How to champion radical diversity—a conversation with Kiah Morris

 

e20 / podcast & show notes, wherein I find new ways to do/be better.

 

 

Ah gosh I’m so excited to share this podcast with you. Kiah Morris is a leader, trainer, facilitator, visual/written/performance artist, activist, reformed politician, gardener, amateur chef, live music junkie, mom, wife, daughter, friend, change maker. She loves spicy foods and despises fascism and other modes of oppression.

Kiah recently gave a TEDx talk offering 3 tools for anyone serious about radical diversity. And goodness has Kiah got the experience, wisdom and nous to be an authority in this space.

In this presentation Kiah makes reference to my own small stance in championing diversity and inclusion.* I remember feeling a mix of things when I first saw my inclusion in her presentation. I felt chuffed and unduly honoured and somewhat saddened that my small efforts were worthy of example. I also felt absolutely elated by Kiah’s message, wit and style. And thus it is with great joy I share this podcast episode with you.

* Something I’ve felt uncomfortable about trumpeting (as it seems so ‘of course’ and I worry about the white-saviour space-taking look-at-me virtue-signalling it can encourage).

If you can, do check out and follow Kiah’s work. In this episode we covered domains that would be apt for anyone who wants to actually champion diversity and bring about meaningful change (beyond words)—without falling prey to hubris or the many snares along the way. It calls for many of us in privileged positions to actually listen and in many instances: cede power. Which is, ironically, one of the most powerful things we can do.

Kiah brought the following paper to my attention, which is worth diving into: The Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture. These characteristics include perfectionism, a sense of urgency, defensiveness, quantity over quality, worship of the written word, paternalism, either/or thinking, power hoarding, fear of open conflict, individualism, and more. Any of these familiar in your organisation?

While we are at it, here are a couple of links to worthy reads.

» What’s in your inclusion rider?—an article by Kiah Morris that dives into some of elements of her TEDx presentation
» Dismantling progressive white supremacy—Dhakshayini Sooriyakumaran’s personal notes from the Progress 2019 panel discussion
» Fundamentals of Effective Allyship by Karolina Szczur

There’s plenty more to learn—and it’s up to all of us to do so. And, I daresay one of the things we must ward ourselves against is the allure of ‘mere competency’. To not settle for tick-box courses that merely raise awareness of bias—and to go further.

Kiah quotes Indigenous Australian Activist and Academic Lilla Watson (most apt):

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

I’ll chat with Kiah on the podcast again some day (and I’m so looking forward to it). In the meantime: I’ve got work to do.

 
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