Earlier today a good friend of mine told me to check out a hashtag. Excited to see what was in store, I checked out #FBNoExcuses and was so, so amazed and alive.
After the minor incident earlier week and the recent news about Facebook and diversity, today I saw tweet after tweet, after tweet of other people of color or marginalized groups sharing stories with two common themes on the #FBNOExcuses hashtag: are you not tired of the white-walled offices, conferences, or board rooms and why do you blatantly not give us a chance?
I had a conversation with someone earlier this week and mentioned to him the lack of the diversity I saw in his workplace. He immediately became a little defensive and started the counting game “oh there is a black guy in the cubicle next to me” and a “black girl who is great at the end of the hall” almost like a game of I spy. Two black people does not a diverse work environment make. The same thing happens when I see the speaker line-ups on conference websites or twitter feeds. The same people who don’t even remotely look like me are always there front and center. If you or anyone has to play I spy in a workplace or even at a conference, don’t you think that is a problem?
So how do we fix this? To be honest, I don’t know. Working with some members of my PLN who are smarter than me, we have been hashing out this huge issue and tackling the biases shown within education and edtech spaces head on. There are times the frustrated side of me gets very upset and disappointed tackling these issues. I do realize bias, privilege and racism have many layers like an onion. The minute you think you’ve peeled back enough layers there are tons more waiting for you to work on. The system is broken on so many levels that navigating these broken spaces at times becomes emotionally so taxing and draining.
Every time, I see a person of color keynoting, conducting a session, or being a member of a panel, I get an excited twinkle in my eye and it warms my heart. The thing that I don’t get is why these warm and fuzzy feelings are oftentimes so few and far between. Often in educational leadership and educational technology there separate entrances and water fountains that still
secretly blatantly exist. I still have to go through the back door to eat and if I’m lucky maybe invited to sit down at the table?
People in decision-making roles this is the part of your leadership that is very difficult and can in some cases be very dangerous. Leadership was never meant to be easy that’s why it’s not for everyone. I was shocked to know that some educational administrators and edtech leaders cannot speak out against injustices at all, even just a little bit, or even via social media platforms. Directly addressing the bias ace of spades card that has existed in education and educational technology since the beginning usually is causation for one to become chastised by district colleagues or even worse being canned.
This has caused me to re-examine my desire to move up to a district position or leadership role in the future. Aside from not being around students as often the other trade off is monitored puppet status. I am definitely not a puppet. Will I be forced to watch my words? Will the puppet master pull my strings back when I step out of line by stepping out against social injustice? If I do speak out will I be shunned or canned? While I would never want anyone to lose their job, the time has come for these individuals to raise the volume of their voices a little louder in those small exclusive spaces. Will it be challenging? Absolutely. Will it be uncomfortable? Yes, definitely uncomfortable, but if you have a seat at the table, why not make room for more? People who have power need to make a sincere effort to not be “purposefully to blind” and continue to blatantly exclude those outside your small circle.
Quit with the blinders. Quit being a puppet. Quit regurgitating the same trainwreck statements regarding the diversity situations in your spaces. Take those blinders off and open your board rooms, offices, and conferences to diverse people. It’s about darn time to spruce up the walls of those exclusive spaces with some color. #Edtechblackout