HERdacious

Authenticity Matters

July 12, 2021 HERdacity Season 2 Episode 57
HERdacious
Authenticity Matters
Chapters
1:06
What is code-switching?
6:28
Through the generations
7:35
Why do it?
13:45
The consequences
15:40
Vulnerability
21:40
Perpetuate positivity
28:45
Breaking the cycle
33:05
Femme fact: Edith Garrud
HERdacious
Authenticity Matters
Jul 12, 2021 Season 2 Episode 57
HERdacity

Code-Switching and Vulnerability

In this episode, herdacious host Lorelei chats with Frances Jordan about code-switching in the workplace. Code-switching is the practice of altering behavior, speech, appearance, or expression of oneself to optimize the comfort of others in exchange for fair treatment. On its surface, code-switching might seem a harmless way of operating, however we learn that code-switching reaps consequences of identity erasure that are anything but benign. Frances reframes code-switching as a barrier that represses vulnerability and inhibits us from showing up in the workplace as our most authentic selves. From identifying specific triggers to understanding that no two people share identical experiences, Frances helps us realize that there’s power in showing up honestly if we so choose, just as there’s power in welcoming and respectfully empathizing with our co-workers’ individual experiences. Regardless of race, religion, sexuality, or identity, we’re all here to be the best professionals we can be — and we all deserve to do so as our most authentic selves!

Host: Lorelei Gonzalez
Co-host: Frances Leigh Jordan, Esq.

Frances Leigh Jordan currently works at Notley as the Policy and Social Equity Director. Since law school, she's worked in civil rights, child protection services, and transportation with government agencies. She is an active member of the Austin Stone and has been volunteering with the Austin Justice Coalition since 2016, and currently serves as the Board Chair. She received her bachelor’s degree in political science at Tuskegee University in 2008 and received her Juris Doctor from the University of Kentucky in 2011.

Things you will learn in this episode (chapter markers available):  

  • What is code-switching? 1:06
  • Through the generations 6:28
  • Why do it? 7:35
  • The consequences 13:45
  • Vulnerability 15:40
  • Perpetuate positivity 21:40
  • Breaking the cycle 28:45
  • Femme fact: Edith Garrud 33:05

Resources mentioned in this episode:  

Episode sponsors:  

Looking for additional resources on this topic? Check out our podcast episode with Sam Barrow “Navigating Bias Like a Boss”

Loved what you heard on herdacious and want to share with friends? Tag us and connect with HERdacity on social media:
Twitter: @herdacity
Facebook: @HERdacity
Instagram: @herdacity
LinkedIn: HERdacity 
Email: [email protected]

For up to date information on HERdacity events, webinars, podcasts, and community activities, join our newsletter here

 

Disclaimer: While we appreciate our sponsors' support in making this show possible, herdacious content is curated with integrity and honesty.

Support the show (http://herdacity.org/donate/)

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Code-Switching and Vulnerability

In this episode, herdacious host Lorelei chats with Frances Jordan about code-switching in the workplace. Code-switching is the practice of altering behavior, speech, appearance, or expression of oneself to optimize the comfort of others in exchange for fair treatment. On its surface, code-switching might seem a harmless way of operating, however we learn that code-switching reaps consequences of identity erasure that are anything but benign. Frances reframes code-switching as a barrier that represses vulnerability and inhibits us from showing up in the workplace as our most authentic selves. From identifying specific triggers to understanding that no two people share identical experiences, Frances helps us realize that there’s power in showing up honestly if we so choose, just as there’s power in welcoming and respectfully empathizing with our co-workers’ individual experiences. Regardless of race, religion, sexuality, or identity, we’re all here to be the best professionals we can be — and we all deserve to do so as our most authentic selves!

Host: Lorelei Gonzalez
Co-host: Frances Leigh Jordan, Esq.

Frances Leigh Jordan currently works at Notley as the Policy and Social Equity Director. Since law school, she's worked in civil rights, child protection services, and transportation with government agencies. She is an active member of the Austin Stone and has been volunteering with the Austin Justice Coalition since 2016, and currently serves as the Board Chair. She received her bachelor’s degree in political science at Tuskegee University in 2008 and received her Juris Doctor from the University of Kentucky in 2011.

Things you will learn in this episode (chapter markers available):  

  • What is code-switching? 1:06
  • Through the generations 6:28
  • Why do it? 7:35
  • The consequences 13:45
  • Vulnerability 15:40
  • Perpetuate positivity 21:40
  • Breaking the cycle 28:45
  • Femme fact: Edith Garrud 33:05

Resources mentioned in this episode:  

Episode sponsors:  

Looking for additional resources on this topic? Check out our podcast episode with Sam Barrow “Navigating Bias Like a Boss”

Loved what you heard on herdacious and want to share with friends? Tag us and connect with HERdacity on social media:
Twitter: @herdacity
Facebook: @HERdacity
Instagram: @herdacity
LinkedIn: HERdacity 
Email: [email protected]

For up to date information on HERdacity events, webinars, podcasts, and community activities, join our newsletter here

 

Disclaimer: While we appreciate our sponsors' support in making this show possible, herdacious content is curated with integrity and honesty.

Support the show (http://herdacity.org/donate/)

Sponsor: Today's episode is brought to you by HERdacity. HERdacity is a non-profit inspiring confidence in women to achieve their professional goals. For resources, networking opportunities, and a strong community of women, visit herdacity.org to learn more.

 

Lorelei: Welcome to HERdacious a podcast for audacious women. Greetings everyone, welcome to HERdacious the podcast for audacious women looking to make some career moves. And HERdacious is the podcast to support you in that. My name is Lorelei, the happy host of the show, and today we're gonna be talking about code-switching and a little bit of vulnerability. To help us in this exciting conversation, I have an energetic, passionate people person who loves to tell a story, she's trying to change the world through policy, the Director of Policy and Social Equity at Notley, Frances Jordan, Esq.

 

Frances: Hello, everybody. Happy to be here.

 

Lorelei: Welcome to the show, Frances. We're gonna launch straight into this... What is code-switching?

 

Frances: Alright, code-switching is often considered a survival technique, a tool to help someone seamlessly blend into different social and professional situations, particularly when you are a minority, it could be used consciously, and it can even happen without you noticing. The reason people code-switch is usually because of race, language, class, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation, those are traditionally the reasons.

 

Lorelei: What about women? What ways do women code-switch?

 

Frances: Women code-switch in a way to sometimes reflect a certain view of themselves, so sometimes actually in both ways, when they might want to not seem too demanding or bitchy or they might wanna come off as light and compliant, when in actuality they are a very assertive, direct person. It's this idea that code-switching, you have to change yourself to be accepted, but you can't walk in the room and truly be yourself and so women oftentimes, depending on who they're working for, will go into a situation and be like, "Well, I have to seem like I'm warm and I'm working at that." People should be able to be their authentic self. I'm a true extrovert. Right, so one thing that I've learned, it's mostly because of my mother, who is a true introvert, I never assume that someone's not welcoming a warm or has an attitude because they're not super talkative when I meet them. Like this isn't necessarily code-switching, but the point is, just because someone is not as happy or as excited as I am when I walk in a room, the literally, I don't know anything about that person. So that is why people start to develop these habits and these tactics and these tendencies with code-switching just because of their life experiences.

 

Lorelei: Is this predominantly existent within professional spaces or does it also exist in people's personal lives at the same amount?

 

Frances: It can exist anywhere, but the reality where a lot of the research has been done, it happens a lot in the workplace because people have a view of what they're supposed to be like at work, and when you are in the minority, you're just trying to fit in, unless you're working for a business that's all women or all Black or Latinx, or unless you have that opportunity to work with everyone who looks like you. Feeling like you're always trying to fit in happens more at work than anywhere else.

 

Lorelei: I'm just inferring here that you're not a big fan of code-switching, you know.

 

Frances: No, I'm not. In actuality, you tell us, tell us your truth here, it's one of those things that there... I have friends who code-switch and they don't have a problem code-switching. It's like, this is just the way it is. The way I am at work. Is it the way that I am at home? And for me, first of all, I'm really bad at lying and you just...

 

Lorelei: You think of it as lying?

 

Frances: Yes, because I think some people don't, but for me it is, it's like I should be able to come into work, and I'll just say a little bit of my background is... I'd probably come in with a little bit different view because I worked with civil rights and discrimination right out of law school. And so I talked about race a lot. So I'm gonna talk to you, I have with my white friends personally, we don't get to have a relationship without talking about my race because it's a part of who I am, and so I just learn, thankfully to take that to work, but that's not always the case. In the very early parts of my career, I happened to work for a Black woman and a Black man, and that's one of the reasons that probably caused me to stop code-switching because to this day, they are still the most critical people that I've ever worked for, so I owe a lot to them. But they're much older than me and came from a different background where black people had to be buttoned up, they had to be displayed, they had to save this. I had to dress a certain way. And to me, it's like grammar, it's oppressive. Right, that is oppressive to feel like someone shouldn't have to... You don't want someone coming in looking raggedy and not taking care of themselves, but changing who you are when I'm smart and I am able to provide and do my work, I shouldn't have to operate in a way to please others, and so I think it's so important for people to really feel like they can bring their whole self to work.

 

Lorelei: The work situation that you described with the older Black couple... Generational difference?

 

Frances: Oh, absolutely, I would say at least 30 to 40 years older at that time than I was, and it was at the very beginning of my career. And it definitely transported 'cause you could see how they interacted with people who were white, because I was Black, they were Black, but then seeing how they would interact with white people really made me see like, "Oh, the reason why they're telling me to do this and that it's because they code-switch." And so as I've grown in my career, I think it's really important to find ways to be your authentic self as much as possible, now if it's not safe, like when you're really talking about that vulnerability, sometimes you do have to code-switch because you aren't able to be your whole self, and that's when I tell you, start looking for a new job, LinkedIn is your best friend and get a new one.

 

Lorelei: Let's stay on the topic of generational code-switching for just one second, do you see that often in some of the work that you've done where the generations experience code-switching in such a different way?

 

Frances: I had a boss who would talk about her journey, she was an executive by the time she was my boss, and I was really talking about how she had to leave emotions at the door growing up, and that she wasn't... It wasn't appropriate for her as a woman to really bring her whole self to work and how she's had to learn that mostly because I mean, the higher you get up, you're getting younger people to really see how it's a benefit and it really change and helped her working with women who are more authentic, who showed a motion to develop relationships with people that they worked with so they can have better co-workers and be better and more productive at their job. I think the thing is that when you have that tension, it's like when you think about when you're stressed and your body is all tensed up. That's what code-switching is. It's the tensing of who you are, and nobody wants to sit around with scrunched up shoulders.

 

Lorelei: Some version of a lie.

 

Frances: Yes, exactly.

 

Lorelei: Interesting. Okay. Share some of the reasons, the rationale for why folks utilized code-switching as that tool that you mentioned, for blending in... For coping. For survival.

 

Frances: Okay, I think people have different personal experiences, so I love to talk about how I'm a Black woman, and one of my jobs where we got to hear from people who are LGBTQIA, it wasn't honestly something I'm familiar with, and they talked about how every time they start a new job, they have to do this like, pretending like they're heterosexual thing, because they don't know if the people will accept them. And they were saying it's not so much like this today, but some of these individuals were older and they were talking about 10 years ago, maybe when they were openly gay, but they would say like, "Yeah, you have to do this thing" where they ask you if you're in a heterosexual relationship, and then you don't know if you tell them right then. If you're like, "Well, actually, I don't have a girlfriend, I have a husband." You know, figuring out when you let that go, 'cause sometimes you just don't know from your interviews and starting a new job what your boss is gonna be, and if you really like the job and you like the boss, but maybe you don't know if that boss is actually gonna be accepting and maybe you can do your job and not talk about that. One of the reasons why my experience is different, I've worked in government and I've worked in the private sector, the private sector sometimes people get really close and same, I would assume in a non-profit sector. One of the things that helps with the government is sometimes you're able to be very blocked off, but the reality of this past experience is the number one reason, but it's also the lack of trust, and I don't mean the lack of trust in a negative way, when you first start a job, you can't have trust because you have to build it.

 

Lorelei: That's right. It's earned.

 

Frances: Yes. And so sometimes people might be code-switching simply out of nature and not because you've done anything wrong, yet once again, leading back to the past experiences, so that's why you have to be mindful of when you're dealing with someone that's a minority, that they might be... Stand-off-ish at first. There's this thing... I have some people who've worked at really large companies that I won't name, but they have this "you gotta be happy, you gotta be excited, you gotta be... You have to be this way." And sometimes, especially Black people, people of color, they come off a little reserved at first. Because they have to get to know you, they have to be able to trust you. They can't just show up. And now I say this and I'm the exact opposite, I will show up smiling and happy and ready to go, first day you meet me, I could talk to a wall. But I'm not everybody. Right. And so I'm always constantly telling people, I'll give another example. So for people who don't know, out there, there's this big thing about hair, black people hair, black women hair usually.

 

Lorelei: Natural hair...

 

Frances: Yes, and people who do a lot of different hairstyles, and it's like... When one of your co-workers is like, "Oh, you came in with a new hairstyle." Especially if like you go from braids to curly hair, straight here, right? There are some people who do that, and there are some people who get really irritated by their co-workers.

 

Lorelei: 'Cause of the hair changes?

 

Frances: Because the co-workers are always asking about the hair change.

 

Lorelei: Ah! Right.

 

Frances: They're not letting them like, you know, it's like "your hair's so different today, so different this week," they're just always making a big deal. So that bothers a lot of people. And rightfully so, right? I'm not a spectacle, I'm not something to be monitored or watched, I'm just changing my hair, right. So when I experience something with someone that's white, I'll say, "You know, I really appreciate that, but not every Black person you go on to talk to is gonna appreciate that, so just be mindful." And so I think that is something that's really important for people to understand is that we all are not a monolith, which I know that's a popular saying, but it's true. And so you also have to remember that you can't have the same experiences with everyone. And then a couple other things is to protects your identity, some people are, like I said, are just more protective, and I love to see people's true feelings. One thing that I'll do, especially because I've had jobs that were... You wouldn't necessarily know that I had a law degree, especially when I was in communications and external relations, you wouldn't necessarily equate. When I'm in policy, everybody knows maybe I have a law degree, maybe I don't. It's not that surprising. When I was definitely in communications and community engagement, people don't know, and so I'd be places, I meet people, and then I'd see how they treat me, and then I love... I love, love, love to do this, I would drop that I'm a lawyer. They're like, "Oh," and then their whole body would change... It's very rare that I would value that person's opinion or would wanna work with them or wanna deal with them, because I'm like, "Oh, okay, so that's it." That's probably where I do code-switch, I do like to see how someone's gonna treat me, and it's always surprising when people change their whole body because they're like, "Oh, she's educated."

 

Lorelei: I Have so many comments, I'm not even sure what to say. I love that.

 

Frances: It's a great trick to say.

 

Lorelei: You're giving me Admiral Ackbar moments. "This is a trap." I love that. Okay, we're gonna take this moment to go to a quick sponsor break, we'll be right back.

 

Sponsor: Hi, Barbie here from Moonray, husband and wife indie-pop duo. If you enjoy the intro music, we invite you to listen to our debut EP Honeymoon. Streaming now on all platforms. Visit www.moonray-music.com for more.

 

Lorelei: And we're back with Frances Jordan, talking about code-switching, and we're gonna dig a little bit deeper into code-switching and then start talking about that vulnerability piece. Very exciting. So code-switching, I'm really appreciating how authentic communication is really important to you, I never quite saw code-switching as a lie, it's a very interesting perspective and I really appreciate your feelings on that. It makes me think that there are potential consequences for code switching. How might code-switching affect those who utilize it?

 

Frances: Yeah, so it's exhausting. And it is a distraction. There's been a lot of research done around this fact, there's a Harvard Business Review article that talks about the research and work that really show how it's a dilemma, especially for Black workers and how and what they face, it takes a psychological toll on people when they're actively trying to maneuver and figure out the best way to operate at work. If you think about in an eight-hour work day and part of your day is thinking about... Am I saying the right thing? Am I doing the right thing? It's like frustrating. And if you think about it, we all deal with that, just think about you as a woman, and you're thinking like, "Oh, did I say the right thing, are we doing the right thing for a presentation," that happens naturally. Just imagine if you have to do it just because of your skin or who you love, for all these different reasons that you're doing it simply because of something that's innate about you, and so that is the issue with code-switching. And at the end of the day, it's like, can you imagine having to deal with that emotional toll...

 

Lorelei: Well, it sounds like an extra burden on top of the already burdensome sometimes challenge of being a person of color in America and then in America in the workplace, with all the wonderful institutional and systemic challenges that exist there.

 

Frances: Correct.

 

Lorelei: So I wanna switch gears to talk about vulnerability.

 

Frances: I love it, I'm ready.

 

Lorelei: Of course, I have to quote the Queen, the doctor, the researcher Almighty, of vulnerability, Brene Brown. She defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. So how do we make our work and personal environments better while incorporating vulnerability.

 

Frances: I mean, not to sound like a broken record. But we have to be open. And people are like, "Yeah, I get it," but you have to be willing to talk about what you know, and then you have to talk about what you don't know. And when people are busy talking about these on vulnerable conversations, it's like... That's like the cool thing now, like we gotta get ready for these uncomfortable conversations, but then they have the uncomfortable conversations and they're so uncomfortable and they run, but it's like sometimes this is what I think is so important. You get uncomfortable and you don't get to get uncomfortable, so I think some people wanna have uncomfortable conversations to get comfortable, but sometimes you just are uncomfortable and there isn't a solution, so sometimes you have to ask the questions that maybe you are gonna get a bad response. If you're a white person and you have to just sit in that. If you ask the wrong thing, this is one examples. I've used it. One of my lowest days in life, I was out somewhere with a guy who was, I wanna say he was Nicaraguan, and just true moment, I'm from Kentucky, and most people who are Hispanic or Latinx there are from Mexico. It's just... It is, it's just facts. But when I moved to Texas, and you happen to be around a lot of people who are from all countries, and I just happened to ask the gentlemen if he was Mexican... I don't even remember exactly what we were talking about, but insinuated that he was Mexican, and he gave me a lashing and there was no comfortable moment at any point in that conversation, but he was like, "You have to understand X, Y, and Z about where people can come from" and all this kind of stuff. And it was like, I think that... I think I was out in like a bar or something, and so I was a little taken back, but he was totally right. Just wanna make it clear that sometimes you say your own thing because you are trying to connect and relate, and sometimes it's the wrong thing but connecting sometimes that's just what happens, and I think being vulnerable also allows you to be your real self. So I'm gonna tell little story. After George Floyd had died at that time, I was actually working at a tech company here called Finding Our Voice, and I ran culture and internal communications. And we decided to do... After George Ford died, we decided to do this panel, and I am very authentic with my co-workers, but this was in front of the whole company. And one thing that I do not like to do is I don't like to cry in front of people. Definitely don't like to cry at work. I have watched bosses cry and I look at them and I'm like, "I'm not being very vocal right now," so what really is definitely something that I've grown in, and one of the things that I was worried about hosting this thing for the entire company, which was global, as I was like, "If we do this and I was gonna be the host and moderate the panel," I was like, "I'm gonna cry." And I'll just tell you, we had some Black men on this panel, and that is exactly what they did, and it was probably one of the most beautiful moments that I've ever experienced in my work life and our CFO at the time... One of the Black guys there were on his team, and he was like... "I never would have thought that... " because he told a story about his son who was 17 and was constantly being racially profiled, and the CFO was just like, "I would have never imagined, this is what you have to go through." And so all that to say, yeah, vulnerability is scary.

 

Lorelei: Yeah, it's intense.

 

Frances: And so on. There's nothing wrong with you if you don't wanna engage in it, but you're not gonna make progress, you're not going to really make the impact sometimes with the work that you need, or you're not gonna connect with your team as well as you could. That's what it's really about.

 

Lorelei: When you're talking about that vulnerability, what about the folks who are trying to connect with you and they give you a comparative experience where they're like, "Oh yeah, I had something like that happened to me."

 

Frances: Yes. Now, this actually happens quite a bit, and sometimes it's hard for me to think of examples because I try to block off these examples, but one that actually happens more than you know is around hair. Funny that I mentioned that earlier, especially as a Black woman with curly hair, this probably happened in my earlier days where there was some white women with curly hair who would relate to like... There is a lot of identity issues with Black women and hair, and it's a very cultural thing, and if I've never talked about it and trying to share something emotional about when it comes to hair, and then to have... And here's the thing, it's not necessarily fair for me to assume that they can't relate, but sometimes when it comes to Black women who have not gotten jobs because of their hair, who've lost jobs or who people don't take seriously because they have locks or because they have curly hair. Now, when I came in the workforce I wore wigs, straight haired wigs, so that I could get jobs. So when someone's talking to me about how their hair is curly, I'm thinking how many jobs has it hurt you from getting... How many times have you had to straighten your hair so that you would get the job. Now, maybe your hair looks better straight or you feel more confident in your straight hair, but back then, it wasn't bad, you would not get a job because of you're curly hair, and so that's one of the examples that happens where I'm just like, "I hear you, I know that you understand. 'Cause you have curly hair, but it's not quite the same thing, you're not gonna not get hired potentially just because of your hair," which we know people are still passing laws to not have discrimination against Black women's hair.

 

Lorelei: That's right. Alright, so how can we as professionals, as professional women, start to break down some of the barriers in our specific work environments that can perpetuate code-switching amongst our peers?

 

Frances: So yeah, let's talk about a couple... I'm gonna be paraphrasing some stuff from this Harvard Business Review article, one main thing is avoiding the negative stereotypes associated with Black identity, you wanna make sure you help Black employees be seen as leaders and feeling like they can be their authentic self at work. Expressing shared interests around people who are different ethnicities or minority groups, but showing the similarity so that you can see. Say like you have a very respectable leader and who's in the majority is white, and really take the opportunity to really show how maybe they are in a line or at the same level of leadership as someone who's Black, it's this idea of promoting people of color, and I don't mean like promotion-wise, I'm talking about voting. Examples that people should emulate, the more experience that people have for people who are different than them, the more they can carry that forward, the more that I know what I meet someone who is Black and I appreciate them for who they are, and I'm not gonna ask them something about fried chicken or watermelon. I have within the last two years, been asked about stuff and I'm like, "Are you asking this question because I'm Black?" You wanna be able to figure out how to treat people and ask them questions, engage with them, and not be about the race.

 

Lorelei: Not perpetuating something that's negative, but perpetuating something that's positive. Like Gosh, we both love our cats.

 

Frances: I do love my cat.

 

Lorelei: Thank you.

 

Frances: So I think that that's so important. And like I said, I think it's also one of those things that there is this idea with vulnerability and code-switching that I did wanna bring up, that sometimes people try too hard and they might ask a question that's really inappropriate. I think we have to be mindful though, of when we're talking about vulnerability and code-switching to make sure you're in a safe place, make sure you ask someone if they feel comfortable talking about their race in the workplace or any other minority group. Some people, as I mentioned earlier, aren't as comfortable, and so you might have a person that doesn't want to dig deep about some of their struggles, and so I think that's really important that they don't have to want to speak about their experiences, they might not have to wanna talk about their sexuality, they might want it to be off limits, and that goes in with this conversation. People should feel comfortable enough to be like, "You know what, man, I think that's something that is coming out of this, this movement where we're talking about race and among other things," where it's like, everybody doesn't have to engage. Everyone's not comfortable, everyone doesn't want to tell you that their brother got arrested because he was racially profiled and he's a doctor at the hospital, you know what I mean? Everyone doesn't have to want to share that, but for people who do... Let's make it a welcoming place. Let's make sure people are comfortable and aren't busy trying to code-switch their life away.

 

Lorelei: It's like one of the bigger tenants of allyship, right. Consent, we have to ask if these things are okay, we have to ask if you wanna have that conversation... If you wanna have a conversation with me, if you wanna have that conversation with me right now.

 

Frances: Yes. And then we have to be willing to say it. I'm like, "No, I don't wanna have this conversation with you." And then remember, the biggest thing... I can't believe I haven't said this yet... It's not about you, sometimes it's just not about you. And sometimes someone doesn't wanna talk to you and it has nothing to do with you, it's not because you're a bad human being or because you're wrong or it's just that person, you don't know what they've experienced, I think that was true when we did that panel at my last job, we had someone who was a great speaker and everybody in the company knew her and it would have made a deep impact had she been able to be on the panel. She just didn't want to. Right.

 

Lorelei: Boundaries, yeah. We have to respect people's boundaries, and they're coming from a variety of experiences that we cannot assume.

 

Frances: Yeah, I would say our CEO at my last company, he was... Was pretty awesome. When this stuff happened, he's an older white guy from Ireland, and honestly, y'all, this was the first time he'd never called me on the phone, and he called, and was like, "Hey, what are we doing?" I was probably the most high-profile Black person at my company, but one thing that I really was super, super touched by... It was very important for him for the company, not to rush and talk about... But for those of you who know, and I don't wanna butcher this, so I'm sorry, but Google is your friend, if I get some of this wrong. But you know, people who are Irish have a history of being mistreated by the English people, and so... I love that we were on the phone and he was talking about how he was like, I can't speak about this as a white man born in Ireland, but he was like, "I can't understand, but I understand a little bit because the kids were starved and things really horrible things happened to the Irish people," and when people know this history. And he was saying like, that's my experience, and even though I have this pain, I don't wanna use that as an example when it comes to Black identity and that kind of... That's what we want people to resonate, his story, and that pain and trauma, that's real, and we don't want to lessen it. But he understood as a white man and CEO in America, that that wasn't the most appropriate. But he did tell me that story to understand like, I want whatever is best for this group of people, and it was super, super powerful, and that's the kind of vulnerability we want our leaders, our non-leaders, regular folk, employees, that's what we want people to be bold about.

 

Lorelei: That's beautiful, I'm super happy that you had an amazing leader like that during such a challenging time, it makes me want to share another thing from Brene Brown. She has an incredible quote that says, "staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take, if we want to experience connection." And he was connecting with you in a very respectful way.

 

Frances: Yes. And I think to add, it takes experience, right.

 

Lorelei: Right. It takes getting it wrong.

 

Frances: Yeah, exactly, and that's what I mean, like half of the battle is being willing to engage. Right, I get that sometimes people are tired and so they don't wanna be the speaker of it, but when a friend comes to me and like, "Well, I was thinking this," even sometimes if I am tired, I try to go out of my way to educate and share for that reason.

 

Lorelei: That's very kind of you. To continue the kindness, help the folks out there who wanna be better allies to folks in a minority of any given setting, how can we help break the cycles of this cultural survival technique that has been born out of the need to blend.

 

Frances: You become a better ally by being intentional. So when I was telling the story about the... We have these unconscious conversations... And the topic was LGBTQIA, and they were telling the story about how you shouldn't assume when you have a new employee, don't ask them if they have a girlfriend or a boyfriend, or like you assume if it's of the opposite sex, and that has radically changed. In January, when I started this new job, I was super cognizant of it. And when I hear other people say it, even will try to correct, because it's important that someone's able to do go into the workplace, and if they're not ready to reveal that about them, they shouldn't have to... And we ask that, we talked about that, talk to people who live that experience, and so you just have to engage in that. And so I think it's the same way when it comes to race, is really understanding what are the triggers? You really do have to figure out sometimes what the triggers are, and I'm not gonna ask you to be a master scientist and know all the triggers, but just be cognizant that sometimes triggers happen. So I used to be president of this organization in Austin, Texas called the Young Women's Alliance, and one thing I used to talk a lot about then, 'cause I was only the second person to be president that was Black. So we have these things called speaker series, it's a professional organization, by the way, if you're interested, you should Google them, but people often come to our speaker series and feel like they're new and they don't know people and they feel very alone and they feel like, "Oh, no one likes me," it's very much like you almost feel like you're in high school or some sorority, and as much as we talk about. And we would talk about in our board meetings about how people of color feel that 10 times worse because when they're walking into that room and someone's not talking to them, they don't know if they've never been here, especially because it's a majority white organization, not only do they feel that way. Every woman feels like, "I don't know anybody yet. How do I get connected?" But in a Black woman or someone that's Indian, whatever nationality is, they may think, "Oh, no one's talking to me because I'm Black," and that's something that people have to remember is that sometimes minorities, depending on their experiences, whatever situation, to the way I walk into the room, they're thinking like, "How are they viewing me, how do they see me?" And if their experiences have have been traumatic, they're like, "How can I be as little Black as I can possibly be?" No, that's not what we want. We want people to be like, to walk into the room and recognize that they're Black and it's a benefit. It is an addition, it is a cultural additive to be who I am, and especially women, if you're a woman that's going into a board room and it's just you and everybody else is man, you wanna be able to walk in there and be like, "I'm the only woman, and I'm gonna be myself." And that's valuable.

 

Lorelei: Gosh, it's beautiful, thank you so much for that. To wrap this incredible, incredible episode, share some resources that our listeners can go check out, if they wanna continue their journey around vulnerability and code-switching and getting more authentic and intentional with themselves.

 

Frances: Yeah, if you like podcasts 'cause you're listening to this, there is one called Code-Switching which is super, super popular. But I would really encourage people to go check out this Harvard Business Review article, which I called up a little bit. It's called "The Cost of Code-Switching," and I recommend that article because you can read a lot about what code-switching is. But I think the costs are what really kind of trigger people into understanding why, 'cause some people might be listening and still being like, I don't see what the problem is, you're just operating in a different way. I think reading that Harvard Business Review article is just really important and it's free, you can read it, you don't have to own the journal. For those who like fiction, there's this book called "Cane" from 1923. It's one of the older books, if you're into a non-fiction kind of thing, you actually can check that out too. And then there's two other books I'm gonna recommend, "Articulate While Black" and "The Elephant Brain."

 

Lorelei: Excellent. We will be sure to list all of those resources in our show notes. Thank you. So to transition to the end of our episode, we're gonna do our femme fact. Frances, are you familiar with the Karate Kid?

 

Frances: Yes.

 

Lorelei: Which version?

 

Frances: The original...

 

Lorelei: You know they made a remake?

 

Frances: Yeah, yeah they did.

 

Lorelei: So for those of you who haven't seen the Karate Kid, basically it goes like this, either Jaden Smith or Ralph Macchio, depending on which version you saw, moves to a new city with his mom, ends up meeting his neighborhood's secret Kung Fu master and the kid becomes weirdly good at karate in like a really short span of time. He ends up winning an incredible martial arts tournament against his arch nemesis, the local bully, and the rest is like cinematic history. Frances, have you ever heard of the Jiu jitsu suffragette?

 

Frances: No.

 

Lorelei: Excellent, excellent. So this might sound like a movie or some sort of remake of the Karate Kid, but I promise you, the jiu jitsu suffragette is a real person, and she happens to go by the name of Edith Garrud. Edith Garrud was born in 1872 in Somerset, England, where she lived until 1893, when she moved to Wales. There, married William Garrud who was a gymnastics, boxing, and wrestling instructor. In 1899, both Edith and her partner were introduced to an up and-coming form of self-defense, which was spreading across England at the time. During the late 1800s, in the early 1900s, a person by the name of Edward William Barton Wright, lots of names there, and they all seemed like a first name, had been traveling throughout Europe teaching what we'd come to know as to jiu jitsu. Barton Wright and the Garruds crossed paths during the period of time and the Garruds were so fascinated with this form of jiu jitsu that five years later they enrolled in a jiu jitsu school. And so less than a decade later, the owner and founder of the same school ended up moving away, leaving the operation and curriculum of the school in the hands of the Garruds. William became the school's manager while Edith became the women's and children's class instructor.

 

Now, Edith developed such a love of teaching jiu jitsu that she expanded her audience beyond their Soho School. The Garruds worked to spread the knowledge of jiu jitsu by hosting exhibitions throughout Europe. So imagine like buskers in busy cities, but without the music and quite a bit more violent. Edith specifically try to educate and market jiu jitsu to women, and did so by creating the suffragettes self-defense club, a club exclusive only to members of the Suffragette Movement and the WSPU or the women's social and political union, which is just a fancy long English way of saying suffragettes in England. Some of you might recall that we did a femme fact a while back about English suffragette and how intense some of those protests and events got... You might remember things like harassment, arson and a pinch of property destruction and some good old fashion police brutality and subsequent death. So that caused a lot of women to feel a greater need to protect themselves during these times. Jiu jitsu was embraced by many of the suffragettes and suffrage-jitsu was born. Following the particularly violent events of the Black Friday protest, in which one historian noted that the police had intentionally attempted to subject the women to sexual humiliation in a public setting to teach them a lesson, Edith became thoroughly invested in teaching her jiu jitsu curriculum to suffrage groups, and I mean exclusively to suffragettes. She saw the need for these women to be able to protect both themselves and their politics, she praised the utility of jiu jitsu as being the perfect tool for suffragettes given that the martial art's primary techniques entails using the force of the attacker against themselves. It was an excellent support tool for suffragettes to continue figuratively and literally fighting for the vote. Armed with jiu jitsu, these suffragettes continued fighting for the vote, which was ultimately secured after World War I. Suffragettes helped a country of women who weren't afraid of a fight to feel more confident and secure in their ability to protect themselves and their sisters during their struggle, and I think it's safe to say that these misogyny fighting jiu-jitsu ladies drink their tea with a very special finger out, and I don't mean their pinkies. Frances, you feel like learning some jiu jitsu?

 

Frances: Absolutely.

 

Lorelei: Well, this has been an incredible conversation. Thank you so much for bringing the topic of code-switching and vulnerability to HERdacious today.

 

Frances: Thank you for having me. I was glad to be here.

 

Lorelei: We were very glad to host you in this conversation. If HERdacious seems like your cup of tea, please subscribe or follow us and share our show with one of your female fighting friends. You're also welcome to send us an email to herdacious [at] herdacity [dot] org. So until next time, get those pinkies out, we got just the tea for you. 

What is code-switching?
Through the generations
Why do it?
The consequences
Vulnerability
Perpetuate positivity
Breaking the cycle
Femme fact: Edith Garrud