We don’t need more resilience, we need less bias
House Speaker Paul Ryan admitted that Trump’s language is racist. Yet, he stepped back from calling him an actual racist. His reason? Because he, “can’t read what’s in his heart.”
The reason Paul Ryan can look a reporter straight in the eye and say that with a straight face is because his privilege protects him from whatever may be in Donald Trump’s heart.
A judge can hand down a negligible sentence to a collegiate swimmer who raped an unconscious women because being white and educated in America is a mitigating factor. The judge reasoned that “... a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him.”
Hillary Clinton is skewered because of the price of her clothes, yet, Donald Trump is heralded as an “outsider” when he flies across the country in his private jet. It is generally accepted that Hillary Clinton is dishonest while Donald Trump feels comfortable distorting the truth and outright lying on a regular basis. These comments aren’t about politics so much as the higher standard that women must face in the political and corporate arenas.
I point this out because it is a macrocosm of the prejudice and bias women and people of color deal with everyday. It is so constant that most of the time we don’t understand how significantly it affects us.
I spoke with a client last week who admitted she was tired. She’s a fighter, but wondered aloud how much fight she has left.
I pointed out to her that the challenge isn’t whether she has the smarts and ability to continue to build upon the success of her career; the challenge is that she’s been fighting, maneuvering around, and stepping in and out of bias for the past four years. Yes, she is tired. But she needed to understand why. And I can tell you for certain that it’s not due to a lack of resilience.
This is why I can’t stop talking about these issues. We mistakenly believe we are the problem; that the fault lies within us.
An old friend of mine told me she has been worried about me ever since I attended the White Privilege Conference. She is white. She has been reading my articles and feared that I was getting angry. She didn’t want me to be angry because from her perspective anger isn’t constructive.
While anger is quite an appropriate response to racism, sexism, and bigotry, I’m not angry. I am just no longer willing to make nice and be quiet about it.
One of her main concerns is that my strong opinions might turn off my white readers. She cautioned me that black people can’t tell white people what to do. As well meaning as she was, her caution came from a place of privilege. Only white people can point out racial issues to other white people.
What I think is more true is that people choose who they want to hear.
Do you know what the privilege enjoyed by people like Paul Ryan and the Stanford swimmer lead to for women and people of color? We lose economically. We have less opportunity for work. And when we do work, we get paid less for it. We are charged higher interest rates, don’t receive social justice, and often, we lose our lives.
Clearly, the message I share in my newsletter isn’t for my old friend. When I write my weekly missives, I speak to my clients and people like them. And even when it makes me uncomfortable, I will keep speaking.
We have to know the difference between our efforts and biases that work against us. I told my client that her tiredness isn’t a result of lack of resilience; rather, it’s because her resilience has been in overdrive. After she took in that truth, she took a deep breath. She stepped back and looked objectively at the recent moves she’s made that are driving her continued success. She realized she has learned how to navigate bias and come out on top.
And she’s not alone. Look at what Hillary has achieved. This could be your time, as well.