07/27/22 | Allies, Gender

Embiggening, Setting Intentions and Making Room for the Voices Around You

In the second season of Pondering Allyship, host Corey Ponder, SWITCH’s Senior Director of Empathy and Allyship, sat down with Judith Martinez, CEO of InHerShoes and globally renowned voice for gender equity and social advocacy.

Her lens as an entrepreneur and social impact leader lays a solid foundation for where we will go during this show — how do you empower and uplift the voices of others? Part of humanizing the experiences and perspectives of others is acknowledging that there is power in their stories.

Corey Ponder: Welcome everybody. Again, always excited to do these sessions and have these conversations around allyship, but also the idea of how we show up for building the world that we want to see, in particular, how do we show up to support other communities? 

Thank you as always SWITCH for the platform. Thank you everyone for joining me. I’ve been working on allyship and empathy and building inclusion with that as a lens for a couple of years now through my business EMPACT Strategies, but also through my work in different industries.

I’m excited to think about the frameworks and the ways in which we apply that now. I’m sure that all of you know Judith Martinez, but I am forced to intro her because that’s how a show is supposed to work. What we’re gonna do is kick things off by introing Judith, who, whenever I talk about her, I really talk about the fact that she really puts the movement building name and births it fully because she puts it into focus for me. When I think about how she looks at ideas and how they can be impactful, I think you’ll look at her work and see a lot of things about catalyzing others, catalyzing change agents to think courageously about how to do that through her entire career, not just catalyzing them, but also walking alongside them.

And she has a unique lens and a unique intersection between social impact innovation and inclusion throughout the body of her work. She’s done a lot of this work through founding InHerShoes, but also leading and scaling social impact efforts in the mental health and education space at Rare Beauty and a Rare Impact Fund.

I’m so excited to have Jude back with us today. Welcome Judith. 

Judith Martinez: Thanks Corey. Thanks for having me again, pleasantly surprised and in shock and awe as always to be able to share space with you. I’m honored to be here. Thanks for having me. 

Corey Ponder: Yes, you are back for Round Two, which means I didn’t completely scare you away.

Before we dive in I want to say at the top, it’s really important to have a conversation about where we’ve been in the last month, maybe the last couple of months, as it relates to empowering voices, the voices of women and individuals who are thinking about their journey through pregnancy, as well as their bodies and their choices and their rights to or not choose to go through with pregnancy or take pregnancies to term. 

As we think about the Roe v Wade decision, and we think about the overturning and what it means for different communities and different voices. I do want to hand it over to Judith because I know she wants to plug a cause is very near and dear to her heart before we get started.

So Jude I’ll shoot over to you. 

Judith Martinez: Of course. Thanks Corey. I’m Judith as Corey shared. And for me, something Corey mentioned that there was an opportunity to shout out something that’s been weighing either on our minds or our hearts during this time.

For me, it’s been something very close to my heart. Something that I do in the scope of my work is I’m also an ambassador for the United State of Women. It was an initiative that was born out of the Obama administration. I have been part one of the inaugural ambassadors to really take this program and bring it to life in partnership and in tandem with an incredible cohort of ambassadors, all of who really support the fight for gender equity and its intersection with all the other causes, the awakening that I would say our whole nation is encountering at this time. 

Something that is so prevalent to my advocacy work at United State of Women is this current conversation of bans off our bodies. I want to do a quick plug for anyone who feels compelled to learn more, to show support as a volunteer, or just to be educated more around how is this being discussed, how does this impact our grassroots organizations, how is it impacting our corporations and how is it impacting the future of our civic duties, even as we engage in these conversations, ongoing. 

Planned Parenthood, their action fund is a source of not only taking empathy into action for those who see themselves called to that, but also is a wealth of resources and knowledge to learn more about what’s being done on the front lines. When it comes to this conversation, how a dollar contribution or a time contribution through volunteering supports over 90 local grassroots organizations that are truly fighting for reproductive justice and its intersection with gender equity. Wanting to give a quick shout out to that. 

I know so many things are going on in the world, there’s a lot and so I’ll round that out by saying thank you for even joining us, because at least over here, I’m in Los Angeles, it’s 12:00pm and I’m sure there are a million other things each of you could have been doing.

And you’re here with us talking about allyship. So thank you for being here. 

Corey Ponder: Thank you. And thank you for sharing that Jude and also giving us an opportunity to do what we’re talking about today, which I think is show up for others, figure out ways to empower other people’s voices and actually understand the causes and issues that matter to them.

One of the things that we were talking about just before the call was really thinking about how that could look different in different contexts, certainly as a leader. And as we think about some things that have happened in the industry, we’ve seen some companies, some leaders, some CEOs speak out about what this means to them from both the personal perspective, but also the company perspective. Maybe that even speaks to one of the ways in which we can empower other voices, by acknowledging that something is real and that it has impact with your community, your customers, things of that nature. 

But I’m curious from your perspective, seeing some of the initial responses, some of the companies or leaders that stepped out there to speak up or not speak up even, what your reaction has been as we’ve been following this conversation in the news and elsewhere. 

Judith Martinez: I’m going to answer this as I hope to answer every question that’s ever prompted to me – authentically – and so I think Judith as a human. I also want to call out that part of the empathy work is as practitioners. Where, at least for me, in my experiences, I’m constantly looking at how I’m viewing the situation, or the story, or the narrative, or the challenge that is posed ahead of me and what are the biases or context that I currently have as an individual bringing to this situation as I interpret it. 

Human initial reaction? One, the actual ruling, I was personally devastated by it. I know a lot of people who have personally been impacted by that choice, not within the state of California, but within states that no longer provide that as an option.

Two, my reaction and initial response as a practitioner, as someone reading these headlines of CEOs or leaders and their responses was a sense of, “I’m glad that they’re speaking out and as they should,” is something that came to my mind unfiltered.

And then there was also a sense of “and now what?” Which is also so common to the Rolodex of issues, that to be completely frank, we’ve been inundated by them. COVID exacerbated so many issues in systemic injustices – you name it, whether it’s racial injustice to pulling stuff like the right to vote for different folks, all the way down to our choices over our bodies. I would even say the future of civic engagement. 

So for me there, there’s also an added whiff of “this is great” and what are the actions again? How are we turning empathy into action? And what does that look like? Or as a lot of my fellow grassroots leaders would say: show us the receipts. How else are we also taking action on this cause that also is very personal for a lot of different people, no matter what stance you take on it.

So I think that’s a very loaded response to your question, Corey. I hope that answers it. 

Corey Ponder: We like loaded. You hit the fact that it can be nuanced. There can be a recognition that this is a great first step, but it’s not the only step. What you said about speaking up is great, and taking a position as a company is great.

Even recognizing that there are communities that you serve that will be impacted in ways that everybody may not understand, and you have a positional power to shed a light on that. That’s great. 

It also does kick off other conversations about your own positional power, other things that you could do to help those communities really navigate. Not just that challenge, but other challenges that make this a challenge in the first place. With some of the conversations around access to abortion, it’s not just the access to abortion, but also the fact that there are people who are in poverty that makes it difficult for them to access abortion. So then there’s this added layer of intersection – what is the role that we play in addressing those other issues?

Judith Martinez: Absolutely. I love that you brought up positionality Corey. I feel like we geek out about this a lot, but a lot of the things that I’ve been doing lately have been reflecting on what is allyship to me right now. And what does that look like? 

For me, there’s this ongoing truing myself up to identifying, wow, it really does include this level of privileged positionality and recognizing that personal responsibility for social change. Even this consistent action to actually challenge the norm or what is perceived to be the status quo of privilege.

Thank you for again, bringing up positionality.

Corey Ponder: It’s actually a perfect segue into our first topic. I want to give everybody a heads up because one thing that you may not know about Jude, you probably know it about me if you’ve tuned into other episodes is that I am very much a superhero sci-fi nerd. In particular, Marvel is the one that I will wax poetic about as Jude knows.

One of the things we recently have seen over the past couple of weeks is the show Miss Marvel. I am going to do my best to not spoil anything, and I will encourage you to watch this show, but the reason why I bring it up is because as I was watching this series over six weeks, I felt like there were many topics that came up in the show that were relevant to this conversation about how do you empower other voices and how do you show up in a way that’s both authentic, but yet recognizes your own positionality and this broader conversation.

As you mentioned, one of the things that came up is this idea of power transfer. There was a lot happening in the show where different characters were essentially walking up to or showing a willingness to actually transfer their power or their knowledge or their position in the world to someone else in order to help them move forward in what they were trying to accomplish in the story.

I wanted to get your thoughts, Jude, when you think about power transfer, how do you feel power transference, the act of giving up that again, something that you have for the sake of someone else is related to the act of empowering others? 

Judith Martinez: Love that you always tie in Marvel without fail it’s so great. That’s true art, right? How does this blueprint into our daily lives? 

For me, thinking about that and just hearing you bring that question to light again right now, what comes to mind is if anyone’s ever lit a candle before. I have a candle right here, actually. We bring my Pottery Barn sun-drenched candle that I love to light when I meditate for the sake of staying sane. 

When I light this candle and if I were to use this candle to light another candle, it doesn’t distinguish my own light. I’d like to think that this candle still stays lit. That is something that comes to mind. When I think about empowering another person or the internal work it can take to be courageous enough or to be the ally, to be able to light someone else’s flame without fear of extinguishing your own.

A lot of the leaders I’ve worked with that have really galvanized and mobilized communities have all reached a friction point in their leadership of “am I doing this to accomplish some goal or to further a cause or to promote allyship. What does that mean about me?”

Then there almost becomes this ego conversation of “oh, but when I do that, does that take away from my impact or my ability?” And in a way that’s part of what really dismantling power is about. But at the same time, there’s also this invitation to explore. How is power shared as opposed to this thing that is scarce and diminishes your own ability to create impact by empowering and impacting other people. And so I think 

That’s something that I’ve really noticed in a lot of the conversations I’ve either had with different leaders in either supporting their mission or their scaffolding of their impact work. That’s what comes to mind, transference of power.

 It also reminds me of when the marks of being able to empower others is by actually allowing them to see their own power. We’re not gifting something that is outside of who they are. It’s simply sharing with them what’s already within them that they can just tap into, which I think also speaks to the Marvel to the Marvel universe.

Here we are. Corey, back to your superheroes. 

Corey Ponder: This is what we’re doing. You’re not getting away from it. 

Wow. I was on mute, but I literally gave three loud “mm-hmm” when you said that, because I hadn’t equated the idea of our power as a light and as a candle that doesn’t necessarily get diminished by lighting another candle. It burns just as brightly. And if you think about the luminescence of trying to light an apartment, you realize you have to have a certain amount of lumens in an apartment. But you realize that actually it’s the added candles lit that helps you all shine brighter too.

So I think your analogy really, really hits. 

Judith Martinez: Awesome. I love candles 

Corey Ponder: Way to bring that in. This is gonna be my toast to you in your work during this conversation. But one of the things I really appreciate and respect about you as a leader is that you do so much candle lighting through your work, and I don’t see ego in that, or I don’t see you move through a space where you’re afraid to diminish your light or your own candle, so to speak. You really dive in there. 

I’m just wondering if you want to share and respond to that and if you have a framework or you have some way of thinking about how you move through the world that helps you show up to that consistently.

Judith Martinez: Thank you, Corey. I appreciate that. I’m gonna toast you right back. The one quick thing I’ll say is it takes one to know one. Taking it back to the schoolyard days. 

I want to answer and just have this conversation between two humans that are grappling with the world, with whatever comes with being human, practicing, this space of allyship and what that looks like. 

I also want to do a quick footnote of, I’m not perfect and I wasn’t always this person that was like “take some light, here, let me light your flame”. But that’s what allyship work is about. It’s being able to do the internal work.

For me, it wasn’t directly correlated to allyship work, but in my own story and narrative, it was having the confidence that I was capable of even lighting people’s candles.

If I’m to stick to that analogy, it was more so of, who am I to, to speak to this? Or who am I to be an ally or who am I to engage in these conversations? I just appreciate you for that, and being a partner in my allyship growth as a human, I would even say.

 What helped me get to this point – and is what my North Star in a lot of senses of things that I try to pull from when it comes to lighting these other candles. Funny enough, it’s actually an acronym and the acronym is inclusive, because why not?

I feel like I’ve lived many lives in terms of just social impact work and the work of exploring what is social impact in this digital space that we’re in now, but also to having led a nonprofit for 10 years. And I’ve also taught social impact in strategy.

I’ve helped develop social impact and inclusion curriculum for different college campuses. One thing that came to mind was this acronym of INCLUSIVE. I’ll quickly kind go through what every word stands for and briefly thinking through what is the frame of thought that I would bring to it.

I is for Introspection. I’ve mentioned hopefully multiple times already on this call this level of reflection and internal work that I constantly feel is a non-negotiable when you are in this space. The world has so many unhealed healers, and we need to take it upon our own self, our own stories, our own narratives. It’s only in that space where we can accept our own humanity and our own humanness through introspection that we can actually invite people in to do the same. A lot of allyship work and empathy work is healing and there are so many layers to that. So the I in INCLUSIVE is introspection.

N is Needs. Being able to contemplate, what does this person need? This individual that I’m about to support, this person that I’m looking to ignite their flame.

And then C, going into the third letter, what’s the Context of this? I think a lot of the times when we talk about empathy, it can seem like, “I feel what you feel” or “I have compassion for you.” But part of empathy is also this Context of what is the greater ecosystem that is pertaining to this particular issue or this particular person that I may not even be aware of. And also too, what’s my Context that I’m coming into this situation with, what are my biases that I may or may not be aware of? 

Something that a mentor of mine would share with me posed this question. She would ask, are you being with this person’s feelings or are you being with your feelings about this person’s feelings? It would have me really challenge myself to think about, wow, when I’m coming to this space of allyship work or empathy or promoting diversity and inclusion, what’s the context that I’m bringing and also walking into. 

L stands for just Lessons. What are the different strategies and equitable instructions or approaches that I’ve either learned from my own experiences or from my peers, and also what are the different backgrounds of the folks that I’m about to engage in and how do they learn? What are the learnings and the lessons that can be involved as understanding. 

S is Supporting Structures, I is Interactions, V is for Value, and E is Evolution. 

The whole acronym is an invitation to take pause and stock throughout the course of really engaging people in this conversation in a way that hopefully also supports yourself as a practitioner. 

Corey Ponder: Yes. Can you hit those last letters? S. I. V. E. 

Judith Martinez: S is Supporting Structures. How can we examine the supporting structures that already exist to have this turn into empathy, into action, or do we need to create supporting structures? ERG groups within a company, for example, is that something that needs to be established?

And then the I is Interaction. Considering the process of, what are the interactions, whether it’s individually, are there power structures that we need to keep in mind? What are the interactions between other peer groups and hierarchies

V is value. How can data support diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging? That’s something that’s really interesting. When I mention value, how do we use quantitative and qualitative methods in assessing and viewing our effectiveness in allyship and the supporting structures that the S includes.

And then E is Evolution. The ideal is how are we evolving together in this ecosystem of allyship? But also too, using personal reflection and assessments to synthesize, what are we learning? What are we finding and how can we implement these learnings and findings so that we can evolve? If we could wave our magic wand, how are we evolving these structures that are in place that actually create these systems of oppression. 

Corey Ponder: Love it that right there, folks, Jude’s masterclass will be out next month, you can get it on any platform.

Thank you for that. I had never heard that acronym before, but each piece is so intentional in such a clear reflection of all those steps or the journey that you move through to actually create that inclusive community. 

One of the things that you touched on earlier, especially around the needs and introspection piece is healing. I do want to see if you have anything else to add on how healing and reconciliation fits into this broader conversation around empowering other voices. 

Judith Martinez: I mean, that’s a session.

A lot of what led me to this work and what keeps me in this work is my own ongoing healing. As a first generation Filipino, as a daughter of immigrants, the generational trauma that I’m aware of that is not only within my family, but I know I encounter and grapple with through my daily life. Healing in that sense.

A particular moment that unlocked for me was in 2021, there was this rise of anti-Asian hate violence and it was, as the world would have it, right around Mental Health Awareness Month in May and AAPI Heritage Month, on the coattails of George Floyd’s murder, this racial awakening that’s been happening within the US on top of a global pandemic. That really altered for me and it had me grapple with, wow, I didn’t realize there was personal healing work for me to do around what it meant to be an Asian woman.

This is just 2021 y’all, this was a little bit over a year ago. I’m already a few years into my work and there was another layer for me to discover. And so for me, at least in my personal experience, healing allows for the continued expansion and space to give that healing opportunity for other people. But I also believe that it’s really challenging to invite and call people in to heal when you yourself are not doing that work. I think it is nearly impossible. I’ve tried it, don’t think that it’s as effective. For me, at least in my own journey, healing my own conversations around race worth identity voice has really impacted my work and how I approach it. 

Corey Ponder: Wow, thank you for being so vulnerable and authentic. There are a lot of lessons that we can take from just your conversation with yourself about how do you continue to grow then how you bring that newly discovered self into your work. So almost like an iterative process. 

And I appreciate that because it’s also a lens that I don’t think we talk about often when it comes to showing up to. These types of conversations, whatever the lens is, whether it’s thinking about gender equity, whether it’s thinking about racial trauma and violence and what we can do to address it and heal others in that space. A lot of it is iterating and learning about yourself when you do a thing, and also harkening back to something you said earlier about how you feel about others, whether you’re being with those feelings and actually having to think about that at every level is also part of the process. 

Jude’s in such a sharing mood. I do want to shift and ask one question. Usually with these shows, I like to do a little segment that takes us out of just questions about the content itself and more a way to get to know the whole guest through the question.

 This, as I talked about earlier, is a Miss Marvel inspired show. One of her catch phrases is “embiggen”, right before she uses her powers. I’m not gonna spoil anything, but the term embiggen is really about expansion or intentionally enlarging yourself. And in that context, it’s great, like superhero powers. 

But for you, Jude, one thing that I would like to use that to set context around is there a topic area or story or something where you’ve been intentionally enlarging or expanding yourself in, and I want to hear what it is and then we can kind of tease that out a little bit more. 

Judith Martinez: Oh, Corey. Yes. Oh, I dunno why I’m cringing. All of a sudden I’m holding my breath. Like, should I tell you what I’m enlarging? For context for folks, I’ve decided that I’m pursuing a Master’s, ‘which is something that I think was very serendipitous for me. A brand new Master’s program that is being hosted by USC and their school of Annenburg for Journalism and Communication. And I’m focusing on digital media advocacy. It’s a particular emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion. And what I’m geeking out about is, I have been scratching my head over the last decade, really, whether it’s been through my own personal nonprofit work or supporting and scaling mission driven organizations, companies, or educational institutions, and really looking to explore in this digital media landscape that we live in, which is clearly not going away anytime soon or ever, how can we utilize and leverage these technologies for good.

Is that possible? I’d like to think so, but that’s what I’m studying, what I’m enlarging in this space. And so I’m really exploring the intersection of digital media and advocacy work and how can we equip all sectors, whether you’re a nonprofit, a brand, a corporation, or a government entity, and what does that look like? And, what does the future of work look like in that space as well? So that’s, what at working on lately, Corey.

Corey Ponder: Just that thing you’re working on! One tactic is that you’re going to school to learn and be intentional about that. I’m curious, any other tactics, tools, or practices that you feel are helping you show up with intention as you continue to embiggen yourself? I mean, it could be showing up to school is the practice but just wondering if there’s anything else. 

Judith Martinez: Part of why I love learning – and I’ve also identified about myself, I am a very practical learner, so I believe in hands on learning, I like experimenting – I like being able to go out into the world and see, how does this textbook with words apply to this real world that I’m living in with nuanced subjects and nuanced conversations and nuanced stories.

And so, a practice or a tool is I’ve actually been having conversations with people in the tech space, Corey, and really looking to see, what are your thoughts on how does equity fit into technology? Whether it’s product development, how we’re talking about the product, what does our brand mean in this space in light of all of these cultural issues that I think now people are also demanding companies to speak out upon.

 I’ve been really trying to have fun with engaging folks that I normally wouldn’t in a conversation. That for me has also been a fun tool and practice to remind myself of, oh yeah, things are intersectional. Really, truly things are intersectional. But are we talking about it? Do we even know how to talk about it? That’s a tool and a practice that I’ve definitely been taking on.

And the last thing I’d say is I’ve been trying to read books that I normally wouldn’t like. I’m reading a book on how to code. I don’t know, am I really good at code, am I gonna build a new platform? Probably not. But it’s another layer of also getting insight into wow, technology is around us every single day, the social media apps that are being created, who’s creating them. Do they have the same life experiences that maybe a student who doesn’t have the privilege to go to a school that allows them to create. There all of these different, added layers of conversation that this is opening up for me. 

I would say that trying new things, reading new things, having conversations with people, I normally wouldn’t. 

Corey Ponder: I’m gonna ask you in six months about that coding. Because Jude has this habit of doing this where I’ll ask you in six months, you’re like, “oh, I built my first app! It just, it was natural as a part of the book. So here I am with this app.” 

I’ll at least start the conversation on your question around the equity piece and in tech, you know, I love having these conversations with you, but I think it’s so interesting when we think about the role that companies play beyond just having the technology exist and the technology working a 100% of the time.

 All of these other themes come up as it relates to equity, I think a lot about, what role does economic opportunity play as one side of that, as we start to think about access to the platform to build, do people have the same level of access?

So economic opportunity being one. And then I think the other – fairness. I think it’s easy to look at the broad ecosystem of tools and say that they themselves are just tools. But we know that tools are built by people, and people have lenses through which they’ve built those tools. And so it’s not always obvious what those lenses are.

The best case scenario, those lenses might just make a bug or be something slightly inconvenient. But in the worst case, it may actually restrict people’s abilities to play in that space fairly. 

And so, as we think about equity, how do we move towards solutions that recognize our own natural biases a bit more, but also that we are thinking and constantly about how we expand opportunities and access.

So, absolutely. Embiggen. We may invite you back for Round 3 for that conversation. Thank you for sharing your tactics, because I think it gets into another topic that I want to dive into. There was this theme of damage control that came up a lot in the show, very literally, but also metaphorically. And I look at that as coming in as a force with the best of intentions, but not necessarily realizing how the best of intentions aren’t enough.

So when you talk about tactics, when you talk about intentionality, but there’s so much about learning and taking yourself out of a comfort zone, and I appreciate that and I appreciate you sharing that.

 I want to know, how do you set the right intentions without letting that dominate your entire frame for showing up in a conversation or showing up in a movement? 

Judith Martinez: This is a juicy question! 

This is such an ongoing practice – it’s a muscle to ongoingly practice for sure. When it comes to really being able to set the right intentions without letting that dominate our entire frame right of how we show up there, one of the most important assets and skills – I’ll intentionally use the word skill – that doesn’t get its due diligence is the act of listening.

There is something that is so crucial to and beyond even just allyship work. This is even a key for success in our lives, in our livelihoods, in our relationships, within our communities.

I think there’s this opportunity to be able to recognize, okay, what are my intentions for what’s in front of me? And then what’s my intention that I am seeking to fulfill, to impact the cause that is in front of me. But also the people that are closest to the problem, also have the greatest opportunity for its solution, and what are their intentions? And am I aware of that?

Something that can easily become a slippery slope is how are we becoming the savior of the day. How are we just gonna helicopter in? And here we are with our spreadsheets and our graphs and our acronyms and all of our great intentions, but is it actually effective? And is it speaking to the community that it is most impacting. 

That is where key skills like listening, empathy, compassion, and really being able to see the scope of the perspectives, and what is the historical stories and infrastructures that are part of that.

That’s one of the first things that I would say when it comes to setting the right intentions without having it dominate the entire frame. 

And then also, who are you bringing into this conversation that keeps you true to yourself and the mission? I think when we hold ourselves to account as one thing, but when we build a team of people that hold ourselves accountable to the greater cause then you’re being accountable to the mission and not to your ego or not to wanting to be a savior or to this particular moment, or to avoid looking bad and trying to look good, saying the right thing versus making an actual difference. 

Those are two guardrails that I invite myself and invite other practitioners to walk through is what is the context and the frame, but also who are the people that I am surrounding myself with that true myself, up to this mission and intention, so that I do see the entire frame, and we can hold each other to account. 

Corey Ponder: Thank you for mentioning both accountability and the team, not just accountability to self, but the team that you surround yourself with, and also the art of listening. Earlier, you talked about being with yourself and your thoughts of someone else versus being with their actual feelings. It strikes me that when you have that conversation with yourself about a situation, how easy it is to think about your response to that person, as opposed to think about truly understanding that person. And I think the listening as a skill speaks to truly understanding a person. 

Also, you hit the nail on the head for my thing that I like to talk about, which is swooping in to save the day. Damage control I also see very much like that. I am trying to save you from yourself and that is the way that I can be most helpful. So I am telling you, don’t protest like that, or don’t use that series of tactics. This is the way to get it done. Or if you use this instead of that, people would listen or take you more seriously. And I think these are all those traps of, you have the best intentions, is it actually causing more harm or hurting the cause by showing up that way? 

I don’t know if you have any other thoughts on that, if there are other traps that you see when people try to show up to save the day, what it might look like. And I named a couple, but wondering if you have any other thoughts?

Judith Martinez: The last one that you spoke to, Corey, is spot on and I think it’s more common than not. And I think we see it far more frequently. We started this conversation with Roe v Wade and how are these public-facing figures speaking to, or not speaking to them, or speaking to these points.

Really amplifying the importance of recognizing that and that there are pitfalls. And even having the recognition and that moment of, let me take a pause here. Am I actually furthering the work or am I preventing work to be, despite all my well intentions too?

The one last thing that comes to mind is, again, I feel very privileged – also a very intentional word – to have had incredible mentors in this space. Something that a mentor of mine from the Institute of Non-Profit Practice had shared is, when looking at a situation or something that you’re grappling with within your community and trying to work towards this end goal, really looking to see what’s more important. That this issue gets resolved or that it gets done, or that I’m the one who has to go and do it? In that kind of context and framework, it really had all of us as practitioners think about, sometimes, yes, we all have our own intentions, and at the same time, are we necessarily the people to give voice to it? Or do we tap someone who’s from within that community and empower their leadership and have them actually speak up and speak out?

And is that something that furthers the cause despite our intentions again. That would be the last thing that I would put in that comes to mind. 

Corey Ponder: Thank you. You’re like, nah, that was perfect. And also, Jim, here’s a big diamond I’m gonna present to you. No thank you for adding that on. It actually makes you think about our last topic, or last quote that came from Miss Marvel. I won’t say who said it or in what episode, but essentially the quote was, “There is no normal, there’s just us and what we do with what we’ve been given.” I thought this quote was so powerful for a lot of different ways, because if we’re thinking about the individual story that we’re trying to show up for, maybe the reason why the story feels hidden or silence is because it’s not perceived as normal.

 Then we’re trying to think about the healing that needs to happen around that. As you were talking about in these traps that we fall into, there’s this conversation around, what is normal? What should I be doing to empower others? What’s the normal course of action. 

And, no, there’s just what you do with what you’ve been given. What is your position? And what do you do with that position in the moment that you have? Sharing this quote with you, what does it mean to you? What are you hearing when you hear that? 

Judith Martinez: I think it’s great. And after this show we’re having right now, I’m excited to binge watch the rest of the show that you’ve been. Completely fawning over, which is great. 

When I think about that, my initial instinct and gut reaction is, yeah, there is no normal, there really isn’t. And again, if we can tie it all the way back to what are the infrastructures? How is society deemed to be normal? What do we see as masculine and feminine? What do we see as right and wrong? What’s successful? What’s a failure? By what age are you doing what?

There’s a lot of fluff and there’s a lot of noise and there’s a lot of dust around what’s perceived as normal. It’s also interesting that the second part of that quote is there’s just us and what we do with what we’ve been given.

It reminds me of a lot of this other quote. I come from a family of Filipinos that enjoy playing cards, and my grandfather, whenever he tries to play – and he’s 91 at this point, so universe, God bless him – something he’d always say to my brother and I growing up is, “you can’t control the cards that you’re dealt, just how you play them.” That reminds me a lot of this quote as well. And I’d push a little bit further and even say, we live in an unequal world, and for those who haven’t been “given” in that quote, what opportunity and what can we create from nothing? What does that look like? Who are the people we call in? And then for those who have been “given” in this world, who are those people that we can also call out and call in so that they can experience and explore this own world of normal, and redefining what that could be. 

That’s the only thing that comes to mind for me when I think of that quote, that’s so true, and what about those who haven’t been given? Where is the power there and tying it back to, how do we empower those who haven’t been given? 

Corey Ponder: There it is. Well, sorry. That’s all I got. That’s all you got. And what you have is enough. 

We have a couple of minutes left and, as is tradition, I’m going to give you three minutes to say whatever you want to say to close it out. It could be an Oscar speech, could be freestyle that you wrote, could be something else you want to talk about.

So here, you’ve got three minutes. 

Judith Martinez: Three minutes of an open floor. I don’t know if I’ll need three minutes, Corey. If anything, I’d love to actually ask you a question in these three minutes. It’s something that’s come to mind, this is the perk of a live show, right? You can kind of just go on a whim.

My question for you, Corey is, this is obviously this isn’t your first rodeo, this isn’t your first season. What do you see as the future for allyship, standing where we are today, what’s on the horizon. What is the future? Who are the people we need to call in to expand this conversation?

Curious to your thoughts. 

Corey Ponder: Dang Jude. That is, that is deep. I would say first and foremost, I think the conversation around allyship is one of actual expectation, where we are today. What do people mean when they say allyship, because it’s become so ubiquitous, at least in the conversations of how people show up.

I even would argue that I’ve really been trying to be intentional about defining what I mean when I say the word allyship, because it means different things to different people. The second piece, the future of that is how do we start pushing ourselves to listen to the communities who need allies most around what that definition is?

We’ve seen a lot of different terms used, whether it’s co-conspirator or whether it’s advocate or whether it’s all of these different terms. But ultimately it’s really about, what are the actions that you’re taking to put power to work on behalf of someone else and on behalf of their story.

 In many ways, the future of it is really shifting the conversations towards a radical desire and a radical understanding of what it means to show up for someone else. That means really learning to take a backseat and listen to those different communities. 

As far as calling in and calling out, there are so many issues, and recognizing that objectively, it’s overwhelming. No one person can necessarily juggle all of those constructs and ways of moving through the world and just dismantling at one time. But I do think that there’s like a core fundamental approach to it. 

You talked a little bit about this earlier, when we talked about intentionality and tactics, where it’s going to the building blocks of being a good human being. It’s not so much about having a college-level education on Critical Race Theory, or it’s not necessarily about understanding the waves of feminism and understanding what movement we’re in at this point, or any other particular space that we’re occupying.

I think it’s really about understanding what the building blocks are to know that you can show up tomorrow with the same intentions that you showed up with yesterday. And so starting to reframe ourselves around learning those building blocks is really going to help us move in a direction with allyship – whatever we call it – with the right toolkit so that we can keep showing up earnestly and authentically.

Judith Martinez: That was my three minutes, Corey. That’s what I wanted it to be, dedicated to you, was your vision. And a vision that clearly all of us on this call can take part in. So appreciate it. 

Corey Ponder: Well, kudos on the redirect there, first time that has happened, which I appreciate.

Thank you. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you, all of you as well, for being here and engaging in the conversation and listening. Thank you SWITCH for providing the platform as always. 

We’ll be back in August, so stay tuned, subscribe all the things, make sure you’re following, and enjoy the rest of your day.

Judith Martinez: Awesome. Thank you everyone. Thanks for having me, Corey. Corey Ponder: Always.



The Switch Editorial Team.

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