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Expanding Your Empathy

Kronda Adair
September 19, 2014

Expanding Your Empathy

I believe empathy is the core competency that is missing from much of the efforts to push the tech community in a direction towards more diversity of all kinds. Companies, communities and conferences cannot expect everything to magically change until they're willing to go deep and examine the systemic patterns and structures that keep underrepresented communities from feeling safe and welcome in the tech space.

When confronting racism results in a critique of the manner in which the offender was confronted by the people calling themselves supporters, it makes it that much harder to address the real issues.

If a man's first response to a woman complaining about a sexist incident or a sexual assault is to defend all the men who 'aren't like that,' that shows a lack of empathy. It keeps the focus on how men are being perceived, not empathizing with a woman who has been hurt.

This talk is for people in positions of all sorts of privilege who consider themselves allies to underrepresented minorities and want to learn how to be more effective allies.

We'll talk about what it's like to live as a minority--why someone might have what seems to you like an 'overreaction' to something that seems small.

How to stop, drop, and empathize before you go on the personal defensive for anger that's directed at a group that you happen to be a part of, even if you didn't specifically do anything wrong.

We'll talk about tone policing, derailing, man-splaining and other hurtful behaviors that are sometimes practiced by well meaning people who consider themselves allies.

Presented at:

Open Source Bridge 2013 http://opensourcebridge.org/sessions/1148
Madison Ruby 2014 http://madisonruby.org

Further reading: http://kronda.com/diversity-101

Kronda Adair

September 19, 2014

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  1. em  •  path  •  thy ! the  ability  to  understand

     and  share   the  feelings  of  another.
  2. “Knowing  that  my  son  is  gay  prompted   me  to

     consider  the  issue  from  another   perspecXve:  that  of  a  dad  who  wants  all   three  of  his  kids  to  lead  happy,   meaningful  lives  with  the  people  they   love,  a  blessing  Jane  and  I  have  shared   for  26  years.”                         ~  Rob  Portman
  3. var  oppression  =  funcXon(event,  reacXon,  backlash)    {   var

     backlash  =  array[   'insults',     'verbal  abuse'     'death  threats',     'doxing',     'rape  threats’];        var  reacXon  =  'That\’s  not  cool’;   while  (event  >  0)  {          backlash  =  (reacXon  *  1000);          //break   }    }   oppression();
  4. We  all  live  in  a  bubble Photo  by  Emilio  Labrador

     on  Flickr:  hNp://www.flickr.com/photos/3059349393/
  5. Marginalization    vs    Privilege •People  of  color   •Transgender

     people   •Differently-­‐abled   •Mental  illness   •Fat   •Let-­‐handed   •Gay  /  Bi  /  Lesbian   •Poor   •Don’t  like  beer   •Rich   •Male   •Cis-­‐gender   •White   •English-­‐speaking   •Able-­‐bodied   •Young   •ConvenXonally   aNracXve  
  6. We’re  looking  at  the   same  things,  but  we  

    don’t  see  them  the   same  way.  SomeXmes   we  don’t  see  them  at   all.
  7. Tone  Policing I  would  be  on  your  side  if  you

      just  wouldn't  be  so  ANGRY.   Why  can't  we  just  hug  it  out?       hNp://storify.com/kronda/tone-­‐policing
  8. Mansplaining Hey  liNle  lady,  let  me  tell  you   what

     it’s  like  to  be  a  woman.       hNp://mansplained.tumblr.com
  9. READ  &  LISTEN •  TwiNer   •  Books  (FicXon  and

     Non-­‐ficXon)   •  Discussion  Groups
  10. How  would  work   change  if  empathy  was   championed

     as  a  core   value  in  a  company?  
  11. Being  a  good  ally  is  a  process,   not  a

     state  of  being 1.  Listen 2.  Share  what  you  learn
  12. Being  a  good  ally  is  a  process,   not  a

     state  of  being 1.  Listen 2.  Share  what  you  learn 3.  Speak  up  for  others
  13. InspiraXon  &  Contributors ! Adria Richards @adriarichards Anita Sarkeesian @femfreq

    Julie Ann Horvath @nrrrdcore Ashe Dryden @ashedryden Julie Pagano @juliepagano Paul Fenwick @pjf Sam Livingston-Gray @geeksam Anil Dash @anildash Daniel Schauenberg @mrtazz Willow Oz & Xander @stateofthecat !