Conversations about Race and Allyship: An Open Letter from Pia

Nov 19, 2020


Our country is more divided than ever. I’ve had the experience of sitting across the dinner table from family or friends thinking, how can they possibly arrive at that wildly different conclusion about peoples’ stories, experiences, and truths when we’re both looking at the same set of information. The truth is we’re not looking at the same set of information.

This concept was one of my key takeaways from the documentary The Social Dilemma, which highlighted how each of our home feeds, explore tabs, and served ads are unique from anyone else’s — because they’re dictated by our individual activities, behaviors, and choices.

Our awareness of what’s happening in the world can massively differ from each other based on the information made available to us or the information we choose to consume. Add in confirmation bias (seeking or consuming information that validates what we already believe) and the fact that we’re all consuming information from different perspectives — and experiencing different realities as a result.

This idea solidified for me in a recent conversation I had with someone I love about race in America, allyship as a small business owner, and our role and responsibility in shifting our culture.

This was a hard conversation for me because we held different points of view. Our awareness of social justice issues are not the same because our exposure to information, people, stories, and experiences are different.

In this conversation, I shared why social injustice matters — even though it may not be the reality for the person I was talking with (or the people closest to them), it still has an impact on others around them and they’re still contributing to a system of strategic reinforcement, whether they realize it or not. It was a conversation of bringing awareness to privilege they might not understand or know they have.

To me, being an ally means taking responsibility by bringing awareness to conversations and relationships with people I’m close with — and creating an opening for information to inform perspective.

I’ve been quiet about my journey in allyship. Mostly because I’m still learning how to be a good ally — and am in no way an expert on allyship inside or outside of business.

But a colleague recently reminded me about the importance of sharing our journey, regardless of whether or not it’s finished, specifically in reference to allyship. She reminded me that steps towards change don’t need to be perfect so long as they are actionable and substantial, and that this is better than silence.

So, here I am. Sharing my very imperfect, very unfinished, very non-expert experiences with having hard conversations about race and allyship with people I love. And while I know my discomfort cannot possibly be compared to the injustices, discrimination, and racism against BIPOC and POC, these conversations can be and have been uncomfortable but necessary.

I’m a (privileged) novice when it comes to topics of race, allyship, and systemic change. But what I am learning through my own hard conversations and personal reflection is that we can each take responsibility for bridging the gaps we see. This is the role I’ve chosen in this fight — to take personal responsibility for my behaviors, relationships, and choices in what I do next.

A goal I have in these hard conversations is to embody and invoke empathy. To seek understanding and unity — the opposite of how our culture is currently trending. Because in my limited experience, one of the things that’s supported my allyship the most is being able to have true empathy for those whose experiences I will never share. To understand the pain, or fear, or anger of BIPOC and POC — even though the source of those emotions isn’t something that affects me the same way.

My allyship is something I’m working on. It’s something I’m making small yet measurable changes to step into every day — from hiring WOC who are experts at what they do, to modifying our content, to highlighting POC in our industry, to noticing where we’re falling short, to being open to changing things in our business.

So far, we’ve brought awareness to and taken action on:

  • Hired women of color to consult not only on creating an inclusive community, but also financial management and team dynamics.

  • Launched scholarship initiatives for both our LAUNCH Program and Coaching Intensives to make our community accessible

  • Featured WOC-owned businesses in our Week in Review campaign every Friday since 10/16/2020 and in our bi-monthly newsletter since 11/5/2020

  • Joined affiliate programs with 3 WOC-owned brands since June 2020

And seen changes such as:

  • 20% of our most recent cohort of the LAUNCH program are WOC

  • 20% of registrants for most recent webinar are WOC

  • 66% of scholarships for the LAUNCH Program were awarded to WOC

  • 66% of scholarships for Intensives were awarded to WOC

  • 10% of IG story takeovers hosted on our platform since September 2020 were WOC in our space

  • 50% of IG Lives hosted on our platform since June 2020 were with WOC in our space

In addition to evolving and expanding all of the above, we also have plans to:

  • Feature popular blog posts by WOC experts in a roundup on our own blog at least 1x/quarter

  • Feature WOC-owned brands in a roundup on our blog

  • Share blog contributions by WOC guests that feature an article on their area expertise

  • Work towards 40% of the clients we serve directly being WOC

  • Continue to survey or community to better understand their needs and struggles

  • Hire WOC onto our internal team

A few things that are coming up for me in my journey of allyship that I don’t yet have the answers to:

  • How can I use my voice, and my position of power in society to help others without feeling righteous?

  • What resources do I still need to find for myself so I can learn and take action?

  • How can I continue to take responsibility in my day-to-day actions that are aligned with my long-term vision for myself and society. What do I need to do to be able to better impact those around me?

I’m committed to growing my allyship because I believe that fundamental human rights are not being met — and that isn’t something I want my future children to see as normal or okay. Having an inclusive and diverse community (at a bare minimum) aligns with my personal beliefs about human rights. I want to surround myself with others who disagree with me, have different perspectives than me, and ask me questions I’ve never heard before, so I can help change which voices, talents, and gifts are heard and celebrated. I want to see more female leaders of all kinds in the space. I want to evolve my own family lineage and legacy.

I’m not done with this journey. This is where I am right now. It’s incomplete and yet I know that I’m committed to authentic allyship. I hope this encourages you to stay in the work of being committed to and communicating your allyship in whatever way works for you, own where you’re at now, and seek the resources and accountability you need.



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