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Episode 067: A Conversation on Shared Sisterhood with Dr. Tina Opie, Part 2

Dr. Tina Opie Podcast Episode 66

In Part Two of their conversation, Sarah Noll Wilson and guest Dr. Tina Opie continue to explore the lessons and themes of Shared Sisterhood, and Dr. Opie introduces the practices of DIG and BRIDGE.

 

About Our Guest

Dr. Tina Opie is an Associate Professor of Management, and an award-winning teacher and researcher, consultant and speaker. She is the founder of Opie Consulting Group LLC, where she advises large firms in the financial services, entertainment, media, beauty, educational, and healthcare industries. Her research has appeared in such outlets as O Magazine, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and Harvard Business Review and she has been published in multiple academic journals. She is also a regular commentator on Harvard Business Review’s Women at Work podcast and Greater Boston’s NPR affiliate television station WGBH.

Website | LinkedIn | Twitter & IG: @DrTinaOpie

resources mentioned

Transcript

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Hello, and welcome to this week’s episode of Conversations on Conversations, where each week we explore a topic to help us have more powerful conversations with ourselves and others. I’m your host, Sarah Noll Wilson. And this week, we’re continuing our conversation with Dr. Tina Opie from last week, where we explore her book Shared Sisterhood, and discuss topics like bias and diversity and ways we can show up differently. I hope you enjoy. 

 

So talk to us about these practices of digging and bridging. Because you know, and you say this in your book, even though the book is focused on, specifically, you know, relationships between black women and white women, really, these are tools that are effective in bridging any kind of relationships. And so so let’s start with digging.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Yeah, so dig is an introspective practice where you examine your own beliefs, assumptions, thoughts. So you literally take them and for those, you know, if this is an idea, or a thought you would hold it up, like sort of attach it from yourself and say, What is this? How did I come to define things in this way? I can, and I’ll use this is a, I’m taking a risk here, I’m making myself vulnerable, sharing a story of where I had to dig. So when my son who’s turning 21 this year, was probably four or five is pre-K, he had a temperature and couldn’t go to school. But he was really, he felt fine, but he couldn’t go to school, and I was working on my dissertation, or on my PhD. And I didn’t know how I was going to meet this deadline. I’m like, I need to tire this boy out. So I want to go to the park. Go to the park, the park is packed. And I’m shocked because it’s like one o’clock and like everybody supposed to be at work, then I notice. A lot – wait a minute, these women seem to be short in stature. They’re brown and they have long black straight hair. I’m like, are these people supposed to be here? I think, I don’t even, is this legal? Why are they taking up my? So these are the thoughts that are coming in my mind. And I always say people deny having bias, which is a lie. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Bias is like birds. They will fly through your mind. Just don’t let them nest there. So they’re gonna, so if the birds flew through my head, but rather than letting them nest there, rather than being emboldened by that bias and going up to a woman and saying, Do you belong here? This is my swing, get out of my park. Are you here illegally? I didn’t do any of that. I called my husband. I said, Honey, I’m such a racist. I cannot believe that these thoughts went in my head. Then I began to dig. Why did that come into my mind (snaps) in a millisecond? I realized, okay, so the face of illegal immigration, undocumented people is often people of Latinx descent or Hispanic descent. They often show women, women with children, or they’ll show men. Remember when the prior president talked about caravans? Like there’s so, there’s a narrative, which is just so infuriating, but there’s this narrative of people trying to steal, cheats, cut the line, get in and get something for nothing. That had been embedded in my mind. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

And so I had to then say, Okay, well, what – Tina, educate yourself on immigration. What’s going on? Then I started to do all the research and finding out about how our government favors people from lighter skinned companies, countries, like they have this thing where they value certain kinds of occupations more than others, certain countries more than others, which explains why if there is turmoil, which by the way the United States government may have contributed to causing in another country, people from these countries may be, feel compelled to protect their family, to protect their life. If I had children in another country, and I was trying to figure out how to feed them. I might cross something illegally. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Like, you know what I’m saying? I mean, let’s just be, if you are that desperate, people are not walking across a river, just because – they’re not lazy. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

No.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

They’re not. There’s desperation in their eyes and in their stories. And there’s a system that is preventing people from being able to come as readily as they might like, that’s what digging is. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

So the bias is that you recognize the bird. You examine it, you don’t let it nest, you definitely do not act upon it. You examine why that bird flew through your mind and then you redress that, you educate yourself and then you’re ready to bridge. So you know if if – when I have had – Beth and I have talked about digging when it comes to racio ethnicity, one of the reasons why I introduced – because dig and bridge that came up, I’m a person who likes to, I’m a visionary, so I sometimes will act before I’ve thought everything through. So I did this post on Facebook in a mom’s group. I was like Hey, who will be interested in a Shared Sisterhood workshop? Just an hour and a half, two hours. Over 100 women wanted to come. I can only have like 30 because it was in the yoga place. So we pick all the women, but then I realized, Okay, girl, now you gonna have this workshop, what are you going to say? And so I had to come up with a way to quickly explain how I thought women of different races or ethnicities were talking past each other. But first we needed to interrogate. So that’s how I came up with the idea of dig. I had a shovel. I was like, we need to get beneath all that crap that we hear about each other. Then we need, then we can bridge. Sometimes people, I’ve had white women who’ve tried to bridge with me before they’ve done dig work. And they can actually cause harm. You know, I, women have, Can I touch your hair? No. I’m not a museum piece. I’m not an animal. I get it. You’re curious about what my hair feels like? Because it’s different. But have you ever read, have you ever read about black woman’s hair? Have you ever? I mean, people have, strangers have touched my hair, and I will rub their chin. I’ll go (rubs chin). And immediately, it’s jarring. And that’s (snaps) what needs to happen. So before you try to connect with someone, you have to dig, you have to ask, why do I want to connect with this person? Is it just because they’re black? 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Is it just because they’re gay? Is it just because whatever, they’re a man or a woman. And if it’s only that, I would encourage you to do more research on that particular group that you’re interested in. Follow some people on social media, watch documentaries, watch movies made by, our social networks are so racially homogenous. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

And there’s such an opportunity to learn. Now, my white girlfriends who are close to me have, they can touch my hair. I mean, it’s soft, it feels like cotton. You know, it’s, they know that. But it’s a totally different situation where there’s someone, a stranger who comes up and it’s like when pregnant women are pregnant, sometimes strangers will rub the belly. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

But it feels even more intrusive, because it’s my head. And there’s so much history around black people being patted on the head, rub them ahead, like little kids, when they’re 80 years old. So anyway, I digress.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

You can digress all the way. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

(laugh)

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

That was, I was gonna say that was, that was one of the parts of the book that I was like, oh, shit, I’ve done that. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Right.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Like, I, you know, like, I’ve tried to, I think I may have done it this week, right? Where, like, I, you know, saw somebody in a session and was like, trying to build a relationship with them, you know, because they were the only I could tell that they were the only you know, black person in the session. And, and I was like, oh, like, it didn’t feel right. Right? Like I could just tell. And I was like, and when I was rereading some of the sections that I had highlighted from my first read of your book, I was like, well, shit there. Yep. I was trying to bridge without digging, I was trying to, right, and, you know, and, and whether that is, because sometimes I think, and you, you said this in that section too, of like, you can think you’re the exception. (chuckles) 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Yes, Beth talked about that.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Like, as a white woman, you can think you’re the exception. And like, because I know what, you know, one of the most, and I’ll give. I am so fortunate, and I know she will listen to this, but a good friend of mine and colleague, Stephanie – I’m so grateful. I’ll just say that. I’m so grateful for her willingness to take risks with me. To helped me see things. And you know, and she’s the one who really pushed me one time of like, are you doing this because you want to help or are you doing this because you want to be seen as a good white person? 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Yeah. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

And I was like, god dammit. Like – 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Yep.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yep. Hadn’t even considered that. Right? 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Yeah. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

But it was true,

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Yeah. Well, our egos are – I think people lie to themselves. Oh, I just did. It was selfless. Girl, you’re the worst person. I suspect you. You’re the one who did it. Because we shouldn’t deny our egos. I mean, all of us have egos. All of us may engage in hubris at times. So I think it’s important to pause long enough to see that, but I do want to say that sometimes people want to dig and dig and dig and dig and for the sake of digging, so they educate themselves, but they never tried to bridge. Or they never tried to apply what they’ve learned. And we saw a lot of that in the summer of racial reckoning, or when George Floyd and others were murdered. There were so many white women who went out and bought –

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

All the books.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

How To Be An Antiracist, White Fragility. And they, I, they marked it up, they read it, and they digged and they felt better about themselves. But they didn’t take it to work. They did not help people and part of the challenge is, you may have tried to bridge before you did dig. But there’s something to be said about making the effort and then realizing okay, I needed to dig more, because what I don’t want is people to feel like they have to stay in the dig phase for five years before they try to bridge.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah, yeah.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Because it’s an iterative process. You’ll dig. And then you try to bridge. You’re like, Oh, God, I totally forgot. Okay, now let me go back and dig. Okay, let me bridge. Okay, let’s dig. And then what you’re trying to do, because if you had the opportunity to go back to that person, the black person you tried to reach out to, say you see them again. Or maybe you send them an email, maybe you say, you know what, I don’t know you, you don’t know me. But et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And I really wanted to apologize for approaching you in the way that I did, whatever. I would love to get to know you better, blah, blah, blah. And maybe they reach out. Maybe they don’t. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah, yeah. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

But the idea is to begin practicing these tools, of assessing ourselves and rather than you, because because what can happen in those situations, they’re like, she was just standoffish. I’m fine. I was friendly, I was –

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Sure. Right. I did it. I’m the good person. Right? Like, –

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Da ta da da. Yeah.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

That reinforces like, I’m the, I’m the white hero.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Yeah. And that was just angry person, they were just an angry black person that – so it’s, we have to catch ourselves when we’re in, I mean, it’s the process of being human. I hate to say it, but categorize. We use heuristics to sort people to decide who we want to talk to. We’d like to validate ourselves. So we look for confirming information rather than information that would challenge our beliefs about ourselves even. So when we’re confronted with information, my children told me that I was mean, and I was like, no, I’m not. I’m funny. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

(laughs) 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Then I was like, what do they mean? I need to actually probe deeper. And I’m sorry, then I get into the generational thing. I’m like, yeah, I mean, because I didn’t give you all a trophy. That’s not happening. Anyway, so but it’s an opportunity to learn more about what they’re saying, again, we don’t have to agree. But the process of investigating those thoughts and learning more as I try to develop a relationship, even with my children, is a critical step. So so once you’ve done dig, then you’re ready to bridge. Bridge about connecting with people who are different than you, censoring the value of equity, where you demonstrate the, we’ve been talking about risk taking vulnerability, trust, and empathy. And each of those four things are necessary but not sufficient –

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

For an authentic connection. So it’s, when people – you know, I define authenticity as when your internal experience aligns with your external expression. And both of those are aligned with your deeply held values. So I commonly use the example of, so I don’t curse, right, I used to curse like a sailor, and I’m actually a sailors daughter. But when I went, when I give somebody the finger in the car, that’s not me being authentic. That’s me being upset at the man who I let go, and who gave me the finger. So I responded, but if I had time to slow down, I wouldn’t do that. Because then I was like, Lord, what if this man shows up at church on Sunday, and I’m up here preaching the Mother’s Day sermon, and he is like, That’s the girl who gave me the bird.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

(laughs)

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

So that’s not me being authentic. That’s me being emotionally immature, carried away, etc. etc. Angry. So being able to develop a relationship where you can have those conversations because you know, I’m a Christian, Beth’s an atheist. We’ve had lots of conversations, where we don’t see eye to eye. But we respect each other. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

And we’ve taken – I have a, I have a friend who I worked with before and she’s a gay woman. She doesn’t like to be called a lesbian, but we,` she will ask me questions about racio ethnicities and ask her questions about the LGBTQ community and if any of those were taped, we will both be sent to Siberia, sent away because we are asking about the birds that fly through our heads and it’s safe for us to do there but you know, and sometimes it feels as though even sharing that a bird flew through your brain is enough to get you annihilated and I don’t like that. That is really concerning to me that if you – it feels like there’s thought police on, on – now see I’m, it’s not a both sides issue. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

I’m sorry. Some of the fascism that I see is not equivalent to these things.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

No. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

But I hav,e some of my progressive friends. I’m like, so you’re telling me that because I’m a Christian, I’m a what? Like, you know what I’m saying? 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah, yeah.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

So I think we have to begin to examine ourselves and I am sick, so I have a lot more affiliations with people in that camp than I do with people who are right wing, evangelical and, you know, evangelical Christians may identify as Christian I don’t identify with what 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Jesus they’re worshipping, I don’t recognize.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

That point about being able to interigate it and name it. You know, it’s interesting because I feel like, I feel like for me, it’s it’s just been a fairly recent thing. And only with people, right, that are like really close to me. You know, I remember there was just recently, you know, there was, I live in suburbia. Right? Like I moved from a very racially diverse neighborhood to one that it’s not. And Nick and I were walking and there’s this new family that just moved into this really, like, one of the nicest houses on the block, right? And it’s, and it’s, I don’t know, for sure, but I think they’re Hispanic. And I told Nick, I was like, damn, I just had a racist thought, like, I just, the bird flew by. And I was like, I literally had the thought of like, oh, are they just like keeping an eye on the house? Or did they buy the house? And I was like, man. And, and what I realized is like, I don’t know that a year or two ago, two or three years ago, even if I would have felt safe or comfortable, or maybe I would have even caught it, would it have just, I don’t even know what I would have done with it. But I think there is a lot of power for us to go like, man. Yeah, I said that. And I don’t like that. And now I’m going to interrogate. Like you said, like, where did that come from? And even just to name it. I love, I love that visual of like, the birds gonna fly through, just don’t let it nest. Sometimes they nest and we don’t realize it. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Yeah. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

And so and having that space to be able to share openly and and say, wow, I just had that. And it, because that’s one of the things that you, you talk about earlier in your book, about this idea of how so often when we are presented with information that is in maybe conflict with our sense of moral self, right, that we can default to, to denial, deflection, avoidance.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Defensiveness.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah, defensiveness, and I really appreciate it what you wrote, which was, you know, sisters are encouraged to choose reparative actions that emphasize their willingness to listen and change. Overall self image is threatened. Making yourself vulnerable in moments of failure, alas, is difficult, but it’s that vulnerability, that that’s what’s needed. And I and I know as a, again, speaking, as a white woman, in my lived experience, that that fear of messing up of like perfectionism, and having to sort of right size that the thing that I think about is like I have to right size my discomfort, because my discomfort in no way compares to the pain and suffering of, right, and how do we navigate that? And so I just curious to get your thoughts.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Yeah. And I think the way to illustrate my thoughts is to share a story. So I am, I’m a very emotional person, meaning I will cry at a commercial at the drop of a hat. But of course, when I’m doing this work, I keep, I am often facilitating a conversation, so I don’t get into, I keep my emotions in check. But there was one time I have a Shared Sisterhood Facebook group. And for a time we were meeting like once a week, we were having these really deep conversations. And I was asking people, specifically white women, to use their power on behalf of members of historically marginalized groups. And this one white woman said, well, you know, I’m afraid to do that. And so I started asking her why and what what it came down to is wanting to be liked and wanting to be seen as nice. And I burst into tears. Because it was, I was like, do you realize that I don’t even expect people to like me at work. Like, I just don’t want to go into a hostile work environment, where people are actively seeking to harm me. Being disliked is a Thursday. Like, that’s just a regular day. And if you if white women are waiting for the moment where they feel like they’re nice and liked to say something, then it’s hopeless, because you’re never going. I mean, what do you what do you say, I feel like I’ve reached the top of my likeness scale. So now I can start engaging in collective action. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

(laughs) Oh my god.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

It’s, it’s sort of like, I mean, for some people money. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

How much is enough? I haven’t reached that point yet. When I do. I’ll let you know. It’s the same thing with wanting to be liked or being nice. And I just felt so hopeless in that moment. Because I’m, you know, we’re baring our hearts and souls, we’ve been having these weekly conversations. And she’s like, I just want to be liked and I was like, Oh, my god, because there’s nothing that I can say to you that will make you focus on another path if what your primary concern is, is being liked and nice. There’s a quote of what is, you know, history makers were not – I can’t remember what it is, but it’s basically like nice girls never made history.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Right. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Or something like that. And in that moment I lost it. And that really moved, they were like, oh my gosh, because that’s rare for that to happen with me in a context like that, but that’s how I feel. I feel as, I 100% agree with you that my discomfort of raising an issue or if someone tells me that I am, I made a religious mistake, the discomfort that I feel when that’s pointed out to me, in no way compares to Islamophobia. It just, it doesn’t, you know, after 9/11 people were having, being attacked, being violently, having, you know, having their houses – being afraid for their safety. That little situation pales in comparison. And I’m using myself as an example because I do think sometimes people say, oh, she’s a black woman, oh, I need to differ. Listen, we all have areas of our lives, where we may be historically power dominant and historically marginalized. Now, all of those identities are not equal. And I’m sorry, I focus a lot on racio ethnicity. Because in this country, that has been the basis of a lot of the inequities that we have, and black people built this country and I will standby that. I will continue to stand by that, we have never been received our just due and we are still fighting just to be seen as full humans.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah, you know, one, DiDi Delgado, she, she runs an organization DoneForDiDi. And the first time I was introduced to her work she had put a post out that sort of stopped me in my tracks. And it was, the gist of it was white people benefit from oppression, and they benefit from the undoing of oppression. Right? And that is so true. I’ve experienced that where people are like, “What are you doing Iowa white girl talking about?” You know, like, and, and I’m like, o`h, I’ve just benefited from trying to push against my own, right, like racist DNA, like, I’ve just benefited from that and like,

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

But you don’t have racist DNA. So –

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Oh no, thank you for that. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Because, because we have to be careful because I why people interpret it where they think that we’re saying white people are born racist. No. Tere’s nothing wrong with being white. It is whiteness, whiteness, in the sense of that being a hierarchy of race where white is at the top and black is at the bottom. That is the problem. That’s the problem. It is not being white, white people are not born racist. Okay. But what happens is, you’re engrafted into a system that privileges white skin. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

And as a result, you know, I heard someone I don’t, I can’t remember her name. I think it was on Tik Tok, or Instagram or something. And she said, she had a parent who got really upset with her because she was talking about white privilege. And she said, let’s think about people with disabilities. I don’t have a disability. So I may have struggled in life. But it wasn’t because I didn’t have a disability. You see what I’m saying? Like so say, I could not walk and I need a wheelchair. There’s so many buildings with no ramps, but steps. So I have an advantage because I can walk. And it doesn’t mean that I don’t have disadvantage because a class or something else. But the disadvantage that I have is not because I can walk. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

That’s not the problem. But for other people, the disadvantage is they cannot walk. And so they’re seeing the system, what they see is steps, they see difficulty. When my husband, sometimes he’ll park in the driveway in such a way that it blocks a sidewalk, I’m like, move on the street or move in the driveway. But you can’t block the sidewalk because there could be somebody with a wheelchair. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah, yeah.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Or a stroller, who doesn’t want to go – I mean, we live in an area where it would be fine. But you see what I’m saying? You don’t want to force somebody to have to go into the busy road when they can have a sidewalk. A paved sidewalk. So anyway, I –

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

No, no, no, no. I really appreciate you pushing on that language and clarifying that just to make sure that I’m articulating that accurately because I think that’s the, the, you know, it’s like the – yeah, I mean, it is the system, we are just, we were just interviewing, Neha Sampat. And she was like it’s the system. It’s the system. It’s the system. Like that’s part of the like – and recognizing how that permeates your beliefs about yourself, about the world, right? All of that. .

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Yeah. The challenge is, it’s the system, it’s the system, it’s the system, but the system is us. The system –

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah, exactly.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

We have put the system in place, we benefit or we’re oppressed or whatever from the system. It is going to take individuals to change the system. And so Beth and I talked about because we we look at Shared Sisterhood as a tool that gets at the heart and the minds of individuals, so that we can – and talks about laws as policies as well, so that we can engage in collective action to change the system. And some people will push back and say, I don’t need people from historically power dominant groups. I don’t care about their hearts and minds, just treat – but I think if we pause, don’t you think you have a greater chance of changing someone’s behavior if you do positively affect their hearts and minds? If their hearts and minds are engaged? Now, I’m not talking about you have to like me, because I don’t really care. I am at the age where I don’t care as much about that. I don’t care if you don’t like me, just treat me with respect and don’t discriminate against me at work. But if you don’t, fine, I don’t care.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. But I mean, it is that that point of like, and then how do we move forward with that collective action? I mean, that, you know, is a phrase you and Beth repeat over and over. And then what’s that collective action? And, you know, I think one of the things I’m really good normally, normally Tina, at the end, I’ll share, like something that resonates with me, but I want to share it with you now is like, one of the things that I’m really, I need to, I want to sit with is, I know there are times when I’m just digging, you know, or, or trying to bridge but not taking the collective action. Right, like I and so that’s something I just I’m gonna be sitting with, and figuring out, like, how to, how to be even more courageous, and how to be seeing things. And in just finding, yeah, I mean, that’s just that, that, that – when you were talking about that, like, it’s easy to dig and dig and dig, I’m like, yeah, I’ve been there, like, I’ve definitely have been in that place of like, intellectually knowing but not necessarily, like, change – you know, acting on it. And that whole point of, right, like the like when we can bond together, particularly as women, and when we can, you know, take care and make changes that will help those that have been most historically marginalized. It does benefit all of us. It really does. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

It really does. And so a couple of things, collective action is about dismantling systemic inequities. And, you know, in the workplace, we talked about, I talked about, we talked about eight core processes from recruiting, onboarding, socialization, promotion, pay, evaluation. You can examine any of those systems and then you link arms with people who have gone through dig and who you’ve bridged with and you say, Okay, how can we begin to chip away at this inequity, so that we actually have equity, an equitable workplace? And it might be a pay audit, and we got, we’ve talked through, give specific examples in the book. That’s collective action. And so for people who are listening who might feel like, okay, I need to dig. So I’m going to get Shared Sisterhood, I’m going to read, I’m going to practice that stuff. Then I’m going to bridge and I’m going to, you know, follow different people on social media, read different books, watch different movies. Okay, now I’m ready to join a group and I’ll join the Shared Sisterhood Facebook group, and we’ll start talking about collective action. Here is where, something that’s really important. We argue that collective action needs to be based on what the members of the historically marginalized groups want solved. Not based on what members of the historically power dominant group wants solved. And we talk about allies, accomplices and co-conspirators in the book, and I really want to draw this – so you know, whatever you call the – language is important. Some people will disagree with this, but we’re trying to differentiate between sort of motivation and action. 

 

So in the book we talk about, and this is Dr. Tiffany Jana, and again, Drs. Ella Bell and Stella Nkomo, who have been really working on differentiating these terms. So an ally is someone who believes in equity and theory. So those are the people who ran out and bought the books, who highlighted the books, and who may dig and dig and dig. Or maybe not. Maybe they just read the work and they feel good, and they can check it off the checklist. An accomplice is someone who reads the books, and who’s actually interested in change. But the change is self directed. It’s not based on – so it’s, I jokingly say, this would be like if someone, a man told women, I know there’s gender inequity, I really believe in that. You guys all need to strike. You need to strike, don’t come to work tomorrow. And when I go and meet with the executives, I’m going to tell them that that’s what I think should happen. And the women are like, we didn’t asked you to do that. We don’t want that. I have to come to work. I can’t strike. So a co-conspirator is someone who believes in equity, who wants to act and will act, but who is informed by the voices of the members of the historically marginalized group. So the women might say, we don’t want to strike. What we want is a pay equity audit, and we want retroactive payment for how we were under paid, and we want to be increased going forward. And we want opportunities for promotions. And we want you all to look at how you’re assigned – in consulting it was a big deal about who was assigned to what clients. Because there were, the more prestigious clients tended to go to certain people. The more HR, DEI kind of functions went to other kinds of people. And those were different trajectories in terms of your promotion rate. That is an accomplice or excuse me, a co-conspirator, that’s a co-conspirator, that’s someone who was actually actively working with the historically marginalized community. And then when those, when, when he or she or they are in places in spaces where those marginalized individuals are not, he’s speaking, and they’re using their social and political capital on their behalf. That’s what, that’s why I would love for people to pursue power, I want you to want to be the CEO of a company, because then you’re in a position where you can do things like that, as opposed to just amassing wealth, and power and fame for yourself. 

 

And by the way, if you’re listening, and you’re in, some of us have less power than others, but are you using the power that you do have? Are you even aware of it, those white women who wanted to be liked, who wanted to be considered nice. They were sitting in positions throughout organizations, I’m like, girl, you keep saying you want to be liked. You have power! Why? Why don’t you use that power on behalf of other people? As opposed to fixating on whether or not people like you or you’re nice. But I also want to be sensitive. If you are reared and groomed and raised to believe that that is a lot of your capital. That’s your card. That’s your ticket to your Mrs. That’s how you gonna get married. That’s how you gonna get ahead. So you know, that’s how you’re gonna get ahead in life. Being nice. Asking you to prioritize something else is almost like getting you to swim against the tide. And so I want to be sensitive to that. But also have white women in particular recognize that’s not my issue. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

I want to be respected. And I would like to be liked to think I’m a nice person. But that’s not really what I’m worried about when I’m trying to push for equity for the collective. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. I stared, underlined, and boxed this one in. “Systems may be audited, but they’re rarely adjusted.” 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

That’s right.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

I just want to like, I feel like that is the like a mic drop to leave on because that is something we see time and time again, we have been a part of like, hey, we’ve heard, we’ve heard from the voices, this is what people are saying, right? Like, and nothing takes. And it’s kind of that same, it’s almost like a systemic dig, right? Like, I’ve dug, we under, we’ve heard it, so we’re good. Like, we’ve I’m just making that connection, like that’s a systemic, like, you’re just gonna stay being digging instead of like actually bridging and taking collective action. But that was one because I know we have a lot of folks who listen to the show who are either in leadership positions or in HR leadership positions. Like, it’s not about the audit. It’s about the adjustment.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

And I have, I’ve shocked some people because as a consultant, I can come in and do a study for you. But I will say, you probably have collected enough data. What did you do with the data that you collected last year? And the year before that, you could do a longitudinal study probably. (laughter) I mean, you have enough data where you could look at time 12345, okay, don’t collect any more data. Believe what the people have already told you. And now what? Now how would you restructure things, but I’m going to tell you, this is going to sound cynical. Sometimes the audit is the purpose, the repeat of the audit is the, is the work because they don’t really want to change. And we can talk about the fact –

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Right, it’s work avoidance. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Yeah, it’s, you know, and it’s work avoidance by doing busy work, by doing work that you know is gonna go on circular file 13. By doing work that you know will never challenge the power dynamics, because you’re actually afraid of your job, you want to be liked. You want to be nice, even in these powerful positions, where you could be driving change. Your, people are concerned about litigation, collecting data is not going to lead to a lawsuit. Changing pay structures could. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

And so I think it’s risk avoidance. It’s work avoidance. It’s also fear of shifting power dynamics. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Because another thing that I say is the, you know, the audit so often don’t lead to adjustment. We can analyze our pipeline at the entry level day in and day out, whatever happened to hiring senior levels, and a cohort. We don’t often want to do that. If you want to change the power structure of an organization, hiring at the top is a great way to do that. But –

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Many people want to avoid it. And I’m not saying that that’s the silver bullet. I’m not saying that that would always work. There’s pros and cons to everything that you do. But being out – just recognizing that hiring better analysts who have zero political capital, right is not always going to be, that’s gonna take forever. 

 

Yeah. 

 

And COVID shows us. Look, if you want to change your organization, you could have a fundamentally different organization in six months if you had to. But many organizations will, first of all, will say that’s not true. But think about COVID. It was an existential threat. If you didn’t change immediately, you might die. 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah. 

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Your business might not operate. So it’s all hands on deck to figure out how can we continue to function? What if it was all hands on deck to say, how can we be equitable? 

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

You could have a fundamentally different organization in six months, I believe that. We just have to have the desire.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Okay, so I am curious to hear your answer to the question that we ask all of our new guest, which is what was the conversation you’ve had with yourself or with someone else that was transformative?

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

So this is going to air so I will say, (laughter) I was at a crossroads because I was deciding what I wanted to do in my career. And I’m not gonna get into specifics, because, but and I think I was resenting a particular path. But it felt like I’m a Christian, I felt like that’s what God was directing me to continue to go. And I was like, I don’t want to do that. So I was going to continue streaming. The conversation I have with myself was, Tina, you get to go back, you get to pursue this path. There are not many people who have been privileged to walk this path. It is a privilege for you to do XYZ, that I had to reframe it to more of an abundance mindset. Because I think I was in a position of scarcity, I was really resenting feeling like I was out of control, like I was being sort of forced to do things that I didn’t want to do. And God had to sit and I had a conversation with him. And I talked to several advisers, people in my life, who I surround myself with, who will, they will never, they don’t, they’re like, we love you. But if this hurts your feelings, like I need to let you know, blah, blah, blah. And they did that. And I kept hearing the same kind of thing. And I had to dig, I had to say, okay, so you value these people. This is like your board of advisors, they’ve all said similar things without talking to each other. But you still want to do something different? Girl, get it together. And what is it about you that is caught, and it was because I have a strong need for justice. And I felt some things were unfair in the way I had been treated. Then I had to say, if you believe that God is real, and he’s directing you towards this path, he’s gonna take care of some of those things that you may be not be able to take care of right now. So that was a, that was a very recent and raw conversation I have with myself.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Thank you. Thank you for sharing.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

You’re welcome.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

I know there are people who are listening, who are curious to know about how they can connect with you and hopefully work with you. What’s the best way for people to connect with you?

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Thank you. So the best way to reach me, my website is – well across all social media. I’m @ Dr. Tina Opie. And if you’d like to connect with me, it’s connect @ Tina Opie.com.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Awesome. And we’ll be sure to add all that information in the show notes. And I will just add this that and sometimes we’ll do this. If you’re interested in a copy of Shared Sisterhood, you certainly can buy it wherever books are sold. But I would be happy to gift the first five people who send us an email at podcast @ Sarah Noll Wilson.com. And we will get a copy sent out to you. Dr. Tina Opie. People don’t know that it was a journey for us to get here with some technical glitches. (laughter) And, but you, you are such an absolute, you’re such a gift to this world. And I’m so fortunate that our paths crossed and continue to cross and I, your work is necessary and critical. And I hope that it reaches beyond the choir that’s already singing it, right, like it, it makes a big difference. And so thank you so much for joining us today.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

And thank you for having me. This has been so much fun. We will do a part two. And I know I won’t see you on that one platform, but we’ll see each other, we’ll keep in touch.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Yeah, for sure.

 

Dr. Tina Opie  

Thank you. Thanks, Sarah.

 

Sarah Noll Wilson  

Our guests this week has been Dr. Tina Opie. And there’s so much that we talked about one of the things that I’m really holding on to is just that metaphor of like biases, treat biases, like birds, let them fly through your brain but don’t let them nests there and like how do you how do you clean out your gutters so to speak, and so I cannot recommend her book shared sisterhood with Dr. Beth Livingston enough. I think it’s such a powerful and necessary read. And I just want to reiterate, if you would like a free copy, send us an email at podcast @ Sarah Noll Wilson.com. Or you can find me on social media where my DMs are always open. And we always want to hear what came up for you what resonated for you? What are you curious about? What questions came up for you, so we’d love to hear from you. And if you’d like to support the show, you can do so in two ways. The first is really simple rate, review and subscribe to the show on your preferred podcast platform. This helps us increase visibility and exposure so we can continue to bring on excellent guests like Dr. Tina Opie. And if you’d like to financially support the team that makes this show possible, you can do so by becoming a patron. You can go to patreon.com/conversations on conversations, where your financial support will support the team and you’ll get access to ad free shows, you’ll get the shows early, and some pretty great, unique show swag. 

 

I want to just do a big shout out to the team that makes this show possible. To our producer Nick Wilson, to our sound editor Drew Noll, our transcriptionists Becky Reinert, our marketing consultant, Jessica Burdg, and the rest of the SNoWCo crew. And just a big final thank you to Dr. Tina Opie, and the incredible work that she’s doing and everything that she has brought to this world. So I’m so excited to get the chance to be in conversation with her. This has been Conversations on Conversations. Thank you so much for listening for giving us your time and remember, when we can change the conversations we have with ourselves and others, we can change the world. So until next week, please be sure to rest, rehydrate and we’ll see you again soon.

 

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Sarah Noll Wilson is on a mission to help leaders build and rebuild teams. She aims to empower leaders to understand and honor the beautiful complexity of the humans they serve. Through her work as an Executive Coach, an in-demand Keynote Speaker, Researcher, Contributor to Harvard Business Review, and Bestselling Author of “Don’t Feed the Elephants”, Sarah helps leaders close the gap between what they intend to do and the actual impact they make. She hosts the podcast “Conversations on Conversations”, is certified in Co-Active Coaching and Conversational Intelligence, and is a frequent guest lecturer at universities. In addition to her work with organizations, Sarah is a passionate advocate for mental health.

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