This Restorative Justice Life

44. Workplace Diversity w/ Dr. Gaye Lang

July 22, 2021 David Ryan Castro-Harris Season 1 Episode 44
This Restorative Justice Life
44. Workplace Diversity w/ Dr. Gaye Lang
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

We're using this week's episode to highlight the work of Dr. Gaye Lang, the guest from episode 13 on this podcast. She's launched season 2 of her own podcast "Workplace Diversity" and had me on as a guest on this week's episode where we get into the nitty gritty of breaking down white supremacy culture with restorative justice practices.

If you're interested in learning more about how she and others are applying restorative principles to the workplace subscribe to "Workplace Diversity" on Apple podcasts. And while you're at it, leave a rating or review.

In the month of August I'm doing a lot of work with individual schools, but we do have a public workshop series, Foundations of Restorative Justice running on August 2nd and 9th. 

While not as in depth as our RJ summer intensive, the 8-hour foundations of RJ series Participants dive deeper into the restorative mindsets, proactive restorative practices, and the restorative process. You'll explore about how restorative values, self care practices, collaborative agreements, check in practices, communication for connection, and the restorative process get us to restorative outcomes of healing, relationships, and accountability. This is an opportunity to grow in your Restorative Journey by participating in group activities/discussion, building relationships with folx in your cohort, and self reflection on your practice. 

Support Dr. Gaye Lang:
https://www.workplacerestorativepracticesinc.com/

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David (he/him):

This restorative justice life is a production of amplify RJ. Follow us on all social media platforms at amplify RJ sign up for our email list and check out our website at amplifyrj.com to stay up to date on everything we have going on. Make sure you subscribe to this feed on whatever platform you're listening on right now so you don't miss an episode. Finally, we'd love it if you left us a rating and review. It really helps us literally amplify this work. Thanks for listening. Enjoy the episode. Welcome to this restorative justice life. The podcast that explores how the philosophy, practices, and values of restorative justice apply to our everyday lives. I'm your host, David Ryan Barcega Castro Harris all five names for the ancestors, and I'm the founder of amplify RJ. On this podcast I talk with RJ practitioners, circle keepers, and others doing this work about how this way of being has impacted their lives. Hi, everyone, David here. We're using this week's episode to highlight the work of Dr. Gaye Lang, the guest from Episode 13 of this podcast. She's launched season two of her own podcast, Workplace Diversity and had me on as a guest on this week's episode, where we get into the nitty gritty of breaking down white supremacy culture with restorative justice practices. If you're interested in learning more about how she and others are applying restorative principles to the workplace, subscribe to workplace diversity on Apple podcasts. And while you're at it leave a rating a review. In the month of August I'm doing a lot of work with individual schools and organizations. But we do have a public workshop series foundations of restorative justice, running on August 2 and ninth. Well not as in depth as our RJ Summer Intensive, the eight hour foundations of RJ series invites participants to dive deeper into restorative mindsets, proactive restorative practices, and the restorative process. you'll explore how restorative values self care practices, collaborative agreements, checking practices, communication for connection and the restorative process get us to restorative outcomes of healing healthy relationships and accountability. This is an opportunity to grow in your restorative journey by participating in group activities and discussions, building relationships with folks in your cohort, and going through a process of self reflection on your own practices. Links to find out more and sign up in the show notes. Now onto my conversation with Dr. Lane.

Workplace Diversity Speaker:

Welcome to workplace diversity, your primary source for tips, tools and strategies about how to make the workplace a great place to work with your host, former White House regional representative Dr. Gaye Lang.

Dr. Gaye Lang:

Hey, thank you for tuning into our show. Our guest today is David Ryan Barcega Castro Harris. Yes, all, five names for the ancestors. He is the son of BN and DP grandson of on a Ruth and Yolando and Ruth and Jessie. As the founder of amplify RJ he is building a digital platform to share the philosophy, practices and values of restorative justice. now living in Los Angeles with his wife, Wendy, he leans on the training from his elders and his experiences with restorative justice work and Chicago School System, the communities in criminal legal settings. He shares his knowledge to create experiences that help folks across the world understand restorative justice as a relationship-centered way of being not merely a program for addressing harm, is also a podcast host of This Restorative Justice Life. Welcome, David to the show.

David (he/him):

Thank you for having me. It's good to be here.

Dr. Gaye Lang:

Thank you. Our topic today, David is inclusion or exclusion in the workplace. So, right now we have some wonderful buzzwords, we have like diversity and inclusion, and companies are scrambling running around like crazy to find a diversity equity person, let me have the director of equity, Director of diversity, director of inclusion. So all those are buzzwords, but we know for sure they don't operate by themselves. Inclusion by itself is nothing. You have to have the other parts of that to really make it work, which is diversity, inclusion, equity and tolerance. And on top of that tolerance, we want to put some training. So that's why my show is called workplace diversity, workplace diet. The diet is all those words I just said. But when we think about it, we have all these people wandering around with this idea, a notion that we're going to fix this by having a diversity or inclusion person in charge. What do you think about that, David?

David (he/him):

Yeah, I am not a fan of the words diversity or inclusion. I actually just learned the origin of the word diversity yesterday, right deveresas in Latin. And you know, one of the first uses was a papal bull, right, an order from the Pope, where he was talking about, like the exploration and colonization of other lands to diversify the empire of, you know, the European powers, right? And like extract wealth, right? If you're talking about including people, quote, unquote, from diverse backgrounds, to, you know, just improve the wealth, the power of your company, without the conversation about how are we sharing power and having equity, and really creating a sense of belonging for people really getting to justice, we're leaving the conversation short.

Dr. Gaye Lang:

Perfect. I totally agree. I think that we just want to throw the words around without really looking at it from a diverse, really inclusive point of view. I think that what happens a lot of times they say, Well, Imma hire one, African American, one is Latino, I have one asian, so I've got my diversity, check that box, now I'm going to have them come to this meeting, check that box, but you're really not including them, because they don't have a voice. They don't have power, they have nothing at the table. So you're not allowing them to be in that space, and feel like they belong to that situation. So when companies do that, I'm not sure if it's intentional, unintentional, accidental, or just ignorance. Not sure. But it happens.

David (he/him):

Yeah. And I do think there are well intentioned people out there, right, as a restorative justice practitioner, one of my core beliefs, right is the true self in everyone is good, wise and powerful. But when we grow up steeped in a culture of white supremacy, right, where whiteness is normalized, we are like, and not just white people, but people of color can uphold white supremacy cultures do, we are trained to think about whiteness, and what aligns to whiteness or quote unquote, professionalism, as the only way that things can be and so anything that falls outside of that is not welcome is dismissed, and not considered, right. And so instead of just thinking about how do we like include, quote, unquote, diverse people, right, it's what are the conditions that we're bringing people into? Right? I think restorative justice as a framework is a really good way not just to heal harm, like restorative justice is about repairing harm in relationships with the people who are most involved, right, having a stake in making sure that we identify the needs, harms and obligations, and you know, making sure that impacts are met, but also proactively building and maintaining relationships rooted in equity and trust, right? And this all stems back to indigenous values of interconnection. And when I talk about interconnection, right, I think about my ancestry as black, African American, Filipino American person, right, where I'm thinking about words, like ubuntu through like I am, because you are, or a person is a person through another person, right, or gopua, which is Tagalog word for shared brotherhood, but in Debian, which is the pre colonial language of the Philippines. It's about this idea of shared interconnection between all beings, right? And when you have that frame of mind, when there's harm, there's inevitably going to be harm. And there's been so much harm due to white supremacy and exclusion of people of color, people from the queer community, people who are disabled in the workplace, right? We want to repair that harm, right? We're not trying to, quote unquote, cancel people who are doing that harm, you're an essential part of our community, right, you have a lot to contribute as well. But what are the things that we can do to repair that harm, level the playing field and proactively build and maintain relationships to prevent that future harm, right? Of course, when you have relationships with folks rooted in equity interests, it's a lot easier to navigate the harm. So it's a both proactive and responsive approach.

Dr. Gaye Lang:

I guess the sticky points for us, when we try to engage in this conversation, people don't want to talk about it, because they are afraid to hear the truth about some of the things that went wrong. But if you don't honor and face the truth, first, you can't get to the problem. And you can't get to a result or resolution to the problem. So I think that as we look at where we are currently, I don't know how we navigate the waters so that the people that are in power, can see that we're not trying to take anything from you. But we want to be equal in what is happening. We should not have to beg for that spot. We should be included off the top, not after thought. And that's where we come in with the rubs with how do we fix that problem? And like you said, it's restorative. But how do you navigate the restorative issues? Or restorative practices when the issues are so obvious, and no one wants to own them?

David (he/him):

yeah.

Dr. Gaye Lang:

They don't want to own that. It's like, Well, no, we're doing the best we can, but your best we can is not getting it done. So I'm asking you, can you look at it differently? That's the question. Can you get it differently? Can you see a better way? Can you afford us the opportunity to come to the table and have a voice and that we feel like we belong and not being marginalized and disenfranchised by this organization or any other organization. So

David (he/him):

Yeah

Dr. Gaye Lang:

That's where I am with it. And right now, I haven't found a way to make that smooth. But I think that if we continue to have the conversation, and not attack, but at least point out some things that can be better, I think that we can at least engage some in that conversation because the ally ship is needed, the partnership is needed to change, we're not going to do it by ourselves.

David (he/him):

Yeah, I was having a conversation with some folks in a workshop yesterday. And someone was saying, like, I really appreciate the frame that you share where, you know, this lives in all of us, like, We're not asking anybody to do something that is outside of what humans want to do. Humans want to be in good relationship with each other, right? And while you might perceive that you're in... if you're a person in power, right, and you perceive that you're in a good relationship with someone who you have power over, that might not be reciprocal, right. And so I think part of it is actually asking people to give up power, I think you and I referenced this, on the conversation we had on my podcast six months ago, by now, we talked about, you know, representation does matter. But representation alone, it's like that power sharing, right? So if we think about a board that or a C suite that is made up of all white folks, you bring in a Latinx person, you bring in a black person, and you bring in an Asian person, right? Into a group of like seven people in the C suite, right? How is that was that shared power, that's just like, Oh, we have minority representation, right?

Dr. Gaye Lang:

That's what I was saying is a check in a box.

David (he/him):

I mean, those people, right, giving up some of those seats, replacing some of those people, right? You don't want to have expansive committees where power is diluted, you want to work within a system where you have people in those key roles not creating like performative, quote unquote, DEI, like sorry, CDOs, Chief Diversity officers, you don't have budget don't have power, like this work needs to be across all facets of the organization. And I'm not saying that there's not a space for DEI, in the C suite like DEI role in the C suite. But like, that can't be the only place that you're putting a black woman? Right.

Dr. Gaye Lang:

Well, that's one of the things you know, there's only four black CEOs of the Fortune 500 company, we're down to three now. Because when I'm quick retired, so we got three black folks. And and that's all we can always point to. And I guess that goes to the question. So when I think about my own work experience, I've been excluded a lot myself over the years and 70, you got to know I've experienced quite a bit. So how about you? Have you experienced any of that in your young years that you've been hanging out there in Chicago doing you and had your restorative stuff going? How was your experience and happening for you?

David (he/him):

Yeah, so as a true millennial, I have never been in a job in the same role for more than a year and a half. I often leave if a space isn't serving me, some of those things are due to, you know, just my own career aspirations or logistical moves. Some of those things are due to the people who are working above me not being inclusive. And I can think of one example, right, we're doing this community driven initiative, my role was community outreach coordinator for this certain project. And, you know, the people that I was working for, had a different definition of community than I did, right. We were supposed to be providing a service for people who are residents of the community, and the people who are making the decisions about that were the people who worked there and ran the nonprofits and people in government, right. And so when I was going literally door to door, right, or showing up at community events, talking to people about this project, people were really skeptical and like this is this really what we need? I don't really feel like this is the right way to move forward. And when I brought that up to my supervisor, it was kind of just came to a head where it's like, we don't see this the same way, either do this job the way that I'm asking you to do it, or you should probably find somewhere else to work. So I found another place to work, you know. And, you know, I appreciate the transparency there, right. But this was a white led organization serving a black neighborhood. Right. And it's not just that, I don't want to paint the picture that like, you know, white people can't do good things in black neighborhoods, right. But when even though you live in a neighborhood, your lived experience in that neighborhood is not the same as people who have lived in that neighborhood for years, right? Who grew up there who know the neighborhood, like and the needs of the neighborhood better than you'll ever know. But you can't make decisions for them. Right. And so like my definition of community, and sharing power with community, right, like helping community to drive those decisions, like wasn't met with open arms to say the least.

Dr. Gaye Lang:

I understand that though. And I think your point is valid. And the reason I say it's valid is because how do you go into any community, African American, Asian American, Latino American, you go into anyone's community and assume you know what they need and want without asking them,

David (he/him):

right? They did ask the people who were gonna affirm their ideas, right. And there was often like the people who were working in those nonprofit organizations that they were in relationship with, but not necessarily the residents.

Dr. Gaye Lang:

And that's the residents, you have to go to the core, the people who the end result is going to impact me, I need to know let you know how that's going to impact me. If you didn't ask me personally, then you didn't ask anybody. That's how that works. The next thing I was thinking about is as a restorative practitioner, have you had an opportunity to advocate for inclusion for other people in the world? Or in the workplace? Have you had that opportunity yourself to advocate for another individual to be included in something that was going on maybe in the workplace, or in the world or anywhere? Have you had that opportunity? I know that you say you're a millennial, and you don't stay on the job, if it doesn't work for you? I don't have that luxury, but I love it. So have you had that opportunity, though?

David (he/him):

Yeah. And now I work for myself. So like, I'd have to fire myself to do all these things. But I think like, even within that, I have to be super careful about the way that I work with others, right? In partnership, as a business owner, right? How am I like not being as like, sole proprietor, right? How am I working in partnership with people and not just like unilaterally making decisions, right? Of course, like, at the end of the day, it stops with me, but I do have partners, right? And how am I including them in decision making? How are we sharing profits, right sharing revenue? Right? Those are all things to consider. I do think even in that example, that I just shared, that's advocating for community, voices being included, right? Most of the other spaces that I worked in have been pretty solid, right? I think a lot of times, where is where i am doing work in schools, right, the organization that I was working with, we were the ones who were advocating and pushing the schools to do more, bringing in parents bringing in like empowering students, right, some of those things, but like, I was never employed by the school, I was employed by another company that was advocating for some of those things. And then, you know, the other half of my life that this kind of plays a role in is like, I'm an X ray tech, I haven't been an X ray tech since October of 2020. Right, but from 2012-2020, I was an X ray tech. In a hospital, there's all kinds of exclusion and discrimination. And in those spaces, like I haven't been someone who spoke up, right, because in those situations, I know that I've just taken the stance of like, I'm gonna get in, do my job, get paid, go home, like, I'm not trying to get into politics and BS, like I am an X ray tech, I'm not a manager, I'm not in any of those things. And there are a handful of examples that I can think of one hospital in particular where I could have, I didn't to save myself the grief and stress, right?

Dr. Gaye Lang:

I think most people do that. David, you're not the only one a lot of times inequity, and marginalization, all those things happen in jobs for a lot of people. But most people need their jobs because they have families, children bills to pay, so they don't speak up or speak out. And it's not just us, you know, it's everyone. A lot of people don't because of that fear of retaliation, you know, or being fired a poor evaluation or something like that.

David (he/him):

I mean, I think, like in that situation, part of it was like, the higher ups but it's also like, grief from peers in that situation, right? Like not wanting to be seen as, like that person who's always like, stirring the pot or whatever. And like, that's not a great space to be in, you know, but you swallow it and you do your work.

Dr. Gaye Lang:

Yeah, I mean, you get lifted

David (he/him):

Eventually leave right.

Dr. Gaye Lang:

Now, you know, your rule is I'm out. So you get out of there. So that's a good thing to be able to make that kind of choice for yourself. As I grew up, I didn't have those opportunities myself, because like I said, I'm 70 now and so my world is very different than the one you live right now. So I always had to swallow it, I always had to let it go. Even if it bothered me. Even if I was upset by it, I had to kind of know that, okay, I can't change all these things alone. But I can change this space that I'm in for myself, this piece right here, I can change. And so I kind of lived with that emotional piece of saying, What is it about what I'm doing will be beneficial to the students that I'm working with. And as an educator, my whole focus my entire career was what can I do to always support my students? Even if I didn't have the support? How can I make sure their lives were comfortable in my class and in the school, so I advocated a lot of times for my students. Right now. There's a lot of disproportionality and suspensions and expulsions for students, African Americans and Hispanic students. And so I still advocate to this day for them, because I don't think anyone's hearing my voice as loud as I speak. We still have People that still do it over and over again, and don't see it as a problem, because they've been doing it so long, it's become a natural piece. And this is the way it's supposed to be. And that's the challenge I have. And that's the pushback I get. And that's how I fight for the inclusion of our students to be treated equally and fairly. So that's my bite every day. And as an educator, that's what I have to do, because I won't feel good if I don't.

David (he/him):

Yeah, I think like, what's important to remember is like, as much as schools are places where students go to learn. They're also workplaces where adults go to work, and who were the people who are quote, unquote, empowered, or given power and decision making amongst the adults in the building? Right, you know, 80% of educators are white women, right, approximately right. And then when you move up to administration, it looks a lot more male. Right? inevitably, right. And I'm not saying that there aren't people of color. And I'm not saying that there aren't women in administration, but like, who was getting those roles, right, again, like you and I had that conversation about like, your, your journey to school leadership, right, and all the times that you've been passed over. And I think like, we can, in some ways still work within the model of that hierarchy of principal, assistant principal, Dean of Students, and then like instructional coach, or, you know, content, whatever, right. But what are the more collaborative ways we can do decision making in schools, and I know like that's tough within the construct of public school in the districts that we have. But I know of some independent schools who were experimenting with some more democratic and power sharing ways to make decisions both with staff, parents, students, other community stakeholders,

Dr. Gaye Lang:

One of the things we're doing too, even in the state of Texas, we've come a long way from where we were, because we have restorative justice across the entire state, and I do the training. So I know for a fact we're making some impact there. I just want it to be more of an impact. I know that I want itto happen. If we went from five to seven. I'm, that seems like it's a lot. But I wanted to be at a 10 because you've been at 10 a long time ago. So that's my urgency to make sure that we treat everyone fair and include everyone. So I guess my closing question for you would be has it been difficult for you to be included in the world. But as you alluded to earlier, you don't stay in places that doesn't accept you. And currently you work for yourself, you don't have to worry about I guess that? Or do you concern yourself about being included in spaces or places in the world? Or you just kinda do you?

David (he/him):

Yeah, I think one of the things that I appreciate from my dad is and my mom too, right? Is like this sense of self that I have, I am worth it, I belong in whatever space that I want to be. And if people don't want me there, that's their problem. And I'm gonna go find my space. Right. But I think what comes along with that is one understanding that, for the most part, people in power, I'm gonna use white people as an example. But I think this applies just people in power in general, white people in general, don't hate black people, they just don't care about black people. Right? We are only, you know, 13% of the United States population, Asian Americans are about 5% of the US population, we are not the majority. And you can navigate your life in many places in the United States, without having real relationships with somebody, if you're white, you can navigate your life without having real relationships with somebody outside of your racial group, right. And so, you know, if you're not in real relationships, the ideas that you're going to have about black people are going to come from media, or Asian people are going to come from media, and those things aren't accurate. They're not wholly accurate, right? People are people where there's more to us than what you see on TV. And so when you've been taught by media, and I would blame the school system as well, right? about like, this is how people in the city are right, it's easier to dehumanize them right without building real relationships and right to tie it back to restorative justice, right? Yes, we want to repair the harm but like it's also that proactive relationship building so we can understand that you know, I am a reflection of you another phrase that the Mayans use right indigenous people to what is now Mexico Central America right in In Lak'ech. I am another you, you are another me if I do harm to you. I'm doing harm to myself. Right? If I like love and respect you like that's love and respecting myself, right? That's an excerpt from the poem Serpentino Open Semiento from Luis Valdez, but it's that right? We're connected, we're human, and making space for that for people to see those things, making space for people to learn a different productive, making space for people to like, interrupt the way that they've been thinking. Just trying to get through the work day is tough, but it's the work that I've decided to take on through amplify RJ where, you know, massive public education about restorative justice across digital platforms. Deep learning experiences for individuals and organizations, and we've got a community of folks who support each other in this work independently of me, and sometimes with me.

Dr. Gaye Lang:

I think that is where we should be going as a nation, to try to build those strong relationships and meaningful relationships so that you will not ignore that I'm a human being, and that I do exist. Whether you like me or not, is not the point. I'm human, and I deserve to be treated with respect. And like a human being, nothing else will do. And I think that is the conversations we got to keep. We must keep let me repeat that, we must keep that conversation going no matter what. The last thing I want to do is ask you can you give us one or two tips, or one or two things you think we can do to make the workplace in the world more inclusive, I know you said that, using your platform, to talk about this conversation and speak to it. Do you have two tips you can give to maybe an individual or an organization, a community that gets us to the point of thinking about or doing and having inclusion? Do you have one or two tips you want to give.

David (he/him):

So if you're in an organization, or someone who is leading an organization or controls the purse strings of an organization hire Amplify RJ. I think one of the things that we really help folks do is think about the people in the organization, right? Policies are policy change needs to happen, structures need to change, but policies are only as good as the people who uphold them. So the one thing that I would say to people is like, start with yourself first, right? How are you modeling this work? You're never gonna be perfect. There's no perfection in this, right? But how are we constantly growing? amplify, RJ has some free resources out there about like the foundations of restorative justice, and what it looks like in your life, right. And we're not just talking about your life in the workplace. It's how you move through the world, your family, people in your community, and of course, the people that you work with as well. So the work starts with you, right, and I'm not saying that amplify RJ is the only place that you can learn about all of this right? But like, the first thing is to start with yourself. And I think the second thing in a real concrete way is have conversations with the people who you're working with about how you are living your values, right, establishing what your values are you personally, and how they align to your behaviors. And I think that conversation like then translates to the company, right? Your organization, right? What are organizational values? All of these organizations have them right? How are they being lived out? How is that benefiting people that you are both working with for and serving?

Dr. Gaye Lang:

Yeah, I think a lot of policies and stuff that are written on paper. They're on paper, they're not lived out. They're not recognized anywhere. They're just some philosophies and policies that sound very good on paper, looks good on paper, but nobody's living that way. Because if they lived out some of those policies, we wouldn't have some of these problems. So they have wonderful, flowery words they put down that have some kind of meaning to them, but nobody's really living them out. So that's part of the problem. But anyway, I want to thank you for coming on the show. Would you like to say anything about your show?

David (he/him):

Yeah. So this restorative justice life is a podcast where I talk to restorative justice practitioners, circle keepers and others doing the work about how this way of being has impacted their lives, both personally and professionally. And I think by the time this actually airs, I'll have another podcast called From Diversity and Inclusion to Collective Liberation, with my friend, Connie Chu, the and now collective, where we'll be talking about dismantling the DEI industrial complex and moving towards collective liberation. So we'd love to have y'all take a listen to either one of those.

Dr. Gaye Lang:

Okay, that sounds great. Well, thank you so much for listening to workplace diversity with Dr. Gaye Lang, go to www.workplacerestorativepracticesinc.com for training opportunities, and your free download for three ways to avoid a potential lawsuit.

Workplace Diversity Speaker:

Thanks for tuning in to workplace diversity. Please subscribe so that you don't miss a single episode. And don't forget to leave a rating and review and share it with your friends. Until next time, remember to have a healthy diet, diversity, inclusion, equity and tolerance. You can make a difference.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Work Experiences
Following Restorative Opportunities
Restorative Education
Closing Questions