White Privilege Awareness Week: Rushing into White Supremacy by Anna Martin and Betsy Block

Hello fellow humans. My name is Anna Martin (she/her). I am an Evaluator, Social Worker, Facilitator, Complexity Coach, curious mischief maker and co-founder of Picture Impact. And I’m Betsy Block (she/her). I’m a Systems Coach & Capacity Builder who works with emerging management teams.

What would it feel like to have a relationship with time that was not dripping with scarcity and soaked in hurry? We yearn for this. And what awakens when you understand that acting out of a sense of urgency is rooted in white supremacy culture? Can you embrace the relief in ditching deeply felt personal and relational harm that continually living within a white supremacist sense of urgency creates?

Time is an ever present concept in consulting and conducting evaluations. We notice time shows up in ways that do not encourage a healthy engagement, but instead treat time as scarce and as a capitalist commodity. Having a sense of time that roots in sayings like “time is money” and ‘time waits for no one” and “you may delay, but time will not” leads to all sorts of practices that are both common and potentially harmful or ineffective. For example:

  • Evaluation RFPs that ask for unrealistic timelines which can only be met by cutting corners.
  • People and projects in pain rush to solutions instead of spending time and energy in the mess.
  • Sense-making that doesn’t give space to integration of thinking and marginalized voices, that rely on heuristics and allow implicit bias to impact our interpretation.
  • Can you think of others?

ANNA: I am one of the main offenders in buying into the lie that there is not enough time, and that faster is better—I get sucked in by all of it. And it HURTS. I feel bad about myself, like I am never enough. I get trapped by black and white thinking. I cut myself off from flows of energy in order to just produce. My sense of urgency undercuts exactly what I most want: to be of use and in connection with others.

BETSY: As a solopreneur, I wholly own deliverables to my client, and that puts me often in feeling the need to be linear and sequential in my thinking. I risk failing to let in the kind of light that my projects often need to honor different values and different perspectives.

Lessons Learned

  • Find a phrase or keyword that teams can use to call each other out whenever the sense of urgency crops up. Noticing is the first step to choosing something different.
  • Have a brave conversation with your staff about balance working specific hours versus delivering value.
  • Breathe. No really, pausing for breath reconnects us to our body and the wisdom and expansiveness of our own breathing and physical interaction with the world around us.

Rad Resources

  • How to do nothing, by Jennifer Odell
  • The Bias of ‘Professionalism’ Standards by Aysa Gray
  • Implicit Association Test
  • 30 second meditation to find a pause in your work and help expand your thinking

The American Evaluation Association is hosting White Privilege Week with some of our colleagues who are working on undoing internalized white supremacy. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this AEA365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the AEA365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an AEA365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to AEA365@eval.org. AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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