Pause On The Play Ep 17
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Hello, hello there, and welcome back to Pause On The Play. As always, it is amazing to see you here where you are challenged to examine your beliefs, question your predisposed notions, and consider realities you may be unfamiliar with in order to understand that they too are real. I am your host and conversation MC for the day, Erica Courdae, here to get the dialogue going.
Erica Courdae: So a few weeks back, we tried something different. My semi-regular, I almost want to just call her my co-host, but semi-regular co-host, India Jackson of India Jackson Artistry, came on, and we tried something different with the Q&A. And it actually went over really well. We got a lot of great feedback on it. So we are going to bring that back to you, but today, we're going to switch it up a little bit, and she is actually going to interview me. So she's going to explain to you a little bit of the backstory on it. And then India will then be the interviewer, and I will be the interviewee. Woo-hoo, all right.
India Jackson: It's great to be here with you again, Erica. So a little backstory for your audience is, I remember, gosh, you could probably fill in how long ago this was, but you came to me and started talking to me about something called coaching. And I'm like, "Oh, you're going to be my fitness coach. What is that?" Because in my mind, background on me is I did bodybuilding, coaching is a personal trainer. So Erica cleared that up really quickly for me and introduced me to the whole new world that I think I had seen, but I hadn't really just drawn the connection that it was called coaching.
India Jackson: And I feel like along the way in your program, they had you start looking at niches, and you can probably fill your audience in another podcast episode about that. And diversity really became something that stood out to you that you're passionate about, and you started sharing all this stuff with me. And at the time... I still think even now, maybe that's why the podcast is interesting when I'm on here, is we have very different views about that. In some ways, they overlap, and in some ways, they're from very, very different experiences and lenses from each other.
India Jackson: And so I find that in every industry, you have words that you use that you just know and everybody else in your industry uses. For bodybuilders, we say prep, which means you're preparing for a show. For photographers, we'll say ISO or aperture settings in the camera that somebody from the outside looking in is like, "What the hell is that? I don't know what you're talking about." But they don't want to feel stupid, so they're sometimes too afraid to even ask what it is often.
Erica Courdae: Often.
India Jackson: Yes. So a big acronym or abbreviation that you kept using was DEI. And I'm thinking to myself, "What the fuck is DEI?" So eventually, I just asked. And I feel like this has been coming up even still today, years later, well into your niche, that many people really don't know what the D, the E, and the I is. And honestly, I still have some confusion around that and personal stories that we could go into at another time about how I thought I knew what diversity was, but I did not and realized that, oh, yeah, I got a diverse team. It's a black female. And I'm like, "Oh, I don't have any men. There's no white people on my team right now. My office manager is another black female." That's not diversity. Being black and female does not give you the diversity because, Erica will go into that on the definition, but I think that when you don't know the definition of things, it can kind of muddy the waters.
Erica Courdae: Agree, but it's a common thing, and it's very easy to assume what it is. For example, the minute that somebody even mentions diversity, I think the first thing that comes up is black or white. And that's just one small piece of what it could be. I think what happens is that the black and white piece of it, literally black people and white people, what comes up is there's all of this history with it, so therefore, it is a very pronounced piece. But then you also can't then dilute Native Americans, Hispanics, Afro-Latinos, same sex couples, non-binary.
India Jackson: Oh, I'm going to call pause in the play. So do all of us a favor, please explain, what is the diversity piece of DEI stand for?
Erica Courdae: So I like the term diversity of diversity, and I think that that's a good place to really start. Diversity is basically having a breadth and array of thoughts, feelings, emotions, backstories, the way you live, the way you think, the way you love, the way you act, your history, the way that you're building your life, the way you move through life. So diversity is simply, if you simply break it down, it's differences. It's what makes things unique and individual as say, a gay trans white woman versus a black disabled Afro-Latina trying to... It can literally be any of these things.
Erica Courdae: So diversity is these differences of what I call societal indicators in skin color because it's been debunked that race is not a thing. It's a science thing. It's not this, oh, we're all different because of race. No, that's been debunked. But it's where these things intersect. So the diversity is all of these different ways that you can be described or labeled and kind of how that fleshes itself out.
India Jackson: And I'm going to say for me, the first time that you laid out that definition, I was like, "Duh, India." But the word diversity is so overused, kind of like the word influencer, that it's been dumbed down and watered down, and maybe the original definition is now lost. So when I think of it, in my mind, I literally have to switch from diversity to seeing diverse. Is this diverse? Because at least it takes the niche overused word out of it and really just brings it back to what it means is having variety.
Erica Courdae: Well, because if you look it up, you go to Google, and you type in diversity, and the definition that pops up, it literally says the state of being diverse, variety, a range of different things. So unfortunately, yes, it is a very overused word, and it can dilute its meaning, but the meaning is subject to how you're using it. So diversity can come in the fact if somebody's talking about skin tone. It can come in age. It can come in sexual orientation. It can come in whether or not somebody has kids versus I don't have kids. I don't want kids. I'm married versus I don't want to get married. I'm in a polyamorous relationship. There's all of these things.
India Jackson: That sounds like fun.
Erica Courdae: Kind of does. But you want to kind of consider diversity as an umbrella. It covers so many things is why I really love that concept of the diversity of diversity. Because just like you said, with it being overused and it being very easy for it to get this stereotypical unilateral meaning, you want to open it up to be broader than that. So when you go into the diversity of something that feels very narrow, you have now created a bigger scope that you can now consider from, which is the entire purpose. We're trying to consider all the possibilities.
India Jackson: So this is a new one for me, but the equity piece, could you explain for all of us, what is equity? I feel like diversity, people have preconceived notions that may not correct because they're leaving out the fact that it means variety. But with equity and inclusion, I wonder how many people listening don't actually have any idea what that means, but they're too afraid to ask.
Erica Courdae: And I always tell people, "Don't be afraid to ask." Literally, I am one of those people like, "Just ask me." But I understand that that's not always an easy thing. And you don't always know that. So ta-da, that's why we're here. This is why we do this. So equity, I'm actually going to start with actually kind of going with what the textbook definition is, and I can go from there. Again, go to Google, look up equity. Equity literally says the quality of being fair and impartial, the value of the shares issued by a company. So equity in that point, maybe that helps for somebody to have that monetary piece of it. Maybe you can kind of visualize it.
Erica Courdae: But if we go to the first definition, the quality of being, fair and impartial, equity kind of comes from this place of... If you think about equality, the entire concept of anyone that feels as though they are not given the same opportunities, chances, shot, whatever these things are as somebody else then they're in a place of feeling as though there is an equity disparity. So if you look at where a person of color may have their opportunities, I'm going to say a black woman, a black trans woman versus a white middle aged man and how their opportunities are going to be shown for them, it's not going to be the same. And it's because they are not born being given the same opportunities from the word go. So the concept of equity is to acknowledge and address the fact that everyone is not getting the same place to start from.
Erica Courdae: And I think I've mentioned this before, there was a cartoon that I found online, and I have the article. And I keep forgetting to put it in the show notes for you guys. I think I might actually put it in my stories. But it gave a really great visual for it in that if you have three people that are standing at a fence, kind of short, medium, and tall when we're talking about their height, person that's tall can easily see over this fence. Person that's medium cannot. Person that's short cannot. So if we look at equity, then that means that the person that starts off with a height advantage already can see and have access to things that the other two don't.
Erica Courdae: So if we then come in and give everybody a box that's two feet high, well, now the one that could already see over the fence, "Oh, now, I can see more over the fence. I have a better vantage point." The one that was in the middle, "Okay. I can now see. I'm maybe on par with where the tallest person initially was." The person that's the shortest still can't see because what you did was you gave everybody the same thing, but you did not address that they didn't all start with the same access.
Erica Courdae: So if you then come in and don't give the tallest person anything because he can already see, you give the person in the middle a two foot box, "Okay, now I can see. Now I'm on par with the person that's tallest." And the person that was the shortest now gets a three foot box. Well, guess what? Now everybody can see. So everybody's on par with being able to see over that fence. But the best thing you can do to really provide equity is to knock down the fucking fence. That is where equity really stands. The boxes are Band-Aids. Knocking down the fence, that's where the equity actually shows up. That was a lot.
India Jackson: So many things come to mind with that. Wow. I think for me and many other people, when you think of equity, you think finances. And I'm like, "What does finances have to do with diversity?" But that was a very helpful visualization right there as well as it also brings to mind mindset. If you're starting out with a mindset from a place of poverty, which technically isn't race or gender, but that might be very different than someone who grew up around money and business owners. There's so many other areas that that could go into.
Erica Courdae: There's a lot of things for [crosstalk 00:14:39], but I also think that there's something to be addressed in that there's a lot of people that do have an equity disparity that could be a disadvantage. And for them, they kind of might look at it like, "Well, fuck your box. I don't want your box. I'm going to drill a hole in his wall, and I'm going to figure it out." That happens quite often.
Erica Courdae: And honestly, the first thing that came up as a great example of that would be Serena Williams. She's in an industry that she's a minority for a number of reasons, and she finds herself in a lot of situations where she's being discriminated against. But she's a bad ass, and she's great at what she does. And there's always somebody that tries to diminish that for some reason, or it's because you don't like the outfit that she's got on, even though there's health reasons that go along with it besides the fact that she looked fucking amazing in that catsuit. Look that up if you don't know what that was. She wore a catsuit in one of her matches, and they tried to disqualify her. I think they ended up fining her. Don't know for sure, but you can look that up.
Erica Courdae: But I mean, she didn't come from a background that would have facilitated her to be where she was if you simply looked at where she came from, looked at the statistics and said, "Okay, statistically this is where she should be." And she defied those things. So she's a great example of, fuck your box. I don't want your box. I'm going to make my own. And fuck your fence too. I'm walking away. I'm going to walk around it and keep it moving. So she's a great example of how everybody doesn't address equity disparities the same. There's not one way to do it.
India Jackson: It's interesting that you mention an athlete as an example because one of the other places that my mind went to was disability and people who have physical disadvantages and where that may show up for them of starting from a different place to somebody who does have a physical advantage.
Erica Courdae: Correct. And I can go into that at another time. So where if you're talking about someone from a race point of view, that's going to be a racism concern or issue. That would be ableism. So if someone is disabled, then you come into ableism territory. It needs to be addressed.
India Jackson: Makes sense. Okay. So I have the biggest question mark on inclusion because I think I know what it is, but I have a feeling that your definition may make me be like, "Slow motion on this side." Like diversity, people are using it wrong.
Erica Courdae: People like to take a word and dilute its core meaning. A great example of that is the word love. It is so overused. "I love this. Oh, my gosh, it's the greatest hamburger I've ever had." You use the same exact word for your hamburger that you do for how you feel about your mom or your significant other. Dude.
India Jackson: Rap reference, Kendrick Lamar, I love them. I love her.
Erica Courdae: So yeah, overused, super overused. Okay, so inclusion, again Google says, "The action or state of including or being included within a group or structure." So there is inclusion from a point of view of, is your group, is your program, is your business, is your mindset or concept inclusive, or does it provide inclusion? Or you could look at it from a point of view of systemic racism, which I'll go into on another one. I know I'm throwing a lot of words out here. Systemic racism being something that has people of color starting at a disadvantage because of thoughts and mindset basics, that start off as white being better. And it automatically starts off with you at a disadvantage.
Erica Courdae: So inclusion from that point is the fact that you have people of color already not being included in the structure of the system of white privilege. White privilege has people starting at a place of like, "Oh, well, they're white. So they kind of already have that step up." Refer back to equity. So somebody of color is already at a disadvantage when it comes to inclusion because you're a few shades too dark, and it's natural, not because you're tanned.
Erica Courdae: So you are already in a place of not being included from the word go based on the teachings that are ingrained from birth based on the system, the structure that was built. And so when you kind of put that together, and people begin to look at it, then what happens is they're addressing their white privilege in their platform, and they're seeing, "Hey, I already know that regardless of how good I am, I already have an advantage because I'm white," versus a person of color that may be just as good or better. Because they're of color, they're at a disadvantage.
Erica Courdae: Are there times that there are people of color that are awesome? Yes. However, when you start to be like, "Well, that's not the case for all people," folks, that's centering. I will tell you about that on another episode, but I need you to go look that up too. Don't go come telling me how Oprah's awesome. We know Oprah's awesome. But then that's now centering your feelings because you don't want to address something, or it makes you uncomfortable. And now by throwing out a couple of individual people, you now want to discount the experience of the entire group as a whole not being able to be included. And there just being a couple that you throw a bone to because, "Oh, well, look, see those ones, those over there, they're good. They're great." No. Wrong. Don't do it.
Erica Courdae: So inclusion, again, if we go back to that definition, the action or state of being included or of being included within a group or structure. We are talking about breaking down the barriers where inclusion does not exist in a way that everybody from diverse backgrounds has an equal shot and equal access based on equity. They all tie together. Everybody that doesn't have the same level of equity to be included because of where they stand on the spectrum of diversity, that is why I have to do what I do. Mic drop.
India Jackson: I like how you put that because it definitely shows how, when you can consider diversity and then marry that with equity, you have a more inclusive environment.
Erica Courdae: Bingo.
India Jackson: One of the things that comes to mind for me though is what inclusion, just from the nature of the work that I do, is not. And it's not having a website where everybody looks like a pretty, pretty princess all with the same hair, eye, and skin color, but somewhere on there it says, "LGBT and blacks welcome too."
Erica Courdae: Number one, your imagery says exclusion, and I don't feel welcome. That is the difference in building something where this was built with you in mind versus oh, yeah, by the way, you're welcome too. That's an afterthought. That's a, I'll take your money, likes, attention, whatever that thing is that is what's being collected. That is saying, "Oh, yeah. I'll take yours too. That's fine," versus you are a part of what we had in mind when this was built, when it was created, when we decided that this needed to exist. That's a very different thing.
Erica Courdae: When I built Silver Immersion and decided to rebrand, I had always been welcoming, period, but then I saw more and more of a need to be very vocal about our stance on what wasn't readily appreciated, acknowledged, focused on, or just put into the mainstream when it came to love and beauty. And that was same sex marriage. That was full figure women. That was women that weren't young. That was women that weren't tall, that weren't blonde, that weren't white, women that didn't wear a white wedding dress, women that didn't want a wedding, that just wanted a commitment ceremony or to elope. It was about building something that said, "Fuck everybody else if they don't want us to talk about and showcase that you matter, and you're beautiful. I will."
Erica Courdae: Because I'm one of those people. I am not skinny. I am not white. I am not tall. My hair is not straight nor is it blonde. My husband is white. My children are mixed. I had a destination wedding, and I did not get married. I got married at 30, but I wasn't in my 20s the way that the imagery would tell you. I was everything that wasn't featured, and I wasn't okay with it anymore. And to me in a lot of ways, same sex marriage has a lot of parallels with interracial marriage.
Erica Courdae: Unfortunately, one of the biggest ones is there's somebody trying to tell you how the hell you're supposed to love and what it's supposed to look like. Fuck that. I don't agree with it. I don't agree with it. So I specifically built space that says, "You are perfect as you are, and if you don't like it, kick rocks. I don't want your money. Go. There's plenty of other places for you." The people that didn't have a home, that's who I was building it for. So little did I know, I had that in mind before I actually had it in mind.
India Jackson: It's funny how that happens.
Erica Courdae: Oh, yeah.
India Jackson: So I wonder, is it really inclusion if it wasn't built with being inclusive in mind? Is saying our business is going to lead with being very monotone and only having this one particular type of person that we show in our imagery on our website, on our social media, as our clients, but then, oh, we'll take other people's money too, is that really being inclusive? I don't know. I'm going to say no.
Erica Courdae: Being inclusive is an action. It's not a static thing. It isn't, oh, yeah, we do this. That's not what that looks like. You can stick a banner on there that kind of says that all day. But for example, the daycare that my kids used to go to, it just so happens that one of the same sex couples that we had, these two amazing women decided to start bringing their kids there. And I loved them on a person level. They were awesome. They were absolutely one of my favorite couples I've ever done. And it meant so much to me when I was having the conversation with them, and some people weren't inclusive of them. And I had that check-in to say, "Hey, are we doing what we could do? How did you feel?" And so it was important to me.
Erica Courdae: Now the reality is that the world isn't always so kind with this. So we have some same sex couples that we have worked with that don't allow us to use their photos because again, the world's not always real nice. So there are times that we can't always showcase the love that we're able to take a small part in the facilitation of it getting ready on that day because some people are assholes. But it wasn't just the, let me just say I do this. It's more than that. It's an action.
India Jackson: I think that those listening are walking with a lot of clarity.
Erica Courdae: I hope so. I know that it's a lot, and it can feel like a very tall order, and DEI is something that as you begin to kind of unpack it, you can see how you can embody it. You can see how it can be a part of your business, a part of your choices and decisions in your business, and how it can be an extension of how you communicate or live your life or facilitate some of the choices and actions that you take.
Erica Courdae: The best thing I can ask for, the same way I ask imperfect allyship, I just ask for you to start on that path. I ask for imperfect action because there is no such thing as perfect, and there is no perfect time in which to take action. It is simply deciding that you are no longer willing to be complicit, silently or otherwise, in a system or in the happenings that you don't agree with, and you don't want to perpetuate it anymore. So the actions that I actually kind of have for you is to consider, what does DEI look like for you in your life and/or your business? Start with that.
India Jackson: I think that's a really good one. And how can you marry all three parts together?
Erica Courdae: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Because they're definitely related. They're absolutely all related. So I think kind of, it's just like when you cook. I mean, you need ingredients. You need maybe an idea of what you're going to do, but you need some way to keep it together. You need some way to eat it. And there's different pieces that go with it, and these things all go together. So just kind of consider it as a whole. Break it down if you need to be able to truly understand the concept, but don't feel the need to do this big grandiose thing. It takes a million raindrops to [inaudible 00:31:28] the ocean, millions. Not even just one million, millions, so small actions do count.
India Jackson: Agreed.
Erica Courdae: Do you feel better now? Does it make more sense? You think everybody understands it a little bit better?
India Jackson: Okay, I'm going to get on my soapbox for a second. I just wanted for once and for all to have clarity around that for others. And because I've seen you answer that question once people feel comfortable enough to ask so many times, I'm like, "Oh, maybe we need to just dive into what this is for those that might be too afraid to ask."
Erica Courdae: Agreed. Agreed. So I will go into this some more if you guys tell me that you want to dig a little deeper in this, but I want you to give some feedback. If this works, definitely pop in, give me a hell yes. And if it does, then I can absolutely do this in some additional terms so that as you are hopping in to do your DEI work, and you are looking for support, you have a good place to kind of start, and you understand what's going on, and you're not feeling like, "I don't want to not ask this question." So I want you to always come from a place of having a knowledge base that supports your forward movement.
Erica Courdae: So on that note, what I'm going to do is tell India, thank you for interviewing me.
India Jackson: You're welcome.
Erica Courdae: And tell you guys that I want you to then go on over to ericacourdae.com, so you can learn a little bit more about our upcoming courses.
Erica Courdae: So if you love Pause On The Play, it's just one iteration of how I use conversation for connection and as a catalyst for change. Our DEI In Business workshop series is another. These are virtual workshops. We hold them in Zoom featuring audience driven conversation about how you can bring DEI into your business and make some real impact. This is not about perfection. This is about being in action now imperfectly to begin to become the change you want to see.
Erica Courdae: Each workshop is 60 minutes and allows you to ask questions and receive actionable steps on topics like changing your mission statement in your company to reflect your DEI values, creating a schedule for internal DEI audits and reviews, and removing misaligned businesses from your vendor list, as well as whatever it is that you bring to the conversation where you need support. These virtual workshops are here for you to use your impact and your platform to be a catalyst for change. Visit ericacourdae.com today and click courses in the menu to learn more and reserve your seat. These workshops aren't complete without you so come join us in the room.
The conversations we have here are to normalize the challenging things and make them a part of your normal exchanges. This is how we remove stigma and create real change and connection, cross lines and recreate boundaries to support, not separate.
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I love being here and creating the bridge for you to walk over to become the change that you want to see. Join us next time, and until then, keep the dialogue going. Bye.