Oct. 25, 2023 email
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This isn’t the email I planned to send today, but I’ve found myself in a moral dilemma. In the spirit of transparency I want to share it with you, and it’s a bit longer than usual.
A couple months ago, I received an invitation from “Carol” to teach as part of a virtual summit. I showed up to our Zoom interview with two questions: the age and gender representation of her audience (so I can tailor my language to their needs), and the racial diversity of the speaker pool (to honor my commitment to speak at events where BIPOC speakers are a significant part of the lineup).
In my pre-recording chat with Carol, I made two errors.
Error #1: Not asking for the information I actually wanted.
Instead of seeking clarity on the representation of non-white speakers, I asked a vague question about who the speakers were and received an equally vague response. I knew that I hadn’t gotten the information I was seeking, but I let the conversation move on without following up.
Error #2: Seeing the red flag and consciously choosing to ignore it.
Carol told me that gender inclusivity wasn’t necessary for her audience. At this point, I should have politely withdrawn from the summit.
Since I’m sharing this story today, you already know that I didn’t take that route. 😝
A gasp-worthy reveal
When Carol sent promotional material for the summit I was taken aback by how shockingly light-skinned the panel is – of over two dozen speakers, there’s only one who I think might be a light-skinned Black person.
I sent Carol an email that said, in part, “One of my values as a person and a company is to make sure that under-represented people are part of the conversation … Even if there are people in this [presenter] group of other races and cultures, they cannot speak to the experience of people who live in dark-skinned bodies.”
I asked her to consider making a video statement addressing the oversight and how future summits could be more diverse. I offered to assist in crafting the statement, as well as connecting her with a diverse range of BIPOC sex educators for future opportunities.
Finally, I said that I needed to take accountability with my audience “for my own error in not asking the questions I should have asked before saying yes.”
This morning, I received her response:
➡️ She had invited BIPOC presenters who didn’t respond, so what else was she to do?
➡️ She isn’t interested in addressing this publicly.
➡️ She asked me to not talk about it with my audience. 🤯🤯🤯
While the first two points are disappointing, it’s the third that pushed me to withdraw from the summit.
Saying the quiet part out loud
To be frank, the main reason I enjoy doing these summits is because it has the potential to bring in new followers and paying clients.
Living in a capitalist society isn’t easy. In general, capitalism operates in direct opposition to the values that I hold:
➡️ welcoming everyone into the conversation
➡️ accessibility for all people, even if they don’t have a lot of money.
Since I had to take almost six months off from coaching earlier this year for health reasons – and since I’m not a master marketer – things are a little tight right now. This summit would have been an opportunity to speak to a new audience.
But after a lot of thought, I don’t feel good about giving in to this type of capitalism. I want to put food on the table and gas in my car, but (at least for today) I’m not going to do it at the cost of compromising my core ethics.
PS – If you want to meet some of the sex educators I would have recommended, I’ll be posting them today on Instagram.