White centering is choosing their feelings and comfort over my humanity as a Black person . . . over the work and efforts for equality and humanity for Black people.
White centering is when a Black person expresses to a white person an action or behavior was harmful to them and the white person quickly becomes defensive instead of learning from the mistake, actively listening and apologizing to the Black person.Dr. Akilah Cadet ~ White Centering, Change Cadet, 17 July 2020
It’s not everyday a white peer, a team leader, tells me they forgot I was even in the room when they were speaking. That they were speaking to “the white folks in the room” AND that in retrospect, they should have only shared their [unsolicited] DEI “insights” with a white-only audience.
They forgot I was there. The Black woman with 30+ years of experience leading dialogues on DEI. The Black woman who initiated this very first talk of inclusion; inviting them to the conversation and work. The Black employee subjected to numerous instances of workplace discrimination since joining the company.
They forgot I was even there?
There are many disturbing actions to unpack from this exchange. Note a snippet of the lengthy apology offered by my peer:
I also jumped into “educator” role, which is a classic white privilege thing to do, and I wish I could take it back. I’m so sorry for my white privilege coming out in this way and not being a listener and learner.
Question: Why are Black employees in majority white workplaces often unseen and unheard by their white peers and leaders?
Are we (Black people) invisible? If you are:
- Black and/or the target of this behavior – what would you do in this situation?
- White and/or an observer of this behavior – what would you do in response to what you’ve seen?
WHAT WOULD AN ALLY DO / #WWAAD