By Kehsi Iman Wilson
I'll go ahead and say it here. I've been wanting to say this explicitly for a few weeks now but have been deferring to allies to say it.
The topic is anti-black racism. If you are a white DEI consultant/specialist/owner of a white DEI agency you should not be standing up, taking up space, or budget away from BIPOC DEI consultants/ specialists/ owners by saying "Hey, pick me!" when someone posts a request for services rather than deferring to the BIPOC in this space! In doing so, you are perpetuating white supremacy and the very systems you claim to be working against. This would be akin to Men/Male specialists marketing themselves as consultants/experts for hire on the topic of women's rights/ women's empowerment/ feminism/ gender equity/#metoo. Strange right?
If you're saying to yourself "I'm white but I'm a woman. DEI is about women, too, right?" Again, the topic is anti-black racism (that's what this current movement/ moment is all about, precipitated by the murder of George Floyd). Historically, white women have been the largest beneficiaries of Affirmative Action and DEI initiatives to the exclusion of BIPOC (this is across any intersectional topic i.e.,LGBTQ, the wage gap, etc).
Does this mean there's no place for you in this work/ movement or that what you're doing isn't critically important or valuable? No! We all have a part to play. But now is your time to #walkthetalk, put your privilege in action, amplify BIPOC voices who've been living and doing this work for centuries (without the recognition or money that non-BIPOC people get when they do the same work).
In the words of the great American philosopher Kendrick Lamar, "Be Humble. Sit Down". And, amplify Black voices by sharing this spreadsheet started by Michelle Kim, CEO of Awaken: Black Owned DEI Companies & Consultants Currently Accepting Clients.
About the Author
Kehsi Iman has over 15 years of professional experience spanning several industries, including higher education, fashion, beauty, and tech. The tie that binds all of her experiences is a love for strategy development, process improvement, people, and social justice. She has been doing anti-racism and DEI work professionally for about 15 years. One of the highlights of this work was starting the Office of Inclusion Initiatives and Cultural Competence (now Student Center for Social Justice and Identity) at Vanderbilt University where she built an office and a team that became the central training hub on campus for issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She runs her own coaching and consulting business focused on developing female entrepreneurs at High Quality Talent and has a "happy hustle" as a Clean Beauty Educator for Beautycounter. Her passion is helping move progress toward anti-racism and social justice forward through her work as the Co-Founder at Iman Hickey LLC. She lives in Orlando, Florida with her husband and 1 year old son, Nnamdi.