The unjustified killings of black men and women by police have fueled protests in the streets even as a lethal pandemic spreads through our country. Racial tension is climbing. Outrage and anger are turning to violence. For many of us, this is an abstraction – what we see on TV, what’s happening to other people. But for many of our friends, who are women of color, this is a frightening escalation of a discriminatory environment they live every day.
They need the rest of us – their friends, their colleagues, their managers, to understand what they are feeling. And, they need us to act –as individuals, as companies and as groups like Alliance of Channel Women.
ACW was founded in part to promote gender diversity and will take up the mantle for racial diversity in earnest. We welcome you to join us.
For starters, we’ve asked two of our leaders who are women of color to help us understand how they feel and what we can do now.
- Raquel Wiley, Senior Manager of Channel Marketing for TPx Communications, and ACW Treasurer
- Mayka Rosales-Peterson, Channel Marketing Coordinator at Telesystem, and ACW Communications Committee Co-chair
As a woman of color, what do you want your colleagues/bosses to know about how you are feeling about the present situation of escalating racial tensions?
Raquel: As a woman of color, I want my colleagues to know that although they may hear or see a smile on my face, the truth of the matter is I’m hurting in a major way. I’m beyond being upset, angry, disgusted, and disappointed — I’m MAD as HELL! That is what I often want to scream out at the top of my lungs.
I’m mentally and physically exhausted. Now, more than ever before, I fear for the life of the men that I love and care for deeply. To know that in the year 2020 — post having a black man serve two terms as the POTUS — that other black men and women are being outright murdered by individuals that took an oath to serve and protect our communities is disheartening. That’s because I’m NO different than those that have fallen victim to the brutal crimes that we are witnessing on national media outlets. For no other reason than the color of my skin, I too can be a hashtag trending on social media platforms. When I leave my office in the evening to go home or run errands on the weekend, there is nothing that prevents me from being racially profiled or being the subject of discrimination. It’s important to me that from now on, when my colleagues see me, they see Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Oscar Grant, George Floyd, and all of the others.
They must know and try to understand that being a person of color in corporate America in this season is very difficult. I remain committed to showing up daily, giving 100 percent to meet (and attempt to exceed) the business objectives for which I am tasked. I remain honored and proud to be a part of the organization that employees me; however, some days are challenging to navigate.
Mayka: As a woman of color, I would want my colleagues and bosses to know that the African American community is hurt and mourning. I live in a constant state of anxiety because Mr. George Floyd could have been any of the men in my life — my two sons, husband, father, uncles, or cousins. I’m exhausted living in a system that tells me every day that the people who look like me don’t matter. We have to do better for our children and future generations.
What’s one thing peers/leaders/companies can do now to help their teammates who are people of color?
Raquel: If I had to list just one, it would be to be empathetic. While they could never truly relate to what we are going through right now (and by the way, I wouldn’t wish it on any of them), being empathetic and understanding helps us to collectively attempt to heal.
Mayka: One thing that can be done at this moment is to have empathy and to listen to understand. Ask your peers of color on how they are feeling, and if you don’t understand the black or brown experience in America, ask questions.
What role can ACW play in driving change for women of color?
- Don’t be silent!
- Be aware, educate, and be open to being educated on this subject matter. And advocate.
- ACW can establish programs and initiatives that are in alignment with its core mission yet are specifically targeted to and for women of color.
- Get engaged and collaborate with other organizations that are focused on driving change for women of color (there are many).
- Stand with us!
Mayka: The role that ACW can play in driving change for women of color is to educate, including:
- Sharing resources specifically aimed at women of color.
- Providing mentorship and developmental opportunities.
- Sharing more information on social media regarding systematic racism and oppression.
- Developing educational webinars and panel discussions to keep the conversation going. ACW should keep having these conversations to educate in hopes that it will create change.
If you are interested in supporting ACW in developing its diversity initiatives, please reach out to email@example.com or direct message us on social media.