Join us and Lutze B. Segu as we talk about how we can use our platform for positive social change. We’ll be discussing what actions we can take to combat racial injustice. Our society needs to listen and learn for real change. As influencers, we have hundreds, thousands, and sometimes millions of people who go to us for advice. We have a unique opportunity to make a real difference.
Watch The Webinar Replay: Using Your Influence For Social Justice
About Lutze B. Segu (www.lutzesegu.com)
Lutze (loot-see) Segu is a first-generation Haitian-American who is a citizen of Miami, FL, which is the traditional and ancestral home of the Seminole, Miccosukee, & Tequesta First Nations. Lutze is a multipotentialite. She is a writer, social worker, Black feminist thinker, racial justice practitioner & doctoral student at the University of British Columbia studying Gender, Race, Sexuality, & Social Justice. Lutze is a social justice doula who creates the conditions for social justice learning and transformation to happen. Her work is done primarily through the antiracist feminist coaching that she does with individuals and organizations. She helps people and organizations operationalize their social justice values. Lutze believes that political education is a love language. You can find her on the internet @socialjusticedoula on Instagram.
Using Your Social Media Influence for Social Justice Transcript
What Is The Blogger Union?
Paola: Welcome to using your influence for social change.We will be scrutinizing and identifying where we have privilege today. My name is Paola Mendez and I am the founder of The Blogger Union. For those of you who are not familiar with The Blogger Union, we are a network of bloggers communities dedicated to growing our members’ brands and incomes through meetups and workshops.
We have communities all around the U.S. I run the one here in Miami. It’s called the South Florida Bloggers; but we also have the New York City Bloggers, the DC Bloggers, the Houston Bloggers, the Minneapolis Bloggers and other cities. If you’d like to participate in a city near you, check out thebloggerunion.com.
Introducing Our Panel Speaker & Moderator
Paola: All right let me introduce you to our two speakers today.We have Grace Torres. She will be moderating this talk with me today. Grace would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself?
Moderator Grace Torres
Grace: I was born in Miami and I currently live in Miami as well. I have worked in museums mostly through community programs. Currently, I help coordinate a program that brings in K through 12 students to a museum here in Miami; and I’m always looking for ways to celebrate the communities in Miami. Celebrate the the ways that museums highlight those communities and its history through its exhibitions and its programming.
I’m really excited to be able to be a part of this. And thank you, Paola, for help for inviting me to come moderate. Thank you for helping us here today.
Speaker Lutze Segu
Paola: Let me introduce you to our speaker today welcome Lutze. Thank you so much for being with us here today and sharing your insights. Would you like to tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Lutze: Yes, I was born and raised in Miami. I’m first-generation Haitian American. I am a third-year doctoral student studying gender, sexuality and social justice at the University of British Columbia which is in Canada. I’m a social worker and I’m just really serious about practicing my feminism, my social justice skills and values.
I help people and organizations operationalize their social justice values and their anti-racists values so that we can create more work cultures and work spaces that are less harmful and that are inclusive of all people and all bodies.
Paola: That’s amazing and we are so excited to have you here today and have this discussion. I’m gonna let Grace kick us off.
Defining & Identifying Privilege
Grace: So based off of the name of this webinar, can you let us know a little bit about how would you define privilege and how do we identify it within ourselves?
Land And People Acknowledgement
Lutze: Let’s go to the slide about Land and People Acknowledgement. That’s really important as we talk about privilege as we talk about ours. Because privilege in a sense we’re talking about our social locations. Like what did we come into the world with? What we do, we acquired. I don’t think we could do that well and ethically, if we don’t talk about the fact that these lands that were on are not ours. Now what do I mean by that? I mean there were people on this land when Christopher Columbus got here and those people are still here.
For instance I’m in Miami, and these are the lands of the Seminole Miccosukee and so acknowledge First Nations. That’s very important for us to name that. And it’s very important for us understand that the United States is stolen land built by stolen people. Like people were trafficked from the continent of Africa who came here and who are forced to work this land. Those two things are very much part of the identity of the United States of America. If we’re going to talk about privilege, power, anything – we always have to root ourselves in land and understand what does it mean to talk about these things and struggle for these things? If the land is not free.
So, yes, I wanted to put that out there. And for those participating, do you know the real name, the first name, of the land you are currently watching this from and participating? And if you do not know, how can you find out? I urge you to find out. So we can root ourselves in that.
Areas of Privilege & Areas of Oppression
Paola: How can we use this privilege for positive social change?
Lutze: So when you’re talking about privilege, everyone has a race, a class, a gender, a citizenship status, an ability status, a gender expression all those kind of things. And so when we talk about what is privilege, how do you look at it? What we’re talking about is like to look at where in your identity do you experience unearned power and privilege. S o this chart shows you how the areas where you have privilege, the areas where there’s oppression and areas where there are overlap.
Because we understand that people are complex. People don’t just live and reside in one area, right? You can be white and have an ethnicity. You to be Latinx. Maybe you’re guy from Cuba; and then maybe you were born middle-income and those kind of things. Maybe you have an invisible disability. Just looking at that. So when we’re thinking about privilege, I want you all now – if you can – try to think what would you put where and why. So areas of privilege.
Identifying Areas of Privilege
When we say privilege, what do we mean by that? Well in our society, if you’re a masculine person, if your male – men have male privilege, right? If you are a heterosexual person, we know that heterosexual people have never had to fight for their right to love, and to marry, and to do those kind of things. That is an area where they have unearned privilege. They didn’t do anything special. They didn’t go on Amazon and put heterosexuality in a cart and say hey now I’m heterosexual. So thinking about that and thinking about areas where you have oppression.
Identifying Areas of Oppression
Are you Black? Are you undocumented? Were you undocumented at one point? Are you queer? Are you trans? Do you have a disability? Is that disability visible or invisible? Are you of a certain age, right? We know that we live in a very age obsessed society. And so as we grow older – your value goes down and you could start to experience ageism. So thinking about that.
Identifying Where Areas of Privilege and Oppression Overlap
Then the nuance of what we’re talking about is looking where those places overlap. So this slide is where my mentee, she is latinx, and this is her identity right here for us. So her areas of privilege are: she’s college-educated, she can read and write at an academic level, she is a US citizen, she drives a car in Florida (you know that’s like a big deal for a place like Miami). and she is a non-black person of color. So although she is a person of color, she’s not black. So she doesn’t experience anti-blackness, which is something that’s very much in the air right now. What happened in Minneapolis, what happened to Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, what happened to Tony McDade in Tallahassee – this is all anti-black violence.
Then her areas of oppression you see that at one point she was undocumented, she had an undocumented experience, she’s read as a femme presenting person so the world sees her and responds to her as a feminine person, she is a non-binary gender queer person, she’s in a visibly queer relationship, and she is a survivor of sexual violence.
Now areas of overlap so this is where people get a little spicy. We have to get in the weeds of the nuance. She she admits that although she might have grown up low-income she was never poor. And so we know in the United States of America, class stratification is different. You could be low income and then there’s poor or you could be even a middle class, there’s lower middle class, upper middle class middle and those kind of things. So she recognizes that although, “I was low-income, I was not poor”. She has an invisible disability. So people can’t see that she is dealing with something. She’s a light skinned brown person. So for my Latinx folks we know that colorism is a real thing in Latin America, in South America and those kind of things. And we know that people who have indigenous features, or people who have black features and people who are darker skinned do experience colorism, right?
So we love our Univision but what happens in the telenovela? The black woman is always the maid. So this is how colorism starts to play out within our beautiful South Florida culture. She passes cis. So again, this person understands themselves to be outside of the gender binary but when people look at them that’s not what they see. She is an immigrant on stolen land, right? Their family chose to come to the United States of America, which is completely different from Africa Americans. African Americans didn’t emigrate to the United States. They were stolen and they were brought here. Indigenous people are not immigrants, right? So thinking about when there’s that rhetoric we’re a nation of immigrants – not so much. We’ve got to complicate that. We have to have a serious conversation about how people got here and the fact that some people never got here. They were always here, right?
And so this is the crux of it. If you can understand this within yourself, it is going to allow you to how good generative conversations with people. You’re going to start to see the world differently because you gotta understand that in your one body there could be areas where you have privilege and there can be another area where you are oppressed.
And I always tell people we have to be experts in both. You can’t just be an expert where you are oppressed and then ignore where you have privilege. You just can’t be an expert where you have privilege because all of these things are inside of you. There are areas where you have unearned privilege you didn’t do anything and there are areas where society has decided to just discredit and diminish those parts of you.
The First Step When Creating Content For Social Change
Grace: Thank you. This is all great information. So I’ll ask the next question, so right now I know that a lot of people are feeling very overwhelmed by the amount of information they’re receiving and just trying to figure out what’s true what’s false. Can you provide any suggestions on what to say or what content to create just as that first step?
In 30 years, how do you wish to be remembered?
Lutze: What I would say is the first step, I would say is really ask yourself in this moment in time how do you want to be remembered? If you could project yourself 20, 30 years from now and your descendants right whether it be your children, your grandchildren, your nieces, your nephews, a family member ask you, “tell me about 2020. Tell me about who you are in 2020.” So I want you at this present moment to ask yourself on what side do you want to be? Do you want to be on the side of the people? Do you want to be neutral? Doo you want to be like, yes, I do think black lives matter and I have a little bit of social capital or a lot of social capital and I want to uplift their voices. I want to take a stand and say that here in this point on this page black lives matter.
So what I would start by asking everyone is just asking yourself what do you want the legacy of this moment to be for yourself and from there from that generative space ask yourself ok what should I be consuming? What should I be creating? Am I creating beautiful things and is it okay for me to sometimes highlight that there are ugly things happening in the world and this is where you stand. I have some tips later on, but I think that’s a great place to start.
Check Your Sources to Avoid Misinformation & Disinformation
Also how do we share good information so that we don’t make the mistake of spreading misinformation and disinformation because that’s a real thing. That is what I would ask folks to do and and in one of my slides I have some accounts that I follow that you can follow and some hashtags that I’m following. I would really ask that before you post things try to see if you can cross check see who is putting this out. Is it the black folks? Is it the black women? I tend to be like I’m gonna go with what the black women say. That’s my trust and that’s who I’m gonna go with. I urge you all to find who are some good responsible Black people, non-Black people of color on the internet that is an authority on these things. Someone you can help elevate. And in elevating them, you’ll find other people; and then you can feel assured that your brand is not getting caught up in the mess.
It’s all about responsibly sharing, uplifting, and amplifying good voices.
Guidelines/Etiquette When Amplifying Voices
Paola: I think that’s great. I think that we have to find and amplify good voices. Can you give us some guidelines into what is a good way to share content from these voices and credit them properly. What is the etiquette?
Lutze: So these are just some suggestions that I have like @decolonizingtherapy, @Urdoinggreat, @iharterica, @forharriet, @dreamdefenders, I definitely obviously #blacklivesmatter #antiracism #sayhername. You might be like oh it’s an almost ten-year-old hashtag. There’s a lot of information within that hashtag that’s being shared on a consistent basis.
Looking at anti-racism and finding out okay who are the people who are positioning themselves as anti-racism? And for my folks who speak Spanish #antiracismo it has actually more posts than #antiracism. So understanding the conversations that are happening all across the world right now and #sayhername hashtag. #sayhername thinking about how to uplift womean because right now what happens is we tend to rally behind the deaths of black men and kind of forget that black women are also victims. #sayhername is a way of finding out how do we amplify black women. For example Breonna Taylor – the EMT who was shot and killed in her home. Today is her birthday. She would have been 27. So how do we honor that?
Finding and using those hashtags and finding those people. You’ll be able to find who are good, ethical Black people who are uplifting these things.
The proper way is you cite your sources. If you learned it from someone and you got it from somewhere – say you who you got it from. Don’t don’t be that kind of person who tries to swipe people’s stuff and erase the original poster. That’s the most ethical way we could move. Just make sure the original poster is always there. That we’re always adding folks and making it really clear.
“I love this so much! I’m sharing it on my feed or I’m sharing it in my story” share it with citation practices that are ethical. Make it easy to see where you got it from.
If you find good information from someone that you like and appreciate – and you see they don’t have a lot of followers and you think they should have more followers – share them. You know more followers is money. This is real. And so if you’re helping someone expand their reach, that’s a really good thing in the age of social media. So always tagging when we can. When we can cross post. When we can do things with folks. Obviously you all are in The Blogger Union. So how do you find each other? Who are you amplifying?
Anti-Racist Actions Influencers Can Take Right Now
Grace: So on to the next question. What are some other actions that we can take that would have the most impact right now? Either on social media or even outside of social media.
Lutze: Number one, decide if you are racist or anti-racist. That might sound very jarring but there’s really no neutrality here. Are you for the thing? Are you against the thing? So you start there.
People’s Humanity is Not Up For Discussion
Number two, uplift and cross post black influencers, especially black womxn, femmes, and gender non-conforming people. Also I know I’m jumping ahead, I know there’s gonna be a questions about trolls. So thinking about why engage? Because here’s the thing. I’m a very nerdy person, so I love to discuss ideas; but people’s humanity is never up for discussion – in my life or in in my social media. If you want to argue about queerness, trans people, Black people, Indigenous people, undocumented people – I’m not the page for you. I’m not the person for you because people’s humanity is not to be debated.
And so what happens is sometimes, people they want to be nice and they want to do this both sides. But is there truly both sides to people’s humanity? I don’t think so. I actually don’t agree with that. And so if you say, “I’m gonna start to position myself as an anti-racist and I’m going to startup uplifting some things in my social media.” And someone who’s been following for you for years is like, “what you doing girl? Like what has this got to do with Coral Gables?” And and they’re going back and forth. Out of respect, one time, you could let the person know.
Because again, it’s your page. You’re the queen of your page. You can do whatever you want to do in your page, alright? It’s your rules, right? So you could literally say like, “okay you stepped out of line this one time; but here on my page this is not up for debate. Racism is a thing that needs to go away. It’s not up for debate.” If they continue, the power of the block is beautiful. I actually think you do yourself a disservice and you actually discredit your brand when you keep going back and forth with people on the comment section.
Some things are not up for debate or are open for discussion. People’s humanity, people’s grief, people’s pain and right now because we’re talking about black life, black pain, and black grief. It’s not up for debate. The same way if someone went into a synagogue and shot it up like what is there to discuss?
So it’s okay for us, as people who live on the Internet, and yes we know followers are social capital, it’s okay for us to say there are some things are not up for debate – capital or no capital influence. And actually, can my brand withstand me being known and seen as a racist? That’s the question to ask yourself.
Paola: Talking about having that conversation in the comments with a troll or someone who’s trying to have the debate, it takes away from the the main point that you’re trying to make, right? So it detracts from the conversation.
Lutze: Agreed. And neo-nazis and KKK are trained to debate. So when you engage in that debate that’s the thing that they were trained to do. So you’re actually falling for the bait. They’re trying to bait you, they are not debating on good faith like they’re not like, “Oh, Paola convince me.” No, they are already convinced. They just want to bait you and make you look silly and foolish. Because these folks they trained for this. They trained to box people into corners. Simply do not engage with that. So yeah, again I recommend just deleting those comments and blocking.
Oh yeah this is what we have to learn the difference between someone who is making a valid critique and I am, “oh, I didn’t think of that you’re right.” I’m not gonna be a silly egotistical person and be like I’m gonna delete it. I don’t want anyone to see that I’m not some all-knowing being. However, if you’re coming up into my page telling me racism is not real, yeah I’m blocking you and you’re off into the ethers. Again it’s my page. It’s my world. Yeah, I’m not having that. I really want to empower, especially I’m assuming there’s a lot of women here, yes – the power of the block and delete.
Paola: Not only in the case of the discussion that you’re having but as an influencer just on a daily basis. You want to attract your people and repel those who do not have your same values and are not gonna be with you on your journey and support what you’re doing. So if you decided that you are anti-racist and you’re worried about losing racists, then those are not your people.
Lutze: Yeah, that’s a good problem to have, actually. Because here’s the thing, as soon as you make that stand, the people who are not there for that are gonna weed themselves out; and thank goodness.
I’m glad that we’re having this conversation now. I’m sure this community knows the famous coach Maria Forleo. Maria Forleo recently made a very big mistake. So there were some comments going on around like Black Lives Matter and she, in a very not so smart way, shut it down and then the way she shut down that conversation she got defensive. And then getting defensive guess what? Now I’mMaria Forleo looks like a fool. She looks like she’s racist, right? Now granted, none of us, on this call, have the empire have the social capital of Maria Forleo and so is she gonna be destroyed? No. However did she take a big hit? Yes. Are people gonna remember that hit? You’re damn right. And if she’s smart, she should be hiring someone to help her. Because it looks to me that Maria Forleo never asked herself is she a racist or anti-racist. So she did this thing where she’s like my space is an apolitical space, talk about that on your own timeline.
Girl, when so many US major cities are burning up in flames and people are taking up the streets, that’s not a smart talking point. Even if Maria Forleo truly does believe that Black Lives Matter, the way she handled herself says everything to the contrary. So this is how influencers, even someone you would think should know better. She left herself so vulnerable,so exposed for what? Again, everybody who’s serious about making a name and money for themselves online, you have to ask yourself. How many companies did we see making statements this week? Companies that have nothing todo with racial justice: Ben & Jerry’s, Netflix, you name it. Why? Because we are now in the age where the consumer wants to know the politics of the brands they’re spending money with.
And if you are a person, obviously we’re all kind of brands in our own way, if you found ourselves on this call. You have to ask yourself, “What does my brand stand for?” Because the consumer is very politically savvy and they want to align themselves with people who, at least on a surface level, appear to be upholding the same values. We’re turning into a value driven society. People want their dollar to go with good people.
So now is the time, number one ask yourself: Am I racist? Am I anti-racist? If you are anti-racist, how are you going to weave that into your brand in a way that it doesn’t look performative, it doesn’t look weird but it looks like I am I’m for human rights. Black people are human therefore I’m for black people’s rights. The same way we work for marriage equality, the same way everyone loves Billy Porter – his blackness is queerness. Just very seamlessly, I don’t believe these people’s lives are up for debate and this is how I’m gonna uplift. So don’t be Maria Forleo, honey.
Action: Start An Anti-Racist Book Club or Join Ours!
Paola: Talking about taking action that has the most impact, so I’m thinking about starting an anti-racist book club. Can you tell me your thoughts on that idea?
Lutze: Perfect perfect perfect idea. So I am a die-hard feminist. I’m just love me feminists to the core and so the bookclubs are very powerful tool. Never underestimate the power of especially women coming together to uplift their consciousness and to learn together. I think that is an excellent idea.
I actually think we don’t understand the power of book clubs enough and so I think that is an excellent idea. What would it look like for a group of non-black, people of color, white women and whatever to say, “Okay, for the next year we’re only gonna read the voices of people of color. We’re only gonna center these voices and we’re gonna learn. We’re gonna read a book by a trans black person. We’re gonna read a book by an undocumented person. We’re gonna read an anti-racist book written by black people. Lots of white people have written anti-racist books, you know maybe we should actually read the books for the people who actually could feel it in their bodies, right? I think that’s actually a brilliant idea and don’t sleep on that. Also you’re building in accountability. Anti racism is not something you can do in isolation. You have to do it in community and so what a great way to do that. Where you’re learning and unlearning with people that you – I mean I’m assuming you like them and even if you don’t like them – at least know that you have the same shared values and you all are wanting to work towards the same world. You don’t know what you don’t know and only by reading do we find out what we don’t know.
Paola: Absolutely, so the idea is that we meet online so if anybody on this call wants to join. Then go to coralgableslove.com/bookclub and you can join my book club. What I what I like about it is that we’re gonna be meeting online and I’m gonna having a list of books to read but you guys can take that and meet with people in your community locally. With your friends and you know try to learn and take action in your city even if it’s not here in Miami. I know we have people from Minneapolis and DC on the call. So if you guys want to be part of that then please go visit my book clubpage: coralgableslove.com/bookclub.
Voting & Educating Your Community About Elections
Grace: Let’s talk about voting and educating our communities about elections and candidates. Do you have any pointers for that?
Lutze: Yes, totally. Currently I am reading because I’m part of a group LAs Comadres, and we are currently reading on how to be an anti-racist. I’ll be moderating the discussion. How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi is a book written by a black man that is really well done. If you ask yourself question number one, “Am I anti-racist?” Then how do you operationalize when it’s time to vote? How do you find elected officials who are creating policies that ameliorate racial harm, that are for equity, that want to do something about DACA. They don’t want to leave these these people in in a limbo.
Vote Strategically: Think About People With Less Privilege Than You
What I would really recommend is that once you decide who do you want to be and then look around the world and say hey, “Who am I gonna cast my vote for?” And thinking about the the chart. If you have a lot of privilege: you’re you’re white, you’re able bodied, you’re heterosexual, you’re middle income, your money is good, and you’re straight; and like the world is not coming for your neck every five seconds. Okay, how can you vote in a way for people who do not share that privilege with you. So that the social safety net can be expanded. I would definitely look for the people who are just like you who don’t think certain people’s life and liberty is up for debate. This is how we go from being “I’m a nice person” to being “I’m a strategic person. I’m strategic person who cares about my politics and I’m voting in a way that creates more harmony, more equity, more racial justice – not less.
Action: Amplify The Right Voter Guides
Paola: I love that and I think we can take it a step further, right? Because we are influencers and we have communities that follow us. Something that we can do is find organizations that are already looking at the candidates and looking at these issues and telling us where the candidates are falling. Do you have any advice in terms of that?
Lutze: aha! Yes, so find really good voter guides. I’m part of a group in Miami WMN (Women’s Movement Now). They usually do a really good voter guides. Dream Defenders last year had a good voter guide. So this is where it becomes really important. Those organizations in your city that you like that our for racial justice, when the elections come around they usually have a voter guide. What does that mean? That means they’ve already vetted the people. They’ve already looked at their history. In some cases I sat on committees where we actually interviewed people who are running for office who were trying to get us to support them. And so we were able to ask them some questions.
I say all that to say, I literally take the voter guide with me to the voting precinct with me. I was on my phone and I was scrolling it – because you know when it’s time to vote it’s like all of a sudden fifty thousand people you’ve never heard of are on the ballot and you don’t know what to do. So because I know who I trust already. For the most part, I know the big-ticket items that are on ballot but for the other stuff I feel confident in saying I trust these two or three groups. I’m gonna put their voter guides together and then I’m gonna go into the voting booth.
So that is something that you all can do with those voter guides. Whose voter guide can you amplify and give to your people? People could just go print it off and do what they need to do. Obviously maybe absentee ballot cuz we don’t need to be in the streets because there’s covid-19. Yes, this is how we take much further and also to you have the influence. So someone’s running in CoralGables and you can get them to do a live with you. Do that. This is how you’re using your influence to make space for people who are in line with what you believe in. And you know that the people who follow you, they trust you. So they’re they’re definitely gonna follow your lead on these things.
Paola: Absolutely, I also do think that if you are sharing these voter guides that you be very open as to where you found them, what kind of research they’re doing. So that they don’t think this is just a crazy influencer trying to get into politics.
Make Sure You Trust The Organization Publishing The Voter Guide
Lutze: Agreed, yes. There’s a smart way to do everything. I cannot stress enough make sure you trust these people. Make sure you trust these organizations. It’s an organization that has C4 designation. That they do political work all year round and they just didn’t spring up overnight and trying to tell you what to do.
Action: Vote In Your Local Election
Paola: Exactly, and when it comes to voting do you have any advice for us in terms of what government roles have a huge impact in our life that we should be keeping an eye out for to see who we’re voting for and amplifying good candidates in our community? I know we get a so-so turnout for presidential elections but there are small local elections that are very important.
Action: Vote For Local Judges & District Attorneys
Lutze: So here’s the thing. The thing that impacts you the most is your local election. So for instance, in the case of Ahmaud Aubrey and even in George Floyd, the prosecutors in that moment weren’t even gonna charge the people who killed Ahmaud Aubrey or initially in Minneapolis the officer initially just got a third degree.I say all this to say these judges, these district attorneys, these prosecutors, they’re actually the people who choose not to prosecute black death or to say, “Actually, it’s totally okay to kill black people in broad daylight who are unarmed.” When these people are up for election, the prosecutors, judges, and all these kind of things, find out where they stand in regards to racial justice analysis. What are they going to do? Do they believe that everyone should get justice under the law; or do they believe some people should have justice and some people are a victim of the law inherently. So this is where it’s really important.
Action: Vote For School Board & Governor
Your local election is important, especially your School Board. Really think about what kind of world do you want to live in and find out for the people responsible for that. Usually it’s your mayor, your governor. Your governor has way more power on your life than the president. The governor is kind of the president of your state in a very particular kind of way. You should be invested in who the governor of your state is. For instance, in Florida we voted to restore voting rights to people who’ve been formally incarcerated. But our governor was like, “No, I don’t think so.” I want to stress on that. Those kind of things are important so local, local, local. Pay attention to it. I know those are not sexy, glamorous politics. We have to find a way to move away from that and say that is my civic duty. What can I do?
Because there are a lot of people who can’t vote because they’re undocumented or because they’re formerly incarcerated. How do we center their vote? How do we think of them? For instance we’ve all forgotten about the kids at the border. They’re still there. We still need to create policy to save these children and reunite them with their rightful family members.
Action: Boost Local Candidates With Your Platform
Paola: Absolutely and the other thing that you say local small elections are not glamorous. We have the most opportunity to have the most impact because sometimes local elections have only a couple of thousands of people coming out to vote. Your vote really counts in local elections. Your neighbors and you can make a big difference.
Lutze: Huge, huge difference. Yes, yes local. Please put all your energy, put all your effort if you can participate and you want to participate – participate strategically. Vote with your politics like an anti-racist but like you want immigration reform, like you know vote for Abuelita, vote for your black colleagues. Really take all of that into the voting room with you.
Action: Find Out When Is Your Next Local Election
Paola: Absolutely, so I think an action that can you can take right now is go and find out when is your next local election. We, for example in Miami, have an August 18th election where our Florida State Attorney of Miami-Dade, Katherine Rundle is up for re-election. She has not prosecuted an officer for shooting on duty and killing someone in her twenty something years on the job. And there’s this really cool lady called Melba Pearson.
Yes, so us here in Miami. Now you guys know Melba Pearson. There’s this election happening on August 18th. We have to start spreading the word. I usually put it on my blog; and I email – one by one – anyone that I know that lives in the area and tell them this is an election.
Lutze: I love that you bring Melba up because, again, this is a lawyer. She used to work for the ACLU. She has a track record of working towards racial justice. She has a track record of doing those kind of things. So what does it look like? And this seeing what’s happening in theUnited States. What does it look like for Kathy Fernandez Rundle to be up for election? Are we going to be the city that reelects someone who we know is not for racial justice?What happened in Tallahassee. We know she ain’t gonna charge those folks. This is how we this is how we change the course of history.
She ran unopposed in the past doesn’t mean she was doing a good job. No one ever ran against her; and now that someone’s running against her. And again, Melba Pearson. This is a black woman who can’t really campaign in the same way because we’re kind of sheltering in place. What do we need to do to boost and put her over the edge?
Support Protestors by Donating to Bail Funds
Grace: Exactly right. So something that I wanted to mention, that I think we forgot at the beginning, was that we will have a Q&A session at the end. So if you do have questions please place them in the chat. We will make sure to address as many as we can after we finish our set of questions.
We will move on to the next question. With all the protests going on, do you have any suggestions or advice on how we can support protesters who are risking their lives on the ground?
Lutze: Yeah for sure. Definitely find out about bail funds. Send your money so that these people can get bailed out of jail. Find your local bail fund in Minneapolis, places like that, because these people not only are they risking covid-19 they’re also risking making a grand point because a nation that will do what it did to George Floyd is only a matter of time they’re gonna start to try to do that some other good people. This is an untenable.
I would suggest definitely up uplift and amplify good information. I have a newsletter on my website. I shared a resource that says 26 ways to support if you can’t go out to protest. There are so many things you can do. You can:
- give money
- you can send food to protesters
- I know we’re not supposed to be really in close quarters but you can offer to drop people off
- drop things off for folks: water, food, those kind of things
- disrupting misinformation
Receiving Feedback From The Black Community
Paola: Those are great tips. Okay, so some of us are going to be engaging in this conversation about race and privilege for the first time. That’s great; but you might encounter, you very possibly will encounter, criticism from the Black community because you might have taken a misstep or something. And you might be getting feedback from the Black community. Can you give us any insight on how to do our best?
Social Justice & Anti-Racism Is A Practice
Lutze: So understand that perfectionism is a tool of white supremacy. What do I mean? The assumption, I’ll use myself for example, I although I work with individuals and organizations to operation their social justice and anti-racism, that does not mean that I Lutze Segu there is no internalized racism. That I don’t hold any ill will or are ill thoughts about any one group of people. Why? Because I was also born in a world that was anti-black, anti-woman, anti-indigenous, anti-queer, anti-trans, anti-immigrant. I was socialized in that world.
So what I would I like to tell people is that social justice and anti-racism – that’s a practice. You see how every day is if you do yoga? You show up to your mat no matter what. And guess what? Some days you’re holding the pose and breathing at the same time. You’re doing it and some days you’re not; but you keep going back. Because it’s a practice. And how do we practice? We practice by practicing.
Ask yourself, do I want to be an anti-racist or do I want to be a racist? If the decision you make is: I want to be an anti-racist, then you are making a decision to always be in constant evolution. And constantly be learning, which means I’m gonna make a mistake. When you make a mistake, if someone goes out of their way to tell you that you made a mistake – even if you don’t like their tone – they’re giving you that feedback because on some level they think you can receive the feedback and you can do better.
Learning and Unlearning Comes With Growing Pains
So we understand that learning and unlearning comes with growing pains, comes with mistakes. But that’s okay. We make mistakes. We are not mistakes. This isn’t time when people are giving us feedback. We have to think to ourselves don’t go into your shame. Shame tells you you’re a bad person. That’s why you shouldn’t try. You should you just go home, pack it up. Anti-racism it’s not for you. No, think of guilt.
Guilt is more generative. Guilt is like, “Ah yes, Paola is right. I did put my foot in my mouth. I had good intentions but I missed the mark.” Apologize, make amends, atone and move on.
You don’t want to be, especially if you’re a white woman, you don’t want to be that white woman who starts being fragile. And now all of a sudden someone who was trying to give you some good constructive feedback, now they have to stop and take care of your feelings. What is worse being a victim of anti-black violence or being told what you said you could have said it better?
So keeping in mind let’s not get caught up in our ego. Again I’m a cis gender person. I’m not trans. I am for trans liberation. I’m in solidarity with trans people. And I’ve had trans and gender non-conforming people that I love have to call me in and have to tell me about something. I have made mistakes and I have misgendered people. In that moment I stopped. I apologized. I asked, “How can I make this better?” I work on it – not to do it again.
We Learn From Our Mistakes
We all have to unlearn. We are unlearning about race, unlearning around gender, the unlearning around class. If you think you’re gonna get into this and no one’s ever gonna give them hard, constructive feedback. If you’re looking for glory, you’re looking to be worshiped – save it. This is not for you because that’s not what’s gonna happen. Because we actually we learn through our mistakes.
As you read, as you listen then you start to lessen how big those mistakes are. What I feel is behind this it’s just like, “I don’t want to publicly make a mistake cuz I don’t want to publicly get dragged.” Right? We’re all influencers. No one wants to get dragged on the internet and so that’s why you have to be smart. Read, get in a relationship. If you can afford it, hire someone who can help you do these things. That way the public part of your growth doesn’t have to be so painful.
Grace: That’s great, thank you. I definitely saw something in connection to that posted by Rachel Cargill a couple of days ago. She really talks about breaking down how the automatic response from some people might be everything that you just said.
Lutze: Oh, definitely. I didn’t share Rachel Cargill as one of influencers to follow because she’s already at 1.3 million. So I’m trying to uplift other people, but yes. Rachel Cargill denial avoidance reframing
Balancing Fighting Injustice and Self Care/Mental Health
Grace: reverse, victim oppression is the last one. That is very mindful. That’s very good for all of us to keep in mind when we are responding to any comments and so thank you for your elaborating on that. So our last question for you is: how do you find a balance between the anxiety that comes from fighting injustice and your mental health or self-care? So that you can continue your efforts in fighting racial injustice long term.
Lutze: Yeah so we have to have good boundaries. And yeah, it’s hard. Because of the work that I do, I don’t slip into despair because every day I talk to people and I work with people with individuals and organization and I see people wanting to make a difference. For instance, this conversation. This is hopeful. This is food for my soul.
It’s like, I didn’t know Paola, but you know you reached out and here we are. And there are lots of people on this call wanting to do that. So I try to stay focused. I don’t get my hope from CNN or MSNBC. I get my news sometimes there. I get my hope from my practice, from engaging with my practices. I remind myself that I’m a person and I have feelings. When my feelings come up, I’m with my feelings.
I let people love on me. I let people love me like people check on me. I let my mom feed me good food. I let my nieces and nephews laugh and play with me. As I’m working on the big macro stuff, I stay grounded with my family and my friends.
I journal. I get these feelings out. I cry when I need to cry. When my body is filling up to it, I get to moving. I get the trauma out of my body. Because this is a lot to constantly be consuming as a Black person. Black death, it’s a lot. It’s like dying in the video game and everyday you keep coming back to die again, to die again, to die again. So it’s a lot. It’s very important to me to highlight the love in my life.
I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to cultivate in my life soft places to land. So I land in those soft places with my people who love me and my humanity. I stay in focus, I do my work, I stay in my work.
Right now there’s a lot of people right now they’re being politicized, they’re waking up and they’re realizing like oh my god like the world is not what I thought it was. For those people it’s gonna be hard for them to find their stability because they’re being activated in a very particular kind of way. For to those people, I say you’re not gonna feel like that all the time just ride the wave.
Eventually you’re gonna come down and you’re gonna find your homeostasis. You’re gonna find ways that feel good to you that fit your life to engage in this new way.
Paola: Oh yes, that was great. I also think once you start engaging with your government and voting and racial injustice, you might pour your heart into a cause. And you might not see the result that you were we’re fighting for. You cannot get discouraged.
Lutze: No, no. I say this all the time. If we’re being honest like the enslavers didn’t retire from having right like at that moment that seemed like a big like that’s never gonna happen like speed if you know the history of United States like folks the the country almost fell apart over this thing.
I encourage you all to you get into anti-racist work for your descendants. It’s for people you’re probably never see and that’s okay. If we’re also being honest as people especially for those of us who live in Miami or for those who live in coastal cities, we are in the middle of a climate disaster. If we don’t change how, we engage the earth, we are gonna make ourselves extinct. And to be honest, I think anti racism is the way to combat that we have to change.
How we relate to the planet. We have to relate. We have to change our reliance on oil gas. That’s going to force us to change our geopolitics and all of those kind of things. And so even if you want earth to continue to be earth and human beings can live on earth, you have to think about what can you do right now to change, to divest and do things differently. So that there’s a planet and our people worth fighting for long after you’re gone.
This is not a selfish thing. This is a big picture. I’m a human. I’m part of the human family and what do I need to do to make sure that the human family survives.
Paola: So we have a question from the Lis Mesa and she wants to know if you have three book recommendations that you can share with her.
Lutze: Okay so that depends on what kind of books. I’ll go with books that radically shifted and changed my life. The Autobiography of Assata Shakur is a good one. I think right now what I would suggest Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Beverly Daniel Tatum. That talks about the racial identity formation of black children. Redefining Realness by Janet Mock. Janet Mock is a Black, trans woman. She is the show runner for Pose. That is a very powerful autobiography. I love autobiographies. So I would go with those three. Those might be a good place to start.
Grace: That’s great and Chris is sharingt hem in the chat in case you guys missed them.
Grace: So the next question we have is from Elizabeth and she asks, “What specific voter guide do you recommend?” and what were the names like you said those little quickly.
Lutze: I know WMN puts together one every time and then Dream Defenders. The last time I voted I used Dream Defenders voter guide. Dream Defenders are so cool. They did a paper one and they had a video one. So of a visual representation of like why they were voting yes or no on different amendments.
Paola: We have Angie asking a question, “As an educator I want to provide my fourth-grade students with a space to talk about all the events happening. Would you happen to have any guidance for me?”
Lutze: Angie you might want to read Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria. What we want to do is like now is a good time. How do we start to cultivate the empathy of children for each other. So and give them language and give them space to normalize that they have feelings. How do they make space for their feelings and because we know studies show that by like six months kids can tell the difference in race. Visually they’re already understanding.
So now is a good time because we sometimes you forget that kids are humans and they have thoughts they have feelings, ideas. What I would really encourage you to do, how do you just make space for them to bring their big feelings and to process it and so that we can start to give them emotional literacy around these racial things.
Try to find ways to explain to them like race and racism on a fourth-grade level because they do notice the difference between boys and girls, black and white, this person’s brown, this person not so brown – maybe they’re yellow. They’re noticing that. So let’s make space for that and also they’re hearing the news, right? So I would say create the space to normalize their feelings. And hopefully they feel safe enough to come to you. I’m sure they’re feeling. So they could bear witness to each other. They could see they’re not isolated in their feelings and there is not just them.
Grace: Great advice. So we have a question from Kris he asks, “What are some good strategies to use when responding to disinformation or misinformation?
Lutze: Immediately call it what it is. If it’s disinformation call it just disinformation and if it’s misinformation call it misinformation. Misinformation is someone made a mistake, they didn’t vet. Disinformation that’s nefarious; and if it’s if it’s nefarious, we need to name it as such. That someone is purposely trying to traffic in disinformation on the Internet.
Delete/remove the post or be the person in the comment section uplifting the real and good solid information. If you’re like me, I read the comments. I know people say don’t read the comments, – please, I read the comments. There’s good information in the comments and the comments is a good litmus test. Sometimes what you see is a lot of counter stuff going on in the comments that’s actually really good and that’s actually really generative.
Also people on my Facebook feed, who have a history of sharing misinformation or disinformation, I really consider unfollowing them. We all we have to be socially responsible at this point. If I follow you and this is the third time you shared some BS, girl, I can’t follow you anymore cuz you’re not taking this stuff seriously.
If people are not going to engage responsibly and ethically we need to call them in around that; and maybe remove them or at least mute them.
Paola: If the content is specifically on Twitter; and you are engaging with someone on Twitter, even to tell them that this is disinformation or misinformation, you are amplifying their message. Because it’s going to show up to your followers. And on Facebook too.
Lutze: Yes, agreed. If this is someone you’re in relationship with, you could take it to the DMs or the private messenger. You’re absolutely right. The way the algorithms work, that actually end up amplifying it. And all of a sudden that’s the first thing people see when they log on.
Paola: We have a question from Haley. She’s asking for any educational podcast that you recommend.
Lutze: Oh, I’m the podcast Queen. I love code-switch. I listen to Irresistible, How to Survive the End of the World is really good. My favorite podcast, they don’t exist anymore, The Nod. You can go back and look at my website, I have a newsletter and I share all the podcasts that I found interesting throughout the month. There’s so there’s 11. So you can go through the back issues and see all the interesting stuff. I’m very nerdy and I love to listen to nerdy podcasts.
Grace: Maria Victoria is asking, “What do I say to teachers who say they don’t want their black students to fall into victimhood?”
Lutze: First of all, if you’re not black that’s a very paternalistic comment to me. Even if your intention is good that sounds paternalistic and therefore is racist. The assumption that if you don’t bring up something in class that your black students is magically not gonna know what’s going on. It’s absurd. I can tell you from a very early age, I knew. No one had to tell me.
Even though my Black parents, they told me. But even before they told me about certain things, I was noticing. You I noticed. Especially students will notice. I would notice the teachers who would smile at certain kids but wouldn’t smile at me and my friends.
This whole victimhood is like telling me it’s raining and I should go get an umbrella. It’s not making me a victim of rain. It sounds like that teacher has fear around justice, has fear around talking about racism, and is projecting that onto her children.
Black kids already have enough projected upon them. They are resilient. They are smart; and they have they are complex human beings who can handle complex ideas. We actually don’t need teachers to disempower them. We need teachers who are going to empower them and and look at their full humanity.
When we’re teaching the Holocaust we don’t say we don’t want to turn the Jewish students into victims.
Paola: We have another question about advice for talking to immediate family members in an effective way.
Lutze: That depends how deep is a relationship with a family member. I actually think it’s a little annoying that you all want to wait till Christmas dinner, Thanksgiving to hammer your family members about racial justice. Where are you all throughout the week, the years? If you’re not in a constant relationship with your family member, you actually have to ask yourself, “Does this relationship have the structure to hold what I’m getting ready to put into it? Does that make sense?”
What I would say is umask people. Why do you think that? Tell me more. Because we actually we don’t give people enough chances to really explain. Even if we think that what they’re saying is absurd and just ridiculous. If you love this person enough, and it sounds like you do and you want to be in some kind of ongoing relationship with them, have them show you how they arrive at what they’re thinking and why are they thinking it. That way the person feels heard. They feel seen and they might relax their shoulders a little bit. Then they feel like, “Ah she’s engaging me in a conversation.”
Then they’ll let you when it’s your turn say what you need to say. So try that strategy really try meeting people where they’re at. See their humanity and let’s not turn people into monsters. People can have really wild, childish, dehumanizing opinions; and that’s our family. That’s where we came from. They made us. They’re us. So what does it profit me to turn people into one-dimensional monsters? When that monster is my uncle, my cousin, my mom, my dad, my whatever.
Okay, right now this person is saying something monstrous. Try to find a human in that comment. Try to connect to that human. Then if that person is shutting down when you try to engage with them in a loving way, they’re still resisting, accept the fact that that person has chosen to be racist, to be homophobic, transphobic, whatever.
I think sometimes we make this mistake. You act like people are innocent and they don’t know that they’re making these choices. That they’re saying these wild things. Yes, they do. What does it look like to be in radical acceptance that this person doesn’t want to get it? They made their choice. How can you accept their choice?
Then if you want to still be family members with this person, say, “Okay in my house, these things are not up for debate. Black people are not up for debate. Jewish people are not up for debate.” Let people know if you come to dinner, we’re gonna engage in a respectful way. If you would rather eat your hate and have dinner with hate instead of being respectful with your family members – that too is a choice. Respect their choice.
You have a right not to engage with hate and they have a right to be hateful. They don’t have a right to legislate that and make that law for everyone else. But if you want to make your personal house, where you pay mortgage and rent, the hateful house where we hate everybody – that’s your right. Don’t bring that energy to my house. I don’t want that at Shabbat dinner, I don’t want that at Thanksgiving. I don’t want that at Sunday dinner. Keep the hate over there.
Listen, really try to listen, to understand. Because while people are explaining how they got to their ideas, they’re actually showing you how they think. Then you can organize your strategy around their thinking. Say to yourself, “It is not my job to convince them, but it is my job to engage and show them there is another way.”
Paola: That was our final question. Thank you so much for coming and hanging out with us and laying down those truths. I also want to thank everyone who joined us in this call. I hope you take action and if you do, I would love to know what you’re doing so that I can help you amplify your efforts. Please let me know what you’re up to.
Lutze: Sure! Find me on the Internet. I want to hear what you all are doing. I’m very accessible. Yeah let me know.