White Male Ally (Tim Lockie, Rated PG13)
Why do you want to tell your story?
Tim: Once I got to know Joni, Jace, Rakia, Toya, and Shonnah it became personal; not speaking up was letting down people that I know and care about. The truth is I’m scared of speaking up and would rather not say anything, but one way of giving up my privilege is to speak up.
Shonnah: I am honored to have played a positive role in your journey. It can be frightening to speak out about topics that you don’t fully understand and that are emotionally charged. It can be intimidating and it is uncomfortable to go against your natural disposition. However, in those situations, I find it easier to be brave when I am not thinking about myself. I am thinking about the person(s) I am protecting and I draw strength from the love that I have for them.
What’s your story
Tim: I started being a white male in 1975 in Bozeman, Montana. I’ve got kickass parents who are also white (but only one of them is male). I grew up poor; in fact, Shonnah and I had this hilarious conversation about our common experience of growing up with cars. I also grew up privileged; privileged but poor it has taken a while for me to understand.
I was the jackass Christian boy in high-school – creationist, pro-life, anti-gay, anti-drinking, and anti-sex (though that may have mostly been about lack of opportunity more than morality). Around graduation I realized that I had it wrong – that Jesus talked about economic equality and nonviolence, both were evangelical heresy and I couldn’t handle the hypocrisy. So I found some left-wing Christians to learn from and began a journey of understanding injustice. I’ve become fairly aware of gender, economic, political, and generational injustice.
However, it hasn’t been until I was part of the Salesforce Ohana that I started to understand inclusion and diversity. I’m still in learning mode and am glad to have friends like Shonnah and Toya who have invested in me.
Shonnah: Seriously Tim… Your one of the whitest white guys ever. I think we known you’ve been white since birth and your parents are white as well. LOL. This is what I love about you, you can see the humor in almost anything and make anyone smile. Our conversation about the cars in a fancy restaurant with the creepy waiter! That was one of THE BEST NIGHTS EVER! We made so many people uncomfortable. When it comes to recognizing privileged we all have blind spots. They are called blind spots for a reason, we cannot see them until we make an effort or until they are pointed out to us and what is hard is acknowledging the blind spot, taking action and understanding that this is part of your growth.
Your first injustice
Tim: I started to understand injustice after hearing the story of John Perkins, a civil rights activist and pastor in Pasadena. But I didn’t really experience it until I lived in San Francisco. This story still haunts me, but I may have been party to the injustice. I lived with a community in the mission district of San Francisco. In the 80’s the mission became a refuge for Central Americans fleeing civil wars (which we were funding, turns out). The first week I was there, these cops were raiding a house across the street where I was staying and a Latino guy was escaping down the street. The cops didn’t know which way he had run. Everyone was standing around pretending like they hadn’t seen him run up the street so I pointed out which way he had run and the police chased him. No idea if they caught him, but I was proud to have helped them. At that time in my life, I understood police to be good. As I got to know Jose, Louise, Lizbet, and Celida I realized just how impossible their situation was. They were unable to work, unable to return to their country, unable to speak English. I couldn’t fit what I knew about caring for people with what I knew about being a patriotic American. When I think back to the situation with the police I see myself as cluelessly complicit where my instinct was to trust that white police were the good guys and that the Latino man was the bad guy.
Shonnah: Proximity, Proximity, Proximity! You can only understand certain injustices when you see and experience them first hand. This includes when a loved one is the victim of injustice, it becomes personal, it becomes REAL.
Tim: I’ll just say that I’ve hit the snooze button a lot of times and there have been multiple awakenings, but Shonnah’s interview about BLM on CloudTnT was when I decided to actually get out of bed and get my white ass to do something. Faith mattered to me and my questions were less about sex and creation and more asking church leaders why they didn’t ask us to give our stuff to the poor. I didn’t buy their answer: that Jesus didn’t actually mean that (but he did mean to hate the gays, and call it love). It just didn’t fit for me, Jesus was a nonwhite male living under military social and economic oppression; he was friends with traitors and prostitutes and couldn’t tolerate religious jackasses.
Shonnah: …...Again honored.
What does privilege mean to you Privilege is an undeserved starting point where social and economic defaults work differently for some people. White privilege isn’t something I asked for or deserve. The single most important thing I’ve learned from the Ohana is that privilege is an asset that can be used to fight injustice, but only if privileged people accept it and own it. Guilt and denial are the most important tools of Injustice – they create a barrier to owning privilege. I would be furious if I were a woman of color and white dudes acted like they didn’t have things generally better.
Shonnah: I like this: “ Guilt and denial are the most important tools of Injustice” because until we acknowledge the privilege that we have there is no way for us to use it.
How do you think you have benefited from your inherited privilege Tim: Too many ways to count. Things are set up to work out for me. This became clear in 1999 when I took an African American history course at City College in San Francisco. I was one of two white guys in the class, but the other guy was so more “woke” than the other students of color, and I vowed to never be like that guy – he knew all the injustice stats but didn’t seem like he knew a single person of color.
The summer before I had been pulled over, and had talked the officer into letting my friend take a picture of me in the driver’s seat of his squad car wearing his hat. As students shared their experiences being pulled over I began to see how different it was. Other ways: I don’t need ID to get a hotel key from a front desk. I can talk my way into upgrades on airlines, hotels, or free dessert at restaurants.
Shonnah: Yea I know some of those data “woke” people all brains and no heart! Our heart is our seed of motivation so until you’ve felt it in your heart and soul you will never be truly woke. I have to say when you came to Minnesota and I got to hang out with a group of white guys I felt the privilege flowing. From the hotel to the restaurant’s people were treating me different and it was glorious LOL.
What do you do to be an ally
Tim: The only thing I’ve really done is start with myself. Ghandi pointed out that Home Rule for India started with Self Rule. If I want to be part of the solution, I need to be aware of the problem and the problem I can do something about is understanding myself.
Shonnah: “The Power of 1” – I have an equality/equity presentation about this. One individual can influence a chain reaction of change that can be unstoppable. So keep working on you because the changes you make have an impact!
How could you move from being an ally to an accomplice Tim: Support PepupTech Use NiM as a platform to allow leaders to accomplish their goals while doing their work. Be less of a chicken shit.
Shonnah: I seriously can’t with you!… Say this with me “I am not a chicken shit!” We are all at different stages of our journey and as long as you keep a steady course you will reap the rewards.
What would you tell other white males about allyship Tim: It’s scary as hell, there isn’t a way to mitigate the risk completely, so just get started. It is also a good business decision.
Shonnah: Nothing worth doing is easy and you have a whole tribe supporting and fighting with you.
Who or what has inspired you Tim: Shonnah – pushing me on BLM and all the things (plus she’s funny af) Toya – honesty about bullshit she has to put up with from white males Rakia – what it’s like to own a biz as a woman of color Angela – having children of color Joni & Jace – challenges of inclusion Tracy K – most of the things
Shonnah: I love all of these ROCK STARS!
Do you think your efforts have an impact Tim: Internally – they are redefining me. Externally – a drop in the ocean (which is enough)
Shonnah: I respect your bravery, Tim. Growth and change are challenging but worthwhile. That drop in the ocean has seen and unseen ripples of positivity. Thank you for your drop and your time.
Follow Tim on Twitter: @timlockie2000