:08
You know, we’ve been having these conversations in private. So it’s kind of special to have a listening audience that’s going to be able to eavesdrop on some of the conversations that we have as women that come from a place of privilege on our islands. But we work live and are often categorized on the US mainland as African American. And what we’re going to talk about today is the fact that there’s a conflict between how an ally may show up in society and how they self identify. And if that’s not acknowledged, or reconciled or addressed. It creates dissonance on a personal, professional and social level. So we’re going to dive a little deeper into what what those experiences are like right Theo?

Dr. Theodora Philip 07:56
Yes, actually using ourselves. As you know, case, study subjects. Today’s discussion explores how our instilled cultural norms and beliefs creates challenges when our sense of self does not conform to the expected stereotypes of being African American and corporate entities and society.

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 08:16
Yeah, so what we’re hoping to get out of our time together today, at least with our listening audience, is really getting a better understanding of the definition of an ally. Because not only is it a verb, it is also a strategy that can be used to instill equity within the workplace.

Dr. Theodora Philip 08:36
I mean, we’re gonna do this by encouraging self exploration using the addressing model. You know, in order for us to understand and delve into this subject matter, we’re gonna have to explore ways in which increased awareness, self awareness, at least, around our personal attributes, and decipher and how we came to understand our attain our outlook on life.

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 08:59
Yeah, self exploration definitely starts with you. Change starts with you. So we really need to start individually, right, and also figuring out our level of overall allyship, when we’re going to step into that role as it relates to a marginalized group that we’re supporting. So really considering unique ways that we can be an ally. And make sure that the marginalized group accepts us in that role, which is a key element. And then understanding of our level of involvement is something we’re going to continue to explore throughout this time together.

Dr. Theodora Philip 09:37
And of course, this includes engagement through such safe spaces. As you know, this current space you know, we need to have an authentic an open conversation like the one we’re having today.

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 09:50
Absolutely. So let’s set the stage for this conversation because you know, we hear these words thrown around a lot ally, allyship, equity, and just to make sure that we all on the same page. Let’s define ally as a noun. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, ally is a person or group that is associated or aligned with another person or group to provide assistance and support in an ongoing effort, activity or struggle.

Dr. Theodora Philip 10:21
And as a transitive verb, it is an associate. Where as an intransitive verb, it refers to an alliance.

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 10:29
It’s so funny because, Theo, I have a friend within the D E and I space. And her new thing is we don’t need allies, we don’t need alliances, we need accomplices.

Dr. Theodora Philip 10:41
Oh, I like that!

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 10:42
We’re going to as if we’re going to commit a crime, we need an accomplice in this. And so as we talk about, you know, being an ally and allyship, you know, there’s a lot of focus in recent times on racial, ethnic, LGBTQ plus allyship, and the act and actions of an ally and the marginalized groups that they support. Um, these are all characteristics that truly involve being just human. You know, when you think about diversity, yes, race and ethnicity is important, but it also includes age, it includes culture, it includes disability and age or acquired gender, indigenous heritage, religion, spirituality, socio economic, political views, among others. So it is such a huge construct, to try to digest that. We’re going to just touch on a couple of those in this conversation. But the challenge really becomes when those marginalized persons or groups have those cumulative characteristics and experiences that pulls of full blunt compound effect to how they’re experiencing or navigating through their life, particularly in these recent times.

Dr. Theodora Philip 12:08
Well, you know, before we can talk about this, though, I think equity, equity is very important, it’s hard to talk about allyship, without first discussing equity, let’s face it, you know, to be honest, it is about receiving what one needs for survival or success. And that entails access to opportunities, networks, resources, and support based on where we are and what is needed to arrive at our full potential. You know, equity is about addressing disparities in society, many of which are rooted in racism. So in an ideal world scenario, you know, our world would be void of barriers and limitations of realizing our goals and dreams. And I think that works hand in hand with coming together, you know, to develop an allied strategy or allyship, you know, that should involve a mutual relationship between individuals or groups, that makes an ongoing a lifelong commitment to do one of three things. And that is to simply build relationships with marginalized person or group engage in constant effort to establish trusting relationships, and that can be done through investment or accountability, particularly in beliefs, place and future direction of the associates or the Alliance. And thirdly, to be recognized for one’s contribution, you know, How does someone’s contribution affect their work, their effort and their commitment? So the question remains, how can you be an ally when you present as a member of a marginalized population in America?

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 13:42
Well, as we said before, change starts with you.

Dr. Theodora Philip 13:47

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 13:48
I would definitely say it begins with self reflection, self exploration, self awareness. And the addressing model by Pamela Hayes, I found to be an absolutely instrumental tool in me understanding how I perceive myself, but also my conscious and unconscious bias as you relate to my age, because the addressing model is an acronym and it’s for age, disability, whether innate or acquired race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio economic status, indigenous heritage, nationality, and gender. And I took the test. And I was truly amazed at what I learned about myself, particularly as it relates to my indigenous heritage. And I think that that’s where the distinction of being a black Caribbean woman from an island where I come from some level of privilege because the people in power and authority That were the trailblazers, as I were growing up, they look like me, they sound like me, they are of my village I grew up. And these were the people that instilled in me that I could do anything. So I truly could not understand the plight of African Americans. When I relocated to the US how they struggled, I didn’t understand it, because for me, our ancestors fought for their freedom. And we had freedom long before African Americans did on the mainland. So having to walk in their shoes really provided a learning opportunity for me to do my own self exploration and see where we are definitely aligned. We have a lot in common because we’re perceived the same in mainland US, you know, when we show up, people think I’m African American, especially when I speak in standard English, and I’m not among my colleagues and I go into the crucian. You know, I mean, I proceed that way. So there’s a little bit of dissonance. And I think that work, that’s where that self exploration and self awareness becomes critical. And I know they also did the addressing model correct Theo. So where did you have privilege? And where were you marginalized when you went through that exercise?

Dr. Theodora Philip 16:22
So that was a pretty, it was a pretty thorough exercise, I think it’s something that perhaps we should share with our audience, you know, simply because I think I learned a lot about myself and so I have privilege, whereas, you know, my socio economic status growing up, you know, that was a privilege of my indigenous heritage, like you, like you said earlier, you know, in our community, you know, our leaders were our lawyers, our senators, our business owners, the governor, these are people who are mentors to our neighbors, you know, they’re our elders, and they were the ones who told us that we can do and accomplish anything in life. And as a child who grew up surrounded by this, you live that day for when you were told that you believed it. So for me, that was a privilege. However, while this classification provides me with a privilege, when I’m comfortably in the US Virgin Islands, when on the mainland, this designation became becomes a source of marginalization, you know, my culture, just by having the cultures and the values and the life experience, it differentiates me from that of my African American brothers and sisters on the US mainland. So that in itself is a marginalization yet from an external standpoint, as you mentioned earlier, Xaulanda we’re classified as African Americans. So the status is definitely inherent, despite our experiences, like becomes one of the things. So, ethnicity and racial identity is seen now as a, as a, you know, a form of marginalization. Now, this is where it becomes super sticky. By simply being born under the American territory causes reason to strike, so to speak, amongst other Caribbean nationals. So it’s been my experience that I’m, you know, I’m always challenged to prove myself culturally, as Caribbean, as I’m clearly designated an American who was born in the US Virgin Islands. Sadly, this very same designation, that of national origin, once more serves as a source of marginalization as we are treated like second class citizens due to our lack of a vote, you know, in our national election system, like our presidency. Unless, of course, we live on the mainland, then, of course, we’re able to vote because I voted for president while you know, living on the mainland. So my status is definitely interchangeable. And I occupied both privileged and marginalized statuses at the same time.

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 19:05
Yeah, yeah. And it’s interesting because when you start to look at it from the lens, okay, so we talked about our self exploration and looking at ourselves first. But then when you shift the perspective to the marginalized individual or the marginalized worldview, within these multiple identities or a person’s characteristics, they may concurrently occupy both privileged and marginalized status, which we don’t often when we think of being an ally, or we think of being a member of the marginalized group do not make that intersectionality but they’re not mutually exclusive, you know? So let’s, let’s give the audience an example, Theo. Because I think It would help to really demonstrate and illustrate what it is that we’re trying to get across to the listening audience. Let’s peel lifted the peel the onion, as I like to call it, we’re gonna peel back a little bit. And because we’re on a Podcast and people can’t see us. Um, if they saw the promo, they would be able to see our pictures and so Xaulanda I am a black Caribbean woman of fair skin. Theo, you are a black Caribbean woman of darker skin complexion.

Dr. Theodora Philip 20:34

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 20:35
We are both single mothers.

Dr. Theodora Philip 20:38

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 20:38
We both grew up in the US Virgin Islands. We have both lived on the mainland. I have lived in Florida. I have lived in Minnesota. I have lived in New York. You’ve lived in Atlanta.

Dr. Theodora Philip 20:54
I did.

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 20:55
Yes. So we we have a lot in common. But when we start to really take the time, and I think this was why we were so interested in doing this podcast because as as long as we’ve been friends, it’s due to what was happening in the world within 2020 that we really started to take those deep dive conversations as to why do we show up the way we show up? And how do we reconcile how we’re feeling when society perceives us differently than we self identify. But more importantly, when society perceives us as part of a marginalized group. So Let’s peel the onion a little bit. Let’s take gender, race indigenous heritage, just those three.

Dr. Theodora Philip 21:38

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 21:39
As I said, as I said before, diversity is it’s a very complex construct. Okay, so we’re going to just focus on those three, gender, we’re both women, right? On the mainland, typically, women are seen less than men and as such are marginal, considered a marginalized group, right? We grew up in the US Virgin Islands, right? I’m a single mom, you’re a single mom. But let’s go back to our childhood. I grew up in a two family household. My dad was the head of the household. And I had my mom, you had this similar experience? Yes?

Dr. Theodora Philip 22:17
Yep. So was I.

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 22:18
Okay, so share with me the role that gender or the woman played in the household at that time.

Dr. Theodora Philip 22:26
Okay, so from the outside looking in externally, you know, of course, my dad was the head of the household, and my mom was seen in a supportive role. However, that’s externally. Being on the inside of the home. Now, you saw that my mom was a decision maker, she was the one who decide how the finances would be split, you know, what we would come to what the finances would contribute to what we would do at certain times what we would eat. So you know, as children growing up in the house, we saw something differently from what was seen externally.

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 23:03
And I don’t think that’s far removed from, from what a lot of two house, two parent households may experience now, because I know that within my friends from the Latino culture, my my very special friend, Sammy, in particular, she definitely is the decision maker when it comes to education. She’s definitely the decision maker, when it comes to health of the family. You know, what the vacations they are going to take, of course, the man is involved as the head. But in the islands, we like to say the woman is the neck, right?

Dr. Theodora Philip 23:36
There ya go.

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 23:37
The men might be the head but the women are their neck. So the neck tells the head where to look what direction to take. Right? So are you then truly marginalized within that particular context? Right. And as single mothers, we make the decision. So are we truly marginalized when you look at it from that concept? Let’s take you know, both of us being black and Caribbean. Let’s peel that onion a little bit because I think what we want to be able to do is to get the audience to understand that when we take we categorize people, when we put them within a category, that category is not monolithic.

Dr. Theodora Philip 24:18
No, it’s not.

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 24:19
It is very diverse and complex and complicated. So as black Caribbean women and I mentioned, I’m a fair skinned you have darker skin. On the US mainland, I know that there’s been extensive conversations about colorism and there’s perception that people have lighter skin may have more privilege because they more closely aligned to Europeans expectations of beauty, whereas darker skin may not be perceived that way. However, what was interesting in our conversations that we were having offline that I would like you to share with our listening audience is that you did not have that experience.

Dr. Theodora Philip 24:59
No, actually, my experience was the exact opposite. Um, you know, so my family was predominantly of lighter hue. So me being a darker hue was treated like a princess, I was actually told, when I grew up, I’d be a queen in Africa. So I grew up, you know, what, you know, I was totally shocked when I moved to the mainland for college. And I realized that there was this issue with colorism, you know, because that was not my experience, not at all.

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 25:31
Right, right. So, again, you know, when we look at, and I think one of the things that I want the listening audience to walk away with is that I think, as a society, a global society, we find that it is more convenient or easier for us to place people in a box in a category, because it’s more comfortable for us to put them in that box.

Dr. Theodora Philip 26:01

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 26:02
People are so much more diverse and so much more complex. So for example, the black community is not only African American, the black community includes Caribbean american people from African descent, right? People from Africa that are living on the mainland, it is a very complex construct, much like the Latino community. You know, there’s people from Puerto Rico there’s people from El Salvador, Ecuador, they may be categorized as Latino, when you start to peel back that onion, you realize that people and communities are not monolithic. And so we, in addition to doing your own self exploration, in order to be truly a good ally, you have to take the time to peel back the onion of that marginalized group that you’re hoping to help empower, engage or support, whatever cause that you’re aligning yourself with, if you are not a member of that marginalized group, you need to take the time to really understand that. So with that, let’s shift gears a little bit on talk about, you know, allyship Theo.

Dr. Theodora Philip 27:18
Yes. Okay. So I see it very much like the communication model, actually, you know, it equates to that. So in the communication model, you know, that there is a message, there’s a messenger, there’s a receiver, and of course, there’s a feedback loop. So when it comes to allyship, you know, the causes the message, of course, the messenger, you know, in turn is the ally. And the receiver is represented as a marginalized group, who needs continuous confirmation of understanding how one would serve as an ally or an accomplice. So fundamentally, it’s always about the same thing. It’s always about listening, respecting, understanding building relationships and nurturing trust, you know, and, you know, speaking of that, I know you have a very interesting story about the reversal of roles when it comes to serving as an ally.

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 28:13
Oh, absolutely. And it’s interesting that you use the communication model to equate allyship because what’s interesting with my story is that the messenger receiver could switch between the ally and the marginalized group. And here, here is the situation. So I was a member of the executive management group of a hospital here in the Virgin Islands, and the Virgin Islands, is a majority black community. So we don’t consider ourselves the minority. We are the majority. And I’m, the board brought in a CEO of Caucasian descent from the mainland to lead the hospital and he was a turnaround specialist. So admittedly, the hospital was struggling and he came in and His goal was to turn around the hospital. But when he walked into the executive management meeting, that consisted of approximately 12 executives, he was the only Caucasian in that room. So that is in stark contrast to what we know to be the norm on the mainland. So the CEO was Mr. Nelson and Mr. Nelson and I built a very good working relationship that was built on open communication, honest communication, really, we peeled the onions trying to understand each other, and as such, we built trust. Okay, so within the context of the US Virgin Islands, he was the marginalized person and I served as his ally because I was able to translate a lot cultural norms and nuances that he may not have understood. And also use them to broker relationships that he needed to further the organizational goals. Okay. So once Mr. Nelson’s tenure was over, he went to Minnesota. And as a turnaround specialist, he started a new assignment to turn around another organization. And it so happens that Mr. Nelson recruited me from the Virgin Islands to go to work with him in Minnesota. Well, the roles and the context change, because when I then walked into that executive management meeting, the first time, that consisted about 10 to 12, executives, I was the only black person in the room, I was the only person of color in the room. So not only was I the only black, but I was the only person of color among a group of Caucasians. And so then I became the person who was part of that marginalized group. And Mr. Nelson acted very much as my ally. And so the dynamics in the context within that organization was very different because he was from Minnesota. So he then served to help me understand the cultural norms and beliefs and behaviors that were a little bit foreign to me that I had to learn. So quick, interesting thing, culturally, in the US Virgin Islands were very direct. It’s respectful to be very direct. And so that’s the way that I was used to communicating well, once I moved to Minnesota, being direct is not as valued. “Minnesota Nice” is more valued, right. And for those who are from Minnesota, or those who live in Minnesota, or transplants in Minnesota, you understand exactly what I’m talking about. So those two cultural contexts Now, going based on the communication model, the message was the cause was the same, the allies, and the receiver changed. And the feedback loop looked very different, you know, and basically really boils down to acquiring those cultural responsive, critical thinking skills that’s really necessary to understand stereotypes, discrimination, power, privilege, and those things that lead to influencing oppressive behavior in marginalized communities, you know, and so, um, when we talk about the different levels of allyship, I would say, in St. Croix, I was probably more of someone who’s more altruistic because I was home, you know, I was doing this because I wanted to further his cause and further the cause of the organization. Whereas Mr. Nelson’s ally ship was definitely altruistic, but I’m sure there was some self interest because he was the one who hand picked me and brought me in. And so the dynamics was a little bit different there.

Dr. Theodora Philip 33:25
Yeah, I could imagine. I mean, it was, as John Lewis said, you know, and seeking to justice and equality, when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up, you have to say something, you have to do something. So I can see how that relates to something, you know, specifically when it comes to public advocacy. When it comes to allyship. Yeah, there are five levels.

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 33:49
Yeah. And, you know, we’ve we’ve talked a lot about the the interpersonal level of advocacy, and we talked a little bit about the institutional or at work level, you know, in 2020, though, there’s been a lot of lot of focus on the community level, on the public policy level, and on the institutional level, you know, things that were happening in the US, during 2020 not only happened in isolation in the US, it happened within communities. It happened at the government level to change legislation. It happens on the international level, where there were other countries also demonstrating against social injustice. So public advocacy, yeah, there’s those five levels and not everybody is comfortable advocating at all levels. So I think part of being an ally, is really understanding to what extent you’re comfortable being an ally and what level of advocacy you’re hoping to engage in because not everybody can create a moment.

Dr. Theodora Philip 35:01

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 35:02
I actually, you know, I, I’m just not there, I am more comfortable as a relator. Because I tend to be a little bit more introverted, doing my advocacy more in an interpersonal or on an institutional level with hopes that that would then trickle out into the community and maybe have a ripple effect that’s a little bit wider.

Dr. Theodora Philip 35:24
Yeah, well, successful interventions are targeted, you know, it’s context specific. And it focuses on changing behavior rather than deeply held beliefs. So, you know, fundamentally, all five public advocacy levels begin on an individual level, it begins with each one of us, you know, so as an ally, we charge, we should charge everyone we should hold them accountable, to engage in developing a safe space to have open authentic conversations between the marginalized group and ally to ensure alignment with allyship. You know, it reminds me a little bit about that poem you shared with me, you know.

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 36:03
Yeah, and before I share the poem, because I’m sure a lot of listeners that follow the forum is familiar with this poem. But one of the things I want to stress before we close is that to be an ally, it’s not, it’s not just to stand up and say, I want to be an ally, and I’m going to support this group it’s not a unilateral decision. You know, it definitely needs to be a mutually agreed upon decision between the ally and the marginalized group. And the reason I, the reason that I say that is that as a black Caribbean woman, I play tennis, I’m going to do a quick example, I play tennis. And we all know that tennis is a predominantly Caucasian, upper socio economic sport, it can be pricey, so it eliminates certain people. And there’s not many people like me on the court. So after George Floyd, I’m privileged to play with a group of ladies, that’s very much like the United Nations, you know, there’s Asian American, there’s Latino, there’s African American, there’s myself from the Caribbean, they’re Caucasians from, you know, the north from the Midwest and from the south. And that’s a whole nother nuance that we could even get into, from geography as to how those culture, they’re the cultural differences based on geography. But anyway, there’s a united nation of ladies. And you know, my one Caucasian friend, she said, I don’t know how to say this. But are you okay? And this is after George Floyd was murdered. And of course, emotions were high. And my African American friend, Rita, and myself, were there, right. And we both appreciated the the acknowledgement in her own way, but we also recognize her discomfort in having that conversation, but she felt it was more important to make sure her friends were okay, than her discomfort in bringing the subject up. What was nice is that it allowed us, myself as a Caribbean woman, and Rita as an African American woman, to share our, our shared journey, but also the distinctions in how we perceive or react to what was happening. You know, and so I go back to the fact that being an ally of a marginalized group, no one marginalized group is monolithic, you need to understand yourself, you need to understand the layers of that marginalized group. And then before you engage in your allyship, there needs to be a mutual understanding that that marginalized group recognizes you as an ally. You know, what extent you’re gonna have that ally ship.

Dr. Theodora Philip 39:11
So share with us the little excerpt that you shared with me offline.

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 39:16
You know, as I was, I was, I was thinking about the topic how to be an ally while also being marginalized. I absolutely love and I’m a super fan of Mary Frances Winters and The Winters Group, and they have our commitment to live inclusively poem that I actually have posted here in my office. And I’m not going to read the whole thing, but I wanted to read a couple excerpts from it, because I think it’s a wonderful way to close this topic. And it starts in it says, I commit to be intentional in living inclusively, I commit to spending more time getting to know myself and understanding my culture. It is in understanding myself that I’m in a better position to understand others, I will acknowledge that I do not know what I do not know but I will not use what is unconscious as an excuse, I will be intense and exposing myself to differences. If I do not know, I will ask, if I am asked I will assume positive intent. More importantly, I will accept my responsibility in increasing my own knowledge and understanding. I will thrive to accept and not just be tolerated, respect, even if I don’t agree and be curious, not judgmental, I commit to pausing and listening, I will be empathetic to the experiences and perspective of my others. I will use my privilege positively and get comfortable with my own discomfort. I commit to knowing getting and doing better than I did yesterday. Keeping in mind my commitment to live inclusively is a journey, not a destination. Being an ally, is a journey it is not a destination. It is a continuous process of learning and calibrating and understanding and reflection. And yes.

Dr. Theodora Philip 41:30
That’s an excellent point. Excellent.

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 41:34
I love The Winters Group. So I follow them. And I think their work is amazing in the diversity, equity and inclusion, social justice space. So I just thought it was a perfect way to, to kind of wrap up this conversation.

Dr. Theodora Philip 41:47
Well, thank you. And I hope our audience you know, enjoy a conversation today. We thank The Forum on Workplace Inclusion, for creating this space to have insightful conversations such as this. Thank you to the listening audience, as there’s so many other things that they could have been doing with their time today, but instead, they’re elected to spend it with us. So thank you all. Now let’s go out and be better allies.

Xaulanda Simmonds-Emmanuel 42:16
Yes, let’s go out and be better allies.

Ben Rue 42:20
Thank you so much, Londa and Dr. Philip for sitting down for that wonderful podcast. Thank you to our listeners for joining us and a special thank you to our sponsor Best Buy. You can learn more by emailing Xaulanda at xaulandastx@gmail.com or Dr. Philip at Theodora.Philip@tapconsultantsLLC.com New episodes of the forum podcast are available at ForumWorkplaceinclusion.org/podcast. You can also find our podcasts on Apple podcast, Spotify anchor and Stitcher. Thank you again for listening. Have a great day.

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion 42:55
Thank you again for listening to the Forum on Workplace Inclusion podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast to get updates in the latest episodes. Also, tell us what you think by reviewing our podcast we’d love to hear your feedback. For more information visit us at ForumWorkplaceinclusion.org or search workplace forum on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Thank you very much and have a great day.

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion 43:18
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