Our goal with this interview was to bridge the gap between the black woman and the privileged white woman and discuss how can we work together to decrease racism and build healthy relationships across communities and between individuals, personally and professionally.
Acknowledging that I don’t know everything. There’s much left for me to learn. Even as a black woman, there is much left for me to learn about relationships and inclusion that’s left for me to learn. In the state of vulnerability, it’s about being patient, trusting that I can learn, reaching out, asking questions, and having conversations. And sometimes, getting feedback about something that I did as a leader and do not take it as a personal attack upon myself for the sake of being vulnerable. Being vulnerable allows us to learn things that we don’t know. Learning is positive and what we’re in teaching at the moment is valuable.
Right now, in our society, we are in a vulnerable state.
When doing the racism evaluation at Bucks County Community College, Tracy received results that surprised her. She didn’t think she had any racist tendencies, but she wasn’t as tolerant as she thought she was. One thing she learned was that saying “I don’t see color” actually takes away from a black person’s identity. Not having bad intentions, Tracy felt like since she and her black colleagues worked together, and they were friends they were all the same. Tracy had never thought about the color of her skin is an advantage. She had never thought of back women she went to school with were any different than her.
God has a knack for timing. The COVID pandemic has forced us to face the issue of racism and really learn and be educated. Learning is more powerful than training on racism that you have to do. Education is more sustainable than training so if we can work together to educate others on racism, we will have a better chance of bridging the gap for good.
White Privilege and Racism
Being privileged is not about money. It’s about access. The important thing is to recognize privilege and not pretend it isn’t there.
Both Tracy and Robyn admit they were ignorant as to what white privilege is. Neither one of them associated with racism, but they also didn’t recognize white privilege.
June points out the difference between her upbringing in an impoverished area with few resources. College was a dream, not a reality. The minimum wage was considered a success. It took being outstanding in order to make it out of the neighborhood and go to universities. There is much more pressure on impoverished black people who have to do ten times the amount of work to be able to get to college.
How can we as female leaders change the landscape of racism?
Take the entrepreneurial mindset of risk-taking and channel that energy into conversations about racism like the one we have on the podcast.
It would be easier to keep quiet instead of getting uncomfortable, but if we are going to channel the entrepreneurial mindset, we have to bring it into conversations. That is the only way any measurable change is going to happen. Female entrepreneurs are the people who can do this because we have the support of other women who are willing to come together and work with each other. Bringing the spirit that drove us into entrepreneurship is what is going to do it.
We must be willing to take the risk and be supportive when other women are taking the risk and letting uncomfortable conversations happen.
Being a Leader Comes from Within
Being a leader of ourselves must happen first. Open the channels to improve and build relationships. It must start with the individual. We must take the action to improve ourselves first before we can lead others. Take the time to reach out, ask questions and seek resources to educate ourselves and then use our knowledge to lead.
We can assume that others are in the same situation we are in. Once we focus on ourselves we can realize that there are differences and accept the things we don’t know. Assumptions can lead to prejudices.
We need to have accountability partners to ensure that we are taking action and not only listening but taking the necessary action. As women, we need to hold each other accountable for taking action. But also, if we do something or say something in accordance with what I’m saying about mutuality and inclusion and decreasing bias, then also call each other out on that.
Micro-aggressions of Racism
Behaviors or things done or said that is offensive but not directly done or said towards someone. Doesn’t have to be directed at you but will offend you.
Being aware of what we say and do is critical to avoid committing microaggressions.
We should live with humanity as a core value. Human decency may not be measurable, but we can certainly hold each other accountable for human decency.
Everyone commits microaggressions, not just white people. But do we have the decency, once called on it, to do better?
Without human decency, all of the training on racism, all of the speakers, and education on racism will not do any good…it has to happen internally with each and every one of us.
Learn More and Connect
June is the Program Director of a social services initiative (KEYS). Keystone Education Yields Success is a collaborative program between the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services and PA’s Community Colleges. KEYS is designed to assist recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families(TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP) attending PA’s community colleges and ensure the successful completion of the student’s courses.
June also serves as co-chair of the college’s advisory group on race, ethnicity, diversity, and inclusion. She is passionate about human decency and creating change.
To learn more about the KEYS program, click HERE.
Tracy is the Dean of Business + Innovation at Bucks. While growing her legal practice and specialty in Alternate Dispute Resolution, she served as the Director of the Paralegal Program at Bucks County Community College. In 2014, Tracy became the Dean of the Business Department. She loves inspiring faculty to be innovative and creative in teaching and collaborating with the local business community in support of the business programs at Bucks County Community College. The Department’s Speaker and Networking Series feature prominent business leaders and entrepreneurs. The series is now presenting events in the local business community on various topics such as Social Media Marketing and Customer Service.
Tracy is thrilled to be a part of the growing entrepreneurial movement on campus and in the County. The daughter of one of the founding partners of a local law firm and the granddaughter of a small businessman, she grew up knowing the value of charting your own course. She is also thrilled to have had the opportunity to develop the Faculty Innovator program to revise learning goals across disciplines to include the entrepreneurial mindset, collaborate with small businesses in Bristol Borough to present a series of seminars addressing their needs, and most recently develop Bucks+, a program to encourage and track co-curricular and extra-curricular experiences that build the competencies employers are seeking.
Tracy continues to support the Collaborative Divorce movement in Bucks County. When you work with a Collaborative Professional, you are empowered to make your own decisions based on knowledge, not fear or emotional reaction.