I f*cked up. (CW: Racism, responding to call-outs)

Y’all, I fucked up and I want to own that.

I’ve taken a long time to write this because this is a conversation that deserves time and attention.

It is extremely important to me to build a business that clients feel safe coming to-a business that acknowledges that structural racism and implicit bias exist. A business that is a resource for Queer and Trans BIPOC, both in the Chicago community and nationally. To that end, I’m actively working to create a business that combats racism structurally and personally.

Most of you know that I have a free facebook group for trans/non-binary/questioning folks that I created and moderate. A few weeks ago, a person of color in the group commented on a post I made about a media figure, giving me feedback about past racist actions they had taken.

This is what I should have said to that feedback:

Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me this! I completely agree that the racist actions pointed out are not ok.Thank you for highlighting that there is more than one side to this conversation and this person. I apologize for the impact that had on you and other people of color in this group. I wasn’t aware of the past missteps from this person. I’ll read the resources you suggested and work to do more research in the future ahead of time.

Instead I:

  • Got defensive instead of curious

  • Didn’t fully acknowledge what this person was saying

  • Didn’t immediately and fully acknowledge that the racism pointed out was not ok

  • Responded quickly without checking in about my own implicit bias, limiting conversation to my experience only and not to how other people in the group are experiencing this person

  • Asked for the conversation to be paused until I got back from a conference, which had the impact of silencing the conversation

I’m sorry for any harm I’ve caused folks of color in this group, and in my larger community, through my actions. I want you to know that I care deeply about BIPOC TGNC visibility and voices and I know that there is work to be done on my part to make sure that Practical Audacity and I center and celebrate those voices. I can see now how I could have responded differently throughout the thread to make that abundantly clear. 
This is so important to me and I am working to take steps to repair and learn.

Here are some of the actions I have taken and am continuing to take:

  • Opening the conversation about what else can I do to repair any harm caused to POC folx in the facebook group and in my Chicago community. I invite you to let me know how I can repair trust with you if you feel like you’ve been harmed.

  • Processing with a number of trusted advisors who are professionals in the mental health and community organizing fields from day one

  • Entering into a formal consultation process with a queer, POC diversity consultant, in order to respond appropriately and make sure that I’m able to hold myself accountable for the places that I made missteps along the way and to intentionally build a business that consistently addresses racism, whiteness, and implicit bias

  • Prioritizing POC guest moderators in the facebook group

  • Working to rebuild trust with POC folks harmed by this interaction, understanding that it takes time

  • Continuing to do my own work to root out any implicit bias that I may not be currently aware of

  • Doing work to make sure that the values (and how we live out those values) at Practical Audacity and in the facebook group are clear

  • Doing work to make sure that conversations, learnings, and practices related to diversity, equity, and inclusion are front and center at Practical Audacity, especially as a mostly white staff

I’m writing this on Tuesday, July 2nd. The day of the total solar eclipse in Cancer. This will probably not be sent today, but it feels significant to add that context. As a long-time Chani Nicholas fan, this really stood out to me as Chani talks about the eclipse, “Being afraid is no excuse for not trying. Being inexperienced is no reason not to go to the lengths we must to get a little time in the saddle. Being green and growing is far more powerful than sitting on the sidelines, choking with envy. “

When I was taking classes as a baby Chicagoan at Second City, one phase that was repeated over and over again (that I now repeat in every workshop I give) is to “fail bigger.” What this meant was that, in order to be a good improv performer (cough, good at life, cough), you have to be willing to start before you feel ready, put yourself out there, and take risks. And some of these risks are going to be colossal failures. And that when you fail, it’s your job to pick yourself up and do it all over again. Otherwise, you’re just going to stay on the sidelines your whole life, safely making no impact good or bad.

As Practical Audacity builds and become more of a public platform and voice, we will inevitably “fail bigger” and more publically. Fuck, y’all. That’s hard! And also, I’m here for it as a leader.

We are committed to continually learning and doing better. My doors and ears are open to discuss any feelings, thoughts, or ideas you have. Thanks so much for holding space for these important conversations. And thank you to my community, for being willing to call me on my sh*t. It’s important and I value your voice.