“A lot of us, white women, are coming to our work with some deep martyrdom as the motivator. And this equation of ‘my worth is dependent on how helpful I am…’ well, helping is just the sunny-side of control.” We're on spring break! And since so many new listeners have joined us lately, we’re going to air our most popular episode from Season 1: White Women as Gatekeepers, featuring Fleur Larsen! With white women as the primary demographic of the nonprofit workforce, this episode begins addressing white women in their role as gatekeepers. In this episode, Fleur Larsen, a DEI consultant and a white woman, talks with Michelle to answer questions like: Why are there so many white DEI consultants making money off of racism? What does gatekeeping look like? How do you know you are gatekeeping and what should you do when you are called out? How do you call out a gatekeeper?
While many awful DEI practices exist, Fleur has built a reputation of accountability and truly showing up. She mentions many great assets in this episode, which we've linked to below. Check out her upcoming workshops here.
Fleur Larsen (00:05):
A lot of us are coming to...and by us I mean, white women to our work with some deep martyrdom as the motivator. And this equation of 'my worth is dependent on how helpful I am...' [well] helping is just the sunny side of control today.
Michelle Shireen Muri (00:23):
We're talking about white women as gatekeepers. What gatekeeping looks like, how the rest of us can call it out and finally, we're going to talk directly to white women about how you know your gatekeeping and what you should do when you're called out. We'll also give a special shout out to boomer white ladies. My guest today is Fleur Larsen. She's a diversity equity and inclusion facilitator and consultant bringing social justice issues to life and action within organizations. And she's a white woman. Fleur is known nationally for her DEI work. She founded her own nonprofit Skate Like A Girl in 2000 and it's still active in three cities! Fleur also has a background in education and counseling, and she knows how to fundraise. Fleur has a very diverse portfolio of clients and has done work with some of our big household names. She also partners with our beloved Edgar Villanueva of Decolonizing Wealth. Fleur holds a three-part series around white women as gatekeepers called Power With Not Power Over and her next session starts in September. Welcome Fleur!
Fleur Larsen (01:23):
Hi, thanks for having me.
Michelle Shireen Muri (01:25):
You know, I've gotta be honest. When I first saw diversity, equity and inclusion (or DEI) becoming an occupation, I was disconcerted. I wondered why orgs are hiring DEI consultants to give one-off trainings, when instead we should have been demanding that DEI be weaved into the organic pattern of our nonprofits. And then seeing the rise of so many white diversity, equity and inclusion consultants doing specifically racial justice work, (this was before I met you) making money off of the racism that they've helped perpetuate. I wondered how I could ever possibly trust a white DEI consultant to understand the struggle and to represent me or other people of color fully. And I've, you know, I really struggled with that. I was actually, I was at a nonprofit who had a major donor who knew that we needed -a white major donor- who knew that we needed a board training. Our board was all white at the time and she recommended this white DEI trainer. And I wrote her a scathing email with permission from my ED, because at that time I just thought, how could you possibly, you know, like white supremacy is the problem. Why would you bring a white person in to talk about it? And of course, through some of the experiences I've had since, I've come to understand, it's kind of like when for those of us who work in fundraising, maybe it's kind of like when you've been promoting the same strategy over and over again to maybe your board or maybe your colleagues, but what it really takes is hiring a consultant to say it and boom, everybody listens better. Right?
Fleur Larsen (03:06):
Michelle Shireen Muri (03:07):
But I've, I've been so curious about this piece around, you know, why white folks educating white communities.
Fleur Larsen (03:12):
Yeah. There's a lot there to unpack. It's super complicated and nuanced. And I was unsure, um, of, of how to move forward with that in terms of just being a person who's committed to social justice, racial equity explicitly. Um, and I really took my cues from my colleagues, uh, and it was at their request. Right. So "please go, go get your people." Um, was, you know, some people literally said those words and so that, that was, Oh, okay. I can do that. I can work with, you know, facilitation and working with people. Um, and I think that's where, you know, just naming the folks that, um, deep appreciation and learning from, um, Aparna Rae, Ligaya Domingo, Jodi-Ann Burey, Regent Brown, are just a few of the women of color that really encouraged the work that I'm doing now, but also informed it and, and you know, all the transparency of being like I've made a lot of mistakes, right. I made a lot of mistakes in, in the learning process. Um, and so there's other white women that I'm in deep relationship with around accountability, Tami Farber, and Michelle Gislason. So just bringing, you know, bringing them into the picture here that, you know, none of this is an individual thing. I'm, I'm definitely standing on the shoulders of, and in connected to, you know, shoulder to shoulder with others, it just feels like such an important piece. Um, I, I bring my skill of facilitation and bring people together. And I, I really love Adrian Marie Brown's work of Emergent Strategy in that, you know, each group of people are coming together to have, you know, the conversation they need to have. And part of my job as a facilitator is just to help find that conversation.
Fleur Larsen (04:49):
And there's some big calls to action, you know? So when I think about why should a white person do this work? Um, I think about money in particular as a key place for accountability. So with a lot of my colleagues that I collaborate with my colleagues of color, I'll do 60% of the work for 40% of the pay. That feels like an important commitment around moving money to move power in really, kind of thinking about this in a really strategic way. And sometimes I work with like you, you mentioned your, that board that was all white. Sometimes I will work with a group that's all white, I'll work with them solo a few times to basically get them in a place where my colleagues of color can come in and the harm is at least not as acute as it been originally. Um, and that's where I, you know, I'm now clear on when I do that. And when, when I collaborate with my colleagues, um, cause it is a really, um, nuanced and, uh, it's, especially the optics of it can look really confusing and it can look like the oppression. It can look like, um, you know, white folks just taken over. And so trying to be really cognizant of that, right?
Michelle Shireen Muri (05:54):
I've heard you talk about this idea also of people performing allyship in those spaces.
Fleur Larsen (05:59):
Yeah. So it's, you know, people don't know and myself included, we don't know how to do this thing. You know, whiteness and oppression has like basically put gobbledygook in our brains, not to be confused with the argument that, you know, white supremacy is a mental illness and that's not what I'm saying. I want to be real careful that no one hears that, but just this thing of like, um, you know, part of whiteness and white body supremacy is -Resmaa names- is that I, I don't know how to be in relationship to the listener.
Michelle Shireen Muri (06:30):
Fleur is talking about Resmaa Menakem, therapist and author of My Grandmother's Hands and Rock the Boat. Menakem works to heal racialized trauma. More info in the show notes.
Fleur Larsen (06:40):
And allyship has, is to me is just really about relationship, um, me demonstrating that I'm trustworthy, right? So how do you Michelle know that, you know, I got your back, right? And that, you know, there's so many pieces inside of there and starts with myself, am I connected to myself? Do I even know and trust myself enough to, um, to show up and make lots of mistakes and fail, um, fail gracefully, hopefully. Um, and those are all the kind of the ways I think about it. And these are all practices, right? So doing them all and perfectly and keep going, right? So the, the shame spiral is not useful. Um, and also feeling, you know, and especially public things. You know, people get so embarrassed about feeling, um, making mistakes in public. And I used to work at a girls' middle school and sometimes I feel like so much of my time from working with middle schoolers informs how I work with adults now, right? Where the inner sixth grader, is just still running the show for a lot of us. It's just really all the healing work that everybody needs. Um, equity work is healing work.
Michelle Shireen Muri (07:42):
Right. And I've, I've really been coming to understand that. Thank you so much for talking about that. We're talking with Fleur Larsen about white women as gatekeepers right now on The Ethical Rainmaker. You can find more information about Fleur on her website, fleurlarsenfacilitation.com. Listen, we're a brand new podcast and we're so excited to delve into these important issues with you. Do you like what you hear? The best way you can support us is by subscribing rate the show, share it with your friends and colleagues and visit us at theethicalrainmaker.com
Michelle Shireen Muri (08:21):
In your body of work. You talk a lot about white women as gatekeepers.
Fleur Larsen (08:25):
Yeah. There's a lot of different levels. And so I want to start at the biggest in terms of just historically the historical context that led up to this moment around essentially the coddling of white women for the last...and I'll just say, you know, a hundred years in terms of recent history. So it's looks like, and it's clear that just by being in holding the two identities of whiteness and either socialized or gendered female, um, that is, is a gatekeeping position in our society, right? So we just had Emmett Till's, uh, what would have been his, I think, 79th birthday and, you know, the story of a white woman claiming that he whistled at her and then he was, he was lynched and murdered for that. And then she came out and said, actually he never did. And then we have modern day version of, of Amy Cooper, um, as Jodi-Ann Burey called "Central Park Karen," you know. So this way in which I'm set up and socially state-sanctioned. Protected. And therefore my space that I occupy, um, I can move with impunity in a certain kind of way. And then the gatekeeping set, as you know, can come in more explicitly in whatever role or how I move about. Right. And so whether I have access to communities or I have a cultural fluency, or just by, um, kind of how I look, um, I know that some clients will want to work with me because I look like I'm going to be friendly.
Fleur Larsen (09:55):
Um, and there's, there's a piece there. So that's kind of just at the like, you know, visual level. But I think this piece of, you know, more tangible examples of gatekeeping is, is really just controlling access, right? That's what a gatekeeper does. You control the flow of access of information or services or money, um, and a lot of white women, and I'll just kind of keep speaking to the, the three sectors that I came from... and because it does shift a little bit differently for corporate or tech or something like that. But nonprofits, healthcare and education, white women, just numbers-wise are in these roles that are literally controlling access to...whether advancement, and they're managing lots of people. Students and they're controlling information, you know, the school to prison pipeline is really just this thing about do young black and brown bodies, um, conform to white women's norms of what studious and polite, right? So there's a lot there to detangle around. Um, the role we're playing in so much of it is supported by my norms are the norms, right? And the gatekeeping part of gatekeeping is upholding the status quo of oppressive norms. And so one way I can do that differently is by just first acknowledging I have gate-keeping status, right? I am a gatekeeper, I have gate-keeping status. And so then really not to get too over- simplified, but like, am I going to use this, this gatekeeping status for good or for evil and where can I just keep opening and getting out of the way, stepping to the side, not away, but just step to the side so that, um, other things can happen that don't, don't revolve around me. Right?
Michelle Shireen Muri (11:29):
You know, this actually you mentioning this and bringing up Jodi-Ann Burey, I heard an excellent podcast the other day called Lola's Ink. It's created by Jenna Hanchard. And one of the episodes that I'll put in the show notes includes Jodi-Ann Burey. And they're talking together about an excellent white ally woman who understood gatekeeping and knew how to act as an agent of change within an organization. So I'll link to the show notes there. Fleur, can you give me a really basic definition of what gatekeeping is?
Fleur Larsen (12:04):
Yeah. I'm a person or position that controls access and criteria for access to any kind of resource
Michelle Shireen Muri (12:14):
I'm Michelle Shireen Muri, The Ethical Rainmaker is brought to you by Freedom Conspiracy, my consulting collective. Take your ethical fundraising to the next level, bring values-aligned practices to growth opportunities at hand, visit freedom-conspiracy.com
Michelle Shireen Muri (12:32):
You've done workshops about white women as gatekeepers and white women holding power. And you've done workshop. You've done your, your list of workshops as long. I love looking at your website because you're always coming up with new things to talk to people about that are so, so important. And you've heard so many examples. I know I've definitely called you late at night, several times to ask for your allyship and your thought partnership in situations I've been in. What are some situations that, that tend to come up that are typical? What would you consider typical gatekeeping situation?
Fleur Larsen (13:06):
Yeah, I think a lot of times, um, there are a lot of white women in management and they are literally controlling access to someone's career advancement or hiring decisions. So that's a really common one and that is a key place of education for me to work with. Um, other white women in management positions, how to really be a thoughtful, um, ally for racial equity to the people they manage and, um, know when to get out of the way as well. So when to advance people, not based on kind of the norms that I had to, where they had to work their way through, like all the sexism and the whiteness, but how do we think about actually advancement for folks in a way that is really liberatory and not, you know, within the oppressive norms, um, about meeting certain criteria. So that's a key place that a lot of white women could really shift around, uh, who you hire and then having opportunities for advancement and how you manage people. And, you know, for instance like The Crown Act in, in California. The fact that there has to be, uh, you know, legislation so that women of color don't get fired for their haircut and hairstyles, right? Like, wow, that's so that's the kind of minutae. And now it's, you know, legislation, right. That a law is so harmful and damaging when people are managing someone with their criteria of what's normal, right. What's uplifted around whiteness and, and even, you know, female and being around sexism and how beauty standards. Right. And that's one of the key things about The Crown Act and specifically mostly, you know, impacting black women a lot. Um, and just the historical nature of that with hairstyles.
Michelle Shireen Muri (14:53):
Got it. Yeah. I feel like one of the, one of the gatekeeping things that happens like is not getting invited to meetings. Like a meeting happens within an organization and a bunch of people are at the table to discuss it, but you're not invited because your white manager didn't think you needed to be there. I'm seeing that a lot as a consultant now.
Fleur Larsen (15:14):
Yeah, absolutely. Another example it's very subtle is copying, you know, now people are like, Oh, we need to include being inclusive. So they'll copy people on an email, but won't actually like, wait for a response or, you know, these kind of veiled thin invites that really don't have much integrity to them.
Michelle Shireen Muri (15:35):
Right. So veiled invites, keeping people out of meetings, I've seen keeping people out of educational opportunities. Like, it would be nice to have, but not a need to have for you to have a membership to your local chapter of whatever organization would be helpful to you. I mean, that's so typical. Um, yeah, you can have, you can have professional associations for doctors or lawyers and that fee is no problem, but the moment a fundraiser or a communications specialist needs a membership to something that will help them greatly, it can be interrogated by white colleagues, you know, or by any colleagues, frankly, it's actually like, not even white women gatekeepers, but there are so many white women as gatekeepers because it's mostly women, white women in the nonprofit sector.
Fleur Larsen (16:23):
That's right. Yeah. And just looking in terms of positions of hierarchy, and especially as organizations get larger, the budgets get larger than you have. Um, you know, the title changes from ED to CEO and there's this businessy vibe that comes with a lot of useful information, but also comes with a lot of patriarchy and white supremacy in it.
Michelle Shireen Muri (16:43):
Hmm. Say more?
Fleur Larsen (16:45):
No, I just sort of left that.
Michelle Shireen Muri (16:49):
I didn't even consider that please.
Fleur Larsen (16:54):
Yeah. I mean, I, when I think about that, it's really, it looks like the way classism and sexism and white supremacy are all in, intertwined and that things have, you know, perceived value when there's lots of money attached to them. And so the title from ED, um, especially, you know, so many nonprofits are a part of, or the nonprofit sector is a part of the helping profession, which has a very gendered, uh, history to it. Right. And so, um, yeah, I think it just is an interesting one to even play with titles. Um, and the model that one person's in charge that they're the bottleneck to the board who is historically been rich people. Um, you know, they, they are literally the gatekeeper to the board. You know, staff are not supposed to go talk to the board type of thing.
Michelle Shireen Muri (17:42):
Fleur Larsen (17:43):
And so there's a lot of like it's stuff that's embedded into, even all the operations of things, which is why I think your work, um, with community-centric fundraising is so important. Cause it's like saying how we've been doing things is not working. It's not okay. In fact, it's all harmful and we really need to do things differently. Um, and people are scared, right? Cause they, all of their professional successes have been dependent on doing them the harmful ways.
Michelle Shireen Muri (18:09):
Right. Exactly! They're threatened.
Fleur Larsen (18:12):
That's right. Really threatened. And really we get to just reframe it as an invitation, like come join us in doing it differently. Right. You're liberation will be by-product. Um, so lucky for you.
Michelle Shireen Muri (18:23):
Right. Right. Lucky for you.
Michelle Shireen Muri (18:30):
You're listening to The Ethical Rainmaker. I'm Michelle Shireen Muri. Our guest Fleur Larsen is talking about white women as gatekeepers. I'm going to turn now to talk more specifically about the nonprofit world, which is of course the world that I'm so involved in and what this podcast is all about. So specifically in the world of nonprofits, let's talk about some of the issues of gatekeeping and how white women find themselves in these positions of power. Because of course, fundraising is in and of itself a position of power, which a lot of folks don't think of. I wrote a blog post about it for CCF. I'll link to it in the show notes. But, how can white women recognize and claim and deal with some of the power and gatekeeping that they may be complicit in?
Fleur Larsen (19:14):
Um, I want to back up one point for a little bit so that people can understand where the context of this answer is coming from. One thing I've noticed for myself that I had to really get honest and unlearn --and this true for the other white women I work with- is a lot of us are coming to an us by, I mean, white women to, to our work, uh, with some deep martyrdom as the motivator. And this equation of 'my worth is dependent on how helpful I am.' And when that is the motivator, then, um, there is this like kind of grip on my gatekeeping status with a smile. Like I'm gripping it because I want to be successful. I want, you know, all the things that are totally understandable to want, but there's, but I, but I know that I need to be liked and helpful at the same time. And so, um, you know, I kind of think about it, like the clipboard of control. Like I have this tight grip on, you know, um, the, the checklist, the running, the meeting, the dah dah, dah, like being helpful, but where I'm actually doing harm rather than helping. And so I think the identifying it is kind of, um, it's useful to have that, that backdrop for what, cause it's really slippery. It's like you're in a, and it's really easy for than, um, someone to gaslight someone else. Like 'that's not what I'm doing. I'm just being helpful.' Right. When actually what's happening is like control, right? Helping is just the sunny side of control. And, and that is like this rampant thing that is overvalued in the nonprofit sector because of all the paternalism and the white savior-ness, that's, you know, deep in the roots of the nonprofit sector, which was never meant to be a sector. Right. That's the other thing, too, of knowing the origin story of, you know, philanthropy and white women who didn't have jobs and they couldn't vote. And so they wanted to be involved in something so good works, you know, often, you know, connected to religious institutions. So nonprofits and philanthropy, all of that stuff, the origins, it was never meant to be a whole sector. So we were standing on these rickety roots of, um, you know, that was laden with classism and, and paternalism, um, and some deep, you know, like sexism really wrapped around there to hold it tight. Um, and then the way patriarchy is all involved in this, right? So not to just like throw out a bunch of like, you know, uh, jargon-words here, but really that, that origin of it is useful to see how it's, it's like so hard to even see it now because it's in the fabric of everything and naming it and identifying it can be so confusing and right. And people have internalized that it's, it's the, you know, it's not the system, it's them and personally, right. And that's just, you know, living and breathing the, um, kind of the, um, origin story of our, of our work here of our sector. Um, so those are some very, like by my big philosophical ideas around this, I can speak more specifically to actual just examples, right?
Michelle Shireen Muri (22:14):
You know sometimes when we have examples, we can start recognizing ourselves in them. So let's talk about some of those examples of white women as gatekeepers.
Fleur Larsen (22:23):
So much of what I notice is, um, information is, is a key currency, right? And one way that happens is through gossip. And so a lot of gatekeeping happens through the control of information and who has access to, um, learning about things we've been having, um, meeting people. So that's, you know, at the very interpersonal level and that's a big one. Um, and so much of everything is about, you know, relational and with white women, the such a drive to want to be liked. And so if someone comes across as questioning my me and my worth and my, my impact, then I start to feel not liked. And then I'm going to recoil on the information I'm going to share. Right? So again, I'm going to harken back to like middle school, right. And so that's where I think about too, when I see and a coach white women, and then I've had lots of conversations with women of color of like, what is happening here? Why is this happening? What's going on? And the biggest thing to do is to name it right. And naming what I, this is what this feels like. Um, and you can take the power out of the attempt to gaslight. Like, 'Oh no, that's not what's happening.' The backpedaling that might happen over the overexplaining, but the laser focus on this is what I see happening. Even if it's just a hunch is, you know, you don't have to like, have all the evidence. Right. And that's where the, like the white supremacy of like 'explain to me why,' right. The entitlement to an, the entitlement to understand, um, it does not need to be even, you know, entertained at all. It can just be like, you know, for, for folks that are on the receiving end of this naming, it is really powerful. And it's very scary. Um, I know that I've, you know, learned really not very gracefully. A lot of times when someone was like 'Fleur, I'm seeing you doing this' right? And feedback is not always that direct. Usually it's, it's, what's not being said, or what's not, um, not being stated. And so me picking up on feedback has been a key skill set of, of trying to show up for racial equities. Like there's information is always happening. Am I picking up on it?
Michelle Shireen Muri (24:26):
As a person of color working within a nonprofit when we experience gatekeeping... I'm hearing you, when you say that as a white woman, part of the issue is awareness becoming aware of the power you wield, becoming aware of other people's cues that might not be directly communicated, but really getting clear about how other people around you are experiencing you. In the absence of that, when we're dealing with people who may not be as self-aware, as I know you to be, what kind of script should we use when we're experiencing gatekeeping from somebody?
Fleur Larsen (25:03):
Yeah. Important question. A couple things that...I've known that, um, women of color in my life have been employing...um, I think there's strength in numbers. So much of this happens at the one-on-one or interpersonal level, and that's where, um, people can hide, right? People can hide and then you just have a, like he said, she said, or she said, she said, uh, and that's not useful. And I think, you know, that's where this really is about integrity. And so any time someone has called me forward, it's been a call-in into my integrity. So, you know, that's, what's in it for white women to kind of be honest about the harm that we've caused or are causing now. Um, and then, you know, harm reduction, like at least, you know, try to be more anti-racist and less racist here. For women of color, what my colleagues have done is just really naming it, named the dynamic and then having strength in numbers. So if there are folks that really you could even consider to invite into allyship, or you think that they might have your back to really like request their support, um, and then connecting with other women of color, as you know, for deep healing is obviously one of the best places to do that.
Michelle Shireen Muri (26:22):
You know, sometimes gatekeeping feels like emotional abuse, and I don't think a lot of us know how to handle that in the workplace. Do you have specific tactics that we should be using to, you know, either call it out or be safe?
Fleur Larsen (26:40):
Yeah, absolutely. I think that a lot of it, um, uh, comes off as emotional abuse or is. I mean, that's one thing that white women are wielding is, uh, our ability to control the access of, uh, you know, how much emotional toll women of color have to go through. So a couple of things that have come up, especially with the work Jodi-Ann Burey and I are doing around the language of racism. Documenting everything in email versus in person interactions, uh, because then you have just -a pitting it against what one person remembers the other person saying. So I think that, you know, having things in writing is a really useful thing. That way you can just have your back up about what it is. Cause one thing that white women do, are slippery with, is that, no, I didn't do that thing or, 'Oh, you misunderstood' or, you know, the kind of throwing it back at. And because my norms are the norms that are upheld, um, then I get to set, and like kind of dictate how others should respond to those norms. And that thing of me saying no, it didn't really happen. So there's just so much gaslighting that's in, in inside there. Um, so that's one thing is just like really moving to more of a written communication is really useful. And then the other thing of, of having other people hear it, um, if we're talking to here at the interpersonal level, if other people are a part of things. So its just not in the one-on-one. So a group phone call or group Zoom or whatever it is. That can shift things. And then you can say, so, you know, you can check in with other people. 'Did you, did you also hear that? What do we do about this?' Right. So that you're not alone in trying to figure it out.
Michelle Shireen Muri (28:16):
Got it. Thank you. Thank you for that useful tactics, for sure. I'm also really curious about this interesting phenomenon, which is important to mention here, Boomer white women. My colleague, Erica Chen brought up this question when we were talking about this. So many older women in our sector have fought so hard for the rights of women. They were able to win a lot of battles. They made their way to the top of a structural hierarchy or close to the top of structural hierarchies. They founded their own organizations. Ultimately they won a lot of things for women, and there are women leaders now as a result of that work, where there never were any before. But what we also know is that not only are there valid criticisms, that many of the white feminists of that era centered white women before they considered centering women of color, like, you know, 'first we win the rights for us and then it'll be your time.' But they are now gatekeeping at many of our organizations and hoarding the power that they fought so hard to gain in the first place. But many of us feel like our community is suffering as a result. I've seen this first-hand and wonder, is there a special way we should be having these conversations with older white women of that generation? And let me also say, I have seen it with older women of color.
Fleur Larsen (29:39):
Yeah. Generational differences. So big right now in particular, we're at a real moment when, um, you know, I don't have all the data stats in front of me, but just the, the numbers of young folks in the workplace and the Boomers in that specific generation who are in leadership positions. So sometimes that this addressing generational differences is, um, a key thing to do even before trying to tackle racial equity, because, the language is so different, um, and people are really coming from different frames of reference. So this is, it's really like a it's every single client I have - this is an issue that needs to be looked at and named and addressed and like talked about so people can better connect with each other. Uh, and, uh, specifically with white women, you know, them sexism that they faced. So I'm 41. And so looking at, you know, my elders and all the women bosses or managers, I had, um, women, founders of nonprofits, et cetera, you know, the stuff that they had to really wade through: the sexism, the patriarchy and the male and the white male leadership tactics and skills that they had to adopt in order to make an advance, um, A got them there, but B, are still harmful, right? And so usually people need to be honored for, um, for, you know, the stuff that they've endured before. They're able to really hear how they're still actually part of the problem. And that's one of the biggest things with older white women. Um, just not really, you know, they're still kind of often stuck on how much they had to battle. And it's understandable because the sexism was really thick and fierce and, um, you know, left damage to them. Right. And I think that's true in general of, you know, that most of us in the younger generations are trying to heal from wherever the elder generation left off at. And I see that, you know, I see that in a lot of women, um, who are doing a lot of amazing leadership work, but there are doing a lot of harm, especially to the younger staff that they hire in particular staff of color. And they don't know it. And they, when they, when someone says, be accountable for your white privilege, they
hear shrink and get smaller, which sounds just like the sexism that they had a battle against.
Michelle Shireen Muri (32:04):
Ooh, that is a beautiful observation. Thank you for pointing that out. You know, it's true. There's so much trauma that they had to endure and fight through to remain strong and resilient and, and fight for those places of power. And also true that we're trying to pick up where they left off. Younger generations are trying to pick up and are also being traumatized by these vary same people in a way that is not been intentional, but is replicating old patterns.
Fleur Larsen (32:36):
Yeah. So just another, this is a good example of again, where equity work is healing work. Um, and everyone has a lot of healing to do. I mean, this really is, there's a lot of, you know, and there's many, many identities and, you know, we've been talking about gender and race right now. And of course, you know, lots of other ones that people have, um, gotten, you know, trauma from, just how you were socialized. Um, so much of it was, you know, so much passed down, um, intergenerational trauma. And it's hard to pause and turn and look at it, especially when you feel like you've been wounded. Right? So, um, you know, if several, uh, older Boomer, white women EDs who are just like, I'm trying to be an ally, but they're really stuck on where they've been on the receiving end of trauma. Um, and so moving that healing that, so you can move out of victim and into empowered. That's not easy work and, um, and it is possible. So I don't want to paint like this really doom and gloom, cause it can feel pretty hopeless a lot. Um, and I'm seeing people really move in really beautiful ways, myself included, right? So I'm 41. I'm on the cusp of all this in some ways here. And, um, just notice a lot comes up when people try to aim themselves as something important. When I aim myself at racial equity, look at all this other stuff I get to really heal, unlearn, learn anew. So I just get to really be more in touch with my own humanity as a white woman, when I aim myself at this, uh, I also happen to like be able to then leverage, uh, my gatekeeping status so that hopefully a harm reduction approach and be less racist. Like that's like, there's this beautiful win-win inside of there that everyone benefits when we do this.
Michelle Shireen Muri (34:19):
So true. Thank you. Thank you for all of that. So much to unpack and so much to look at Fleur. Fleur, thank you so much for joining us to talk about all of this. I just want to name, I see you as definitely a trustable ally in my life. I know that one of the ways that you have helped open the gates instead of keeping the gates shut is leveraging information. You helped me build my business when I was just considering doing it. And walked me through all of the steps, without it being any part of your job, just as a, as a friend and colleague, you saw a need and you met it. I just really want to thank you for that. I see you as a sharp advocate for people of color and for women of color. And you've played a great, amazing role in my life. You even introduced me to Edgar Villanueva who I ended up working with for a while as a result of that connection. So thank you so much for all that you do for all of us and also all that you've done for me. I really appreciate you. Yeah. Thank you. I mean, I appreciate being in relationship with you and, um, others have poured into me, so it really is like offering up what, what, um, what amazing support I've gotten, right? Yeah.
Michelle Shireen Muri (35:41):
That's it for this edition of The Ethical Rainmaker. This interview features a bonus. I talked to Fleur about her identities that shaped her work and you can find it in the show notes at our website, theethicalrainmaker.com. I'm Michelle Shireen Muri. Thank you for being with us on this journey, deeper into the world of nonprofits and ethical fundraising. Thanks to those of you leaving reviews. Thanks for those of you subscribing. It means so much to a new podcast and a shout out to our newest listeners who wrote me from Sri Lanka and Guatemala. Thank you. If you haven't already please subscribe to this podcast so we can count you in. You can email us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're produced and edited in Seattle, Washington by Isaac Kaplan-Woolner with socials by Rachelle Pierce. The Ethical Rainmaker is sponsored by my consulting collective Freedom Conspiracy, and you can find us at freedom-conspiracy.com. Special thank you to Fallon Sierra for letting us use their song, Sprained Ankles. That's it for The Ethical Rainmaker. Join us in two weeks.
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