MWH Podcast 235 : Ways To Stand Up Against Racism, As A Mother And As A Business Owner
It’s been a really difficult couple of weeks. It’s been heavy and infuriating. It has been sad and… full of all the feels.
As a woman of colour myself, I’ve definitely been confronted by the death of George Floyd and by the response of people.
Like so many of you who have been in social media for the past couple of weeks, it’s a confronting, difficult and challenging place to be.
But it’s also the place to be if you’re dedicated and courageous enough to use your platform to show up, stand up and to connect. It can truly be a great catalyst for change.
I want to bring this episode for you this week because I know that a lot of you are feeling confused about how to respond. You might be angry… or you just want to know how you can speak up.
You may be wondering, should you even speak up?
Where Does Change Begin?
My opinion is that change and progress begin in your own heart. You gotta be honest with yourself.
Reflect on your own thoughts, behaviour, actions or inactions. And take radical responsibility for that.
All change starts on a personal level – in the heart space.
Also, it starts in our homes… in the way that we speak, in our parenting, in the conversations we have, in jokes that we make, and even, on the books that we’re reading to our children.
If we’re serious about change, progress and doing better, it starts first and foremost within us and within our own homes.
How Can You Respond To What’s Happening?
It can often feel easier to respond by giving money to organisations… and yet, it is more often difficult to have real, raw, open-minded conversations with black, indigenous or a person with colour.
I'm not saying, don't give money. That's a beautiful way to make an impact. What I am saying is, we need to bring the same generosity to our conversations and daily interactions. That requires us to truly LISTEN to what BIPOC are saying. To truly listen to what they are saying on a deeper level.
It’s natural to want to go into “fixing-mode“ but that can leave so many people feeling helpless. We just have to make sure that when we feel helpless (or afraid of saying the wrong thing) we don’t let this helplessness turn into silence.
I don’t have all the answers, I am also aware that I experience privilege daily… But I’m coming to you with a very open heart. I hope that you’ll receive this with an open heart and an open mind as well.
Maybe what you hear in this episode is going to help you know how you can best respond to what’s happening. And how you can do better in standing up to injustices, anti-racism, and being united with everybody.
In this episode, I'm going to…
- Share a bit about my own experience and background as a woman of colour.
- Talk about the brain, in particular, your subconscious mind, the role that it plays in being “anti-racist” and what that means for us mothers of young children.
- Talk about how we can all do better in our businesses because there is a huge societal shift happening.
Let’s get into it!
My Own Experience As A Woman Of Colour
I don’t expect everyone listening to this episode to be aware of my background. Maybe you follow me on Instagram but I don’t expect that you’ve read every single post of mine to know that I was born in South Africa.
It was during Apartheid era, a time when white supremacy ruled the country despite the country being made up of a non-white majority.
I only lived there for my first five years of life, my parents lived there their entire lives, and my siblings, cousins, grandparents lived there and most still live there.
Formative Years Of Development
Like I said, I was there for first five years of life… and what we’ve come to know about the brain is that these early years are formative years for brain development.
I’ve spoken a little bit about brain development here in the podcast before, which you can check out here. So much of what we do as business owners are reflection of our subconscious mind, the part of our brain that stores our beliefs.
Did you know that by the time you were 7 or 8 years old, you already had a solid foundation of belief?
A belief system based on all that programming you absorbed in your life during early age. This comes from people in your life, television shows you watched, personal experiences and other environmental influences.
I’m going to circle back to brain development in a moment because it’s important for breaking subconscious biases and beliefs that we may be carrying into our lives and it’s important for those that have children…. if we ever wish to end racism and racial discrimination.
Growing Up And Being Labelled as “Coloured”
I first want to give you a little insight into black history from my own experience.
Growing up labelled as “coloured” and learning from a very early age that the government has laws that tell us what we can and cannot do, where we can live, what beaches we can swim at, what playground we can go to, what public transport is for us and what is not for us, so that we are not mixing with white people.
Because we don’t have the same privileges… because we are less than…
That gets into your mind.
It’s in mine, and I see it amongst other black and coloured family and friends as well.
About Apartheid in South Africa
For those with a keen interest to learn more about black history, what happened in South Africa, is called Apartheid and it is something you can read about with a quick Google search.
Apartheid means “Apartness” and it was a system of legislation that upheld segregationist policies against non-white citizens of South Africa from 1948 to the early 1990s.
The white minority’s oppressive regime racially divided South Africa and had the world looking on disgust. And the country, the people, they're still trying to heal.
Maybe you’ve never heard of South Africa’s history as it pertains to racism and Apartheid. You were most-likely a child at that time. Perhaps you’ve heard of Nelson Mandela? Perhaps not.
People all around the world right now are wanting to learn from the best thought-leader. I highly recommend that you google his name, learn from him as a leader for anti-racism and human rights because Nelson Mandela helped bring an end to apartheid and he also never stopped being an activist for human rights.
He was a leader of both peaceful protests and armed resistance. His actions landed him in prison for nearly three decades and on April 27, 1994 he voted for the first time in his life.
That same election saw him become the President of South Africa. Isn’t that cool?
Again, I highly recommend the works and teaching of Nelson Mandela for anyone who wants to learn from a leader who lived and breathed activism.
The Subconscious Mind
What I want to circle back to now is our brains.
I briefly mentioned a moment ago that by the time you were 7 or 8 years old, you already had a solid foundation of belief systems and a brain that is mapped for thinking and being in adulthood.
In short, your subconscious mind is like the auto-pilot feature on an airplane or cruise control in your car.
It has been pre-programmed to follow a specific route. You can’t deviate from that route, unless you change the directions that have preprogrammed into it first.
If you want to learn more about re-wiring your brain and the subconscious mind, I highly recommend that you check Episode 212: How To Stop Letting Your Mind Hold You Back With Shannon Irvine here.
90% of the mind is represented by your subconscious mind
- This manages your body’s auto function.
- This is the area that makes you breathe, controls your body and your emotions.
- That is where you store your beliefs, your automatic responses, your habits.
- This is also where your ‘fight or flight’ reactions is.
In the first years of life, the brain rapidly develops its mapping system and as an adult you will run 95% of your life operating from your subconscious mind.
The place where all your beliefs are stored. The ones that were placed there when you were a child.
Opening Up Anti-Racism Conversation To Your Children
If you’re a mother, a parent, a carer or teacher, and you’re listing to this, know that your children, if under the age of 8 years old… they are absorbing everything at face value.
This is why speaking to your children about anti-racism is matters.
Why we need to make sure that we are showing diversity when we select books, games and movies for them to engage with. This is why we need to teach our children to celebrate differences and actually see colour, rather than “I don’t see colour.”
I also believe that as adults, we also need to be doing a self-check of our own biases.
How We Can All Do Better In Our Businesses
As business owners, I wanna ask you, do we see colour and celebrate it?
Are you showing diversity in your marketing?
Here’s a true story…
Last year, I was shopping in a well-known Australian fashion boutique and I had purchased quite a few pieces, I really loved their brand and you could say I was a brand advocate. Telling others about the clothes and that wearing them proudly.
When I got to the register I asked the customer service lady if they did influencer marketing. Being an Instagram strategist, I was naturally curious. Not because I offer influencer marketing (I didn’t at the time and at this moment in time I still don’t), I was just curious.
The woman responded, “We do but our CEO only chooses women with a very specific look. They all have to look like her.”
It dawned on me that this is exactly true. This is what I see in their marketing all the time. Women that look like her. All white. All with fair hair. I knew instantly that I didn’t fit that mould. I never had.
For me, it was an experience of white is valued here. As a coloured woman, I felt so uncomfortable. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
I shared the experience with my husband, and when I spoke at an event that I hosted for my community.
It was also Harmony Day that day. There were 50 beautiful women there, diverse in culture and I shared this with them.
But you know what?
Did I express my opinion or educate those shop attendants of their racial bias?.. I said nothing. I was silent because I didn’t want to offend them.
I didn’t want to offend them. So I was now part of the problem too.
And I’m sorry for that. I really regret it and I’m deeply apologetic that. After recording this episode I have emailed that business with my experience and expressing the racial bias that they are showing. I expressed that these were my feelings.
How To Be Comfortable With Discomfort
This whole experience that is happening around all of us, this big wake up call, this big opportunity to pause and reflect, has made me realised that there are many areas that I can do better as well.
I’m going to try to do better, as a woman of colour myself.
It’s uncomfortable to talk about this stuff head on. It’s uncomfortable to experience the response from people when you do finally have the courage to speak up and only to be met with judgment. Sometimes, you may be ignored or met with conflict even when it’s not your intention and you just want to share from an open space.
But I’m proud of myself for not remaining silent, even though it maybe uncomfortable for myself and for others.
And when it comes to being uncomfortable, there are black people, indigenous people and people with colour that feel waaaaay more uncomfortable than you and I do. And they’ve felt like that for decades. Their ancestors felt like that. They’ve been carrying the discomfort around for a long time.
So for all of us to handle a little discomfort right now… can we do it? Yeah we can.
We Are All In This Together
No one is perfect. But what’s important is that we strive to do better.
And that means…
- Choosing to respond with empathy over judgement.
- Acknowledging that we have biases.
- We listen when black people, indigenous people and people of colour share their lived experiences.
- We get informed and educate ourselves by studying the past so that we can understand what has been going on for far too long and so that we can move forward together.
- Not letting your fear of saying the wrong thing stop you from not saying anything at all.
As business owners, influencers and industry leaders, we have a responsibility to show and celebrate diversity.
The Mums With Hustle podcast has always been an inclusive community dedicated to educating, celebrating and supporting Mums in growing their businesses regardless of place, race, religion or economic circumstance. So that women can advance financially and we can create societal change together.
I’ve always said this, but I never knew if people truly understood where my passion comes from.
I take great joy in knowing that it is finally being heard and felt on a heart level. These are not words that are meant to wash over you. They are not words that I’ve memorised as some sort of elevated pitch that marketing gurus tell you to memorise.
My mission is tied to deep personal experience and social justice for all.
Societal Shift Is Happening
I am very aware that the online marketing world is dominated by white faces. I have felt for a long time that black people, indigenous people, and people of colour who are business owners are under-represented.
I’m wondering why we’re not collaborating together more… thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, influencers, creatives who are white and non-white. Cos I truly believe this is how we can create an even bigger change and that would be truly spectacular.
I have seen some great progress over the past few days with key influencers totally owning it and speaking out about how they can do better in regards to this.
It’s happening… we are experiencing a massive shift in thinking and being.
It all starts with us though. Inside of our hearts. A willingness to get uncomfortable and do the work to reprogram old ways of thinking and behaving. It will take conscious effort to disrupt those pre-programmed minds of ours.
It takes conscious choice and decision.
If you’ve got a story to share, I invite you to share it with me via email or on Instagram. Feel free to tag me in your post so that I can come over and read it too. I’d love to share it.
That’s all from me today.
Thank you for listening to my story and for being part of my community. Thank you for trying to do better.
As the theme for Australia’s National Reconciliation Week 2020 said… We are all “In This Together.”
Take care and I’ll see you next week on the MWH podcast.
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As the founder and CEO of Mums With Hustle, I have the best day job in the world: teaching entrepreneurs how to grow their beautiful businesses online. When I started the business, that was everything I wanted, but since then, it has grown into something much bigger. Now, I get my joy from helping women find their zones of genius within a community that truly celebrates their success. I truly believe that when women choose to band together, we can do anything - and if you feel the same, there’s a place in the MWH community for you.
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