Authentically Champion Diversity of Thought // With Cate B. Johnson

Author Avatar
Written by Pete Sena,
• 4 min read

Pete Sena: As a creative, I’m working with people from all walks and talks of life, irrespective of any of the typical labor labels (whether it be gender or sex or background or thought.) The question I would ask is: I, by nature of the tribes that we form, whether on purpose or not, a lot of the people watching this video are going to look like me. Hopefully not all of them! But a lot of them are going to look like me just based on the tribes that I’ve developed over living here in Connecticut. How can I, as a white person of privilege, champion this topic in a way that, (you’ve known me for 15-20 years), how can I be authentically Pete without seeming like a buzzword chaser? Help me help the audience understand what we can do to help.

Cate B Johnson: Well yeah, so thanks for asking. I think that’s a really important topic, and two things come to mind: One is very practical and the other is more conceptual and just something that I think helps describe what this all is. There’s something called "the privilege walk" which is a really artfully facilitated experience that, it needs to be done really well for it to come out. The idea is that you have a group of people and they stand in a line and you ask questions. And whether they’ve experience that or not, they take a step forward or a step back.

Generally over the course of the experience, what happens is it segments out into gender, race, sexuality, a lot of different things. The idea is that you look and see, "who’s around me," "who’s on my level," "who’s ahead of me," "who’s behind me?" It’s really interesting to see how that happens. It’s something that’s one thing to describe, but something else to really experience.

Pete: So I can just google that and find a local one?

Cate: Find someone who’s really talented facilitating something like that. That would be lovely. Then the second is, and this is something that I realized. Being white, and having two parents who went to college. I have an MBA, like I have so much privilege. I need to start naming it. To me, the first step is: whatever is the norm doesn’t have to get said. You don’t have to say that you’re not gay, right? Because that is "the norm." That you’re straight. It’s only gay people who have to say that they’re gay.

I’ve started saying, "Hi. I’m Kate I’m a cis woman. My pronouns are: she, her, hers." Anyone who wants to say if their pronoun was "theirs." It shouldn’t be just them that have to say that. To me that’s just a leveling and it’s also opening and embracing that this is who I am and I want to just show some of that. It’s not all inclusive, but then it also invites people to say, "oh well then let me share with you my identity."

Pete: That’s awesome and I thank you for that. For me it feels like this whole thing is just an API in a language that I don’t know how to code in yet. As a technologist, an engineer, it’s like "how do I get into that world?" Because it’s very foreign to me to be really honest, in a lot of ways.

Cate: Yeah, just lean into it. You’re a pretty authentic, vulnerable person and so I think trying it, and trying it small. Like don’t webcast this to four million people. Try and find out what works for you. All of this stuff is super personal.