I am a white cis male. Without a doubt the most privileged position you can possibly be in.
Lets’ play a game – drink if any of these have happened to you.
Never have I ever been judged for my race.
Never have I ever been refused a job because of my gender.
Never have I ever been marginalized because of my sexuality.
Not sure about you but I still have a full glass.
I do not know what it is like to be in any of the above situations and that is why I am always excited to hear what organizations such as Odihi are doing – to get people that look different to me in the boardroom, in a senior management role, to the top of the ladder and owning businesses.
Let’s face it, there are millions of people in power who look like me, making all the decisions and deciding what the marginalized should be doing. I understand that once you have that power you don’t want to give it up. The natural reflex is to fight and do what you can to keep it. A white male has years on everyone else, so it will take time and it will take the white men in the boardroom to change, in order to bring about systemic change.
The numbers tell the real story:
The first women CEO of a fortune 500 company was 1972, the first Black women was 2009!
To compare, the first male CEO of a fortune 500 company was 1917.
Odihi is working for Black women. To put that into numbers, they are fighting for a group of people that are over 90 years behind white men and over 35 years behind white women.
The reason for this post is simply to help you understand the issue at hand. If you are reading this and you are a white male, you are privileged. If you cannot see that, then your head is in the sand and it is time to pull it out!
Odihi and other similar organizations are created to level the playing field for the marginalized, to give them a more equal footing. The reason these organizations often get pushed back is because their success means power redistribution. In other words, power will be lost by the people who have held it for so long.
As a white male I am standing with companies like Odihi. I am choosing to support Black women because the more diverse a room looks the better that room will be. The more diverse a company looks, the better than the company will be and then the more diverse a nation is the better it will look as well.
As a white male it is on me to be educated, to listen to what others are saying and then act. My white privilege places me firmly at the top of the food chain, king of the jungle and so on. My natural instinct is to stay there, plead ignorance and assume everything is fine, and to some extent I did that until I married into a Black family.
It is not until then you can understand a small amount of what the Black community and Black women go through.
Answer these questions:
Have you ever walked into an office with your hair out and got stares from co workers?
Have you ever been asked - is that your real hair?
Has anyone ever touched your hair while you were out in the street?
Has a security guard followed you around the store for no reason?
Have you had photos taken of you by complete strangers because of your skin?
For me the answer is no on all fronts again. My point is this - without educating yourself and acknowledging what's going on A) We would never know and B) We wouldn’t care for change.
I hope that this blog reaches people and can at the very least, ignite much needed conversations.
Let me leave you with two stats from the Metro Vancouver area:
Black women on average earn $38,228 a year.
White males earn $55,118 a year. A $16,890 difference.
Then we move to low income families.
31.9% of Black children are in low income families. With 18% of children in the rest of the population in low income households.
There is a gap. Wage inequality causes a knock on effect.
Next time you feel like all is fine, look deeper. Try and stand in someone else's shoes and think again. This is not an attack, just a message. A call to reassess your reality of the world in which you live.
You can either be on the right side or the wrong side of history and the choice is yours to make. But remember that silence is complicity and it speaks volumes.
I see color.
I know my privilege
I advocate change.
White Cis Male