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Inclusion (DEIAR) Culture: Breaking Barriers for a Better World with Alyssa Hall

Unlearn Lab Podcast

What’s wonderful about living in a culturally-diverse society is that we learn new cultures, traditions, and languages. It widens our understanding of human connection and values. However, this beauty (fails) to surface when we fail to respect diversity and uphold equity and inclusion. Another thing we tend to miss out on in our advocacy is fighting against racism, which is ever-present. 

In this episode of Unlearn Lab, Alyssa Hall explains the meaning of DEIAR and why antiracism is crucial to be at the forefront of any discussion concerning diversity, equity, and inclusion. She shares her tips and experience in breaking barriers and shifting mindsets to create a culture that is inclusive and respectful. Finally, she explores the different spectrums of cancel culture and how we can hold people accountable. 

If you want to find out how you can do the inner work and shift your mindset to create a safe and inclusive environment for everyone, this episode is for you!

Listen on Spotify Here

Here are three reasons why you should listen to this episode:

  1. Find out how to create a culture of DEIAR.
  2. Discover the spectrums and possible responses to cancel culture.
  3. Learn how to hold others and yourself accountable.

Resources

Episode Highlights

[03:10] Defining DEIAR 

  • DEIAR means Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism.
  • For Alyssa, anti-racism is removing the sprinkles of white supremacy culture from many spaces and shifting structures that enable racism.
  • Diversity is about the numbers and ratio of people in a certain room.
  • Equity allows people to have an equal playing field.
  • Inclusion pertains to whether or not people feel included — not just physically.

“For me, anti-racism and inclusion are the biggest foundations, and then you put in the equitable stuff, and then you get the output of diversity.”

Alyssa Hall

[07:05] Shifting Your Mindset

  • Bringing antiracism to the forefront is vital in implementing and integrating DE&I (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) in our daily lives.
  • Creating a culture of DE&I requires a mindset shift, or else it can’t be sustained.
  • Always watch your thoughts and approach them with curiosity.

[13:57] Navigating Right and Wrong

  • People are wired to have a sense of community, making us fear isolation.
  • White supremacy culture gives people even the most trivial reason to ostracize someone else, especially when you step out of the norm.

“… we get so scared of being wrong or so scared of saying something that can potentially harm someone else even if it’s standing up for another person, because when we harm someone else, then that means I’m a bad person. Because that is the way that white supremacy culture has taught us to categorize ourselves and other people.”

Alyssa Hall
  • Your actions don’t always determine your character.

[17:49] Four Spectrums of Cancel Culture

  • The first spectrum is when someone says or does something harmful or offensive but is unaware of it.
  • The second version mostly manifests in police officers, who are trained to be scared of specific people and require an overhaul of the system.
  • Third, a person is truly prejudiced and doesn’t want to change.
  • Lastly, prejudices might be much more challenging to deal with when it relates to their career.
  • People affected by prejudices have the right to know when a person has a slight prejudice or makes a mistake.

[24:14] Changing the System

  • Alyssa hates the function of the present system.
  • We need a system that includes proper rehabilitation, so individuals can get the help they need and return to society as better people.
  • Equipping individuals with DE&I training allows them to function better in society.

[28:50] Breaking Her Mental Barriers

  • Education has always been valuable to Alyssa.
  • Undoing her mindset around wanting to be a doctor was something she had to work on when she entered the field of DE&I.
  • Equity has always been important to her, and this is what led her through life.
  • She had to deal with her own doubts about her credibility and whether she was Black enough.

[36:05] Holding People Accountable

  • Don’t let anyone define your right to be in a certain space.
  • Set your boundaries and hold people accountable, but remember that they’re human.

“… before, I was forcing myself through it — even in moments where I was not mentally stable enough to be taking the 18 credits every semester. Now, saying, ‘Okay, I’m doing this because I want to and because this is the work that I want to do.’ in an empowering space compared to ‘I’m not good enough, I have to do this to prove my worth.’”

Alyssa hall
  • When working with her clients, Alyssa’s primary focus is still on Black women they might come into contact with.
  • You need to be mentally ready and do the inner work to address DE&I issues.

About Alyssa

Alyssa Hall is an anti-racism consultant and executive coach. Upon completing her training at the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), she began her journey of coaching corporate leaders and business owners on mindset and leadership. She now uses those same skills to coach about anti-racism.

Her main area of focus is strengthening the leadership skills needed in promoting an anti-racist environment. In addition, she ensures her clients continually uphold their values of diversity, equity, and inclusivity, which brings them greater success in their lives and their businesses.

If you want to know more about Alyssa’s work, visit her website. You can also send her an email at contact@alyssahallcoaching.com or reach out to her on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook.

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Transcript

I have really fought with what my idea of Blackness was. Saying like, “Well, I’m not Black enough”, I had to deal with that all my entire life. Then saying like, “Okay, it doesn’t matter what you think you are, Alyssa. You are a dark skinned Black woman. The way you’ve been treated in the world has not been as a Hispanic woman because barely anyone knows that you’re Hispanic. You’ve been treated in the world as a Black woman and you need to look back at your experiences and understand how it allows you to even continue to talk about things today from that perspective.”

Jess Moy: Welcome to Unlearn Lab with me, your host, Jess Moy. Together, we are going to demystify what culture really means nowadays and how we can show up as our whole-ass human self through the lens of wellness, entrepreneurship, and impact. Really thriving in the long run requires you to remember who you really are, unplug from the matrix and write your own damn story. We are going to cover some serious ground together, y’all. From what culture really means to unpacking modern-day spirituality, to peeling back the layers of multi-passionate entrepreneurship — we are gonna explore it all together. Let’s unlearn some shit. 

Okay, welcome back, Alyssa, to Unlearn Lab. Today, we are doing part two of this discussion because there was so much to talk about in terms of entrepreneurship, DE&I, women of color in entrepreneurship that we just needed to break that shit up into two episodes, you know what I’m saying? 

So welcome back! Today, we are going to be diving into DE&I and anti-racism and what that means in the fields that you work with, and really defining it and unpacking it and all the things. I’m sure this could be a podcast or maybe already is in itself, but your girl got to start somewhere. Right? So here we are. 

I want to start with What does DE&I mean? What does anti-racism mean? How are they different? I’ve also seen the terms DE&IB, which stood for, I believe, diversity, equity and inclusion, and belonging. What is your take on all of the words and all of the — I don’t know what you call them. What do you call the —

Alyssa Hall: The acronyms? 

Jess: Acronyms! Yes, I was going to say analogies and I’m like, “That is not…” Don’t come to me for English. Not my strong suit. That’s what I have Grammarly for. Anyway, what does it mean? What do they mean to you? Let’s start there.

Alyssa: Okay. I love that you brought up that there’s different — now I forgot the word.

Jess: Acronyms.

Alyssa: Acronym! I was gonna say analogies. All the different acronyms because there’s a lot; there’s the D-E-I-A, the D-E-I-B with the belonging, there’s also JEDI, so the J in that one stands for justice. None of those really fit for me with the work that I do. But now a lot of people are moving into D-E-I-A-R, which is including anti-racism into that conversation. It also really talks about how separate anti-racism actually is from D-E-I. So that one I’m like, “Oh, cool. I found my list that actually works for me.”

The way that I describe all of them is that, with anti-racism, I truly see that work as removing what I call “sprinkles of white supremacy culture” from the spaces that we are in. Actively shifting structures and norms that have a connection to white supremacy culture because that is where a lot of the structures that are in place that uphold racism and uphold all of these power imbalances exist. A lot of times when we talk about D-E-I specifically, the main thing that comes up for people is just diversity. Diversity is cool, and all. It’s really just, for me, diversity is like the numbers. When we’re looking at the ratios of the people that are in the room, that’s what diversity is. 

I see diversity as — if you were to look at it as this plus this equals, E-I plus A-R equals diversity, is the way that I see that whole equation having to be. Equity is, “Are things made so that everyone has an equal playing field? Are different people’s disadvantages acknowledged when we’re making decisions so that they’re not having to jump higher than the person next to them to do the exact same thing?” Inclusion is really about, “Do people feel included?” not “Are they physically included?” But, “Do they feel actually included based off of the conversations that we’re having?” The structures, again, that we have in place. For me, anti-racism and inclusion are like the biggest foundations, and then you put in the equitable stuff, and then you get the output of diversity.

Jess: Yeah, that is so clear. I don’t know why that was so sustained. Thank you for sharing it like that. So in terms of DE&I, I want to talk about what you feel has been missing in this field. Because we have talked about — and this goes for not just big businesses and entrepreneurship, but also in life. DE&I and anti-racism and belonging and all those things, they apply to us as humans. So, what do you feel has been missing in this field that is preventing us from really translating the education piece to the actual implementation and integration into our daily life? 

Alyssa: That alone, I feel like that, if that’s not on my sales page, that needs to be it. Because that is — when we look at what we want DE&I work to look like, you’ve perfectly described it. What is missing is — this is why I’m like, anti-racism needs to be the forefront of that conversation. If I am sitting here telling you, “Hey, listen. For you to really have a more inclusive space in your corporate company, we’re just getting rid of dress codes. We’re going to allow people to come in to work and whatever way they feel comfortable.” That corporate leader is not going to make that change until they have mentally shifted what does professionalism mean. They can sit here and agree to it, but then if Bob comes to work in sandals, and shorts, and he doesn’t say anything, but Clara comes to work in sandals and shorts, and he has a thought of “She thinks she’s going to the beach. She’s going to be lazy all day. I have to make sure she’s doing her work”, or “She’s going to be a distraction because she’s showing too much skin.” It doesn’t matter what system that person put in place because six months from now, Clara’s either going to have a hard time at work or that system will be shifted back because that corporate leader didn’t feel like it worked. It’s solely because his definition of professionalism has not shifted. And that’s the inner work that needs to be done. 

Jess: Yes. We’ve talked about this at length of what does that shift look like. Our — shameless plug — starting to figure out what that could look like in terms of an actual curriculum, scale your impact underscore collective, or we’re building out this idea because it’s missing. This inner work piece, this integration piece. So, where do you think people should start? I think when we started having more of these discussions, unfortunately, only recently since 2022 with all of the social unrest that was happening in the stateside and everything. What do you feel is a good stepping point that goes beyond just “educating yourself”? Or take the course or continue doing the work like — can we stop with these euphemisms for a minute and actually say, what is the thing that is going to start us? Maybe I’m the CEO that is implementing this structure and knows that it’s a good thing but actually internalizes this as what should be a norm and not what is an external expectation. 

Alyssa: Yes. This is honestly why I love the work of coaching so much. Because you have someone asking you those deeper questions as to what comes up for you when you see this? What comes up for you when you think this? Or when you are looking for who’s going to be the next best leader into this position. What is it that gets you excited about Bob? What is it that gets you excited about Clara? A lot of times, you’re able to break down what those things are connected to, like if you say, “Oh, Bob is so assertive, and he just gets his work done. He’s here all the time; he’s here from before I even come in here, and he leaves after I do.” 

If that is what you’re defining as leadership — ahe may not say that that’s what he’s defining as leadership. He’s defining that as someone who’s committed to the company. But then we know this is what needs to be shifted. Then, we work on what are the actual qualities are important, and that’s someone who has a coach. If you don’t have a coach, one of the things I was telling people at the very beginning was people watch and watch your thoughts also. There takes a level of self-awareness to do this work without someone who’s doing this work with you. Not only just to see, “Oh, that thought came up,” but to do it from a place of no shaming yourself. Also, to do it from a place of curiosity, and seeing maybe why that thought is there, what it’s connecting to, and what you may need to restructure. 

Jess: Yes, that’s so pertinent. I’m thinking specifically to real-life examples, and not even in work of those times when I’ll catch myself thinking something about someone that walked down the street, and I will have to be like, “Oh, that’s interesting that I’m thinking that. Why do I think that?” Even things about myself… I will still say things like, “Wow, that was so Asian of me.” Then I’ll be in my head like, did I just microaggression, myself?” But those are internalized things that we don’t realize. So, even when you say things that can feel harmless to you, recognizing where they come from, and I think this moves into this conversation around fear.

Because I think that to do the inner work, we have to address the fear that comes around. One, being uncomfortable with ourselves, but also making other people uncomfortable. Like we talked about in the last episode, knowing that it’s a spectrum, and it’s not black and white. So, how do you navigate or coach people through navigating this fear of saying the wrong thing, fear of being rejected, fear of being isolated. Because let’s be real, y’all doing the right thing can be isolating if the majority of people you’re around are not. This goes back to right and wrong, but maybe doing the thing that is less common, I guess, would be a word to describe that. How do you navigate that — yourself maybe or tell people how to navigate that? 

Alyssa: Yeah, that is something that is — there are so many layers to it, right? When we think about just humans in general, we are wired for community and a sense of community. Back in what like ancient times, if we did not have a community we literally wouldn’t survive. Our brain is very much wired to, “I cannot be isolated.” On top of that, white supremacy culture loves to give people the smallest reason to ostracize someone else. If you are wrong, then that means that you are done. It means something about you and your whole self as a person compared to just, “I was wrong about that thing.” 

Then we get so scared of being wrong or so scared of saying something that can potentially harm someone else. Even if it’s standing up for another person, because when we harm someone else, then that means I’m a bad person. Because that is the way that white supremacy culture has taught us to categorize ourselves and other people. So, when it comes to these things of just like trying to do something that is completely different from the norm, it’s the fear of being ostracized and it’s the fear of our actions defining our character in a way that is so far blown out of proportion. 

There are moments, obviously that — what is that saying? “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” That — valid. Got that. But when it’s like, “Oh, I was wrong about this thing”, or, “Oh, I said a thing when I was setting a boundary”, and that made you feel bad, that doesn’t mean I’m a bad person, or I was sticking up for someone else and I had to tell you that you were wrong. That doesn’t make me a bad person, because you felt sad. There are just so many layers to that and just allowing my client to go through that at their own pace.  A lot of people have different levels of safety, and that’s something that I’ve definitely learned a lot with doing this work. 

Jess: Yes and that’s interesting that you bring up, “This action doesn’t make me a bad person; this action doesn’t make you a bad person.” I think we’ve also gotten so into the binary of right and wrong. Again, like you’re racist, you’re not racist. There are so many levels to that. So, I want to ask you what your opinion is on cancel culture and that idea of if they fucked up, we should ban them — definitely hold them accountable. But what does that look like? Because I’ve seen it in so many different ways and had so many different feelings about it. But even those feelings sometimes felt wrong, because I’m like, “But they were wrong. But why do I feel bad for them? Do I feel bad for them? Because I am internally oppressed? So, it’s just having to catch myself that I’m supporting the vision or — not the vision —  the version of the person that done wrong? Or, is it that I want to give them space to be human and fucked up? It’s like such an interesting and really messy arena. So I want to get your take on it.

Alyssa: Yes. So I’m going to try to shorten this answer as much as possible, because with cancel culture, I feel like there are so many different nuances, and they’re all 100% valid. There’s like four different versions of how this shows up, that I’m thinking of. So the first one is, someone said something wrong, someone did something wrong, and it is not a function of their personality. It’s just they literally did not realize, and it was incredibly harmful or incredibly offensive. And they said the thing and now people are like, “Oh, she’s a bad person, he’s a bad person, cancel goodbye. They don’t deserve to have this platform.”

I see that a lot when it comes to either entrepreneurs or people who have some sort of social status, right? And it’s like, okay, in that sense, that person literally did not know. Or even when we’re like digging up old tweets of people when they were 15. That person literally did not know. Especially being a teenager, a lot of the things that we regurgitate are just a function of our society, right.

So the next level of that, like going on the theme of the function of our society. I and I feel like this is gonna be like, super, super controversial, but I see this a lot when it comes to police officers. Those people are not trained in mental health. Those people are trained to be scared of specific people. So when someone gets harmed because the police officer says, “There was a Black man there and he touched his pocket, and I was afraid of him”, I believe the police officer because the training taught them to be afraid of the Black man. 

When we are canceling that specific police officer, we’re not changing anything in the system because there’s still hundreds and thousands of police officers going through the same exact training to be afraid of that other type of black man and not know what to do in those situations. In those cases, does that person need to be fired? Not really, they need that—first of all, they need therapy. But secondly, the whole entire system just needs to be overhauled because that is what they are taught. It’s the same thing with the military — they’re taught to be afraid of specific people. So when they do a thing, that’s literally what they’ve been taught. So it’s the system that needs to be changed. That’s number two. 

Number three is, now I’m getting more into when people actually do deserve to be canceled, right. So this is where this is just their—this person’s personality, they have like repeat offenses of showing different ways of how they are deeply prejudiced, how they do not want to change, how this is not just a one-off thing. This is literally who that person is. In that sense, I’m talking about people who have, again, like an entrepreneur or some social status, there is no reason for me to then continue to support this person, because they are now normalizing being this type of person. They’re normalizing having these prejudices and still being able to get by. They’re normalizing being abusive, and still being able to get by.

Those people for just the function of our society needs to just be put away somewhere. That would be great. The very last one is when the thing that they did relates to their work. I feel like that is where — I’m not gonna say it’s controversial — but it’s really difficult when it’s like a person is super prejudiced, but they’re a teacher. That is huge because you don’t even know what else is going on in that classroom and how marginalized students are being affected by that person. That’s like the huge spectrum of it.

But even on the lesser accounts, I feel like the people who are going to be affected by the person do have the right to know about the mistake that the person made or about the slight prejudice that the person has. Because we, especially as marginalized communities, we’re not always being harmed, but we have a higher chance of being harmed. I need to know that if I’m going to choose coach A, if she made a mistake that shows that she doesn’t understand my community, then I need to know that so that I can instead choose Coach B. That’s not me canceling coach A, that’s just me making an informed decision based on my mental health. 

Jess: Yes. I love that you laid that out and for spectrums, and I want to go back to the second one where it’s that police example. So let’s say that that person was a product, like a product of their training, how do we then go about holding them accountable? Do we just let them off? Do like, what is—and this is controversial because people have a lot of very different opinions about this. And I think it also plays into not just the police, but leadership, the whole example of Spotify, and Joe Rogan, and the CEO, waiting to make a statement. 

How do we hold these individuals accountable, that either are a product of their training or their society or how they were brought up, but have the power to then perpetuate the same systems that we’re trying to dismantle? How do we address that? As little people that we are, you know? How does it, where does the conversation start? 

Alyssa: On top of this, I also just hate the function of the prison system in general. So for me, my thought is always “Could we please like— actual rehabilitation? Like what is the problem? Like why can we not create a system where there is actual rehabilitation, where people are getting the specific help that they need so they can actually come back to society as a better person?” That’s what I think of for me and like, in a thought I was like, well, in a perfect world, it would be that maybe they are in an isolated place, whatever that looks like, but they’re getting the mental health support. They’re getting support for this specific thing that they got in there for right? 

How many people are in prison for hate crimes? They just sit around for two years and then they get out. What did they learn right? They’re no longer a quote-unquote danger to society for those specific two years, but they didn’t come out as a changed person. They came out now saying, “I can’t do that specific thing. But my thoughts about the specific people have not changed.”

So how do we create a system where people are actually— could you imagine if there was like a whole prison literally just about DE&I? That would be literally wild. And that’s what I think of: can we get them DE&I training? If that person then wants to go back to work? I don’t know if they’d be on the force, because, again, traumatizing. But if they were to do something else, they can actually be a better, more functioning human of society and make the shifts and changes because of the support that they were given. 

Jess: Yes and what I’m hearing is, it’s really a function of the systems and the structures, but also the leadership that guides it. Which I think is a very interesting way to affect change. I think this is where people get stuck in, “I can’t make a difference.” That’s where you choose to interject, I think, the conversation starters, right? Are you the person that’s going to start them with leadership? Are you going to be the person that starts them in the field and then makes its way up, right? There’s so many ways to go about it.

But I think this kind of leads to my next idea of these barriers of moving into this space, and what you had to do to move into this space. Because as a Black woman, as an entrepreneur, as someone that’s, quote, unquote, young, what are some of the things that you’ve had to move through to enter this space? And what qualifies you because I think this plays a really interesting role in the level of putting certifications and titles on a pedestal a little bit, versus our lived experience. 

That sort of bridging of the gap of what barriers you had to move through to enter this space and be even here talking to me about it because I think there’s also a little bit of — this is also controversial, too — but a little bit of toxicity, especially in the social justice space, in the nonprofit space of gatekeeping, almost, liberation. Of gatekeeping, “You’re not qualified to do this,” or “you’re doing it wrong,” or “what do you know?” That sort of thing. What I’m getting at is, this feeling of just wanting liberation for everyone, of just wanting love but not gaslighting things like, how do we break that barrier? How did you break that barrier? So that we can actually enter into productive conversations, moving the needle forward, even if it feels really small, if that makes sense? 

Alyssa: Yes, that was a huge shift for me. So I come from two parents who are educated. My mom is a teacher. She has two master’s degrees. My dad also has a master’s degree. Education has always been, and still is, super important to me. I wanted to be a doctor and for the longest amount of time, I had to even just get over the shift of “Your name will not be Dr. Hall, Alyssa because you actually like Psych.” So like, and then I was like, “Okay, fine. I’ll get a doctorate in psychiatry,” so that I can call myself a doctor like. Things like that I had to even undo that structure. I’m still working through that today. So when I flopped into the field of DI that was a huge mental barrier for me to get over. I only got into this field because of everything that happened in 2020. And just seeing the online space look like a complete—

Jess: A dumpster fire?

Alyssa: Literally. It’s something I have never seen and had I not already been an entrepreneur at the time, I would have never even known that it was happening. But being there and just coming up on live in my pajamas, just talking to people like, “Hey, um, this is what we need to be doing.” For me, this was all common knowledge. This is just the way that I moved through life. Equity and things like that I never had the word for it, but it was something that was so so important for me.

There were a few times where my grandparents were in the hospital. And I remember going to the hospital to see them and they spoke mostly Spanish, but like, a little bit of English here in there. And when the nurses would see them, they had a great experience. But when they were roomed with someone else who also spoke Spanish, the nurse would act completely differently to them. 

I remember noticing that at like 11, and from then I was like, “I’m not only going to be a doctor, but I’m going to be a doctor who was so good in their Spanish that I’m going to advocate for those patients.” That has always just been how I moved through the world. So, when 2020 happened, I’m like, “Oh, y’all aren’t doing this. Like, none of y’all like thinking this way”. So I had to just talk about it and say, “This is what we can do. This is how you can support blah, blah, blah.” And then when I decided to make this the work that I actually do in the world, I was like, “but literally, who am I compared to all of these different people that have this degree and that degree and that certification and has been doing this for X amount of years.”

I look like such a poser. Especially because I have really fought with what my idea of Blackness was, and saying, “I don’t— I’m not Black enough.” I had to deal with that all my entire life and then saying, “Okay, it doesn’t matter what you think you are, Alyssa. You are a dark skinned Black woman. The way you’ve been treated in the world has not been as a Hispanic woman because barely anyone knows that you’re Hispanic. You’ve been treated in the world as a Black woman, and you need to look back at your experiences and understand how it allows you to even continue to talk about things today from that perspective. These aren’t just normal experiences. These are microaggressions. 

Even seeing outside of being a black woman, just being a mom and being a young mom, all of those different hurdles, and really reminding myself, this is what makes me qualified, because not only have I experienced it, but I’ve also always just been working in the back of my head. “Why can’t it just look like this? Why can’t this just be the norm? Why can’t this system be put in place?” And allowing myself to feel confident in that. That was a really long answer. Did that make sense? 

Jess: 100%, like Amen. Because I think there is a level of education and training that you need to hold yourself in integrity with the work that you do, whether you are a coach, whether you own a bakery. Let’s use the bakery, for example, I would hope that you would know how to bake bread, or if you don’t, you’d be hiring someone that knows how, right. So the same thing is in this space, but that’s not to say that somebody that maybe wasn’t trained in whatever fancy school that there is for baking but has baked their whole life is not qualified. That’s kind of where I was hoping that you would answer that. Because I think it’s a duality of being an integrity with yourself, understanding where your lived experience counts as the experience necessary for you to do the work that you’re doing. 

But also this real-world culture and knowing that and knowing how it lands will speak volumes more I feel then you just taking a course and passing a test and learning the thing. Which even in healthcare where I moved from there were people that got straight A’s on their tests, passed all their practicals, got to their internships, and really struggled because the real world is very different than what you learn. And I think we’re finding this as we’ve kind of come full circle talking about different types of cancel culture, talking about what’s needed to actually move the needle in this DE&I space. It’s this recognition of how much our lived experience bleeds into the work we do. And our identity bleeds into the work we do. To start anywhere, requires us to start with us, requires us to start with us as humans, looking at each other as humans. 

This is not to say, again, “one light, one love, we are one people,” like don’t hold people accountable. No, fucking hold people accountable. But as a human with grace, but also recognizing your own need for boundaries, your own validation for whatever it is that you feel. And that awareness is the start to that, I feel. 

Alyssa: Yes, 100%. At the same time, even battling what everyone else is defining as like your right to be in this space. And saying to yourself, like, “Okay, I want to be doing…” even me, for example, “I want to be doing this corporate work over here, those people are going to check for my papers.” And that’s what I just call it now, just so I can like disassociate. Like these little pieces of paper, that is what they are asking for. I need to… You know what’s so interesting, this is like a really weird connection. But I almost see it as the way that I think of diet culture. The way that I have to sort of shift my mindset of, “I am eating this food because I want to feel my body,” compared to “I’m eating this food, because I want to be skinny.”

You might be doing the same action, but the way that your brain or that you are engaging with it is from a little bit of a healthier space. That’s how I feel like where my relationship right now is, with these pieces of paper, where before I was like forcing myself through it even in moments where I was not mentally stable enough to be taking the 18 credits every semester. And now saying, “Okay, I’m doing this because I want to and because this is the work that I want to do.” In an empowering space, compared to I’m not good enough, I have to do this to prove my worth.

Jess: Yeah, it’s like getting the certifications or whatever it is that you need to educate yourself, be in integrity with what you’re doing because you want to earn it because it serves you and your community versus being like this company that seems cool is requiring and so like, I’m just gonna  push myself through it. Really asking yourself the question of what is this for and what does it need it for? Same thing I think goes for and you can speak to this as well, bringing DE&I into your space, into your business? Are you mentally ready to bring DE&I into your business? Honestly? Have you done the work in your life to be ready? And if not, that’s okay. But now I’m telling you right now where you need to start. So let’s fucking go. Right? 

Especially if you’re serving people, this is not a bash or criticism. It’s a you need to be ready. And if you ain’t ready, then what are the things that you need to do to do so? And people need to be real with themselves. Businesses need to be real with themselves. Have you just hired a DE&I head of blah, blah, blah, whatever? Is your company even ready for the work? Have you prepared the context? And that’s, I think, where that inner work and that prework comes from, of you as the human addressing your own stuff. That’s not to say that you have to have it all down and ready before you start this car. Like you just need to know like, a general direction you’re new wanting to go in so that you can steer the wheel, especially if you’re a leader in your space or someone that is taking a stand for X-Y-Z. I just like felt really fired up about that. 

I don’t do DE&I work in businesses but I cultivate the environment that makes it conducive and I cannot tell you how many times people are like, “Oh, yeah, that’s a great idea. This is really important.” But they don’t know why it’s important to them as a person, and I’m just like, you’re not even ready. Oh my god, you ain’t even ready, honey. 

Alyssa: So that right here is like, just, a moment of pause for that. Because literally, yes, that is so huge. That’s what I’ve had to start working with my clients on, like, from jump, why are you doing this work? Even visualizing it, when I work with my clients, I say this to them. So they know, I love my clients. But I’m not thinking about my clients, I’m thinking about the Black women that are going to be coming in contact with my clients. That is who I’m doing this work for. And that’s what moves me even when it’s hard. When I started working with business owners, I was like, “Okay, it’ll be like more of a consulting thing”, until I realized I would tell them to do a thing. 

And now we’re actually spending a whole last month coaching on the thing underneath it, that is not allowing them to be ready to make that change. And so understanding that this work isn’t just about, “Here’s this little blueprint, Goodbye, thank you.” Unless you’ve already done that pre-work before you really do have to be mentally ready. 

Jess: Yeah. Even for people that identify like myself as a person of color, but I’m not Black. Like, you have to constantly come up against that internalized culture that you have within yourself. “Okay, well, I’m not Black. So I can’t do or won’t do this. But I’m also not white. So I’m not privy to do this. So where do I stand?” Just understanding this goes back to that identity piece. And so I think, in wrapping this up, I was mentioning to you earlier, there’s a really great Instagram page called Bad Activist Collective. What I love about how they present activism is that its humans doing it and we’re so imperfect and messy and just don’t know what the fuck we’re doing. We, as a species, are like the baby giraffe that’s just popped out and its legs are longer than its entire body, just wobbling. That is what I envision us as a species.

I think it comes again with this theme of duality of being both and just being willing to fuck up and be accountable for it, and say the wrong thing, but be accountable for it. And be okay with how we feel. Yeah, and really take the responsibility of understanding why. I think that you do such a beautiful job of helping people navigate that, which I think is so important. Really, truly.

Alyssa: Thank you. 

Jess: So if people want to work with you, do the work with you, where can they find you? What can they do? Where can they start? If you have any resources you recommend too because that also is a great jumping-off point. 

Alyssa: Yes, 100%. Um, I always say to start with my Instagram page, mainly just to learn but also just see that this work, there’s a human level to it. I really am very intentional about like, I’m just gonna be myself. Y’all are gonna see that on Instagram. And y’all are gonna see that when we’re in a coaching session. I do that to create the level of comfortability and safety for this work that’s incredibly difficult. So while you’re learning, you’re also able to feel comfortable enough to say what’s coming up for you, or willing to be wrong and all of those other messy feelings. But I do have a resource that I often forget about—because I made it a year ago and then I just never market it. But it is called the Anti-racism Mini-course for coaches, and it’s essentially an 18 episode private podcast of just like past Instagram lives and Facebook lives that are actually really, really content-heavy.

To allow you to just start even thinking about this work in a different way. That’s, I feel like, one of the best places to start because you’re fueling that need and yourself like “I need to know more.” And also, you are starting to really think about where are my blind spots—I feel like that’s the big thing. If y’all are gonna be in that space of ingesting a bunch of stuff, please take the time to also reflect and ask what your blind spots are and ask where you can be doing better. We get into this constant thing of just ingesting and ingesting. So many people have been doing that for two whole years and still don’t know what to do with all the stuff that they’ve been ingesting because there hasn’t been that space for reflection. So that’s just a huge thing. 

Jess: Yeah, I love that. Well, thank you, thank you, thank you so much for being here. And such a pleasure to jam about these things that are deep and can be kind of scary to talk about, but you brought such a level of education and information but also with a form of through the lens and the voice of being a human and that’s what we’re about at Unlearn Lab. So thank you so much. 

Alyssa: Yes, thank you so much for having me here. I appreciate you.

noodle OBSESSED, sloth in human form, modern mystic, culture explorer. 

Hi, I'm Jess.
Host of Unlearn Lab & Culture Curator.

I always knew there had to be more than business strategy, leadership skills, and the wellness practices we embody and share. It's the humans inside these paradigms that get to say and shift what is the "norm" and where we really want to go. So come along with me and Embodied Impact as we build culture together. 

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We help intersectional leaders unmute their message and cultivate cultures where humans thrive through mentorship and intuitive strategy. Your legacy is your sovereignty.