- Welcome back to the CultureRoad podcast.
I'm Lexi Seals-Johnson,and today, episode 6,
we'll be talking about burning it down
versus anchoring to aspiration.
If you wanna know what thatmeans, stay tuned for more.
- We're back from the Redlands Koi Gardens
in Miami, Florida.
Love, love, love being herein this nature preserve.
As we jump into the sixth episode
of the CultureRoad podcast,
just know that we inviteyou to feel the whole
South Florida vibe that we're in,
including roosters, exotic birds,
(Lexi chuckles)we got the whole thing
going on, waterfalls!
So please, kind of, enjoy the space
and feel like you'repart of the conversation.
Today the conversation is about something
that is incredibly personal to me.
It's around a philosophical discussion
that I've been havingwith myself for many years
and also that I've been having sometimes
even in confrontational ways
over the last several months especially.
And what I would love forus to do in this episode
is think about some ofthe philosophical ways
in which we approach equity,diversity, and inclusion.
So I'll just give a little context here.
I've been an equity, diversity,and inclusion practitioner
for about 30 years.
I kinda stumbled into this work.
Started off as an activistand stumbled into this work
with just a lot of passion in my heart
about how it is that I can contribute
to creating a more equitable world
and trying to eliminate biasand oppression in the world,
wherever it exists.
And I've been following thatpath as true to form as I can
for the entirety of my life.
Along the way, though,what that means is that
I have created programs thathaven't always been successful,
or they haven't been successfullyor effectively adopted,
or that resources have shifted midstream
through working with a client,
or priorities have shifted,
or recommendations that Ior other EDI practitioners
offer to, oftentimes well-meaning,executives or managers
aren't actuallyincorporated into practice.
And over 30 years, what we find is that
accumulated frustration associated with
not ever meeting the expectations
that we've set out for ourselves
and still living in a worldthat's filled with equity,
or inequity, and also living in a world
that continues to befilled with oppression.
And now here we are, after several years
of really complicated focus on oppression
and on inequity at the systems level,
not just in the United States,but all across the globe,
and really thinking about whatis it that we are going to do
to really create the worldthat we want to live in.
And at this crossroads, theconversation that I continue
to be confronted by is,
is the work that we're doing,
related to equity, diversity,and inclusion, authentic?
Is it actually meaningful?
Is there any chance that whatwe can do to change the world
is gonna be anythingmore than performative
or anything more than incremental?
Are we actually gonna beable to create a space
that we have been aspiring for
for decades and decades and decades,
if not hundreds of years?
And so this is the startingpoint because one of the things
that I've been confrontedwith is people to me,
much younger than me oftentimes, saying,
"Listen, we don't carewhat you've been doing
for the last 30 years.
We need you to know that our philosophy is
now's the time to just burnit all down and start over."
And it's been hard. It's beena hard pill for me to swallow.
It's not necessarily aposition that I support.
However, I understand the frustration,
and I absolutely understand why it is
that people have very little faith
in some of the performative
and also authentic but notnecessarily effective efforts
that we've made to date.
So this episode is reallyabout kind of unpacking,
what does that mean, "burn it all down"?
What are the optionsother than burn it down?
What are the pros and consof the approach of kind of
burn it all down to theground at a systems level
and create something that is wholly built
on a brand new model and bynew people and new voices?
And also, is there apath forward from here,
even for people who might have different
So, my friends, that'swhat we're starting for,
this ridiculously complicatedphilosophical space
that we've had plentyof conversations around,
that we continue to have alot of conversations around,
that is continuing to be kind of unfolding
on a day-by-day basis in theworld that we're living in,
where there's so manydifferent voices and ideas,
and things continue to change.
So I want us to just talk about this
and talk about some of your perspectives
and also what it is that we might look to,
as far as those of us whoreally care about this work,
who really care about endingoppression in the world,
who really care aboutcreating more systems
of equity and justice.
What are the options?
And to do it in a way that acknowledges
that we're coming fromdifferent identities,
different lived experiences,different generations,
and bringing all of those to the table
as we have this conversation,
because I really think there'sgonna be a lot of wisdom
that we can use here. Okay?
So with that said,before we go any further,
let's do introductions though.
So Jayla, you go first, and then Lexi.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
and why it is that you dowork related to equity,
diversity, and inclusion sowe can get a little context.
- Yeah, of course, so I'm Jayla Hodge.
I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado,
in Michigan and Chicago,
but my background, it's pretty widespread.
I have a background injournalism, political science,
systems organization, aswell as a lot of activism
in there as well.
So that gives me a very wide perspective
to look at this issue at.
I've seen kind of bothsides of these arguments
and I think I have a reallygood understanding of them
and, like, where there ismaybe more areas of tension
and then more areas of understanding.
So I'm excited for our conversation today.
- [DeEtta] Nice, thanks, Jayla.
- I am Lexi Seals-Johnson.
I was born and raised in Utah (chuckles)
and went to college there.
So I have a backgroundin higher education,
diversity, equity,inclusion, consulting...
that sort of thing.
I think "burn it down" isvery interesting for me
because I feel like Ihave a lot of privilege
in knowing how to talk topeople in power, right,
in a way that makes others
who are wanting to burnit down be understood.
And so I think that's whyI really love this topic.
I'm very excited to get into it.
- [Jayla] Nice.
- Okay, let's jump in then. Let's jump in.
So I definitely have perspectiveson how to frame this,
but I've been talkingabout this for 30 years.
Let's start off with you.
Let's start off with you alltelling us a little bit more
about this widespread philosophy.
And for those of you who are just, like,
trying to get a context around this,
I'll give what I think isa super helpful analogy.
I remember the last episodeof Game of Thrones, right?
Just like everyoneremembers the last episode
of Game of Thrones.
And I remember Daenerysriding around on her dragon,
literally burning everything down,
burning it all down, right?
And I remember just being,like, overwhelmed with emotion.
And at the beginning I was like,
"Wow, that's a serious badass move."
I was so, like, I was feeling it!
And then by the end of it, I was like,
"Wait, wait, wait, wait,wait, wait! What next?"
Like, "Do we have a plan?
What's gonna happen?
We're all just gonna be,
those of us who actually survive it,
standing in the ashes.
Then what? How do we build from there?"
And I remember that was, like,such a visceral moment for me
to think about the idea of,I understand dismantling,
but what I don't understand is, like,
from that place of standingin the ashes, then what?
And that's the place that I really wrestle
with the idea of burn it down.
Not that I don't understandthings that are broken,
but I really also, (stammers)
you know, maybe just hopelessly optimistic
in the desire to figure out, like,
what is it that we're going towards.
So that's how, for those of youwho are trying to figure out
conceptually what this topic is,
maybe a potential starting point,
but I'd love to hear from you all,
like, what it is that you all hear
and how it is that youwould describe this?
- [Crew Member 1] Canyou pause for a second?
Can you pause for one second?
We're just gonna make a quick adjustment.
- [Crew Member 2] ... Thatcurl in the front dread.
- Thank you. Thank you.
(whispers) Thank you.
- [Lexi Over Recording]We'll be talking about
burning it down versusanchoring to aspiration.
So if you want to learn more about-
- [DeEtta Over Recording]Think about some of the
philosophical ways in which we approach
equity, diversity and inclusion.
So I'll just give a little context here,
I've been equity, diversity and-
- [Crew Member 1] I thinkit's set to only an hour...
- Oh, noted.
Okay, so we're nine minutes in?
Right around that? Okay, got it.
Got it. Got it.
- [Crew Member 2] We're ready.
- All right.
- [Crew Member 1] And action!Jayla and Lexi, you're up.
And action!(clapperboard snaps)
- Yeah, so burn it down for me,
I think, makes a lot of sense to me
because I think the peoplewho believe that way
are in a place where theydon't see any other option
and haven't had theexperiences or privileges
to feel like there can be any change.
And I think it's just, forme, a place of exhaustion.
Just, like, working for so long,
and seeing your familywork for so long too,
and try as hard as youcan in doing the things
that people are saying youneed to do to be successful,
or to change the environment
and just not seeingany difference in that,
like, not seeing anydifference being made.
And I think that's totally valid.
And I totally understand that.
And I think that people likeus who have had experiences
and privileges to be in aworld where we have access
to people who can make a difference,
for me, I see that as my privilege,
working to understand and validate them
and understand there's a place for them,
while also knowing that my place is
to have those conversationsbecause I haven't had to work
as long and as hard as they have had to.
And that exhaustion hasn't set in
for me yet, right?- [DeEtta] Yeah, yeah.
- And so for me, it's like,
okay, I need to be the oneto have those conversations
so that they don't feel likethey have to burn it down.
But I don't think alot of them think about
the "what next?" question.
I don't think that that's aquestion. I think it's like,
"This isn't working and Idon't know how to change it.
So let's just get rid of it."
That's how I see it.
- And I think, like, we gotta be cognizant
that we're talking likevery generally here.
- But I agree with what you said.
I think it's coming from aplace of people have, like,
the language and knowledgeof like abolition
and abolishing systems
that are only making,like, incremental changes.
And they're, again, tired, exhaustion.
They're like, "We haveto, like, get rid of,"
And they want it in a radical way,
"Of the things that are oppressing people,
are keeping us from thisvision and view of, like,
how things could be, but rapidly."
And again, I think that's coming from
when you have decades ofpeople feeling oppressed
or like things aren't changing fast enough
are living on that side and all of us,
with marginalized identities,can fully understand that.
But then the world that...
a good example I'll say is, like,
when I was an activisttoo, and I was younger
and I hadn't seen this side,like, this middle ground,
I was very much like,
"Yeah, we gotta do away with all of that.
Like, I want it done now. Like,my parents were oppressed.
I don't want to keepliving in the same cycles."
And now that I'm on this sideof being a DEI practitioner
and we're working with individuals,
I see that there's a lot of good intention
within these like systematic,incremental changes
that is still building tothat same vision and view,
just in two different ways.
And I think the good wayto bridge that gap is that
we all want the same outcome, right?
A world without oppression, aworld that's more equitable,
a world that's more just.
Our methods of gettingthere are different.
- It's interesting. So it'sinteresting because, you know,
both of you are describingpeople just being tired
or exhausted, right?
Which I totally get, but itseems to me like this sentiment
is more coming from younger people.
So where is this tirednessand exhaustion coming from
in people who are so young?
Who are so new to theworkforce, for example.
- And I think it's exposure,
- Yeah.- 'Cause we are living
in, like, the digital age.
So we've seen on,
I've had a phone, I think,since I was, like, six.
So we've seen growing upat a much younger age,
we've been exposed to...
Again, the oppression and the brutality
that a lot of marginalizedcommunities face
and on a global scale,we see it much bigger.
- [Lexi] Right.
Yeah, I think it allgoes back to technology
and social media.
Whereas, like, in the eighties,
something horrific would happenand does happen everyday,
but you don't see iton your page everyday.
You don't have to watch the video
over and over and over again.
You don't have to, you know, see it.
When you're seeing itin your face that much,
I think it just bringsabout a feeling of like,
"This needs to change."
I also think it, a lotof it is like education.
It's knowing that we feel like we can
rise up to the top, right?
Whereas, I think, like,a lot of people before us
felt like, "This is my place."
- [DeEtta] Yeah. Yeah.
- And, like, "This is where I have been,
and this is where my family has been
and I feel good being here."
Whereas, I think a lot of others are like,
"No, I'm gonna be an innovator.
Like, we grew up in the age of technology.
The whole point is toinnovate and make new changes
- [Jayla] Yeah.- And grow and fast.
So I think for us, it's likewe know it can be done fast.
(Lexi laughs)- [DeEtta] Right.
- And I think it comes from
a mutual respect too.- Yeah.
- Of like the generations before us
who have done all this work,who have like paved the way,
and understanding, like, yeah,
We are now here and we wanna,like, push it even further.
- [DeEtta] Right. Right.- [Lexi] Yeah.
- Yeah, so I think it does comefrom like a place of respect
of all, like, the activistsand all of the innovators
and glass breakers before us.
- And it's interestingbecause, like, you know,
radical ideas are not new.- [Lexi] Right.
- Radical ideas have been around
for a very, very, very long time, right?
It's like critical race theory.Like, this isn't brand new.
This has been around for a long time.
We're talking about it now,
but it kind of seems like justgenerational cycles, right?
It just, you know, like,I'm officially old enough
to have lived through a coupleof different generations
at this point, where I saw thisis the energy that I brought
to my work when I was in my,you know, teens and twenties.
And then I kind of watchedafter, you know, this lull,
this big period of a lull
and now I'm watching this resurgence.
And I wonder if, like,every generation has that.
And so, like, some of theideas about burn it all down
are just kind of the natural ways in which
new generations express themselves.
But I don't want it tobe that easily dismissed.
Like, "Oh, this is just young.
This is just what youth does." Right?
Without really taking heed to,
"No, no, no, no. There'ssomething ridiculously substantive
that people are calling for
and they're calling forit at a global level.
And if we don't listen to it,
we might actually bestanding in the ashes."
- [Lexi] Right. Right.
- And then what?
- [Lexi] Yeah.
- And I agree. I think that to, like,
the level of scrutiny there is overall.
So before, even just like 10 years ago,
when a crisis or PR from organizations,
it wasn't as widespread, right?
People aren't looking at leadersas much as they are today
because we have access to.
And I think that's what hasled a lot more to again,
the decision, burn itdown, let's change this
just 'cause we're seeing a whole lot more
and we're seeing the actionsof organizations internally,
unlike an external way now.
- [DeEtta] Yeah, yeah.
- Yeah. I also think we'reseeing that it can be done.
Like, I think in previousgenerations it was so slow to see,
like, a black woman owning her own company
and making, like, moving up.
Like, it happened obviously,
but people didn't acknowledgeit or it was pushed behind.
And so I think for me,
I'm like, "DeEtta can buildthis and create this,"
and, like Jayla, we weretalking about last night.
She's like, "In 10 years, like,
this is where I wanna be, you know?"
'Cause we see that whereas,I don't think you saw that.
- [DeEtta] No.- So for us, it's like,
we see it. We know it can happen.
So let's get it done now.
- There's like an energy-- [DeEtta] We ain't gotta wait
for you!(All laugh)
- Yeah. There's now an energy.
Like these are the barriers.
These are the structuralsystemic barriers that are, like,
keeping us from doing that.
And I think that it'shonestly coming from a belief,
'cause we have- Yeah.
- A very strong belief- [DeEtta] Yeah.
- That we can, like, that we can do it.
And I think that's a fire,- [Lexi And DeEtta] Yeah.
- And it comes off as burn it all down.
- I love it. Okay.
So when you say that there arestructural systemic barriers
that we're trying to likeget rid of, what are they?
Like, what are thestructural systemic barriers
that if we made them go away,we could have more equity?
- Yeah. So I think abig one is capitalism,
which I think is talked about a lot.
Me and Jayla talk about alot and we've talked about,
and I think there's a place where
we see people taken advantageof in capitalistic ways.
And I think when peoplehear anti-capitalism,
they say, "You can't doanything without money."
And I think for me,
anti-capitalism means you can'tdo anything without money,
but you can make that money equitable.
- Yeah.- I don't think
there's any place in which someone...
There needs to be abillionaire there at the top
and people can't feedtheir kids at the bottom.
So, like, I'm all formoney. I wanna get paid.
I want you to get paid,- Yeah!
- You know, but I don't see,
I don't think there'sa need for me to have
so much more than someonewho literally can't survive.
And I think that that's a huge barrier.
There's a barrier for education.
People can't afford to go to school.
If they do, they have debt.- [DeEtta] Yep.
- Yeah.- I think that's a huge
barrier I see.
- I agree and I think thatthere's, like, a misconnotation,
again, there's likepolitical, philosophical views
are gonna be over here and way over here.
But I think majority of people
fall into the same middle boat.
When we say like anti-capitalism,
we mean our system as it is,- [Lexi And DeEtta] Yeah.
- Like, against the bad parts of it:
The parts where people have to work,
like, teachers have to work two jobs
just to pay their bills
and that there's not a lot of
language or focus on work-life balance;
Where people are just a number,
employees are seen as anothernumber or just another role
and not like that human element.
And I think that that's the part
of the anti-capitalistic structure
that a lot of us want to change.
I don't think it's againstlike entrepreneurship, right?
It's like, "How can wefocus on small businesses?
On businesses from ownersthat are marginalized,
that had to work a lotharder, compete a lot more,
are from practices that aren't oppressive,
are holding anyone downin order to make money?"
And when you paint it that way,
you're like, "Oh yeah. Like,most of us fall in that boat."
- [Lexi And DeEtta] Yeah.
- As a, you know, as a business owner,
that's been one of the thingsthat I've run into a lot
when people I'm havingconversations with people
who are like equity, diversityand inclusion practitioners.
And then all of a sudden,
we're having a conversation,you know, internally
and somebody starts using thelanguage "anti-capitalism"
and I'm like, "Whoa, whoa,whoa, wait! I'm a capitalist."
Like I, literally in orderto be an entrepreneur
and live in the United States of America
and have a for-profitbusiness, which we do,
this is not a 501(c)(3), right.
- [Lexi] Right.
- Then, I am participatingin a capitalist system,
but I actually feel like that's great.
- [Lexi] Right.- Right, I actually feel like
me being present here andpeople like me, right?
People who are black andbrown, and women, founders,
and entrepreneurs, and CEOsare actually disrupting
- [Lexi] Right.- [Jayla] Mm-hmm.
- The inequity in the system.
And I feel like a lot of timesthe language is making people
feel like you're either, youknow, part of the problem
or, you know, you don't evenget what the issue is at all.
And I'm like, "Well, actually,I feel like what I'm doing
is disruptive in its own way."- Absolutely.
- Absolutely.- But it is interesting
to think about, like, howour language oftentimes
is not necessarily mutually understood
and it sometimes is sobroadly used, right.
Such a blanket statement
that we're missing some of the nuances
and some of the opportunitiesfor actually achieving
the results that we want.
- Right.- Yeah.
- And I've learned a lot.
I think it's, again, it comes back-
- [Crew Member 1] Hold that thought.
- I think you have lipstick on your tooth.
She's coming for you.
- Is it lipstick on my tooth?
- [Crew Member 2] Ithink you just fixed it.
- Yeah 'cause Lexi justtold me. Is it gone?
- [Crew Member 2] It's gone.
- [DeEtta] Okay.
- All right. Well, we need to,like, give each other looks.
(Jayla and Lexi laugh)
- I'm like, "What is it?"
I'm so busy watching this'cause it's about to blow over.
I literally am like, "Oh,this thing is about to go.
We need to put some rocksin the bottom of it.
It's about to go down.
It's gonna go over. Yeah.
One more gush of the wind andit's going, it's tilting."
- It needs a, like, somethingheavy on the bottom of it.
- Yeah. Some rocks in it.
- [Crew Member 1] Excuse me, (indistinct)!
All right, keep rolling.
- The matter of...
- Do you remember what you were gonna say?
- Yeah. I'm like going over in my head.
- Hold it. We're gonna start with you.
(crew chatters indistinctly)
- I think this is about to blow down.
- [DeEtta] It's the, can weput some rocks or something
in the bottom? Do you think that's a-
- [Crew Member 3] Yeah. I think so.
- [DeEtta] It keeps tippingup. It might go down.
(crew chatters indistinctly)
You have to sit perfectlycomposed like this
or else we'll melt.(Lexi chuckles)
- I know, he told us about thehands as I was moving my hand
and I was like...(Lexi laughs)
- [DeEtta] Wait, whathappened with your hands?
- He was like, "Put your hands,hand placement, in the exact
same place" as I waslike adjusting my hair.
(Jayla and Lexi laugh)
- [DeEtta] Oh, oh, oh.
- [Crew Members] It'll be okay.
- [DeEtta] I'll cross my leg again.
(crew chatters indistinctly)
- [DeEtta] We've been practicing.
He's been practicing the clap.
- [Crew Member 1] Really?You want the clap?
- [DeEtta] Oh yeah, yeah. There we go.
- [Crew Member 1] You sure you good?
(crew chatters indistinctly)
- [Crew Member 2] I'm good.
(crew chatters indistinctly)
- [DeEtta] It's just tomake it heavier, yeah.
- [DeEtta] That's perfect.
- [Crew Member 3] That's to secure it.
- [DeEtta] Yeah. Thank you.
I'm like, "Oh, that's about to be a mess."
- [Crew Member 4] Youwant different colors?
- [Crew Member 3] No, it'sokay 'cause it's not gonna show
through the red. It's more so like...
- [DeEtta] Wait. Yeah, thank you.
- [Crew Member 3] I thinkthat should be okay.
- Yeah. That's better.
- [Crew Member 1] You'vegotta just add five minutes
to whatever time yousee on the clock there.
- So we... Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.
It's at 22-
- [Tommy] For this time,I'll just stand up and...
- [Crew Member 1] Okay, got it.
Tommy will give you a cue.
- [Tommy] So when do youwant me to give the cue?
- [DeEtta] Tommy, how farare we into this right now?
- [Tommy] We're about 20 minutes in.
- [DeEtta] We're 20 minutes in?
So we'll finish this thought
and then we'll take a break to sponsor
and then we'll come back. Yeah?
- [Tommy] All right.- [DeEtta] Okay. Cool.
- [Crew Member 1] Allright, still rolling.
Coming back to Lexi and Jayla.
- Just go? Okay.
- [DeEtta] He's gonna count us in.
- [Crew Member 1] Allright, ready? And action.
- So I really think it's justlike a matter of perspective.
Before I was, like, in the industry
and an official,professional EDI practitioner
and it was more in thatlike realm of just activism
and learning, I definitelyhad this perception of, like,
"Well, why aren't they doing more?"
And like, "The peoplein these organizations
and in these businesses,like, they don't care
and if they wanted tochange it, they would."
And then you enter it
and you actually interactwith the individuals.
We hold facilitations, wetalk to the C-suite CEO.
Like, we interact withthem and engage with them
and then you start to see like,
"Oh, they do care."- [DeEtta] Right.
- And they are just a part,
the same way that weall are kind of forced
to function within thesystem, so are they.
- Right.- And the system
has been around a lotlonger than all of us.
It is one that we grew into
and it's a lot harder to changeit from that, from there,
and meeting people,like, where they're at.
- [DeEtta] Right. Right.
- And that was somethingthat really had to change.
But I definitely hadfriends who were like,
"Oh, I'm surprised that thatwas the route you took."
And like, "You were much more radical."
And some of it was very judgemental
and it was really hard for me.
I had to sit there reallyand think about it.
And I realized that like,again, it's the intent.
- [Lexi And DeEtta] Yeah.
- And the intent is the same.
It's just for of thosewith a different path
or ideal way to get there,
they will see us as standing in the way
when, in reality,- Yeah.
- We're not.- Yeah.
I love when you're talking about,
like, how it can be judgemental.
And I feel like that's the part
that's often the mosthurtful, for me at least,
as an individual is toknow, like, you know,
this is ridiculously hard work.
There's a lot of career paths
that are so much moreemotionally, kind of, agnostic.
- [Lexi] Yeah.
- This is like everysingle day we are, like,
bringing our emotional A-game
because it's hard work otherwise,you know, intellectually,
and physically, and all of that.
But emotionally,- [Lexi] Yeah.
- It's really, really heavy lifting
and to do it for thislong and this earnestly
and always trying our hardest to, like,
show up in the service ofothers is a real commitment.
And then to have some of themost judgemental relationships
be with people who look just like us,
- [Lexi] Yeah.- Or people who say, you know,
who we feel like we should havethe strongest affinity with.
- [Jayla] Right.- [Lexi] Yeah.
- Actually being the peoplewho are the most judgemental.
I feel like that's the part.
And I don't disagree
- [Lexi] Right.- That we haven't,
by any stretch of the imagination,
made the progress that we wanted to,
or else we wouldn't beup in arms like this.
The world is on fire rightnow. We know that, right?
But the world is on fire
because we haven't madethe progress we want
and that we need.
And so I absolutely support the fact that
we need a serious intervention.
- [Lexi] Right.
- But philosophically, Idon't want, I also am like,
"Wait, I don't feel like this is the time
to judge each other.
I feel like this is,instead, the time to like
find different pathwaystowards the same goals."
- [Lexi] Right. Yeah.
And I think that's exactly what,
what you said is huge thatthere are, and what Jayla said,
like, everyone thinks thatthey're doing different things.
And I think that for a lot of people,
they think that we, as EDI practitioners,
might be ignoring what's happening.
But for us, we have to look at it.
- [Jayla] Everyday. Everyday.- We can't,
we can't ignore it becausewe have to sit with people
in their pain,- [DeEtta] Yes.
- And acknowledge and research
everything that's happening in the news.
- [DeEtta] Right.- Right?
So it's not... We can'tignore it. (chuckles)
- [Jayla And DeEtta] Yeah.
- Yeah. So I think that's a huge thing.
And a lot of times thatpeople don't see, but like,
I totally think it's a listening thing.
Like nobody, you don't listen,
you don't pay attention andyou don't try to understand,
like, what we are doing, right?
- But if we scale back and like, look at,
I think it's, again,another generalization,
- Totally.- Of the industry.
- Because I think about it before,
like, before I met you DeEttaand I learned about DJA
and saw that you have a very, like,
systems way of approaching things,
I don't also want to pretend that, like,
every person who claims to be an EDI,
EDI practitioner organization does that.
- [Lexi] Absolutely.- And that's a harsh reality
that, like, us as an industry has to face.
It's very oversaturated and again,
that goes back to capitalism.
Some individuals andpeople are looking at ways,
"How can I make moneyoff of these practices?"
- And I'm not sayingit's bad to make money,
but they've made that the sole focus
and whether that's selling checklists
or simply appealing to buzzwords
or going in and reassuring people like,
"Okay, you've done good enough.
You can put our organizationon your PR label
that we came through here."- Yeah.
- I think that's, like,that's painting us all as bad.
- [Lexi] And I think too-
- [DeEtta] That's actuallya really good point.
- That's a huge thing is weare in our retreat for DJA
and DeEtta's like, "Let'sall take a step back."
Like, "Why are we here?"
I think that's a questionwe have to ask all the time,
which I don't, again,
I don't think a lot of people ask that.
But for us and why I feel so strongly
about working with you and at DJA
and with the people we do is because
I fully and wholeheartedly believe
that we're all actually trying
to make change and difference.
And I think that we wouldbe doing it either way.
- Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
- Yeah. We would be!
- Yeah, you should be getting paid
(DeEtta laughs)for doing the work
you've been doing.
- Yeah, I do-- For however long,
because a lot of times, for generations,
we've been doing the same workand not getting paid for it.
- Right, right.- Right?
- So you might, like, wewould be doing it either way.
And so I think that
makes a huge difference.- [Jayla] Paying people
for their value.- For their work. Yeah.
- For their value. Andit's really interesting,
yeah, I think this is thefirst time even sitting here
conversing, I'm realizinglike, Oh, like we all,
that's the big difference:we truly believe in it.
And even if we weren't getting paid,
I deeply believe we'd allbe trying to make changes
the way that we could.
- [Lexi] Because we did!
- Yeah.- [Lexi] We have been
our whole lives.- [Lexi And DeEtta] Yeah.
- So generalizations.- [Lexi And DeEtta] Yeah.
- It's interesting. I love having this.
And it's also interestingbecause I feel like
this conversation kind of keeps going,
even when we think about, you know,
there's the EDIpractitioner world that we,
you know, we live in.
There's also people whoare activists, for example.
And I, there's a differencebetween being an activist
and being more of a facilitator, right?
That's what we are. Wedo, we're facilitators.
We're strategists. Activism is different.
Activist is kind of right-wrong, good-bad.
We spend more time kind of in the middle.
Kind of facilitating people moving along
a developmental continuum,
either individually orwithin their organization
or within an industryor at a systems level.
And I do feel like there's a
ridiculously important place for that.
- [Jayla] Absolutely.
- But there's also,
even inside of these otherspaces like activism,
these really specific and judgemental ways
in which we expect ouractivists to live and exist.
- [Lexi] Right.
- And there are these old mental models,
like you have to be broke,
you can't have any life or livelihood
outside of your activism, youcan't ever have fun or smile.
I feel like, you know,those of us who have decided
to do work that is really, kind of,
mission-driven in certain ways,
often have the additional burden
of having to deal with the judgements
- [Lexi] Right.
- From people who are, like,looking from the outside in
and making the judgements
about whether this is the right path
and also how we're doing it and how it is
that we should be doing it.
These kind of armchair,quarterback relationships
that we have, which is onlyanother layer of burden.
And I think actuallyanother layer of oppression.
- Right.- Yeah. It really is.
And I think that, like,I've been told like,
"Okay, well, the things you doaren't actually gonna, like,
change anyone's life or impactthem." Things like that.
We all who do this work everyday,
we realize it's a uphill battle
and the fact that we all still show up
and we're still trying tothink of new, innovative ways
to make a change.
- [DeEtta] Yep.
- Versus, like, I've never...
We always say "transformation"
or, "What can we do better?"
"What can we change?"
It's not like we're sitting here
on the same practices, on the ideas.
We're like, "Well, thesework, these made us money."
- [Lexi And DeEtta] Right.
- I think it's the, like,the organizations, companies,
people that do that, theydeserve that scrutiny, but...
- I think it's about, like,learning who you're speaking to.
- Right. And I have thisconversation all the time.
Like, we can't all be Oprah Winfrey.
(Jayla and Lexi laugh)
Like, we can't!
And so I think I havethis conversation a lot.
I think a lot of people in our generation
wanna change the world.
And I think we do that.
Like, I feel like I, my biggestlife changers were teachers
who no one will ever know their name
or were like my coworker
who no one will ever know their name.
And so I think, like,that's the biggest part
of the uphill battle is weare transforming people.
It might take us one person at a time
or one person sitting inthis facilitation at a time,
but I have seen it even working at DJA.
For not very long is,
at the beginning of acourse or a facilitation,
they're like, "I don't know why I'm here.
You're gonna make me tell, like,
tell me that everything I do is bad
because I'm a white man andI can't do anything right."
And then by the end, they're like,
"Oh, like, that's not atall what you're saying."
And I'm like, "Okay, thatchanges one person's life
because now they are makingdecisions for other people
and like, (stammers) it'sa chain of events, right?"
- There's no question, yeah.- [Jayla And Lexi] Yeah.
- And like, we have intersectionality,
like of our identities.We also do of our beliefs.
And I think this is a reallygood one where we're like,
in a way, we are activists.- Yeah.
- And in a way, we also are like
this middle ground practitioner space,
but we have to be likea foot in both to do,
I think, to do it well.
- Right. Right.- And I recommend that people
who are more, again, more activist
come over to our side and be practitioners
'cause that's how we getfresh ideas, new perspectives,
but vice versa.
- Yeah.- [DeEtta] Right. Right.
- It takes a little bit of both to, like,
to move us along.- [DeEtta] Yeah.
- And, you know, related tothat idea of like activism is,
you know, we have to haveopinions. We're not just agnostic.
Right? We do have values thatwe are firmly advocating for
and pushing our clients towards.
We are saying, "No, no, no.
There is actually somethingthat is too exclusionary
and we're gonna strongly recommend."
We might not be ableto boycott them or do,
but we can say, "We're gonnasteer you away from that.
And we're also gonna make surethat you clearly understand
the consequences of not pursuingthis more inclusive path
or not pursuing this more equitable path."
And so we still do, in many ways,
kind of have our ownway of being activists.
- [Lexi] Right.- But not necessarily
in the same demonstrative sort of way.
A lot of times it's uskind of shepherding people,
oftentimes, kind of quietly or subtly
through their own decision-making process.
But especially people who havea lot of power and authority,
- [Lexi] Right.- Who want to do right,
but they don't always understand
and they need kind of a confidential guide
to help them show up in the world
the way that they want to.
- Right. Because for a lot of people,
especially those who makedecisions, when you call them out,
they shut down and don't listen.
When you're in a room with them
and your client, like,slowly giving them ideas
or shaping their view over time.
That makes a huge difference.
- And I mean, not to say that,
those call-outs and those boycotts
totally have a valid place,
but I think for a lot of people,
when they don't feel attacked,
which some people should be attacked
for some things they say,
but when they're justtrying to make a change
in their workplace,
I think that they are morewilling to listen when they don't
feel like they're being attacked.
It's like a full journey with,
you're learning together, right?
- Yeah. We're like translators almost.
That's what I feel likesometimes because again,
like our end goal, ourmission, very similar,
but we are speaking in a way that, like,
might actually move people.
And I really like that.I like that visual.
We are guiding.
And I think the differencebetween activism
is demanding these organizationsmeet them where they're at
versus we meet themwhere the organizations
and the leaders are.
And then we kind of, weguide them along over here.
- [DeEtta] Yeah. Yeah.- [Lexi] Right.
- And that works. People do shut down.
People do get defensive.
It doesn't really cateran open, honest dialogue
or transparency or evenencouraging people to grow.
- [DeEtta] Yeah.
I do think that we live in aworld where we need all of it.
We need all of, of it.
But for our work to not be, kind of,
part of that really importantformula would, you know,
would be a huge absence.
And also, I think that oneof the other opportunities
that we have and that wecan talk about is, you know,
how do we create that path forward, right?
'Cause that's the thing
that is oftentimes gettingin the way for people is
they care, they're willing,
they have the resources,
they have the decision-making authority,
but they just don't know likewhere, what is the endgame?
What are we actually trying to accomplish?
What would it look likewhen we do it well?
And then, how do I get there?
And so maybe what we can do is,
after we take a word from our sponsors,
we can come back and talka little bit about...
If we talk about anchoringto aspiration, right?
Which is one of my favorite phrases,
we talk about what thatcan and should look like.
What is the work of actuallyhelping people understand
what that aspirational new reality is?
- [Lexi] Right.- And then also,
what is the path for getting there?
Okay? All right.
So word from our sponsors.We'll be right back.
So before break, we weretalking about, you know,
different ideas associatedwith, you know, the problems of,
you know, having judgmentalaffinity group members,
people who actually sharethe same passion for equity
and anti-oppression in the world,
but who have different approaches to it
and kind of judging each other
and not necessarily supporting each other,
as opposed to potentiallybuilding a shared path
that's really positive.
The other thing that is, youknow, absolutely acknowledged
is that inequities do exist.
And we have had a ridiculously hard time
getting some of the changesthat we want and need
in the world.
And it's necessary to haveactivism, and intervention,
and disruption, and radicalideas and behaviors,
And at the same time for us,our work has been really about,
you know, trying to figure out
how do we play that dual role, right?
Kind of with the activist energyand ideological perspective
about where it is that we want to go
that is absolutely driven byour inclusive values, right?
It's not like we're agnostic.Like anything's good, right?
We actually care aboutwhat we're trying to do.
But then we also, we'retrying to figure out
how do we help create spacefor people who are newer
to this journey or who have the ability
and the desire to be part of something
that is more inclusive and more equitable,
but don't know how.
And for me, that's theopportunity to really think about
the idea of, like,anchoring to aspiration.
And this phrase has been aphrase that I've just loved
and been using for decades and decades.
Well, not decades anddecades, just one decade.
(Lexi laughs)I'm not that old.
It's really about, I think,human energy is more motivated
by the future and by the possibility of building something.
I think humans are designed to build.
Humans are designed to grow.
Humans love having avision that we can pursue.
A vision for our life,a vision for our health,
our happiness, our family,
our children's happiness andwellbeing, our organizations,
whatever it is, we love to build.
We get tremendous, like,intrinsic satisfaction from that.
And so for me, I've alwaystaken the philosophy of
how do we find thataspirational destination
and then use that to helpcompel people's energy,
individually and then collectively,
rather than only spending time,
like solely spending time,focusing on all the things
that we haven't gotten right yet?
Or all the ways that we'vehad atrocities in our past?
Those things are ridiculously present
and need to be accounted for,
but we also have to givepeople a path out of that.
We have to say, "Okay, if allof these things were wrong,
here's what right looks like.
Or here's what it could look like.
Or here's how we, here's how it could be,
that we could build somethingthat is better together.
And here's not just what that vision is,"
Which is a really compellingopportunity for people
to start visualizingwhat it might look like
and to see themselves in it,but also to figure out, like,
what are the steps thatI personally might take
or that my organization might invest in
to help us get from here to there?
And I feel like that's the place
that I'm really compelled by.And I always have been, right?
And it hasn't always been in fashion.
A lot of times people have been like,
"You're too Pollyanna,"Or, "It's not gonna work."
And, "All you get is incremental change."
But I feel like over the years,
I've had more positivesuccess finding people
who really want to be allies and advocates
and mentors and sponsors,
than people who haveshut me down and said,
"No, this is not somethingthat's even palatable for us."
So for me, that's where theanchor to aspiration idea
comes into play.
And I just wonder, like,I don't know if, you know,
coming from your points of view
as people who are newer to your careers
or have different identitiesand lived experiences,
what do you think about that?
Like, do you have anyperspectives about, you know,
is anchoring to aspiration too Pollyanna?
Is it too walking aroundwith rose-colored glasses?
Is it "We're past that point. We tried it.
It didn't work.
Now we have to do somethingmore disruptive."?
I'd love to hear your perspective on that.
- And it's such a big question.
My brain is like arguingtwo different sides.
'Cause I truly see both points.
I think that there's likeanchoring to aspiration
and, like, we all know whatthat vision looks like.
And part of me is like, "Yeah!"
Like, gets excited about that
and understands like our batonrace of almost getting there.
And then another part of me is like,
"But if we all know what it looks like
and we all know it'spossible, why aren't we, like,
doing everything in ourpower to push it? To get it?"
But that is a reallyoptimistic and idealistic view
'cause the reality is wearen't gonna be able to change
and make the changes we want by tomorrow.
And that's not because there'sa lack of will from us.
It's because that's...
The system doesn't move that way.
And so I'm more practical.
I think where we stand inthe realm that we work in
is in a place of practicality, right?
- Yeah. And I think the thing is, like,
we know what that looks like,
but I don't think everyoneknows what that looks like.
Like, I'm thinking as someonewho's spent a lot of time
in different spaces,
is there's a lot of peoplewho don't see a problem
with the way that the world is right now.
And I think we'd like to think that
that's not as big of a pieceas it is, but I think that...
Or our view of that is much more radical
than what others might be.
And so I think for me,I do think I understand
and probably am, well,definitely am in that space,
but I do think that the radical view of it
has brought a lot of attentionto the problems, right?
- [Jayla] Yeah!
- Like, and I think that's why I think
that there totally is a validspace for, like you said,
we have to acknowledge that.
And there's a space for people
who have a different approach to it.
But I think the way that we all see that,
like you said, is more practical
and also understanding thatboth of those, a lot of times,
have to work at the same time.
- [DeEtta] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
- There have to be peopleoutside trying to break it down
and there have to be peopleinside trying to tell people
why they're trying tobreak it down, right?
And that's, like, my view of it is
I am trying to help them understand
why people are trying to break it down.
- [DeEtta] Yeah.
- And if you don't wantthem to break it down,
then we have to dosomething about it, right?
- [DeEtta] Yeah.- And I think
that's the question thatpeople don't understand is
you are mad that they'retrying to break it down,
but if you don't want that to happen,
then we have to make change, right?
- [DeEtta] Yeah.
- [Jayla] I see-
(Crew Member speaks indistinctly)
- [DeEtta] Something is so itchy.
Do I have something crawling on me?
- [Crew Member 2] I hope not.
- [DeEtta] I feel like it.
- [Lexi] There's ants everywhere.
I feel like they're on my face.
- [DeEtta] Yeah, I feellike there's something
crawling all over me. Yeah.
- [Jayla] I feel, I was gonna, wait.
I don't remember what I was gonna say.
Okay. Oh, I was going use another...
- Oh, please do. Yeah.- [Jayla] Visual.
- Yeah. Good.
- [Lexi] I love those.
- [DeEtta] So, Lexi,we'll come right to you
and then we'll go rightback to Jayla, right?
So you can finish your sentence. Perfect.
I know, I'm like, "I think I have ants.
- [Lexi] Oh yeah. I thinkthis, it's just like
one perspective is like,
"Let's just bulldozethis." And others is like,
"We take one brick out andwe put a different one in."
(Lexi and Jayla laugh)
- Yeah.- [Lexi] And we're like, okay.
Like trying to like, okay.
How can we make sure thisbuilding is built different?
- [Jayla] Yeah.
- Yeah. That's good though.
- [Lexi] Yeah, that'sreally the two different...
- [Crew Member 1] Nice!Pick back up, I think Jayla.
- [Lexi] Yeah. Jayla, youwere saying something.
- [Jayla] Okay.
- [Crew Member 1] Okay, one second...
And everybody still rolling...
- In my head, I really do see it...
You guys are starting to tell,
I really picture, envision things.
But, like, we have like the bulldozer
and it's, like, knockingdown the building one swoop.
Like, "Let's just get rid of it."
And then there is us and weare literally dismantling it,
but brick by brick.
And as we take one brick down,
we are intentionally, carefullyplacing another one there.
- [Lexi] Right.
- And we are, we have a overall vision
that we are building to.
And we know exactly, kindof, how we wanna get there.
So it's a more step-by-step process.
But I wouldn't say it's any less radical.
'Cause we do want liketransformative change, right?
- [DeEtta] Yeah.- And we do want structures
that are completely different
and practices that havereally not been done before
are set precedent to.
So I think that...- [DeEtta] Yeah.
- There's a balance there. Itis closer than what we think.
- Yeah. It's interestingwhen you say that,
because it's like, instead oflike demolishing the system
it's starting to think aboutways to work within a system.
I don't know if it has to be that binary,
but it is interestingto think about, like,
within some of the organizationsthat we work with, right.
So think about some of theorganizations where we work
and they have, you know,longstanding identities and brands
that have been, you know, celebrated.
Where they are seen as, youknow, top-tier, best in class,
world-renowned, whatever it is.
Think about higher education,think about in corporations,
whatever the industry is,
we definitely work with clients like that
and they want to take theirbrand and their identity
to the next stage.
They don't wanna wipe awaytheir brand and identity.
And the tricky part is that
along with their brand and identity,
oftentimes comes a lot of exclusionary
either practices and/orexperiences that people have had
because they've, you know,
made it really hard forpeople to work there,
or they've made it really hard for people
to get into school there,
or they've made it really expensive
for people to be able toactually go to school there
and not have so much debt coming out
that it's not upside down foryears and years and years.
And so for us to try to figure out like,
how is it that we cantake some of those things
that have allowed thatinstitution to be successful
and then also incorporate for them
additional models and voicesthat are gonna be, kind of,
next generation for the waythat they see themselves
and it will keep theirbrand and their identity
and their positioning andtheir industry strong,
but will be absolutelyreconceptualizing the "how"
of how they show up, right.
And the little threads
that are often kind ofthe invisible things
that are really transformational,
that's where our work often lies.
Like, a lot of times people see us as
facilitating or talking orworkshops or courses or whatever,
- Mm-hmm.- And that's some of it.
- But some of the mosttransformational things
that we actually do areabout like policy change.
- [Lexi] Right.
- Like, how is it that yourpolicies and your processes
and your criteria for advancement
are going to be interrogated
and adding an equity lens to them
in order to allow for more women
or more people of color ormore people who are from
non-traditional employment experiences
to be considered and advanced.
- [Lexi] Right.- How is it that you can
apply equity lenses so thateveryone in your organization,
not just the diversity officeror not just this committee,
actually now is equippedto be able to make sure
that they're advocatingand being real sponsors
to make sure that theadvancement that they seek
in the organization is possible.
And those kinds of thingsthat really require
a careful, nuancedinvolvement within the system,
that's a lot of theoftentimes invisible work.
But to me that's realtransformational work.
It's like at thenitty-gritty systems level,
we're really trying to infuse new ideas
and new practice in ways that are scalable
and integrated and sustainable
and in ways that are demonstrable,
so that they don't disappear, right?
All of a sudden they don't go outta style.
- [Jayla] Yeah.
- And I think those two thingswork together really well.
And I have a higher ed background,
so that's always where my head goes,
but I think I've beenin a lot of institutions
where they want to recruit"diverse" populations.
And my argument was always,
"Don't recruit diversepopulations if when they get here,
they have no support."
- [DeEtta] Right.
- And so I think that's wherethose two things come together
is those classes create a space where
when you change the policy toget more voices in the room,
- [DeEtta] Right, right.
- They have a safe spaceto have their voices heard.
And so for me, like, I knowthis in real world has been huge
because I have never worked in a place
where I had been ableto talk about my wife.
Like I last year got married
and I was so excited to talk about it,
but in my previous places of work,
I didn't feel comfortabletalking about it, right?
And so I came to DJA and I'm like,
"People are so excited andthey're sending me wedding gifts
and I can talk about it and it's so fun."
And because I can bring thatidentity to the workplace,
I feel like I can do a better job, right?
And so I think that's wherethose two things come together,
is because you have the policy
that brought me from Utahsomehow into your organization.
And then I came here and felt welcomed
and like I was in a safe space is the key.
- [Jayla] Yeah.- I think is,
that's a huge key right there.
- And then continuing to scaffold that
because most organizations, right,
have hundreds, if notthousands, of either policies
and/or practices that, you know,
sometimes they're documented,
sometimes they're more formal or not,
that actually create access- [Lexi] Right.
- For people or roadblocks.
And then how is it thatwe help our clients
and help other organizations understand
that that's the placewhere real equity lives?
Like, you really want todisrupt and be radical?
Be radical in the weeds. Equitylives in the details, right?
Equity lives in those little details.
There are big things.
You could knock down the whole house,
but what are you gonna build?What are you gonna build?
But to actually say all of these things,
like, these advancement policies that,
I actually talked to aclient several years ago
that had a very, very significantlack of representation
of women in the C-suite level.
And they just could notfigure out how to get women
to, kind of, director-level andabove in their organization.
And they had been wrestlingwith this for years,
and it had been very heavily prioritized,
but they could not figureout what the problem was.
And I asked them about all oftheir advancement processes
and policies and all to a person,
they said that they had reallycreated them very carefully
and they all used the word "objective".
Every single person I talked to said,
"Oh, they're really objective.
We really spent a lot of time doing it."
I was like, "Can I take a look?"
(Jayla and Lexi laugh)
And I took a look and I was like,
"How come this uninterrupted ability
to travel internationallyis part of this?"
- [Lexi] Right.- Right?
And so think about it. Disproportionately,
women are the one whoactually have children
and/or are childcare providers,primary childcare providers,
And so this ability to just travel,
- [Lexi] Right.
- Year after year onthese international trips
that are 10 days or twoweeks or a month or six weeks
for this intensiveexperience is not an option.
- [Lexi] Right.- For a lot of women,
for all sorts of practical reasons.
And they could not see that.
But those are the things,
and there's millions of thosethat exist in the world,
where if we could actually get in
and start figuring out waysto do that focused work
in more detailed and scalable ways
that become really integratedand sustainable practices
over time, we really cantransform organizations.
At the same time, we need tocontinue to develop our skills.
- [Lexi] Right.- We need to create strategy.
We need to continue doing that work,
but there's a lot of thatactual systemic work,
- That could be really,really powerfully done
and is really being powerfully done.
But that may not be as easy to see,
- [Lexi] Right.
- And as kind of sexy and glamorous
to described as something thatseems like a bigger, kind of,
emphasis on calling out an entire industry
or calling out something that's broken.
- Yeah. And I think that'sanother thing is, like,
you can burn it all down,
but those people will still be there
and they still won't knowhow to create a safe place.
- [DeEtta] They won't know what to do!
- They won't know.- They don't know!
Like, it takes the structure down,
but then they're stillthere not knowing...
- [DeEtta] Yeah.
- What they did wrong!Or how to change it.
They should know what they didwrong, but they won't, right?
So I think that's why it'ssuch an important place. Yeah.
- Yeah. And I know a big, like, a big...
People critique like, "Okay,well, all you guys do is teach.
All you do is teach."
And that's definitely not all that we do,
but it is such an important part
because if we don't teachpeople how to be different,
they won't be.
- Right.- [DeEtta] Right, right.
- And like, I've neverquite understood, like,
why that was such a critique against us
when, like, learning is the only way
that we can move forward.
- Well, it's kind of the way
that I think about accountability.
There's so many, and thishas always been the case,
but that we oftentimes call for people
to be held accountable.
Not just now, always. Thishas always been a case.
We want our leaders tobe held accountable.
We want people to be heldaccountable for their behaviors.
The tricky part is that I believethat accountability begins
at the beginning, not at the end.
Oftentimes we're tryingto hold people accountable
after they've done something wrong.
And by the way, we nevertold them what the bar was.
- [Lexi] Right.
- We expected them to know it.
And maybe in hindsight,if they looked back on it
and they had kind of thelenses that we have on it,
maybe they would'vedone things differently,
but it's really hard to actuallyhold a person accountable
in a way that is going to punish them
and also turn into a learning.
Learning as in they're gonnado something differently
in the future, right? To me,that's the a whole point.
It's not just about punishing people
and making an example of people.
It's about equipping peoplewith the tools and the behaviors
for actually doing itbetter in the future.
So to just tell people,"You did it wrong."
And make them embarrassed toever make that mistake again
just means that we're cutting off
a potential additional ally or sponsor.
- [Lexi] Right.- Right. And so for me,
I feel like this accountability call
has to be coupled withthe opportunity to say,
"Let's talk about what the bar is."
- [Lexi] Right.- Right?
"That educational piece.
And then let's make sure that you have
the developmental expectations,tools and then milestones
for crossing that bar."
- Right. And I think it'sstarting earlier and earlier.
I like, I'm thinking I havetwo nephews who I love so much
and they're growing up inthe same small town I did.
But for me, when I get them a present,
I always get them like abook that has all, like,
families look all different things,
where those books didn'teven exist when we were kids.
And so which, like,that's not a huge age gap.
Like, it's a few decades, right?
- And so it's like that learning,
- [DeEtta] Yeah.
- Is huge. Even from like adevelopmental phase, right?
For when my nephews willsee a book with two moms
or a grandma who is the caretaker,
where I never saw that.
So for me, it wasn't even an option.
And so I think that's where,like, learning then, like,
they get to learn thatwhen they're children,
whereas we didn't.
So now, you have to learnthat sometime, right?
- And we take, like, the same idea
and look at our own industry.
I have a father. He's a lot older.
He is 75, but he was alive,d, he enteredthe workforce in:
literally the last year ofcivil rights and his work,
even though the languagewasn't there at the time,
was considered the first,like, diversity practitioner
who was brought in by a major corporation
that had thousands andthousands of people globally
and they only had six blackemployees and he was one of 'em.
And when I was in my very,I'd say, more radical youth,
he would always, like, correctme and remind me that, like,
you can do what you do
and you can even see thatvision and that future
because of the work
that I did.(DeEtta and Lexi chuckle)
And not only activists thatlike that we talk about,
but the people who actuallywent into these organizations,
- [DeEtta] Yeah, yeah.- [Lexi] Right.
- And in a much harder time,and laid the foundation.
He loves to remind me like,
"You have a job because I did the work
so your boss could have a company"
- You're welcome.
- Yeah. "DeEtta Jones Associates is here
because of the work I did."
I'm like, "You're right."
- I should thank yourfather too. Thank you!
- And when you look at it like that,
I think it's a good way of, like,
retrospectively understanding, like, yeah,
there's different things that we,
as an industry and practitionerscould have done better,
but we didn't know that at the time.
- [Lexi] Right.
- At any given time,
I like to believe that we'reall just doing the best we can.
- Right. And know how to do.
- Yeah and adapting andchanging and growing
as we go through this journey.
- [Lexi And DeEtta] Right.
- And we're doing it authentically.
That's the thing that'ssuper important is,
and I'm glad that you even mentioned
that conversation that wehad during our retreat,
which, you know, where was like,
"Hey, you know, let's just makesure we're on the same page.
We're not just here making sure
that our operationalefficiencies are in order.
We're here because we'rephilosophically aligned."
- [Lexi] Right.
- "Like we're actuallytrying to change the world."
- [Lexi] Yeah.
- And that's, it's prettyamazing to wake up everyday
and be able to be surrounded by people
who are trying to change the world,
but it's exhausting.
- [Lexi] Yeah.- [Jayla] Mm.
- And it's hard.
It's like pushing a rock uphill with your nose, right?
It's just a Sisyphean in a lot of ways.
- Yeah.- So it's really cool
to be able to like, have these spaces
where we talk about ourphilosophical alignment
and also where we can, kindof, support each other in like,
"Okay, this is where we're trying to go.
Let's remember what the vision is, right?
And then figure out how wesupport each other on that path."
- Where our accountant'slike, "That's great!
I love that you're makingthe world a better place,
but we all need a paycheck."
(DeEtta and Lexi laugh)We're all like,
"We're just trying to changethe world and it's fine!"
- We're just trying to change the world!
- She's like, "Okay!"
(DeEtta and Lexi laugh)
- That's very, very true.
- Yeah, it's a very cool space to be in.
- Yeah.- It is.
- And it's a cool time to be here.
I know it also seems like, you know,
just because there's so much disruption
in the world right now,
for a lot of people,it's a really scary time
and a really scary place.
- [Lexi] Yeah.
- As much as I feel that andI have definite been scared,
I also am more excited.- [Lexi] Yeah.
- You know, I feel like allof my life's work and effort
and experiences are finallybeing focused on right now.
And it's a degree to which we actually get
all that we're looking for. I don't know.
But the energy that I have forcontinuing every single day
to, like, give it my A-game is so high.
I'm just so excited thatI get a chance to be alive
during this moment in time
where the whole world is coming together
and caring about the kinds of issues
that are really going to allow us
to have our transformational experience.
I don't know what it's gonnalook like on the other end,
but I'm determined to be part of it.
- [Jayla] And the shift isreally, really exciting.
- [Lexi] You can feel the energy.
- [All] Yeah.
- You definitely can, collectively.
And I think that even talking about our...
Go watch our past episode, wetalked about the metaverse.
Was really good. Just a little plug.
But we're building literally new worlds.
- [Lexi] Right.- And new ways of working
and new ways of showing upand engaging in the fact that
in the past, even talkingabout diversity, equity,
inclusivity, anti-oppression, all that,
would've been somethingdone retrospectively.
The fact that it's just proactively, like,
at the forefront of everything, like,
that's what I anchor to.
That's my aspiration.- That's what gets you excited
- [Lexi And DeEtta] Yeah.
- I love it.
I was just gonna ask that.
We are officially windingdown so I was gonna ask, like,
what is it that you're anchoring to?
What is your aspiration?
So when you talk about the fact that
we're actually building a new world
in an example like the metaverse,
that's a really great example.
- [Lexi] Yeah.- What about you, Lexi?
- I think mine is, I'mobsessed with my nephews,
so I'm going to bring them up.
But the fact that thethings that I do everyday
will make a place for themto show up authentically
so much earlier than we ever were able to.
Like, I think especially asthree women who went to college
in, like, very white spaces,
I didn't even go to work with natural hair
until, like, this year.
And DeEtta was like,"Oh, look at your hair!"
I'm like, "I know!
I didn't know I could wearmy hair like this, right!"
I was told like straighthair is professional, right.
So I think just being in a space
where doing the work I doeveryday makes it a better space
for the younger people to just be able to
show up authentically today
and not have to wait todo it until they're older.
- [DeEtta] Right.
- I know I already kind of answered,
but I think you'll like this point.
This is one I kind of learned from DeEtta.
It's like, regardless of title,
whether it's activist, EDI practitioner
or just no title at all,
I think I meet and engagewith people everyday
on all levels of lots ofidentities who really care.
And I think they arereally well intentioned.
And I see that more often than not, like,
the intention is there.- [DeEtta] Yeah, yeah.
I'm anchoring to the fact thatthere's this global community
of people who are reallypulling in the same direction.
We have a long way to go,
but I actually feel really hopeful.
I feel far more hopeful than lacking hope.
- [Lexi] Yeah.- I can see.
And because of technologyand because of globalization,
I actually can seefirst-person, like firsthand,
all of these different voices
and all the different waysin which people are willing
to kind of show up
and all the different innovationsthat people are bringing
to try to create more equity in the world
and it makes me ridiculously excited.
It also makes meridiculously excited to have,
you know, and this is for me, you know,
at this point in my career,
the opportunity to have folkslike you, where I'm like,
"You know what? I've beengoing hard for a long time."
And it's really nice to beable to just kind of pull back
and be like, "Yep, thereare voices and out there
and people who are, like,philosophically aligned,
who are doing a lot of the heavy lifting,"
Not to say I'm not gonnacontinue to do heavy lifting,
but to know that there'sa whole lot of us,
- [Lexi] Right.- Yeah.
- That are coming frommany different spaces,
who are doing this is really heartening.
- [Lexi] Yeah.
- All right, my friends. We did it.
End of episode. Good conversation.
Thank you so, so much.
- [Lexi] Thank you.
It's been great.- All right. We are done.
That is our episode on burning it down
versus anchoring to aspiration.
We hope that you left inspired.
We hope that we pepperedyou with some ideas
about thinking about your own philosophy
and how you can bring thatto your personal practice
and also to your organization.
And we would look forward to seeing you
for our next episode, CultureRoad podcast.