Alicia Jones, executive director of Challenging Racism, joined C3MD leadership team member Wendy Baird and about 20 Zoom participants in conversation at Conscious Capitalism of Central Maryland’s September Conscious Coffee event. Wow. It was a truly wonderful conversation — truth spoken, good energy, great questions, and feedback! Of course, we barely touched the surface of some very big topics: why representation matters, how systemic racism is so prevalent (and goes deeper than many of us realize), and what conscious business leaders can do to educate themselves and their communities.
Alicia shared her candid thoughts on what it means to challenge racism in our country today. Here are some of the nuggets.
On what privileged white people can do:
“Be coachable,” Alicia says. “Being conscious of how you affect the world at large is super important. You have to both [business-minded and conscious]… making sure you’re being equitable is a start.”
She pointed out how so many organizations are posting statements, press releases, and ads. And it’s clear that they do not have diversity and inclusion backing them up. There’s a lot more work to do.
Eboni Adams, C3MD Board Vice President, asked the question, “Is this country really ready for a Black AND woman vice president?” Alicia answered, “We better be. If we aren’t ready, I don’t know what the other alternative is. VOTE! If you are not voting, you are a part of the problem.”
Alicia applauded Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, Adrienne Jones, the first African-American and the first woman to serve in that position in Maryland, and member of that body for more than 20 years. Representation matters.
On the DEI movement:
“The DEI movement has missed that it’s really about people’s energy and who they are. It’s not about making sure that you have a color count at the board table…. Stop checking off the boxes… Stop using black people as props and tools. We need to build relationships.”
We are discovering one another in an authentic way so that they can build from there. That’s how you change a community…. Organizations who truly embrace DEI not only want to have additional voices at the table, but encourage those voices to speak and feel valued.”
When it comes to her work with organizations, “I’m not here to check a box. I’m here to change your hearts and minds.”
How can people uncover their unconscious racial bias?
“Acknowledge it, then work really hard to change it. Keep a log of who you connect with each day. Is it a diverse set of people,” asks Alicia? “Talk to people that don’t look like you, but don’t talk to them like they don’t look like you.”
One of our participants shared in the chat, “Stop bringing in BIPOC into organizations when you’ve haven’t changed the toxic people that are already there.”
Here are resources Alicia Jones highly recommends looking into to have your business and yourself learn more about racial equity.
“Cinderella Ate My Daughter” by Peggy Orenstein (about representation)
“Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot” by Mikki Kendall
“Stamped From the Beginning” by Ibram X. Kendi
Here’s 31 local strong and amazing black women: https://www.womensgivingcircle.org/black-philanthropy-month.html
Ibram X. Kendi’s anti-racism reading list: https://www.ibramxkendi.com/blog/2018/10-cy55m-ms393-tsa64-9kb7c-t5e6w (also noted in our last blog)
*Alicia encourages you to start reading with a racial lens. She shared, “When I read, I read with a racial equity lens. I read them as a black woman because I don’t know how to read it as anything else.”
13th [available on Netflix]
1619 [available on Spotify]
How to be an antiracist discussion with Challenging Racism
September 27, 2-4 PM
Building Racial Equity into Your Business
A Six-Week Workshop Series September 16-October 21 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM EDT.
Other things to keep in mind:
Challenging Racism five tenets:
DO NO HARM
READ! Anti-racist book list -group discussion
LISTEN & SHARE -content from black creators
DONATE -NAACP is a good start