How can we… turn our values into action? With Veronique Porter

Join us for one of my favourite conversations on the Public Love Project as we interview Veronique Porter on turning our values into action.

Veronique is a Black, with a capital B, cis-gender woman who founded Ampersand Workspace to turn race and gender theory into actionable steps.

She speaks on the nuances of race and gender in American society to help shape our mindsets and enact anti-racist and gender-inclusive values within our daily lives and communities.  Veronique capitalises on her years of experience as a Black American woman, background in International Development, and research in American studies and culture.

She loves horror, reality shows, & pop culture, her wanderlust is real, and the loud laugh is definitely hers.

Work with Laura Hartley:
Web: www.laurahartley.com
IG: @laura.h.hartley

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Check out this episode!

Veronique Porter – Ampersand Workspace

TRANSCRIPT: Please note transcript was generated automatically and has not been edited. It may contain mistakes or errors in transcription.

[00:00:00] Veronique Porter: We manifest how we wanna change the world in different ways, but everybody has their role and it all interplays off of each other. So find your thing, that’s like, this is what I wanna offer. This is my energy and expertise that I have to give. This is my superpower. This is the lane that I want to be in.

[00:00:16] Veronique Porter: And then in that lane, You gotta lean into the discomfort.

[00:00:20] Laura Hartley: I’m Laura Hartley and welcome to the Public Love Project. This podcast is all about re-imagining and remaking the world, creating the conditions for social healing and collective thriving. Each week, we dive into topics around resilience, social change, birthing, and more just, and regenerative world and how we can use our head heart and hands in action. Before i introduce today’s guest and topic though i have one request head on over to apple podcasts or spotify wherever you’re listening and hit subscribe rate and review it helps us work to reach new listeners.

[00:01:00] Laura Hartley: Today’s guest is Veronique Porter. Veronique is a Black with a capital B cis-gender woman who founded Ampersand Workspace to turn race and gender theory into actionable steps. She speaks on the nuances of race and gender in American society to help shape our mindsets and enact anti-racist and gender inclusive values within our daily lives and communities.

[00:01:23] Laura Hartley: Veronique capitalises on her years of experiences as a Black American woman, her background in international development, and research in American studies and culture. She loves horror, reality shows and pop culture. Her wanderlust is real. So is mine. And the loud laugh is definitely hers. So welcome Veronique i am so excited to have you on the show

[00:01:45] Veronique Porter: thank you so much, Laura. It is really cool to be here and I feel low key honored

[00:01:49] Laura Hartley: So turning race and gender theory into actionable steps. I love this because you know, it’s so clear about what it is and for so many of us, , we hold these values, but turning them into reality and actually using our values to remake the world is.

[00:02:08] Laura Hartley: It’s a struggle sometimes. It’s how do we take it off the page and into real life. But, before we kind of dive into this conversation, I’d love to hear a bit about you and how you came to be doing this work.

[00:02:19] Veronique Porter: So I often say that I’ve been doing this work for some time now and Ampersand workspace is me trying to launch a larger platform that

[00:02:31] Veronique Porter: allows more people than just like those who encounter me or my intimate circle to experience this work that I’ve been doing. Right. So going kind of from, you know, intimate referral base to like, all right, let’s do this officially. Let’s do it full time. And let’s launch this bigger platform. And so I, I do identify with that.

[00:02:50] Veronique Porter: I’ve been doing this for some time now. Whether it’s through formal or informal means but a lot of what I was hearing after George Floyd’s death was [00:03:00] that people were ready to kind of make change. Right. They were reading the books, they were listening to the podcast. They were trying to listen to their BIPOC friends, their queer friends.

[00:03:10] Veronique Porter: And they still were like, I don’t know how to do this. Like what now? What, how . And I get that because across the board, Theory and practice. There’s a gap. There’s always a gap. You know, when we were talking about what you learned at the university, what versus what you do when you go out into the professional world or what you learn at home versus real life, there’s always a gap.

[00:03:32] Veronique Porter: There’s always a learning curve. And I think people feeling like they’re ready to make moves. They’re ready to make change. They’re ready to transform. They’re ready to be better, but not knowing how is a, is a real place of authenticity. And I wanna help with that. I, I wanna share what I’ve been learning.

[00:03:48] Veronique Porter: I wanna share what I’ve been doing. I wanna share the work that I’ve been doing to kind of help bridge that gap and. There’s clearly a big need in that regard. So I really wanna kind of move the needle and kind of mix impact from this is just something we believe in versus this is something we live. Mm.

[00:04:06] Laura Hartley: I love that. That resonates so much as to how do we, yeah. How do we take it? Just from our vision and our minds, and actually embody the change that we want to see. Where did your background come into this? You know, I know you have a background in international development. You mentioned that, you know, friends used to come to you for this kind of advice, where did this interest first spark for you?

[00:04:26] Veronique Porter: I mean, honestly in America, right. You know, I can say I went to, I grew up born and raised in Chicago and Chicago is one of the most diverse cities in America, but also one of the most segregated . Everybody’s in their own little pockets. And so I didn’t experience the fullness of Chicago when I was there.

[00:04:45] Veronique Porter: And so I went to school in the middle of nowhere, Iowa in America, and it was an eye opening experience. Right. And so literally just trying to navigate the world of this is who I am. This is where I come from versus the world that I’m in now. And all these people from all over, I went to this really cool liberal arts institution.

[00:05:03] Veronique Porter: And there were folks from literally everywhere. And so what I’m learning in class versus what I’m seeing and the experience that I’m bringing in, I was trying to reconcile that. And I was, you know, having these deep conversations about what it was like to be a deeper minority than I even was before. And maybe didn’t realize.

[00:05:20] Veronique Porter: When I was in Chicago in these all black neighborhoods and these neighborhoods that were at least of color and, you know, would sporadically interact with white folks. And so that’s kinda, I think where it was born is just kind of reconciling my own experiences, my own identity, trying to mesh, you know, the book learning and my experiences and other folks experiences and how we relate it to each other.

[00:05:41] Veronique Porter: And it’s just, it, it continues to build like this is ironically enough, something that I enjoy. You know, when I was in college, I literally studied American studies. So really digging into the cultural intersections and all these ways in which things play into our history, our present our future and it’s [00:06:00] even, you know, when I was in international development for like almost a decade, those are the things that I was doing on the side.

[00:06:06] Veronique Porter: These are the conversations that I’m having about race and gender. These are the books that I’m reading. These are the articles that I’m reading. It was a lot of what I was posting about all over social media, particularly Facebook, cuz that was the social media of the day. And so I was literally, this is what I was engaged in.

[00:06:21] Veronique Porter: And so yes, of course I was like full on about this international development life. But when it was time to pivot away and I was thinking about, what do I enjoy? What do I do really well? What can I sustain? What can I offer the world? It’s not just my experience as a black woman. It’s, it’s literally all of, you know, this research that I’ve done informally and formally, right?

[00:06:41] Veronique Porter: It’s all the conversations that I’ve had. It’s all the events that I might have moderated or panels that I sat on. It, it, it was the culmination of that. And I was like, you know, now I have something to give. . And I know that I have these skills of being able to navigate and meet people where they are, cuz you know, we’re all on this journey in one way, shape or form, whether we’ve acknowledged it or not, or whether we’re stagnant or not.

[00:07:03] Veronique Porter: And so I’m constantly working on my journey. I’m constantly having these conversations with others about their journey. I’m constantly reading and researching about that. Why not? Relate that information to folks in a way that hopefully speaks to them that resonates to where they are in that journey.

[00:07:21] Veronique Porter: And hopefully help get them moving in a direction that they feel not only good about taking, but actually like putting it into practice. Cuz it’s not something you just arrive at. It’s it’s something that takes time. It’s constant. You’re not just woke and that’s. It’s done. And so I can acknowledge that in my life.

[00:07:38] Veronique Porter: This is the work that I’ve been doing with those that I know. And I just really want it to kinda alter the world. I think that is part of me in service to the world that we’re living and me as a global citizen, this is what I have to give. And I think I see everything literally everything through the lens of race and gender all the time.

[00:07:55] Veronique Porter: I can’t turn it off. And so let’s use this expertise. Let’s give this expertise to those that might not be as keen or might not be as sharp. With their lens on race and gender.

[00:08:05] Laura Hartley: I think I, I experienced something very similar that a lot of the world, I relate back to the ideologies of capitalism and patriarchy, you know, and how, how are they playing out in the systems and the beliefs and the structures that we have today.

[00:08:20] Laura Hartley: I wanna dive right in here with, you know, this question of what does gender and racial justice have to do with,, causes or. Actions like the climate crisis, , very often when we’re going into things like climate activism is a really good example. You know, we tend to think of these issues as separate somehow, but they’re not they’re interconnected.

[00:08:43] Veronique Porter: Right? Yeah. I agree. there’s so many different levels in how they play in. And in part, even the idea of like climate justice, it’s not just like, oh, let’s talk about climate change. Let’s talk about the ways in which the environment is moving along.

[00:08:55] Veronique Porter: The justice part of it is really speaking to the idea of like, there’s [00:09:00] something that is imbalanced and we need to correct it. And so for me, that’s really. When I’m speaking of climate justice, I’m speaking of the ways in which there are communities that are more deeply impacted by the environmental changes that we’re experiencing.

[00:09:16] Veronique Porter: Have been disrupted from their commune with the earth and thus are causing deeper and more harsh impacts of the ways in which the climate is changing. And because of the way in which our societies are set up and more often than not discriminate against oppress, systemically, keep black, indigenous.

[00:09:36] Veronique Porter: Other folks of color women, femmes people who are under the expectation of conformity of gender, especially female gender. The ways in which our societies usually oppress these folks means that climate is also going to like be a multiplier. It’s gonna have a multiplied effect against what they’re already dealing with.

[00:09:56] Veronique Porter: So to make it more concrete, for example, when we talk about these are the effects of climate change, or this is what’s gonna come, you know, food is gonna be harder to grow. The sea levels are going to rise. Temperatures will rise. These things already right now disproportionately impact indigenous folks and women, or those that are supposed to be under the expectation of conformity towards female gender.

[00:10:23] Veronique Porter: Right? So non-binary folks, trans folks, anybody’s gender expansive, if you will. They are already experiencing more of those things right now. So it’s already there in that level, right? But then on top of that, those sorts of communities, those folks, they’re concerned about climate more so than I think some of the other folks who don’t feel it right now, like the urgency, the anxiety, the angst

[00:10:49] Veronique Porter: is bigger, more pronounced, more at the top of the mind for those communities. Cause they’re already feeling it. They’re already experiencing it. And then to make matters worse in an American context, I can’t speak for the world, but I imagine it applies black folks, indigenous folks, other people of color.

[00:11:07] Veronique Porter: They are literally experiencing more impacts from environments pollution, sea levels, rising, all of that. They’re experiencing more of that than what they actually produce. So not only are they disproportionately feeling it, they’re disproportionately feeling it relative to how much they’re actually polluting the environment or relative to how much they’re producing co2 emissions.

[00:11:34] Veronique Porter: So it’s, it’s just unfair. It’s, it’s unfairly stacked against those folks. And we can’t talk about how do we move forward in a better way. We can’t talk about how we, you know, fight this, how we fight climate change, how we get everybody on board. If we don’t get everybody on board. So we have to listen to those that are most impacted.

[00:11:53] Veronique Porter: We have to listen to those that are it’s top of their mind. We have to listen to those who have unique knowledge like indigenous [00:12:00] communities of the land to see how we can get back into commune with the land. So for me like it, this is not something you can talk about climate justice without, including how race and gender play in because of the ways race and gender play into our societies.

[00:12:16] Veronique Porter: But the way those communities are automatically more deeply impacted.

[00:12:21] Laura Hartley: The way,, we can often see, you know, these, these systems of patriarchy and white supremacy playing out very much in the voices that we listen to in who we prioritize. That the very fact that we need to have a conversation about, including other voices kind of says that there is one mainstream voice and one mainstream ideology through which we view the

[00:12:42] Veronique Porter: world mm-hmm

[00:12:45] Veronique Porter: And I think too, we’re coming up with solutions. If we’re not inclusive. And like you said, who we’re listening to, who’s in the room, who’s doing the talking. Then those solutions also don’t meet the needs of the folks who are left out. So if the only folks that are in the room are more privileged, then the solutions are more technologically advanced and more privileged and might do more harm than good.

[00:13:07] Veronique Porter: As opposed to folks who are already trying to navigate those impacts. Without the resources without the knowhow or, you know, the book knowhow, right? Without the recognized authority, cuz they have authority without the recognized authority. And so if we’re not including everybody, then we’re really leaving all these voices out of the room who can provide us realistic cost effective solutions for their families, for their lives, as opposed to the ones that are doing the speaking, the ones that are giving themselves the authority to.

[00:13:39] Veronique Porter: To be the authority all that matter, you know?

[00:13:41] Laura Hartley: Before we, we look at how we translate, these ideas and knowing these voices matter into action, you know, it reminds me that. This is a very US context, but I’ve heard this same conversation in Australia and this same conversation elsewhere, , I think it was Hillary Clinton was asked question a couple of weeks ago around whether activist causes such as trans rights should be prioritized on a Democrat platform.

[00:14:06] Laura Hartley: You know, and her answer was basically, well, if it’s not gonna help us win the election, then no. And this is a really common experience. We see the same thing here. But coming back to this , idea that somehow trans rights or women’s rights or whatever it might be is different to democracy.

[00:14:24] Laura Hartley: Just wondering if you could like talk a little bit more on this intersection and , how important it is to address.

[00:14:32] Veronique Porter: Yeah, for me, the, the root of like trying to move towards climate justice or to solve some of the issues that like we’re seeing pop up over and over again, around capitalism, around .

[00:14:44] Veronique Porter: Our policies and our politicians not aligning with the people is leaving out the people, right? Like they think like Democrats in the US, for example, think that capitalizing on identity politics as they like to call it, which is just, you know, people’s lives and their intersections. [00:15:00] They think that capitalizing on that.

[00:15:02] Veronique Porter: only around election time is going to get them to win. And then they forget about it the whole time they’re in office. And then they come back around to it. We have to be in alignment with each other. So like your example of a politician saying this doesn’t help me in this moment, in this moment. So it’s not helpful.

[00:15:19] Veronique Porter: They it’s so myopic, they’re not seeing the bigger picture, right? It has to be community based and we have to be in alignment with each other. including the needs of each other. So as a politician, for example, if I’m a politician, I serve the people that is literally the goal is to serve my constituents, to serve my area who voted me in to serve them.

[00:15:46] Veronique Porter: And so to dismiss part of those people who I serve and say like, well, that’s not gonna help me in this moment and that’s not necessary. That’s why I think our society as a whole, our global society is in the situation we’re in. We’re only thinking as far as we can see, we’re not having vision for the future.

[00:16:08] Veronique Porter: And the future literally has to include us all. If you start leaving people out or you only include them when you need them, you only include them in the moment. Then you really lose sight of this like holistic picture. So climate justice, even if America is the only one who’s putting out all the, the pollution, it affects everybody.

[00:16:25] Veronique Porter: And so we all have to be, it just can’t be, I want my things and I want this life because not only does it come back around on me, The effects from the rest of the world. Also come back around on me. Tenfold. We’ve seen that with the pandemic and like vaccines. We’ve seen that in the ways that you know, we’re so interconnected and our financial markets, if one financial market’s having an issue sooner or later, we see other

[00:16:50] Veronique Porter: financial markets, having issues. We see other people going into recessions or having inflation we’re we’re all, especially this day and age, more than ever, we’re all interconnected. We’re a global society. We’re global citizens. And so we can’t just say like, well, because I can’t see how I think what really, what here Hillary Clinton is saying is I can’t see how trans issues are going to help me in the moment.

[00:17:16] Veronique Porter: and because of that, she dismisses trans folks when trans folks have literally not only the same issue she does and then like 10 times more. So being able to see trans folks in their issues actually helps propel her more and not to mention they are people who she would serve if she were moving forward.

[00:17:34] Veronique Porter: So it’s, it’s very limited view to only think of right now, this moment, me, my family, my community. We have to go broader than that. We have to think of who’s excluded and why, and how is that going to relate to the world, bigger communities later. And even if we don’t wanna see bigger communities, it will come back around to you and your family and your community.

[00:17:57] Veronique Porter: So I have to look beyond [00:18:00] me in this moment to make sure that I’m gonna be okay, 10 years down the road, 20 years down the road, that my children are gonna be okay. That my community’s gonna be okay. So I have to look bigger cause either way it still comes back on. So I have to do that work.

[00:18:12] Laura Hartley: That, that we’re separate and that our issues are separate and that we can deal with your issue down the line. Once we’ve dealt with this one.

[00:18:18] Veronique Porter: Yeah. You just wait.

[00:18:19] Laura Hartley: You said there that identity politics is really just our lives and their intersections. I think that’s really an such a, such a unique and important way to frame it. .

[00:18:30] Veronique Porter: Yeah, cuz I think we’ve made again, totally American context here, but like when we talk about American politics. They love to say identity politics

[00:18:39] Veronique Porter: when they’re talking about literally elections. There’s Americas and Americans, and then there’s black voters and then there’s Latino voters. And then there are trans voters, and then there are LGBTQ+ voters as if there’s no black, LGBTQ plus voters as if there are no, you know, we’re all Americans.

[00:19:01] Veronique Porter: But if we’re segregated out in our minds, then American is code for a white American, and then everybody else has their own little group. And that doesn’t work because everybody has intersections. I’m not just black, I’m not just a woman. I’m not just an American, I’m literally all of those things and more.

[00:19:19] Veronique Porter: And so, yeah, we have to realize that it’s just, we’re all just people and we all have various intersections. We have women of educated status. We have women that are educated informally. We have men that make a lot of money and are this, you know, income tax bracket. And then we have non-binary folks that are in that same tax bracket.

[00:19:40] Veronique Porter: Like there’s more that connects us than not, but we can’t like put ourselves into neat little boxes. it has to be the intersections because we all have them. We literally all have various intersections. That’s what makes us unique. But it’s also the things that connect us to each other. So we’re just people, you know,

[00:20:00] Laura Hartley: this can also, you know be overwhelming when we’re starting to look at you from, from an activist perspective when you’re trying to work and you have this cause that you you’re really passionate about, you’re trying to get past to then also work with all the layers and nuances and complexities that we’re now aware of.

[00:20:18] Laura Hartley: It can be challenging, , in recent years is this idea of performative activism. It’s a really common topic. And I, for me, I actually think a lot of what we call performative activism isn’t necessarily meaning to be performative.

[00:20:29] Laura Hartley: I think it is the lack of experience in translating values, from thoughts and knowing to actually living and doing and being I’m curious, like, do you hear it more from you? How do we deal with that overwhelm of doing all of this? While also translating it into action.

[00:20:47] Veronique Porter: Yeah, I, I love that you brought that up, cuz I think that is a key thing to keep in mind that people are trying, right.

[00:20:54] Veronique Porter: Even when they’re being, we consider quote unquote performative it’s cuz they’re trying [00:21:00] right. And sometimes it’s a win and sometimes it’s a fail and sometimes it’s somewhere in between. For me personally, one way I, I try to navigate this is I always have meet people where they are. Right. So I’m not expecting you to know.

[00:21:14] Veronique Porter: Things that I know, or I can’t like be like, well, you don’t know these things, so clearly you haven’t done enough work. There is a difference between someone expecting other people to do the labor for them, other people to do the research for them, and then just regurgitate to them what they need to know in that moment.

[00:21:32] Veronique Porter: That’s completely different than this person just doesn’t know, or this isn’t a part of their vocabulary. This isn’t a part of their experience. They haven’t encountered this yet. And I think it’s just hard to know that if you don’t know the person. So the second part for me is where I, for me, the magic happens in individual conversations or group conversations, because you can really start to like dig into this.

[00:21:54] Veronique Porter: so like when you’re on Facebook or any social media at this point and like fighting with folks in the comments that like you don’t know, and like you couldn’t read their tone and you don’t know their experience and you don’t know where they’re coming from. Then this just becomes like an arguing match, as opposed to like we’re sharing information, or I’m trying to understand where you’re coming from, or I’m not judging you.

[00:22:14] Veronique Porter: And I think not only is that easier to read in tone and body language in conversation, but the point is. The point is different than like I’m gonna shut you down or I’m gonna check you or I’m gonna make sure you know, that you need to come correct. Next time nobody benefits. Nobody wins. Nobody grows. So interactions, whether they be professional, whether they be in an organization, a sports team in your family, those sort of like more intimate settings is where the magic happens.

[00:22:45] Veronique Porter: People can be introduced to things online, but like real transformation is not gonna happen in the comments in the DMS even right. So that’s the other part. And for me too, even in this this interview, Of course, I think these big picture things I’m always trying to like give an example. I’m always trying to make it concrete.

[00:23:03] Veronique Porter: I’m always like I can talk these big picture things with you because we’re on the same page about a lot of this. We do have a lot of the same background. We’re doing a lot of the same work, but to everybody listening, like they might not be on the same part of the journey. They might not have some of that shared language that shared experience.

[00:23:19] Veronique Porter: And so if I’m doing a training or workshop, like it can’t just be generally, like, let’s talk about race because that means nothing, right? Like I have to dive in a little bit more, . It has to be more specific. Let’s talk about the language and communication we use about race and new terminologies.

[00:23:36] Veronique Porter: Let’s talk about how to be an ally and what that can actually look like. Let’s talk about this thing that just came up in pop culture and how people have all these opinions about it. What’s yours. What experience are you bringing? What lens are you looking at that through? . So when I say meeting people where they are, it’s those intimate connections.

[00:23:53] Veronique Porter: And it really is saying, let’s talk about this specific thing, because then that can start like the wheels turning [00:24:00] when you can apply it to other things. So across the board, I think it’s really hard. And, and again, this is why I started Ampersand workspace about theory towards action, because we can take these big picture ideas and people are like, yes, I know racism is wrong.

[00:24:15] Veronique Porter: Yes. I know that like the gender binary are really restricting even for me as a CIS woman or a CIS man, so we can acknowledge those things. But then when, soon as we start to get into the nitty gritty, we get lost and you’re right. It’s overwhelming. It’s uncomfortable. So it’s really about digging into the details, specific examples, specific experiences to unravel and unpack some of what we’ve been taught.

[00:24:38] Laura Hartley: Yeah. And you know, a lot of this unlearning, it feels really uncomfortable when we’re doing it bad. Mm it’s not always a fun experience.

[00:24:46] Veronique Porter: Definitely not. definitely not. And I say to people all the time, like, of course it feels counterintuitive, but you have to lean into the discomfort if you’re doing it right.

[00:24:56] Veronique Porter: It’s gonna be uncomfortable. You know, you and I talked about how, you know, no matter how many times we’ve spoke in front of other people, you know, we, some of our intersections are like speaking at a summit together and that sort of thing. So it’s not like we’re brand new to this and yet. There still can be nerves.

[00:25:10] Veronique Porter: There still can be apprehension. There still can be a little angst. And that’s just how it goes. So if you’re doing something for the first time in an environment like we have today, where like everybody is on display, everybody’s being judged. Everybody’s being called out, canceled, evaluated on how good or bad they are.

[00:25:29] Veronique Porter: You just wanna freeze. Or you don’t wanna do anything at all. And if you are coming from a place of privilege, and this is not to make excuses for like people and privilege, and I have certain privileges as well, we all do. But in a situation where you might be coming from privilege, If the alternative is to be canceled or to be called out or to be, you know, like called a Karen or whatever, you don’t wanna do it.

[00:25:52] Veronique Porter: You’re like I could just keep doing what I’m doing. I’m fine. I’m trying to be good. And again, I’m not making excuses for those folks. I want them to do better, but we also have to provide full feedback and not just CR like full out surface level critique. We have to call people in sometimes we have to give people grace, we have to give ourselves grace.

[00:26:11] Veronique Porter: That you gotta lean into the discomfort and sometimes you’re gonna make a mistake and hopefully you learn from it,

[00:26:17] Laura Hartley: which you know, is a great question that you led us into there, is, what is the impact of your cancel culture and call out culture when we’re looking to turn our values into actions, because as you were saying, , when you have privilege and then you’re like, well, if I say the wrong thing, I’m going to be canceled or people won’t like me, or I’ll be judged or I’ll be excluded or whatever else.

[00:26:35] Laura Hartley: It’s really hard to do that. Yeah. Is there a place for cancel culture and call out culture? And if so, how does it intersect with this?

[00:26:44] Veronique Porter: Yes and no, there is a place for it, right? For me, I’m always more nervous about doing my work with my friends and family, cuz I’m gonna have to see them again. So I’m invested as opposed to somebody, I just meet on the street if they like don’t like me [00:27:00] or don’t like my work or have critique.

[00:27:02] Veronique Porter: and like, for me, that, that holds less weight. However, in a public context, I can see how that’s definitely more pressure. And, and it’s not the same as like, oh, well, I don’t have to see them again because you feel like your, your public image has been tarnished. And so I think what needs to happen is we need to take in.

[00:27:24] Veronique Porter: What’s useful to us as far as critiques, as far as feedback, and always be open to it. Right? Even if it’s hurtful, even if it doesn’t land the right way, even if it doesn’t sit the right way, I’ll often say you have to sit in it. So I’m gonna give an example, cuz again, I feel like I’m talking to you like up in the air, but like if you throw around, if you call somebody a racist.

[00:27:43] Veronique Porter: It is gonna hurt them to their core. And people will be more offended about being called a racist than whatever they might have done to evoke such a title. Right. I’m gonna tell you right now, I think all people are taught white supremacy, are taught patriarchy and we have to all and learn it. Women non-binary folks include.

[00:28:05] Veronique Porter: right. And so I too have included in that, even though I’m a black woman, I was taught white supremacy. I was taught these tenants and I have to unlearn. And so if somebody called me a racist today, tomorrow, the next day, I’m gonna say, oh, what do I do? Because to me the power of the word, if we’re thinking about an anti-racist world in that we have to acknowledge, we’re all racist to a certain extent.

[00:28:30] Veronique Porter: Cause we’re all taught. So it is not to remove blame, but it’s to say, this is what we’re working with and we have to unlearn it and learn something else. We have to learn the anti-racism. So knowing that I am on that journey, knowing that it is a journey and I never arrive. Even with the work that I do, even with, you know, me immersing myself in this, even in me, constantly trying to invoke this journey.

[00:28:52] Veronique Porter: If somebody calls me a racist, I’m not gonna be like, I can’t be a racist. I’m a black woman. I can’t be a racist because you know, I do this work and clearly you don’t know what you’re talking about now. Reverse racism doesn’t exist, but not to go on a tangent. The idea that like, I can’t be racist or that I can’t perpetuate the tenets of racism

[00:29:12] Veronique Porter: is not quite true. And so if somebody says that to me, I can acknowledge that, you know, reverse racism isn’t a thing. And also say, where is that coming from? Is there anything in that that hurts that, that place that they’re coming from? Is there anything in that, that my behavior actually did dictate that was aligned with something that was racist.

[00:29:33] Veronique Porter: I can sit and evaluate. as opposed to just being like, oh, how dare you? I would never, look at all the work that I’ve done. Look at my resume, look at my skin. So, I mean, I think we really do, when I say lean into the discomfort, when I say we have to like, hear what is useful and throw away the rest that’s with any critique that is with any sort of feedback that you get.

[00:29:54] Veronique Porter: And I’m not saying open yourself up to attack, but when things happen and that’s the kind of feedback that you’re getting, [00:30:00] that’s the kind of conversations that are happening around. And I’m also not saying people are fair often either, but you have to evaluate it to know if they’re being fair or not.

[00:30:09] Veronique Porter: You have to evaluate it to know if the critiques are landing or valid or something you can change or update. And if you automatically go on defensive, you close out any of that helpful feedback, regardless of what form it comes in, regardless of if it was gentle, regardless of if it was educational or helpful.

[00:30:28] Veronique Porter: If you’re defensive, you shut all that. . And so I don’t think that there’s ever a place for, you know, rape threats and death threats. I don’t think there’s ever a place for folks to just generally attack people and comfort people because they disagree with you. But when you’re being called out or called in, there’s nuance there, but they’re kind of the same thing.

[00:30:49] Veronique Porter: If you’re being called out or called in, if you’re being canceled. You really gotta listen. And one more example, not me, but Lizzo. Recently Lizzo released an album, a song, both. There’s definitely a single that was out there. And she used a word in the song that she did not realize was a slur or at least derogatory towards disabled folks.

[00:31:12] Veronique Porter: And folks called her out and not very like, oh, Lizzo, could you change this word? They’re like, yo Lizzo. I thought you was my girl. And you coming for my community. Like you used this word and you said that you were like for the people, what is this? Like, they very much said like, you need to, like people literally said to her in exact words, do better.

[00:31:31] Veronique Porter: And so instead of her saying as an artist, like, oh, I poured my heart out into this and my intent wasn’t to do X, Y, Z. She was like, oh, I didn’t know. Let me change that immediately. She literally went, she issued an apology, a heartfelt apology, not talking about her intentions, not talking about how she’s a good person, not talking about how she really is for the people she says, of course, I’m.

[00:31:54] Veronique Porter: because I’m for the people. Let me just say right now, I’m sorry. And know, I didn’t mean that in the offensive way. And because of that, let me show that in my actions, she rerecorded, rereleased the song after the apology. So even though she got harsh critique and immediate swift call out, she was like, that’s not in who in line.

[00:32:13] Veronique Porter: I wanna be. She listened and didn’t critique the tone of how they said it. She didn’t say, oh, my intent XYZ. She said, Let me change that real quick. I am sorry. Let me change it. So she listened to that feedback and then put it into action.

[00:32:31] Laura Hartley: I think that is the perfect example. Actually, I was reflecting on her doing that not too long ago.

[00:32:35] Laura Hartley: And she did that so well, but it really, it requires us to have this sense of, , that our, our worth and our identity is not necessarily based on other people’s approval, either. Because if it is that’s immediately where we’re like the whole reasons we shut down, we go, oh my God, I’m not a bad person.

[00:32:54] Laura Hartley: You know, I, I’m not a racist. I’m not. We need to have that separation and to be able [00:33:00] to say, actually, oh, you’re right. Okay. Where can I, you know, separate my identity and my wellbeing, my worth from this comment and go, okay, I’m learning, I got this wrong. Where did I mess up?

[00:33:11] Laura Hartley: And that’s exactly what she did, but that separation is sometimes challenging,

[00:33:15] Veronique Porter: Think. Mm. Yeah. And I think, especially for somebody like Lizzo, who literally. She is at the whim of the public, right? Like if we buy her albums or go to her concerts or repost her stuff or whatever, our interest in her gets her paid.

[00:33:31] Veronique Porter: And so she does have to, to a certain extent say, yeah, I do care what these people think, but not for the sake of like, like you said, like separating herself, right? Not for the sake of me personally. But for the sake of like, I want to be in alignment with who I say I am. And I think there’s where the distinction really lies.

[00:33:49] Veronique Porter: Right. And you’re right. Instead of not looking at like, this is my external view and I wanna make sure it’s pristine and perfect and I never make a mistake. So you all see me this way. And I think social media trains us to like do that more than ever, but this is what we put out into the world. This is what we’re showing to people.

[00:34:06] Veronique Porter: Instead. I think it’s really about alignment. Am I living in the integrity? Am I showing the values that I say are important to me? Am I doing the things that I say are meaningful? And that includes the community that you’re in, right? Like, are you respecting that community? Are you keeping that community in mind when you’re doing these things?

[00:34:26] Veronique Porter: So it’s less about like being perfect and like this public image of yourself versus like an alignment and in your integrity and your values. Mm.

[00:34:36] Laura Hartley: So how do we do this? Where do we start? If we are in a leadership position, in a movement, in an organization, in a company, and bearing in mind, the term leadership has, , so many connotations to it, of hierarchy and these things that we’re probably looking to break down How do we start translating these values into tangible actions? Where do we begin and how do we also reimagine and redefine leadership while we are doing that away from, you know, the kind of patriarchal structures we’ve been sold. .

[00:35:05] Veronique Porter: I think I’m gonna tackle the second part of this question first in that, like, we have to reimagine leadership first in a way, because for me, for example, I think a parent is a leader, right?

[00:35:17] Veronique Porter: You’re literally shaping at least one, if not multiple young minds to be adults global citizens in the world, that’s literally your job as a parent. So that also is a leader, right. And I think oftentimes we think of leaders in this very small box things we associate with men, we look at those sort of things as leaders and what we want out of a leader is not aligned with how we see them.

[00:35:42] Veronique Porter: So I think we need to start seeing the ways in which we are playing roles in our community. And which one of those are leadership roles, right? Are we parents, are we leading organizations, in church, in our communities? Are we the ones that take the lead in [00:36:00] directing our friend group to events and cultural activities?

[00:36:03] Veronique Porter: There are so many ways that leadership attributes, we all have them within us and that we’re all doing it. And we just have to recognize that. And so if we do that, then that means we’re talking about all of us and how to start is really about how you see yourself as a leader. So if I’m a parent, for example, I wanna start and how I’m raising my child. What kind of tenants do I wanna manifest into them?

[00:36:28] Veronique Porter: What do I wanna teach them? What do I want them to show up? As in, at, in the community, at school, with my friends and is that allowing them to be who they are is that allowing them to see others for who they are is that, you know, so it’s, it’s really about picking your thing that you feel passionate about, that you wanna put your energy into.

[00:36:51] Veronique Porter: And again, in the ways that you show up as a leader in your life and then unpacking how you want to be in alignment with that and what that might look like, and that’s different across the board, which is why it is hard to give, like, For me, I always find it hard to give these blanket statements. Like, well, just listen to the like queer people in your, in your life and just listen to the black people in your life.

[00:37:11] Veronique Porter: Of course you wanna listen to their experiences. Of course you want to understand where they’re coming from, but what if you don’t have those folks? And what if you have been, or you think you have been listening to them and still not doing enough? It really is about saying, in what ways am I a leader in my life, in my community, in, in my job.

[00:37:29] Veronique Porter: And. Am I aligned with what I think and feel am I putting that into action? And I think that’s where you start. That’s where the research starts. That’s where, you know, the, the small tweaks in your behavior starts and it can be big or small. It’s probably should be small, cuz that’s how we make habits.

[00:37:46] Veronique Porter: But it’s, it’s really about digging into what does my life look like and what are the changes that I wanna see.

[00:37:52] Laura Hartley: I love that. And It always reminds me when I was growing up my mother who was big on values and living our values in different context, but same principles. And she used to talk about our thoughts, our words, and our actions that the three have to be aligned.

[00:38:07] Laura Hartley: I love that. Cause I think that’s kind of what you’re getting to there.

[00:38:10] Veronique Porter: Absolutely. Absolutely. One thing. It was one of my new year’s resolutions. I’m still working on it. Is that. I often say you guys, we all do we say dudes, we say, bro, bruh, you guys. And I think we don’t even put any worth into the idea that like everything that is general can be masculine, but not the other way around.

[00:38:32] Veronique Porter: I can walk into a room full of folks that I know are CIS women who identify is she her hers and be like, Hey guys, and that is normal. But the reverse could not be true. I could not walk into a room that I know, identify as CIS man, and go, Hey girls, how’s it going? Hey gals, they were looking me crazy.

[00:38:58] Veronique Porter: So this idea that we automatically [00:39:00] default all things, male and everybody else, everybody else is other. So for me, I was like, I gotta put that into action. Right? This is what I’m talking about all the time. This is literally, you know, I say I’m manifest in the world. I’m trying to be more inclusive, even in my language.

[00:39:12] Veronique Porter: I really gotta stop saying you guys. I don’t say bruh. I don’t say dude, but I do say you guys. And so I. I definitely say it less now, but when I do say it, I also of course, correct. Right. And that’s what you gotta do. You gotta course correct every time until you just take it out. What do we

[00:39:28] Laura Hartley: say instead?

[00:39:29] Laura Hartley: Cause I’m the same. I say, Hey guys, a lot. And I’ve also been trying to work on this and there’s certain things, you know, Hey folks, you know, I’ve definitely found, but like it is so intrinsic to how we speak and to,

[00:39:39] Veronique Porter: and to our language. Cause it is been ingrained for so long. Right. And so this, when, I mean like unlearning, I have to unlearn how to say something else besides you guys, because literally that’s.

[00:39:49] Veronique Porter: I’ve learned to do over, all this time that I’ve been on earth. Everyone is always a good one, right? Hey everyone. Folks is also a good one. One I love the most, it’s a very American one. But it’s a y’all because , I

[00:40:03] Laura Hartley: love y’all and I’m really, it is so American. It’s so niche, but like

[00:40:07] Veronique Porter: it, it’s a great term.

[00:40:09] Veronique Porter: Let’s make, y’all a thing, you know, how other languages like French, for example, French has the vous. So the Spanish. There is a way to refer to group you and in English, we don’t have a group you do, y’all have a group you,

[00:40:23] Laura Hartley: when I was learning Spanish, I was like, group you, what is group you, like, I didn’t understand it.

[00:40:28] Veronique Porter: Mm mm. In English, we don’t have a group you that I know of. At least I’ve asked a lot of folx. And I’ve lived in a couple places. We don’t have a group you. And so I love a y’all. I really am trying to make y’all a thing.

[00:40:40] Veronique Porter: I’m gonna

[00:40:40] Laura Hartley: join you in that. I have a couple of last questions for you the first one, you know, this show is called the public love project, but I really believe that, when we’re talking about love in public spaces, what we’re talking about is justice.

[00:40:54] Laura Hartley: What we’re talking about is regeneration. What does justice mean for you when

[00:40:59] Veronique Porter: you said all of those things? I was literally like in community. It has to be in Community. It has to be. And we saw that in the pandemic in America where we struggled with this because we’re such an individualistic society. It’s all about me and mine, me and my family, what I feel and that community view we can do any of that change any of the love without the C.

[00:41:26] Veronique Porter: So I really see in order for us to move forward in justice, we have to always ask, who’s in the room, who’s excluded, and why? Because you always miss out on a richness when you don’t have diversity. We see it in cooking. we see it in our community.

[00:41:48] Veronique Porter: Like you need a diversity of folks to offer perspectives and experiences and viewpoints and lenses different than yours. And so we’re talking [00:42:00] about justice. We can’t be just towards anyone if we’re still actively excluding folks, we can’t create a new and better world if we still haven’t aligned the ways in which we’ve messed up in the world we’re in now.

[00:42:16] Veronique Porter: So it always has to come back to community. What does your community look like? What does that mean to you? Who’s excluded and why? And one thing you, can’t, it’s a question to ask, but you can’t ever know fully is what are you missing by not having them there. And I hope that like, fear of missing out keeps us asking who’s excluded.

[00:42:35] Veronique Porter: And why, what are we missing?

[00:42:39] Laura Hartley: FOMO, but in a good way. Exactly.

[00:42:41] Veronique Porter: Yes, yes, yes. .

[00:42:42] Laura Hartley: And as we’re looking to really remake the world from, as it is to, as it could be, what would be the one piece of advice or the one, which is so hard to do, it’s so hard to translate our work into like one piece, but what is the offering or the piece of wisdom that you would want to give to help us remake the world .

[00:43:01] Veronique Porter: Yeah, I think in some ways we’ve hit on it, but I do wanna reticulate it. And for me, in a nutshell, it’s really about finding your own lane or superpower. or whatever way you want to offer your energy and expertise to the world. So you have to find that first and figure out, you know, people manifest our, our work in different ways.

[00:43:24] Veronique Porter: We manifest how we wanna change the world in different ways, but everybody has their role and it all interplays off of each other. So find your thing. That’s like, this is what I wanna offer. This is my energy and expertise that I have to give. This is my superpower. This is the lane that I want to be in.

[00:43:40] Veronique Porter: And then in that lane, You gotta lean into the discomfort. It has to be about constant unlearning and relearning, which we’ve already said is not fun. Doesn’t feel great. It’s not comfortable, but it is so necessary in order for us to kind of break some of these unhealthy habits that we have in order to be more inclusive and to realign for something better, we have to realign for something better and being in alignment with yourself and your integrity and your values.

[00:44:09] Veronique Porter: you’re always gonna need that input from community and the support from the community in order to change the community. So, yeah, that’s the thing. Find your lanes. Okay. And then constantly grow, learn radical growth and learning, and never forget that it’s not an individual journey. It’s all in relation to what’s happening in the world.

[00:44:30] Veronique Porter: What’s happening in your community. Use that love and support and sometimes critique in order to move the chain.

[00:44:37] Laura Hartley: Okay. I love that and I love your work. So thank you very much Veronique so much for coming on to the public love project. I’m gonna have your links to your Instagram, your LinkedIn, your website, all in the show notes.

[00:44:48] Laura Hartley: So please everybody check them out below. Thank you for coming onto the show.

[00:44:52] Veronique Porter: Thank you. It’s been an honor. Really. I appreciate it. I love your work as well. So I, this is great being here and being in [00:45:00] alignment with you and in community with you for this bit of time. I really appreciate.

[00:45:04] Laura Hartley: Right back at you.

[00:45:05] Laura Hartley: Everybody, I do love it when you’re able to suggest guests or topics. So please, you can check out our website at publiclove.enterprises. Send me an email, or you can find me on Instagram, @laura.h.hartley.

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