REGINA: It helps to think about your broader goals when weighing whether to fight a battle or avoid it. You only have so much energy, and you can’t fight every fight, even if all the potential battles you could fight in the name of diversity are great causes. There will always be more than you can ever do, so choosing wisely is important because it will take time and energy.
Ask yourself what do you hope to accomplish by speaking up and who benefits. Will speaking up benefit other marginalized folks within your own organization? Will you be a trailblazer for them (and do you want to put yourself out there)? Will speaking up enhance your company’s reputation? Will it challenge your team creatively and make the end product better? Will speaking up have a negative impact on you, professionally? You have to take care of yourself, too. Like I mentioned earlier, while it’s great to work for social justice, people also need to protect their livelihood. It might also help to think about your allies within your organization. Who has your back on these issues or who can be swayed to your side? Unfortunately, in society, people from majority groups will listen to people in the same group, so if your organization is full of white men, it would probably help your cause to have another white man to ally with you. It’s sad, but that’s often the way it works in the real world.
At the end of the day, can be difficult to negotiate all of this and to know which battles to fight. It helps to keep your end goal and your motivations in mind, but balanced with self-preservation.
CHERYL LYNN: I think it also helps to remember that you are not a token, but a vital part of a creative team with valuable insight—even if your peers or your employers have not recognized that fact! Still, for me, it is literally a “gut feeling.” I’ve spoken up when witnessing bigoted behavior that made me physically ill—shortness of breath, etc. It goes beyond peace of mind to peace of body.