Supporting Colleagues of Color

Welcome to bonus episode #10 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss how to support colleagues of color during these turbulent times.

Original Recording Date: 06-06-2020

Topic – How To Support Colleagues of Color

We’re experiencing a time of social upheaval and protest in the aftermath of the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor among others. So what can we do to support our colleagues of color who might feel especially burdened?

5:19 Do’s and Don’ts

  • General guidance: Invest in your relationships ahead of time
    • John gives the example of he and Nick being able to support each other through losing parents because they had invested in their relationships ahead of time.
  • Don’ts
    • Don’t add to their burdens
      • Don’t ask your colleagues to explain the why’s of the situation to you
    • Don’t ask them to support you emotionally
    • Don’t wait to be an ally
      • Speak out against racial and gender bias immediately
      • It’s the other person who made it awkward;
      • Nick references Crucial Conversation’s notion of safety in conversations
      • Be able to receive a critique as well if the person being called out is you. This is a very difficult thing to do, but important for growth.
  • Do
    • Offer Support
      • Maybe let them know your offer of support doesn’t require a response as you offer it
    • Offer Allyship
      • Perhaps join an employee resource group as an ally
  • Is this kind of conversation more loaded if there’s a manager-report relationship?
    • For peers, there’s no explicit power dynamic
    • It’s important for managers to have created a safe space to discuss a variety of issues (race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age, mental health, parental status)
    • Managers should have more training to be a source of support for difficult topics
    • If managers have only positioned themselves only as a point of accountability, then they’ve made a mistake.
    • Nick is reminded of Fierce Conversations guidance to interrogate reality

21:29 Context on the State of Race Relations

48:59 Revisionist History Presents: The Limits of Power

  • Listen At
  • The British Army sought to bring order to the streets of Northern Ireland by making the cost of protest (that’s a euphemism for police violence and mass incarceration) so high that people would logically not protest. But it had the opposite effect.
  • Donald Trump’s quote admiring the Chinese government’s Tiananmen Square crackdown.: “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength."
  • The exploration of use of force against one’s citizens removed from the American context, African-American racial context was very helpful to understand the downsides.
  • The Troubles

54:15 Behind the Bastards: The Man Who Teaches Our Cops To Kill

1:00:53 Brief Explanation of “Defund the Police”

  • Misconception is that it’s calling for completely disbanding the police
  • Many poor African-American neighborhoods have such poor response times and experience with the police that they are effectively unpoliced
  • Main policy goal is to disaggregate the many functions served by the police department and fund them in separate organizations
    • Mental health intervention by specially trained teams
    • Homeless services to transition and serve that population
    • Community safety
    • etc
  • We’ve had most of two centuries to reform the police force
  • Marketplace: What it means to defund police
    • The vast majority of police department calls have nothing to do with a major uniform crime (from context, UCR Part 1 crimes:  Aggravated assault, forcible rape, murder, robbery, arson, burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft)
    • Mostly auto accidents, noise complaints, substance abuse issues, and mental health issues
  • NPR Throughline: American Police
    • “…[T]ension between African American communities and the police has existed for centuries. This week, the origins of American policing and how those origins put violent control of Black Americans at the heart of the system.”
  • The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale
  • “This book attempts to spark public discussion by revealing the tainted origins of modern policing as a tool of social control. It shows how the expansion of police authority is inconsistent with community empowerment, social justice—even public safety. Drawing on groundbreaking research from across the world, and covering virtually every area in the increasingly broad range of police work, Alex Vitale demonstrates how law enforcement has come to exacerbate the very problems it is supposed to solve.”
  • NPR Planet Money: Police Unions And Police Violence
    • “Police unions are a bit different from other unions. Normally, unions exist to empower workers through collective action. Police already have a kind of power other workers don’t. Today, we look at the data on police unions how their very existence might lead to more people being killed by police. Also, why other unions are distancing themselves from police unions.”
    • After officers gain access to collective bargaining rights, there was a “substantial increase” in killing of civilians, almost all of whom are non-white.

1:04:23 Wrapping Up

  • The conversation was difficult to record
  • Hopefully this helps you understand some of the context
  • We don’t all have to agree on every point, hopefully just understand each other a bit better
  • It’s also difficult to offer support when we might be close to our own emotional limits
  • We hope this was easier to listen to than it was to record!
  • We hope you’re all in a good place and getting the support you need

Topics We Missed

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image sources

  • 5fe3dc464b4faa0df7c5d57fcf293f761322dfe05a5077407d2972dc_640_oppression: geralt @ pixabay

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