Hello everyone! I’m currently in the Bay Area on my co-op with the Transgender Law Center. The first week I arrived to the Bay, I got invited to attend the Alumni Bay Chapter meeting. I was introduced to April Wolford ’92 through this meeting and (via technology through Duffy). About a month later, April invited me to grab lunch and to attend the action team meeting for a diversity and inclusion summit they were prepping for at UC Berkeley. I attended two meetings that day and offered suggestions. The action team then asked if I would attend and help facilitate their part of the program of the ally training. I obviously accepted this, because well it’s UC Berkeley.
Yesterday was the summit and it was absolutely amazing. It was incredible to be in dialogue with people wanting to create systemic change, have more diversity in authority spaces, create equality for the treatment of people of color and women in the workplace and build allies and trusting relationships. I facilitated my own group on how to be a ally, how to self reflect, and call out micro-aggressions in the workplace. I helped to open minds, be influenced by listening to others’ stories, and engaged in constructive dialogue.
In my group, there was a story shared with me by a women of color speaking on her experience of discrimination in her work field. She explained to the group how she was now perceived as the angry black woman—for not saying anything in meeting and not looking approachable. She explained this after using a script that we used to role play various scenarios. The script had been created and planed out by the action team and I. Hers was an impactful representation of how women and people of color’s voices are silenced in work spaces. When she shared her story, I was then able to speak more about micro-aggressions that most white people don’t realize they’re doing but also choose not to see. This also gave me the gateway to show the white people in the group how to be a ally for their co-workers. We discussed ground rules to be held during meetings and effective ways to talk to those who have the power of controlling who gets to speak and share ideas in these spaces.
I am writing this now because I wanted to take the time to reflect on this unforgettable experience and be able to add more to my toolkit as an organizer and create empowered spaces for marginalized groups. I was even offered to come back to another summit and join the action team. Through this experience, I was able to gain more knowledge on these issues and connect with those wanting to change these spaces and narratives. I’m absolutely thankful that I got this opportunity and I wanted to share it with the Antioch Community!