Carolynn Johnson, DiversityInc CEO, discussed allyship on the “Karen Hunter Show” on SiriusXM’s Urban View on Monday.
“I have no interest in trying to — and I view all of this as help, let’s just be clear — I have no interest in trying to help people that show up in a hateful way,” Johnson said. “My focus is on people who are trying to process how they’ve lived their entire lives. So the same way I talk about how my mother embedded certain things in me, that happens everywhere. But then you have people and they get out into the world on their own, and they’re trying to figure out, ‘is this the best way to live? Is there a different way?’ … The people who are curious and hungry enough to know if there’s a better way to show up and live, those are the people that I’m trying to reach — not the hateful people who have already decided.”
Johnson also discussed DiversityInc’s Women of Color and Their Allies event, which took place in Atlanta on Oct. 2.
Johnson mentioned that a white man at a senior-level position who attended the event approached her afterward and said he thought the event was great and wanted to say something on the microphone but decided not to because he was “scared.”
“I said to him, first and foremost, thank you for being here, but we’re looking for participation — we’re not looking for perfection,” Johnson said. “I think that the same way people need permission to do other things, when you’re talking about a very sensitive topic and people are scared to say or do the wrong thing, you sometimes have to remind them your participation is what I’m looking for. I’m not looking for you to be an expert. I’m not looking for you to solve my problems tomorrow … But you have to participate in this process if, if you’re telling me you value who I am, my life, my contribution to whatever’s important to you. You have to participate in this because this is my life. This is important to me.”
Watch the above clip to hear more from Johnson and Hunter on allyship and the event.