Dear YKAL community,
What we are seeing with the protests around the country and social media feeds being filled with conversation around race is a reckoning. Four hundred years of white supremacy, countless years of patriarchy, capitalism, and other systems that create a massive divide in power. This letter to you today is for everyone who consumes my work, but mostly for white women. Black women and women of color, of course, you are more than welcome to read this, but I want to honor your time, your energy, and your mental health.
Talking about this is messy. White women have a long history of centering themselves around the topic of race, managing to make their feelings and experience the most important thing going on in the moment; thus successfully pushing out the feelings of Black or Brown people. Or worse, then Black or Brown people feel put in a position of having to take care of said white women's feelings.
And at the same time, I am a white woman who runs a business and has a platform. I have sold hundreds of thousands of books, have lots of people listen to my podcast, and people look to me in times like this to lead. I’m going to do my best to not center myself, but will tell you part of my story. I’ll also talk about what we believe here at YKAL, what I need to own, and what’s next.
I am not a race educator, and this by no means is meant to list all of the ways I’m anti-racist (which is something white people do in an effort to actually uphold whiteness, many times unconsciously) but more to tell you what this journey might look like, a way to give you resources, and an invitation to call you in if you haven’t arrived here yet.
Three years ago, I recorded a podcast episode where I told you all about my own awakening. After the 2016 election, seeing women (myself included) angry and paying attention to the voices of Black women; soon realizing that my own feminism was more specifically white feminism. (If you’re unsure what that is, I encourage you to purchase and watch Rachel Cargle’s Unpacking White Feminism workshop. You’ll definitely learn something.) I was angry and ready to burn it all down. Ready to talk to everyone I knew about racial injustices. Ready to teach all of you about how to be anti-racist.
And quickly realized that by doing that, I was centering myself and my experience, plus, not doing my own work first. In addition, what I was doing is part of whiteness– thinking we are exceptional, as well as white saviorism. Without knowing it, part of me wanting to talk about it ad nauseum, was an unconscious effort to showcase that I was “one of the good white people” as well as show up and save the day. This was not okay.
So, in 2017 I started to do the actual anti-racism work. There were a lot of feelings involved. Some excellent educators on anti-racism taught, and I listened and learned.
This work is not done, nor is it ever.
One of the things I quickly realized is that when we’re talking about women’s empowerment, we’re talking about feminism. That part I knew early on. In many ways, women’s empowerment is an act of rebellion. But we also can’t deny that if we’re talking about feminism, we’re talking about patriarchy– the power structure that makes feminism necessary. And if we’re talking about patriarchy, we’re talking about white supremacy.
I learned then that if I say I care about women’s empowerment, I need to care about being anti-racist. Period. Not just a good person, not just kind and compassionate, not just welcoming. If I’m going to teach women’s empowerment, I need to actively dismantle my own internal and unconscious bias and my own racism.
My ask is that you do the same.
This is uncomfortable. You will lose friends. You will be tired. You will see parts of yourself you don’t like. You’ll feel guilty and ashamed and feel the physical manifestations of that. If you have a platform, you will lose followers. (I can guarantee that this email will elicit a slew of unsubscribes, as I’ve seen a loss of followers on social media.). But, none of this hardship is a fraction of what Black people and POC have faced their entire lives, as well as their ancestors.
Transparency has always been a value of mine as a leader, writer, and helping professional. Therefore the truth is after I had my “awakening” in 2017, did a bunch of anti-racism work, then got complacent. The mistake I made then was not putting things into place that made anti-racism work a lifestyle, vs. something I worked on until I felt like I had done enough.
So now, just like any other work I do in my life, I’ve made a commitment to make anti-racism work a lifestyle. You’ll hear more about it in the coming months.
And if you don’t want to hear it, if you want to skip past it and only consume the things you feel apply to you, I’m here to tell you that our values are out of alignment, and I’m not the best teacher/author/podcaster for you.
Because none of us are free until we’re all free.