Written by WICT blog volunteer, Kenya Brock
“If we don’t center the voices of marginalized people, we’re doing the wrong work.”
Founder of Just Be, Inc., civil rights activist, and originator of ‘MeToo’
When I was asked to write about a blog post leading up to the Moving from #MeToo to #TimesUp: Be a Catalyst for Positive Change WICT Southeast event, I literally had no clue what to write. I don’t have a #MeToo moment, but sadly I know many who do. But after reading the description, I realized the event is about both #MeToo and #TimesUp and that changed my mind about what to write.
When I was in high school, I had a summer job where I worked at a sporting goods store. I remember the boss telling me and another woman that we couldn’t work in the shoe section because women are better at selling clothes rather than athletic shoes. I was only 15 at the time and I remember being extremely annoyed, but I never said anything. I didn’t feel like I could speak up to my older, male boss for fear of being reprimanded or fired. So unfortunately, I kept my mouth shut and finished my summer job…never to return there or buy shoes from that store again.
Was that my #TimesUp moment?
The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have had all types of people doing a deep dive into their past. There’s a lot of digging up memories (some perhaps repressed and/or painful) and reflecting on situations inside and outside of the workplace. Was I harassed, abused or discriminated against? Was I a harasser, abuser, or a discriminator? This self-reflection isn’t easy, and it shouldn’t be. But it is absolutely necessary.
The stories from the victims that have come out of both movements are harrowing, frustrating, and scary. The fact that they’re able to tell their stories is downright courageous. The realization that shame, as well as fear from people in positions of power, is what kept these victims from speaking up makes my blood boil, but I can relate, because I’ve been there on more than one occasion.
As a woman and as a person of color, I am unfortunately used to being discriminated against. I have been spoken over in meetings, left out of important conversations, and blatantly ignored while being in the room. But through various ways, be it a mentor, effective leadership training, support from key people, etc., I’ve learned my voice counts and I matter. At the same time, I try to be a voice, sounding board, whatever is necessary, for those who’ve been through what I have been through. Having those conversations and recognizing you’re not alone is very important in the process of change and healing.
But here’s the thing, everyone’s situation and experience is different. Not everyone has someone they can easily talk to and get guidance from. My 15-year-old self kept that anger and fear inside but my older self may have reported my boss to HR had I properly known and understood the resources available. I’m glad to see all of the wonderful information on the #MeToo and #TimesUp websites as they are an excellent way for people experiencing various types of abuse and discrimination (within and outside of the workplace), to find support and resources. The key is to live in a world where these resources aren’t necessary, but until then they will exist.
Want to learn more about what’s next for the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement in our industry? Join industry leaders in areas including HR diversity and inclusion, production executives, and more in a discussion about what better looks like at the Moving from #MeToo to #TimesUp: Be a Catalyst for Positive Change event. Click here to register and learn more.