April 20, 2023

Crushing Corporate Racism with Cindi Bright

Cindi Bright joins Britt for an illuminating conversation about calling corporations to account for their racist choices, surfacing performative politics, unleashing your power, and finding your courage. But most importantly they discuss all sorts of ways we can practice loving kindness in the face of cognitive dissonance, bigotry, and bias.      

Join us on this wild ride, as we delve into the tough stuff and plumb the depths of our souls. You won’t want to miss it!

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Cindi Bright 







Jonathan Beal






Britt East








Jonathan[00:00:02] Welcome to Not Going Quietly the podcast where we inspire growth, beat down biases and get into all sorts of good trouble with co-hosts Jonathan Beale and Britt East.


Britt[00:00:11] No topic is off limits as we explore ways to help everyone leap into life with a greater sense of clarity, passion, purpose and joy.


Jonathan[00:00:19] So get ready to join us in courageous conversation because not going quietly starts right now.


Britt[00:00:30] Welcome to Not Going Quietly the podcast for outraged optimists and heartbroken healers all over the world where we surface life searing truths in the name of radical togetherness. I'm your host, Britt East. My co-host, Jonathan Beal, is out sick today, but we're so lucky to have the fantabulous Sandy Brite as our featured guest. I can't wait for you to meet her. She's absolutely amazing. Let me tell you a little bit about her. Cindi Bright is a speaker, consultant and radio host and author of The Color of Courage Crushing Racism in Corporate America. Her work focuses on the ecosystems of corporate America impacting and impeding progress for brown and black people. She is the producer and host of Heartbeat Radio. In its fifth year, a live weekly show hosted on Rainier Avenue Radio. Diverse community programing focusing on the heart condition of this country impeding diversity progress. As a former H.R. executive, she led H.R. for three financial services businesses. Her work focused on organizational development, diversity and leadership. She had global responsibilities in these roles. Reporting to CEOs. Cindy has experience working with C-suite executives and board of director leaders. A former candidate for public office in 2018, her platform has become a highly sought after show to air the voices of people and to influence public policy to improve the lives of black and brown people. I am so thrilled to welcome Sandy to the show. She and I were in different cohorts of the same executive MBA program at the University of Washington a few years ago. My background was in corporate America, just like her is, which is one of the reasons I really love her book. I can't wait for you to hear more about it and learn more about it. So let's get into it. Sandy, how are you today?


Cindi[00:02:23] I'm Well, Britt, how are you? And it's been more than a few years. It's been a decade. Oh, my.


Britt[00:02:29] Gosh. Don't remind me. Time flies. It's crazy how much has happened since then. And all I've been through. All you've been through. I've been such a fan of yours from afar. And. And watching all that you do, it's. I'm so glad we get the chance to. To sit down together and chat some about your book and all that you're working on in your book. Again, it's called The Color of Courage Crushing Racism in Corporate America. You recount your harrowing experience of being fired without severance from a prominent H.R. position. What would you like your readers to understand about the consequences of paying lip service to anti-racism while just nibbling around the edges of white supremacy?


Cindi[00:03:18] Well, talk about starting off strong with questions. Yeah. First off, that firing happened while I was in school. Business school. So I don't know if you knew that because we were in the two different cohorts. But yeah, it was going down while I was sitting in stressful. So incredibly stressful. Yeah, I'm. So your question around kind of like the performative nature of anti-racism and white supremacy. You know, like I'll say, I spent three decades in corporate America and and even watching post pandemic post COVID. You know, in 2020, this was the hot topic because George Floyd was we witnessed George Floyd's murder on TV and all of the corporations came out and said, oh, you know, we're going to send you emails. We support racial justice. Two years later, most businesses like mine, consultants, black, brown people, there's no money in these budgets. And I have often said that the only investment into black and strong in corporate America is their coffee budgets. They don't put money behind any of this work like that. Literally, they put more money into their coffee budgets than they have into racial equity or it's gone away. We're kidding ourselves if we believe that this is ever going to be on top of mind for any of them. So.


Britt[00:04:54] Oh, my gosh.


Cindi[00:04:54] So it is I mean, this is it's the truth. That's why I cannot tell you.


Britt[00:05:03] So that's one of the reasons I love you, is you're so funny and searing at the same time.


Cindi[00:05:11] Like, you know, they don't want us. They don't want women like me. They are. But it's coming. It's come to a head. I will say that it has come to a head. And that's why you see women like me unleashed. And that's why you go on LinkedIn and you see all the black women all saying the same exact things. It's. It's come to a head and. Corporate America is on its knees. It may not admit it. It's on his knees. When you look at unionization across this country, the labor movement's happening. When you look at the numbers of people who have not come back into, you know, minimum wage paying jobs, and I'm going to say minimum wage and quote unquote, because nobody can make a living on $15 an hour, You know, this is all the same shit. I hope it's okay that I say that. Yeah, I.


Britt[00:06:07] Guess encourage.


Cindi[00:06:09] The right strike so this won't work the way that things have been and it will not be fixed. It must be rebuilt. And so that's why I that's part of why I wrote the book and start talking about some of the systems that. Yeah.


Britt[00:06:26] Yeah. You had, you did something funny on LinkedIn. I'm going to tell on you and I hope it's okay. This is a quick segway. You had a I've been laughing about this for weeks. This probably happened three weeks ago. And I've been I tell you, I've been laughing about it for weeks. Somebody asked you for references or something for think something maybe you're applying for and you're like, okay, well, if you allow me to talk with three black people at your organization and then I'm happy to give you references, it of course, dial tone, you know.


Cindi[00:06:57] Mean, you know, look, that's a colonized system, right? That is a system. They want three references from people on your work. I'm happy to provide those to you. But can you provide me three black people that I can speak to inside your business and the looks on their faces when you ask that? See, this is the thing. They've always had the power and now I'm reclaim. I've reclaimed my power, as is many black people. We are saying, look, if if that's the game you want to continue to play and you want a gatekeeper or the weak come in or not and you want a gatekeeper, if we fit your stereotypical mold of what you think we're supposed to be, then you empty up the references so I can check you out. Because then how many of you want us to use the same system towards you? Yeah. So this is inherently the problem that has been so colonized and so control. You know, it's being controlled by the same demographic of people that now we're saying, no, if you, you can't have our money if you won't have us. And so as a consumer, we take a stand as an employee, we take a stand. I should say to you, I do some of these. I apply for jobs and I to see how far I get because I'm I'm I'm keeping tabs on who they all are. I'm keeping tab. We all are like, we have every black woman's got receipts. Like, like, okay, how far do I get? How many rejection notices do I get when I know I'm more qualified than the person interviewing me? Right? So don't come at me with that mess anymore. We're done.


Britt[00:08:34] I love it because, you know, it's so empowering and I love your word unleashed, and I hope people really take that to heart. We as employees have all of the leverage right now. Never in my lifetime have we as employees had in perspective, employees had more leverage. So it's incumbent upon us to use it and to get empowered to take up space in the world and and to summon all the power we have and use that leverage. I really like that. You know, we're both from the Seattle area, which is, you know, one of those politically liberal regions that is so quick to you know, we're so quick to pat ourselves on the back for our attitudes without ever really putting those attitudes into action. I mean, we might have friends of different races or genders or sexual orientations, but when it comes to actually sharing power, amending wrongs, or even acknowledging what's true, suddenly we disappear. It's almost as if we want to claim allyship, just as long as it doesn't cost us anything or inconvenience us in any way. So here's my question What do you think it's going to take for us to capture? Finally captured the sustained attention of well-meaning white people in a way that compels them to actually risk something or change their behavior?


Cindi[00:10:12] You know, I say that there are there are three SS the letter S that must be met in order for you to be a leader in this world in any space. One is that you must have suffered. The second is you must have sweat. And the third is you must have sacrificed. Now, if you find white people. So this is I'm getting at your question. When you find white people that meet those three criteria. And by suffering, does it mean you had to go through a pandemic and not get your hair done? Right. When when you have met that criteria, then you are then in a space of like my sense of humor. But that's the thing that's really important during the pandemic, right? The with the street, because they don't have their roots down because fake blond is what has kept them in positions of power. So to me, it's the truth. Like, this is this is a black woman's truth, right? Like.


Britt[00:11:14] Yeah.


Cindi[00:11:14] So when you so you can't be an ally to somebody if you are not willing to step aside or suffer or put somebody else before you. That is not how white women have been raised. And I talk about this in my book. Now, let me also say, I say it on many of my shows on air. I'm clearly not talking about all white people. I shouldn't have to say that. But by you can look at the numbers in this country on white women and their increased support of hate and all the things that people who are nonwhite have to contend with on a daily basis. If you aren't in those because look at who runs nonprofit, who predominantly holds the CEO position in nonprofit organizations and nonprofits are often serving constituents that are the least of the right from a biblical term. The least of the is who they serve. And yet, when I've asked these white women, I've asked several of them, I've asked them in public, I've asked them on air, if you didn't have a CEO behind your title, would you still be in that nonprofit? And the looks on their faces is because they want they believe that it's only them that should hold positions of power, that it's only them that should be the bosses. They don't see themselves as ever working for us or actually serving. Because when you're in there for a position of power that is not about service to the community, that is about me, me, me, me, which is a common. And so I've said in my book, you know, the difference between one of the major differences between white women and black women is white women are raised as princesses, right? Like everything is. They put the tiaras on and we raised their girls to believe that. And I think that is a tragedy. To do that to young girls and black girls are raised as warriors because we have to fight for our families and fight to stay alive and make sure our brothers and our kids aren't killed. And, you know, we're the ones making $0.53 to the dollar. So we've got to work the two jobs to keep the lights on in the house that they don't. So therein lies the differences between, you know, races of women and how. And so can we ever bring these women to the table to change them? I don't think so. I think that what you see happening now, what you comment on about it's the workers power. It's going further than that now because people are not going back. So this isn't going to be cyclical. I firmly believe business will never look the same again. I firmly believe that the generations behind me, I have a 30 year old son, so he's millennial. The Gen X is the Gen Z. None of them are ever going to go into these corporations who get abused by white women in power to spit them out, use them up for everything they have, and then spit them out so that those women can climb. Those days are done. And so it's not I believe you read my book. I call for the cleaning out of middle management. That's where they all exist. That's where the power exists. I believe there is a new day and we're rebuilding a new day where we have access and we're building access and our own avenues for success now. So entrepreneurship, many black people are out in our own spaces doing our own things because we refuse, particularly black women. Our health is at stake. We constantly have to live under these terrifying conditions inside of these corporations. It's a new day, Brett, and I don't see it ever going back to the way it was. I know for a fact young people will never tolerate these checks ever. So it's not going to happen.


Britt[00:15:03] That is awesome. Inspirational. I have I have so many questions coming out of that. You know, first, I wanted to give credit to Kimberly Crenshaw, famous black woman who came up with the theory of intersectionality, which states that bigotry is experienced not only quantitatively differently but qualitatively differently. And you alluded to that with white women and black women, the relationship in which they're socialized in the U.S. But it's not just additional layers of misogyny that when you layer race on top of gender, the the experience in the U.S. that black women face on a daily basis is qualitatively different. It's just of a different field. It's not, you know, So, yeah, you have some things in common, it seems like, because you're women, but then you have this whole other area of bigotry that you face on a daily basis, because the black experience of black female experiences is so different. And I think a lot of us, you know, a lot of us don't have the theory behind that. I haven't read the books. Okay, fine, whatever. But but but the real problematic point is we don't stop and think about the experience of other people. We don't listen to them. We're an inconvenience, as us were quick to discount what they are trying to tell us and because we just don't want to deal with it or we're getting something out of it, the paycheck or the power or whatever it happens to be in that moment. How would you describe could you flesh out a little bit more your experience in corporate America as a black woman and how that's different to the experiences of some of those gatekeepers, which are often white women and middle management? Yeah.


Cindi[00:16:52] Yeah, I agree with you. The intersection. Gender equality cannot be achieved without addressing the intersection of race. And let's be clear, when you look at the statistics, in any company I've done business in the statistics around diversity progress are are in the gender space which are benefiting white women. It is not benefiting black women. And so that's what companies hold onto to meet their shareholder demands around 0.2% diversity progress year over year. They can't hold on to a try. And they keep saying this is a you know, a hiring and retention issue. No, it's not. It's a race issue. And it's a race issue because you're got your middle management full of bigoted women that sit there in meetings and nod their heads one way, like, oh, yeah, I'm, you know, I'm going to do this. I and then when they turn their backs, they're destroying that black woman and it looks like this. It's never going to be straight out the way calling you a name. But what they do is they plant seeds about you in meetings, right? They're sitting in meetings and they say, you know. Does anybody know what's wrong with Cindy today? Did you notice she's. Succession planning meetings I'm sitting in. I'm not sure if she's ready for that yet. We should talk about her. Let's change the criteria that we need to have in order to get into that position. Right. It's setting the bar different for black women. It's sabotaging her behind the scenes. And then when they don't hire you, they call all the people out in the Seattle area to talk about the passive aggressive stuff. They call all the H.R. headhunters run by white women. H.R. executive headhunting firms now hiring diverse people again. White women benefiting on the backs of black and brown women. They call all of them and say, Did you know Cindy? That's how it's done. And so once that see and so and they fertilize it. And so they are the those women stick together. And I keep saying this, that women are women's own problem. You can talk all you want about the patriarchy, but none of those guys ain't got an ounce of intelligence that should keep them in these positions of power. It's these women that are upholding it because those women want proximity and access to it. It gives them benefits to it. Right? They're being harmed, too. They just can't seem to see the forest for the trees because they've been conditioned. The polite term, I'll say, is anything for a man or anything for money. I have a much more graphic way of describing that I won't do on your podcast, but it's the truth and it's the story in my book about what a woman, a white woman friend will do because she had proximity to power. Even though she told me herself it was only two inches long, she would still prefer to be with that than to be with her sister and help another woman succeed. That's how they roll. And every black woman knows it.


Britt[00:19:58] Yeah, and I can't help but wonder if some of it's fear based thinking. And I guess depending upon their levels of awareness or attunement. But there's clearly, you know, racism. We're just we're just awash in racism in this country. We're all roiling in the same storm of it. And we respond to it in all sorts of different ways. And it's so insidious. One of the things that you alluded to was token efforts by corporations. And I've heard it said before that you can kind of infer the quality and effectiveness of a chief diversity officers work based on how quickly they're fired, which is, of course, an intentionally provocative statement meant to convey that corporate leaders often hire them to preserve the status quo rather than make change. I mean, it's almost like these corporations are using H.R. departments and diversity statements, DEA programs as some sort of protection racket to legally indemnify their straight white cis male supremacy. Like.


Cindi[00:21:02] Performative.


Britt[00:21:03] Yeah. Like they'll do the bare minimum to give themselves something to point to as a token effort in the case of some PR crisis or legal emergency. I mean, and like at this point, it's like I wonder and you alluded to this earlier, like, is it even possible to change corporations from within their existing structures or do we have to create new structures from the ground up?


Cindi[00:21:26] I have thoughts. I have ideas about that. I'll share a couple with you. If I sell some of this stuff as part of my business. But you're right that I actually talk about the life cycle of a black woman in my book. It's about a two year life cycle. So you're right. You can't expect one person after decades and decades of racial injustice. And then you hire one person and give her or him, you know, the minimalist budget possible to fix an ecosystem that is infested with racism. They can't fix it because that is an inside job, right? You can't fix an internal culture when it's infested with racists and bigots all over the place. And how often do you ever see white folks held accountable? Well, if you bring an issue, look, we're just starting to see it right in the news. We just start to see what's her name, the Theranos CEO, where she brought it, all these people, the phones. But you know what? She's pregnant. So let's not have her commute her sentence until April next year so that she can give birth in peace. Or Felicity Huffman, who is paying to have her child admitted into Stanford while my child is having their work academically to get himself into. Right. So they're so used to having the privilege and they're not held accountable. So do I believe that we can actually change culture? No, not with it. It's so full of bigotry, even, by the way. And I actually stick to my book, even the woke ones can be problematic. They think they know everything. And I have yet to come across white women who actually want to learn and listen. They don't. They believe that they have all the answers. And the way that they've always been taught is the way it is. So here's the thing. The term I've been using a lot more lightly to solve these business problems. I'll say this I am pro people. I am pro profit and I am pro prosperity. All three of those, I believe, can coexist. The way it's structured now, it can't. So too, to bring this leveling playing field that and let me give you one more data point. I had the chair of the Washington Roundtable on my show recently. That's Corporate America. He quoted a statistic and he said last year, GDP spent gross domestic product spent on black businesses in the state of Washington was 1.2 billion in a state with a five or 6% population. That number should be closer to 24 billion. So if you're looking at a $20 billion deficit and you ask yourself the question in corporate America, you're being brought in at the low ends of salary ranges, you're making $0.53 to the dollar. The salary structure, he comes my H.R., the salary structure is moving 5 to 10% a year, but your increase is only 3% while you're being coached that your performance is not good enough because your communication style is considered inferior, because you're direct and you ask questions or you want clarity or you don't play games. It's never going to get fixed that way. It never. So why are we continuing to go down the same path that has failed repeatedly? Here's the thing Clean out what business can the the overhead spent in these corporations on H.R., H.R. a claim that whole function just eliminate the whole function. It's a disaster. Yeah, it is. Seriously, It's full of these women that want power that have never set foot inside of another person of color home. They don't have an understanding of people and dynamics. They don't care. They're racist themselves. They hide it again, bleach, Botox, all the things that keep them in positions of power while we're out here making $0.53 to the dollar. So here is how I propose we start to solve some of that. I believe by taking much of that over, just eliminate that overhead out and start investing that money into separate businesses where the direct reporting relationship is based on results into the C-suite, where you're you're hiring Cindy's firm to take care of A, B and C and through that contract. Cindy is receiving an equitable split on the profitability of that company. Not a salary and not a fee structure that you're keeping down. You're paying white men 50 times more. You're paying Robin D'Angelo $35,000 to go do a two hour speech and you're offering 1500 dollars to a black woman. That is a fact. So we can't win on C structures and salaries because it's colonized and it's always kept the other people down. But if you start using a different formula around equitable split, then we're getting our fair share in the profitability and then we have to fix, as controversial as it is, this country is going to have to do reparations for brown people, indigenous people whose lands have all been stolen and taken from them. While all these folks now are handing down multiple generations of wealth and those brown and black people, you've got to repair it. The government sooner or later is going to have to cut checks. That is my view about you changed the entire ecosystem and you repair what you've done and eliminate all this fluff and overhead. And at Microsoft, I think it's like 13 levels between the CEO and the bottom floor. You know, to hell with that. All that is, is a prison pipeline for black people to go in and try to manage their way up. You're you're not going to get there. It's not going to happen. So why do we keep regurgitating the same systems that have failed?


Britt[00:27:24] Yeah, I love that. I in the queer rights movement, it's like we have spent so much time spinning our wheels trying to convince people of our right to exist when it's really much more efficient and effective. We're going to garner much more leverage if we attack the systems that promulgate this bigotry. And, you know, I think it's probably true with any kind of bigotry, you can work for decades trying to get a loved one to say something, you know, say the right words to you. But at the end of the day, even if you get there often, you have not addressed the unconscious biases that you're alluding to that affect their daily choices and by extension, all the people they're managing or hiring. When you're coming from the the the corporate the corporate framework. Let me ask you this. Let's talk about what that might look like, because, you know, every corporate environment I've ever been part of seems to have been segregated by race, gender, sexual orientation, at least by and large. I mean, you often see women and gay men confined to positions within H.R. recruiting, standing in Asian people, working in technology, black and Latino, working on the shop floor, white cis men in the boardroom. So, I mean, these are just stereotypes, and they exist for all sorts of complex reasons. But my point is that even companies that tout a certain degree of racial diversity often still leverage their straight white male supremacy to wield power and force people into certain lanes. Again, that protection racket that's indemnifying them from the latest PR crisis. So what would a truly integrated workforce look like? You talked about some ways to get there, but once we're there, like how will we know when we're in it?


Cindi[00:29:16] I don't think we should desire to be in it. I think we should desire to have our build our own wealth. Our access is through a separate entity not attached to them where they have control over us. So you reference, you know, queer. You know, there are you know, I'm using my quotation marks are certifications like I'm a certified as minority owned business. So when we say, okay, in the state of Washington and and you could argue that with these global companies, you look across the state and say, okay, what is the percentage of queer people who identify as queer? Okay, let's just say it's 25%. Then 25% of the profitability of that company should be funneled into queer businesses. If so, it and the people who are the gatekeepers for a queer business is a queer person, not a white woman. When you think about, you know, brown and black businesses and we're doing consulting or whatever, whatever that is. And it's in the state of Washington, it's 6%. What is what, 6% of your billions of dollars of profitability? And let's have a look. Let's for some let's for some transparency. We just passed a law around the transparency to the pay range. I mean, I'm I appreciate our legislators. You know, I work politically hard and but that is not where the wealth is being built. The wealth is being built on where equity is in the company. Exactly where multipliers are being multipliers are against the bonuses. I come out of financial services. Let me tell you some shit, Brit. Let me tell you where the money is. Let me just tell you and then let me just talk about you know, I can't I can't I have to be a little cryptic because I sign non-disclosure agreements, but I've been in a I've been in a recent nonprofit, a very big one here in the Seattle area, run by a white woman. You would be stunned to know the kind of cash she brings versus what the person on the ground floor brings. It's in a non profit. And shame on these goddamn boards of directors that are allowing that to happen and listening to the narrative and they just can't ever tell them no. So that system is it. It's not going to serve any of us. It hasn't. It won't. They will continue to pick apart. What's wrong with this? Let's let's have a different system in place, I believe. I'm trying to get to her. So if any of your listeners know how I can get to Jane Fraser, she's the CEO of Citigroup. Jane Fraser Citigroup did a study on the cost of racism to business, and it's in the trillions. I need to get. If that is, she's not a U.S. based woman also, which I like that she hasn't been born with the I don't know where. So I this is presumptuous, but I have as I worked for a woman at my last company from London, she was not mired in all the racist crap the way these women in this country are mired into it. And so hopefully in a financial services firm, when you see the kind of money you're losing, those trillions of dollars could be coming to queer businesses, could be coming to black businesses. So we're losing money because it's easier and more comfortable to keep those women in positions of power who are just they're the people destroying business. That is a fact. Business is being destroyed by white women and no one wants to say that or call that out. The country look at the numbers increasing following this idiot that sat in this number 45. They still vote for this stuff. Why would anybody do that? You know why. It's privileged. They want access.


Britt[00:33:08] Yeah.


Cindi[00:33:08] Even I feel.


Britt[00:33:10] Even when in that case, even when they're voting against their own apparent economic self-interest, they're so attached to racial superiority impulses. I'll say it like that. Just because with a lot of them, I suspect that they don't. They aren't even attuned to their own racism. Some of them revel in it, but others are like so enmeshed in the system and unquestioning automatons. They just go marching along, kind of making their racist daily choices without questioning them. And so time and time again, there's like 30% of the US population is willing to vote against their own economic self-interest in the name of racism explicitly. And so it's it feels like it's a tough road to hoe. You know, like you're alluding to, I believe that diversity is an intrinsic competitive advantage for a company. And yet, you know, so few companies seem to agree or be willing to take the risk of the wrath, if proven.


Cindi[00:34:13] Yeah, repeatedly by number one white firm right out there about McKinsey has done studies on this to show you know they their study their benchmarks are in other countries or where boardrooms and decision making is diversified. And if anybody says to me diversity, I thought, don't ever say that to my face again. I'm so sick of that. It's a crutch to not deal with real diversity. It's been proven and the numbers are in the 35% increase in profitability, and yet we still stay stuck. We don't make a move and we decide that we're going to lose trillions of dollars a year because it is so embedded in the fiber of this country and in the fiber of people who believe that they are a superior race. That and every one, I don't care what anybody says. This just is fascinating at this time because. One of my friends. She's a white woman, owns a business in Bellevue, and she her daughter just got married to a black man. And I said, Oh, I remember talking to you back in 2016 and listening to all y'all's rhetoric about what you thought this business man was going to do for this country. Now you've got to have some black grandbabies. Call me when you need counsel, because they again, every family's getting some nobody. And from the queer LGBTQ eye, that is a it's so normal that the fact that we still have to walk on eggshells around that or or consider it taboo to say something in your face, This is ridiculous. It's 2023. Why are we still walking on eggshells and rejecting who people are simply because we think we're better than or superior than other people when the stuff's in their closet. And I have said this here, here goes one of my controversial statements. For all these women that think that, you know, they're so much better, they better do their own homework about their own husbands. Just say that their husbands are up, too, because I know I could I could still be on this show if I do this.


Britt[00:36:24] You and I both know this system is working as designed. It is a feature, not a bug. And that's why we're here. The system is still working as designed all these hundreds of years later. And so here we are. And, you know, so let's look at it from a different angle. You know, part of what you do is consulting work. And I'd love for you to talk more about that and how can we start to empower our communities to actual actually harness and leverage their power to to get empowered to enact this change? Like people are so tired. You know, capitalism is relentless and we have COVID and the flu and the RV. I don't even know that. I mean, we have like all these different diseases. I mean, it's like it is exhausting to live in the U.S. at this moment. I bet the rest of the world is tired, too. It's like, how can we start to summon the courage and the power to live the lives that we were actually meant to be leading?


Cindi[00:37:33] You know, to that point, I was just reading an article this morning I went to that was in Shanghai. Did you see complete 100% shut down now over the variant that's out there now? I'm you know, I'm I answered that question on kind of two realms, right? One is a realm of divine, right. I am a woman of faith. Most black community, we are raised in faith, not this right wing crap we see in the news every day, but a faith about the love of all people and the faith of fighting for our brothers and sisters out here to make sure that we're all safe and healthy and have you know, just from that perspective, I see divine things happening. And so the fact that this disease won't go away, right, like the storms that we've abused, our nature, our country, the abuse, the climate. So you can look now at the ramifications of that happening with earthquakes and extreme weather happening on. And, you know, you can see the positions of power being challenged all around the world. You can see that the marching and the mobilization of people is fatiguing to live this life. But we don't stop because we have no choice but to keep going, will be killed. We are going to die. If we don't, we're going to die regardless. But at least we have to change this trajectory for the next generation behind us. So where do we find the courage to do that when we're all fatigue, is your question? I mean, I just, you know, through that is doing grace or gift of God that he made me a warrior. And that was taught to me through my own upbringing and abuse that I've had to endure. That's a whole nother book. And so the constant challenges that that's why you see so many black women out here running for public office right now. That's why my show propels black women's voices like you see us. We did hear Trevor Noah the other night on his closing statement going off the show when he gave in, and that he's like, if you breath, well, we got time to fuck around. Like, man, this stuff has been coming at us every, every direction we go. This stuff is at us. And so we have no choice but to keep fighting. I invite the people. I invite people who want to do something different into this battle with me. And let me just say, it is not easy. I make it look easy. Jerry Brown It is. It kills me too. I can't tell you how many nights I drop in bed thinking I can't go another day dealing with this stuff because it's everywhere. But what choice do I have? Yeah, what choice do I have?


Britt[00:40:25] Yeah.


Cindi[00:40:25] So we need we need people to step into this battle with us. And quite frankly, this is white people's battle to fix like it's their battle to fix. So help us fix it.


Britt[00:40:40] Right? It's immoral to ask those who bear the brunt of the bigotry to also bear the burden of fixing that issue. It's absolutely white people's problem to fix racism, men's problem, to fix misogyny, straight people's problem, to fix queer phobia, all that kind of stuff. I mean, that's just undefeatable, you know? I love that. Go ahead.


Cindi[00:41:01] I'll give you one more thing. Jesse Williams, actor, got the humanitarian award a few years ago. And one thing he said that was so powerful, he said, If you have never stood up and fought and been vocal and fought against my oppression, then you don't get to stand up now and tell me how to fix it, sit down. And so that's and I'm going to emphasize that if all you want to do is quarterback a woman like me and give your opinions about how I should do it, what I should be doing. But you've never spoken out or fought for this. Step aside. We ain't got time for that mess. Nobody's got time to listen to people who want an opinion. It's like the dad that sits on the sideline who's never played football, but he's out there criticizing the coach. About what? So we're just done. We're so passé. Nobody can listen to it anymore. Sorry to interrupt.


Britt[00:41:54] You. Not at all. You know, you alluded to it a moment ago when you talked about the cost that is incurred as you start to engage in this work. And it's important to be honest about that. It's not it doesn't come free and easy. And I think another important point to acknowledge is investment in our own personal growth and development, to start to attune to the suffering of others and to start to feel that cinematically in our body, to start to cultivate our awareness and to and to discern. Through discern what we feel compelled to do when we're gifted this information. So, for instance, let's take a day since he's given us all sorts of gifts about her lived experience on this podcast. So you listen or me Host What do we all of us feel compelled to do with that information? That's kind of like what we have to ask each other. And part of me wonders if we are up for the task. But I think we have no other choice. Unlike Cindy, I don't I don't have to live in the U.S. as a black woman day in and day out. So I'm not compelled through that lived experience. But morally, I cannot witness the suffering of others without doing something and still look myself in the mirror. And that's the inward struggle. I hope more of us in Engage. And I will tell you, Cindy, I don't know how much you know of the queer rights movement, but we owe it entirely to the black civil rights movement. Explicitly. We copied, we were inspired by, we appropriated, we were aspired to by all sorts of black leaders, the queer ones like Bayard Rustin and James Baldwin. But but all sorts of other leaders as well. Frank Kameny is explicit. He's a pioneer. He was a pioneer in the queer rights movement. He was explicit that he drew counsel, inspiration and frankly, plagiarized, in many cases, the successes and learn from the failures of the black civil rights movement. So when we look at things like the marriage equality law that was passed in the US a couple of days ago, we're recording this in December 2022, We owe that explicitly to all of the suffering that has come before us, not only from queer ancestors, but also from the struggles of women and women's suffrage, and then most particularly the struggles of black people in the civil rights movement. So, Cindy, my question to you is, how can we work together as a coalition of diverse, disparate communities who in many cases don't have a lot in common culturally? How can we how can we work to override or prejudices to learn more about other cultures, to work together, to summon more political leverage and power to the greater good of really the whole world, frankly?


Cindi[00:45:08] Yeah, that's a really great question. There's so many things that were going in on inside of me, as you were saying that, that I want to get out. That question is also asked regularly, even inside of black community. How can we work together? Because we in black community have to deal with the colourism issues, the light skin versus the dark skin, and the fact that we've all had to work for scraps from people that we fight each other for the scraps. And so I hate to propel and push people that to work together is going to require demographics of people who have historically not suffered to suffer. And what that looks like is you, Britt goes forward and advocates for Cindy for, you know, bring her in, bring Cindy in to speak in your organization. And then they're like, oh, well, you know, we listen to her. She might be a little And then you push back and say, and when you do that, they're going to be like, oh, let's not ask again for. Yeah, that's right. That's what will start to happen. And so that, you know, white people. So black people deal with that all the time, like we're told. No for everything, right? We're step over in lines and grocery stores. We're interrupted when we speak 50,000 times. And you watch what happens when somebody steps in to help us. My girlfriend told me the story about standing in line at a cheese counter and a white man was standing behind her. She waited her turn and just as her turn, white woman walks up and steps in front of her white man behind my friend steps forward and says, Excuse me, ma'am. She was in line next. What do you think happened to that man that the women started doing this kind to him? And so I say this to white people that this ain't easy. And if you think that you could do one or two gestures to try to help move something forward that you've never experienced, I say welcome to being black, because once you defend black, you become black. And none of y'all are going to like how the world is going to treat you because you've not seen it until you defend it. So how you can get involved and help is like women like me are not afraid of any of these folks anymore. Right? I'm 58 and a half years old. I've been dealing with this for a hot minute. So Papel Papel like when you see me bring in candidates on, I'm trying to propel voices and get people who aren't bigots in the office. Right. When you see me bring in elected officials on its because I'm holding them accountable and I'm asking tough questions about, you know, I recently did a show because I'm launching on to TV here in January. I did a show on Converge Media and I brought five elected people on. And I asked the question, you know, I framed it up. You know, we spent a lot of money because this is about money. What are you going to invest in to community? You spent all this on it. So here we are now in 2023. Will you prioritize black people in the legislative session coming up in January? And it was a deafening 10 seconds of silence. And I just sat there to see who's going to bite, who's going to answer. And Senator Cooter out of Bellevue leaned forward and she said, yes, this is what. So again, courageous leaders who are willing to put Senator Cooter in Bellevue is a bad ass woman. She's a white woman who is out there fighting this fight, helped keep women like her elected, help get voices of people, give them power, propel our businesses, put us forward, help sacrifice, step aside, stop trying to be a woman. Empowerment speaker When you don't do shit for black women, like stop promoting yourself that way when you're harming us. Like it's recognizing how you're creating harm to us or profiting off of us instead of helping pushing us forward know that we are suffering. Just because we make it look good doesn't mean that it isn't hard as hell in the background. We're the people dying disproportionately of cancer in the women's black women's health issues like we're carrying so much stress on our bodies. So for collectively, for us to all work together, we other folks have to be willing to sacrifice and push us forward and help us get into positions to dismantle, to catch the three black women who fought battles. Stacey Abrams, Val Demings, these black women. And and I look, you know, because I'm politically active, I know how to look at all their fundraisers report. They disproportionately outraised money and I mean by like 30 million bucks to their opponents and they still lost. So they're working their asses off to try to get in positions where they can influence policy and change. And yet they're taken down by And I just believe if more white people stepped up and helped push these women over the finish line, help get out the vote, help get your communities active and and go out and knock doors in these communities and get people to the polls to help get the power transferred. That's we can't do it without the power. So that's how I articulate what is necessary. And don't be like the Portland women. Do you remember the the Portland, what was it called? The There was a Portland gate of women who stood up arm in arm and you need to Google at your listeners did that the Portland and then so they went out to it was all so so they went out and claimed to be helping all the black women blah blah blah and then read what happened after the march, read how the women went and set up the nonprofit so that they could start the white women left the black women out in the public side there. That's that that's the kind of stuff we have to continually deal with. And why black women rarely trust white women anymore because everything is about a dollar for them. And so we're out here trying to create change in the country, living off of far less dollars than what they have. And so that's what we need as activism. We need the three S's, right? Sacrifice swept and suffer right alongside of us.


Britt[00:51:29] Yeah, I do love that. And let me make a special appeal on top of that to our white queer listeners that, like I said earlier, we really owe all of our rights to the struggles of other groups of people, and there's all sorts of good we can do in terms of platforming, others giving money to others, getting out on the streets with others, even when especially when it does not benefit us directly in any way, when we are not centering ourselves, when we're standing in the back of the room, lifting up others on a shoulder level, leveraging, you know, privilege isn't bad when we leverage our privilege for the sake of diversity and togetherness and righting wrongs and reparations and of land back for Indigenous people. And all of that privilege is really effective. And so we have, especially as white queer men, we have in many cases some we stand at the apex of the social pecking order so close to the top, like white women, just in so many cases, leveraging that proximal power to keep people down. We're so afraid others might catch up to us, and it's really time to pay respect where it's due. Cindy, my question to you is a little different. What have you taught your adult son about workplace cultures and how to thrive in them?


Cindi[00:53:00] I've taught my adult son. He does work in an organization now, so be diplomatic how I say it. But I told you to never depend on them to. You know, he's got other things that he works on himself, and I think it's beneficial for him to go get some experience and learn and garner and gain what he can. But I also taught him to not depend on somebody who on a dime can turn your life upside down simply because they don't like you. Now, my son happens to be white passing. You've probably seen pictures of my son. I'm technically biracial. His father's white, so my son looks very white and has not necessarily had to deal with. But he's also not high enough in a position of power yet. And my hope is that he walks the hell out by the time he gets to middle management, because I don't want to see him have to go through and my grandchildren. Right. My son is recently married. He married a brown woman. She is Japanese and Filipino, and because of my father's darks, my father was very dark skinned. My grandchildren could likely be very dark skinned with, you know, my daughter in law's skin complexion. And so when my grandkids come, I believe that that's when my son is going to start to get some of the stuff that happened. You know, he sees his mom out here. He's like, Jesus, my I'm like, well, you can right now. You can think that. But she can't think because it's just somebody's got to do this work. Somebody's got to go fighting for the rights of this next generation of people. I will also say that white people are not going to lose anything by this work. They're going to gain. Because, again, when you look at trillions of dollars lost because of lack of diversity, when you look at financial outperformance, white people's prosperity, it's going to multiply. If they could just get past their ingrained, you know, teachings that they're so afraid to learn about how race is actually playing into everything in their lives right now, we will all prosper when we focus and fix the lowest denomination of people. So I implore white people to join me in this fight. Don't be intimidated by a strong candidate speaking woman. Help this woman, help her do this work and things better for other people. How's that feisty card cast this morning? Oh.


Britt[00:55:39] I love it. Cindy, as we wrap up, I'm curious, what do you hold most dear? What gives you hope in this world? Where do you seek refuge? What sustains you?


Cindi[00:55:53] Again, I will say this sounds very cliche, but I am a woman of faith and I take peace. And that because I firmly believe I'm doing the work of the father and I will one day hear the words well done. And, you know, when we get put on this earth, I don't feel like any of us, any of us are by accident. I feel like it's for a purpose. So that sounds a little cliche because I do find peace in that. And it's where I get inspiration from. I'm just wired different, Brit like I've just been born a fighter, came into the world fighting, having to deal with all kinds of shit. Every job I had. Like, there's always this stuff. And so inherently in me as just, I just have a DNA of a warrior. So if you've seen Woman King I'm Viola Davis of Corporate America. You know, we just know that we got to take the baton and we have to lead and we have to go in front. And you can't create change, staying silent and sitting in the background. Sooner or later, this work. Watch me when I tell you it's about to take off, because the the reckoning, the racial reckoning is happening right now and it is not going backwards. And you cannot Woolworth's into and pay us $150,000 a year while you beat the crap out of our mental health. Nobody's going to do it anymore. Right. We'd rather we'd rather work for 50,000 able to be in a safe spot and enjoy our families and have some mental rest and have to tolerate your folks, you know, 10 hours a day, 50 hours a week. So that's all changing. And I'm going to continue to spearhead this work.


Britt[00:57:42] I love our conversation because it was filled with a lot of hope but grounded in authenticity. It wasn't naive or Pollyanna. It was real and based on lived experience in reality. But also, it's not like you said, things are changing. This change seems to be inevitable, irrevocable, you know. So I think that, you know, we all can take hope in that and find strength and that things are changing and we can see it happening every day. And yes, of course, there's a tremendous amount of work to do and all of us are required to do that work. But, you know, it's just been such a wonderful time to talk with you and reconnect after all these years. Thank you so much for your time today and for being on our podcast.


Cindi[00:58:39] Thank you for having me, Britt. I appreciate it. Nice to see you again.


Britt[00:58:43] Yeah, you know, it was wonderful. And I encourage everybody to pick up Cindy's book. It's was just so inspirational. It's called The Color of Courage Crushing Racism in Corporate America. And we will put links to all sorts of goodies that we discussed in the show notes, including Cindy socials and the link to where you can purchase her book on Amazon. And so you can keep in touch with her directly. Listeners, you have made it through another episode of Not Going Quietly. I'm so proud of you. There's a lot of medicine today. You took your medicine. I'm really proud of you for hanging with us. It was a wonderful chat. So much goodness came out of it. And I hope you have a really wonderful inner journey, thinking through discerning, praying about what you now feel compelled to do with all the information that Cindy gifted us today and to figure out how you can get in the game into the stream of life and really start helping yourself, frankly, by helping others and creating a better world. Thank you so much for from from both of us. We really appreciate it. And we will talk to you soon. Thanks, listeners. Bye bye. You've been listening to. Not Going Quietly with co-hosts Jonathan Beale and Brett East.


Jonathan[01:00:06] Thanks so much for joining us on this wild ride as we explore ways to help everyone leap into life with a greater sense of clarity, passion, purpose and joy.


Britt[01:00:14] Check out our show notes for links, additional information, and episodes located on your favorite podcast platform.


Cindi BrightProfile Photo

Cindi Bright

Speaker, Author, Host, and Consultant

Cindi Bright is a Speaker, Consultant, Radio Host, and author of “The Color of Courage: Crushing Racism in Corporate America.” Her work focuses on the ecosystems of corporate America impacting and impeding progress for brown and black people. She is the Producer and Host of HeartBeat radio, in its fifth year, a live weekly show hosted on Rainier Avenue Radio, Diverse community programming, focusing on the “heart condition” of this country impeding diversity progress. As a former HR executive, she led HR for three financial services businesses. Her work focused on organizational development, diversity, and leadership. She had global responsibility in these roles. Reporting to CEOs, Cindi has experience working with C-suite executives and Board of Director leaders. A former candidate for public office in 2018, her platform has become a highly sought-after show to air the voices of people, and to influence public policy to improve the lives of black and brown people.