Citizenship Contributors

New Year, New Us!


There is beauty and power in diversity and inclusivity – what we can accomplish when a team reflects a multitude of perspectives, lived experiences and backgrounds is amazing. Today, Cynthia, a new Team Jilly member is taking over the blog and sharing 5 good habits related to social justice that you can incorporate this year and beyond!

Happy 2021! Something’s different about this new year compared to any other (aside from the social distancing). The racial pandemic that erupted within the COVID-19 pandemic served as an awakening that is transforming life as we know it. WE are not the same people that we were a year ago. And we should celebrate that fact! Certainly becoming a more just and inclusive society won’t happen overnight, but together we can keep the momentum going by incorporating or continuing these good habits this New Year and beyond: 

Don’t Hate

It’s so simple really: Relinquish judgement. Make it a habit to search for the humanity in “others”. Find common grounds on which to Identify (or empathize) with others, rather than focusing on the differences which separate us. We all have biases that have often gone unchecked, it’s time to root them out! Make a conscious effort to become more self aware and be a little kinder to all people. As Stephen Covey famously said, “seek first to understand, then to be understood”.

Be Open

As we strive to understand our world better openness should become the default state of mind.  Diversify your life!  Be open to trying new things and meeting people who look different from you, or who don’t share your beliefs, orientation or abilities. Start the conversation with an open heart and avoid imposing any preconceived ideas on anyone. 

Purchase a book written by a BIPOC author or support a BIPOC artist or maker, there is literally a whole world of talent out there that does not receive the exposure they deserve.

Spend time in a community that looks different from your own (I don’t mean in a resort somewhere in the Caribbean).

Check-in on your black and brown acquaintances and forge relationships beyond superficial small talk. Now is a particularly good time to find common ground with “others” and really connect (from at least 6 feet away of course), because we are truly all in this together! 

Support the black owned non-profits and businesses in your community. Jillian has created a cool list of BIPOC Businesses to support in her Black Friday post here

And another thing, if a member of a traditionally marginalized group points out something that is wrong or off, take a moment to listen in earnest to their concerns. While you may not immediately understand, know that their experience and views are real. Don’t be dismissive, try to listen with an open heart.

Analyze Your Motives

“Try hard not to offend, try harder not to be offended.” My partner sometimes quotes this adage when I need a gentle reminder not to take things so personally. I share this bit of wisdom with you now in the context of being offended by someone else’s quest for social justice. I see this a lot on social media in the form of “Twitter Wars” or arguments in the comment section of a post. Before becoming a part of the “cancel culture”, I encourage you to reflect on why you feel the urge to offer critique.

Ask yourself first: am I centering myself? Am I revealing a real injustice? Is my opinion helpful or necessary (Footnote) or even accurate? When it comes to BIPOC issues, what authority do you speak with? Activism is not easy work, especially when you are a new ally, feedback should be constructive and not detract from the cause. If you are triggered, it may be an indication that you found a blindspot and you yourself have some work to do. Stay curious, keep questioning and doing the work. I truly believe that when we soften our hearts and lean into the discomfort the best, most juiciest conversations are had! And this my friends, is how we truly affect change. 

Keep Learning

Just like we were taught the importance of recycling in grade school, we can be educated on how to detect and correct bias. You may find some of the following books, audiobooks, podcasts and articles helpful:

Jennifer L. Eberhardt, Emotional Tax Karlyn Percil, Ibram Kendi, Raising White Kids by Jennifer Harvey, Layla F Saad, Well Meaning White People.

For a daily dose of inspo and new ways to conceptualize our world follow social media profiles that centre and amplify the voices of marginalized communities. Here are a few to start, (feel free to suggest a few of your favourites in the comments): @ibramxk @unified_indigenous_movement_ @karlynpercil@wetsuweten_checkpoint  @blackphysiciansofcanada  @thenapministry@officialmillennialblack @voltedvoices @everydayracism_ @sacred.alchemist @nowhitesaviors @coach.carey @robindiangelo @the_indian_feminist @matriarch.movement @shayla0h

Have Kiddos in your life?

Consider giving books to the young people in your life! Ones that are written or illustrated by BIPOC authors and/or center a BIPOC as the main character. Often the literature they’re exposed to is very eurocentric, and only reflects the lives, point of view and people who look just like them. Give them a little bit of exposure and start opening their eyes to the beautiful diversity they will inevitably experience. Because after all the reason why we’re all going through this is to create a better world for them right? Also, spreading the monetary love to multicultural authors also helps redistribute wealth to where it has traditionally been slow to trickle down to. 

My kiddos enjoyed the following books and audiobooks to suggest a few:  New Kid by Jerry Craft, The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, Coyote Tales by Thomas King, I Am Not a Number by Dr. Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer, A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan, What Lane? by Torrey Maldonad, Under My Hijab by Hena Khan.

Be Brave

FACT: You are going to have to be brave at some point. Not only have we been socialized to be fearful of “difference”, it is also scary to show up when the outcome is unknown.  Disrupting biased narratives and having crucial conversations will inevitably produce tension. I guarantee it (this is basically the story of my life). I encourage you to “make it awkward” (Jesse Lipscombe) and work through the discomfort (Brene Brown).  The time will come when you will need to leverage your privilege, and use your power for good. If you see someone being discriminated against or if someone in your circle shares a seemingly innocent racial joke or stereotype do not remain silent. When you witness injustices be a better ally, do something about it, being neutral is not an option anymore. Ready to #showup follow: From Privilege to Progress @privtoprog.

Last year I was invited and chose to join a community that is consciously making a bold effort to create a more welcoming and inclusive world. As a minority, I have never felt more supported and seen in a workplace. I love that Jillian has chosen to use her platform to advocate for change during such an integral moment in time. We need more leaders to be daring greatly, and to inspire others to also live courageously. She has been diligent in doing the work herself and creating an environment for Team Jilly to do the same. There is beauty and power in diversity and inclusivity – what we can accomplish when a team reflects a multitude of perspectives, lived experiences and backgrounds is amazing. It’s hard work, and it sucks sometimes but I offer you encouragement and love in the process of writing the best version of herstory together…

Cynthia


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  1. Love this ! Also wanted to add the following educators and people who have helped guide my journey this year. Pay theses people , take their courses! @alyssagtyghter @moemotivate @accordingtoweeze @britthawthorne @hereweeread @myishathill @tiffanymjewell

  2. Loved this, thank you so much Cynthia and thank you Jillian Harris for making this such a focus for your company, team and mission!

  3. This is so beautifully said. Thank you Cynthia for your wise words and shared information. I look forward to your future articles.

  4. Thanks for this article Cynthia. It’s all great advice and guide for all of us who want to do and be better. Thanks also to Jillian and her team who are taking these matters seriously and are walking the walk.

  5. Very well written! Thanks for writing and sharing this. Jillian you are what we need more of- – a person using her influence to affect positive change in the world! Congratulations and thank you.

  6. I’m wondering which consultants you worked with to educate your team further on diversity, inclusion and equity? Thank you and this was a wonderful share.

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