I originally shared this in an Instagram caption, but I wanted to share the post in full here too (with a little extra text added).
I originally shared this in an Instagram post, so I’d love if you could leave me a comment there if you wish to respond. I literally used my entire caption allowance on that post, so I’ve expanded a little here.
You can’t fail to have noticed the conversation on Instagram of late. In fact, I’m certain this conversation has been going on far longer than I realise, but it’s now that many people are taking notice.
Wonderful, funny, intelligent women like Rabya @sheflourished_, Rida @beforeandagain_ and Huma @ourstorytime have been taking time away from their creative work and pointing things out to us about inclusivity and diversity that we white women don’t notice. But still, they share with us in the hope that we will listen and do the work.
So I am addressing my white followers (including myself): We see people like us everywhere. It’s a given. What would life be like if we didn’t see people like us represented in clothing, arts, politics, history? Yes, women are still a minority in positions of power, but we do see them. They’ve always been there, in our peripheral vision, as we’ve grown up, formed our ideas of what we could do in this world, and learnt what it meant to belong. We are taught from a young age that most things are possible for us, and we pass that message onto our children. That is our privilege.
“I don’t want [my children] to think they are less because they don’t see themselves reflected in the world shown to them ~ I want them to see how beautiful difference and individuality is!” ~ Rida Suleri-Johnson
It is our privilege not to notice when people are excluded. When voices are not heard, when names are repeatedly misspelled and mispronounced, when human beings are made to feel “other”. It is our privilege to say “I don’t see colour”, to ignore the systemic oppression of those who don’t have white skin. It is our privilege to think that everything we have achieved in our lives, our education and our businesses is a result of our hard work alone. It’s not. It is even our privilege to see that all of this happens and is a fact of our society, and yet choose to stay quiet.
“It’s about time to wake the fuck up” ~ Rabya Lomas
We are privileged, so let’s use that privilege to call out exclusion and racism. To contact brands, to amplify voices, to follow people who don’t always look or think like us, to sit with our discomfort, to uncover our hidden biases, to contact politicians, to talk to our children, to unlearn what we have been learning all our lives, to listen to and pay the women who are teaching us here on Instagram, to share their multifaceted work.
“If sameness breeds sameness, diversity breeds creativity.”~ Huma Qureshi
What I’ve shared here was originally written as my 100th post on Instagram, and I’ve been overthinking it for a long time. It is time to stop thinking, stop silently observing, and start doing the work.
And here are some thoughts in addition to my original Instagram post:
I firmly believe that doing this work is part of our bigger mission as thoughtful, heart-led business owners.
We have a platform, we have a voice, we have the freedom in our work to honour experiences from all backgrounds, to follow people who will constantly challenge us (in a good way) and to shape our businesses around the way we want the world to be, not necessarily the way it already is. More importantly, we have the freedom to listen to the voices of those who are marginalised, to make the world a better place for them and for future generations.
If you’d like to learn more, I highly recommend reading Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge and supporting Leesa Renee Hall on Patreon. She has a number of writing prompts that will help you dig deep into your unconscious biases. It is uncomfortable, yes. But sitting with discomfort is a key part of the process that begins with learning and continues with imperfect, before-we-are-ready action.