BIPOC Agile Stories: Lizzy Morris Share Social Justice Experiences in the United Kingdom and United States

Dr. Dave:

So hello and welcome to the KnolShare with Dr. Dave podcast. I am Dr. Dave, your host. I'm glad we can have you on this focus interview so we can talk about the black history month in 2021. I know you bring this amazing unique experience of living in the United Kingdom and the United States. I would just like to hear more about your lived social experiences between the two countries.

Lizzy:

Oh, wow. Well, you said the lived experience and it's so funny you said that. I was having said that I was having a conversation with somebody in the UK yesterday morning, and we were talking about how racism in the UK is so very different, and when I was growing up it wasn't in my face, okay? Now, understand the reason it wasn't in my face was my mother had had it in her face when she immigrated from Jamaica to England in the sixties. So she'd experienced it, my grandparents had experienced it and we were part of a very tight church community that were Caribbean’s, right?

Lizzy:

So all of them had experienced it and as a result they'd come up with systems to work their way through it. So they pulled together and bought houses and everybody had a room and rented a room until they could save to buy another house. And then when they bought another house other people would come stay with them until they could afford to buy houses so the legacy of my grandparents and people their age all had these unanimous homes. Because they had bought these homes back in the fifties and the sixties so they all would have a place that they could rent because nobody would rent to them.

Dr. Dave:

Right. Yeah.

Lizzy:

And that's that whole kind of what people talk about that windrush era which I wasn't conscious of because the hard experiences my mother had had growing up had so shaped her to deny so much of her Caribbean heritage. So we were never allowed to speak Patois, if we did we got slapped. Right? Speak the Queen's English." And she positioned us in neighborhoods where we were never exposed to being victims of racism. So I grew up privileged with never ever been called black or anything.

So I never even identified as black, I just identified as my name, right? But that I realized was very much something my mother was... She had an intention to do it and she had plotted to make sure that was our experience because hers was so horrid. So it wasn't until all the stuff started to really polarize in the U.S. and I was talking to my sister and then I was talking to my uncle, who is my mother's younger brother, and he talked about how my mother planned it. The areas where she wanted us to go to school, where she bought homes, everything was meticulously planned and we just didn't know it but as a result it didn't prepare me to be a victim of race.

Lizzy:

So a lot of people who have been raised in America, who have as I would put the packaging that I have, have been raised and prepared and they know what to do, they know what to notice and even to a point where I think in many times it minimizes their sense of self. I didn't have that but it did cause me a problem because when I moved here to the U.S, I wasn't submissive and I didn't see you as better than me in any shape or form, I didn't even have that thinking. I saw you as an equal straight off the bat and so I treated you as an equal and I expected the same treatment.

Lizzy:

So I was working with one large consultancy company and I was pushing some issues that weren't necessarily very comfortable for some of the seniors and I pushed so hard because that was my nature, it triggered in that person every negative thing they felt about blacks. So all of a sudden they just went at me and told me you need to know your place and shut your black mouth and blah, blah, blah, blah and for me that was like what? What am I? Black? What? What is he saying? And I talked to my mentor who had hired me to that company when everything happened and he said, "Well, you probably need to go talk to HR." And I remember going and talking to Human Reasons and they go, "Are you sure you really want to do something about this? This could make things very difficult for you."

Yeah.

And now knowing the things that I know and knowing the laws that are in place and knowing about the EOC, there was so many things I could have done but I was ignorant to those things so you just kind of recoiled. And I had no coping mechanisms, so that was the hardest thing, I had no coping mechanisms so I was just in shock. So I didn't have the right thing to say back or any of that because I just I wasn't prepared to deal with it.

Dr. Dave:

I could completely understand. I grew up in the Caribbean so different context and the same mindset that your mother had is probably the same mindset that was instilled in my mother and the same context that when I moved to the mainland, it took some adjusting to. Because growing up in a space where everyone looked like you, the mayor, the police officers, the governor, senators, it gives you a different context on a different sense of self of who you are so I totally could relate about what you have experienced.

Lizzy:

And understand I didn't come to Americans when I was in my late 30s.

Dr. Dave:

Young. Very young age.

Lizzy:

So that's when I arrived, yeah but listen, that's when I arrived and got this culture shock.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah, hard.

Lizzy:

Very hard. So in your thirties you're who you are pretty much, right? Your opinions are formed, your character is very much molded. So it was really hard to figure out the rewiring that was necessary.

Dr. Dave:

That's understood. You're like a handful of certified scrum trainer who are black and female, talk to me about your CST journey and experience.

Lizzy:

I don't think I have spoken about that on a public platform ever so this is going to be the first time I'm going to talk about it. And I believe since it's happened there have been things that have been put in place to prevent things like this happening in the future. But the reason I applied to be a CST was actually Carol McEwan and the old CEO, we're going back like two CEOs before of Scrum Alliance, okay?

Dr. Dave:

Yeah. It's cool.

Lizzy:

Yeah and Carol was like, "Lizzie, you should apply. Come on we need women." And I was like there's not a lot of us and I'm a woman power, right? So I have to say the movement I've always embraced before I started to embrace the idea of racial equity was female power. I don't care if you're a guy, you're not going to put me down because I'm a girl and I've been like that since I was little because I was in this community of very hierarchal males and women always seem to be underneath and I hated that.

Lizzy:

For a very long time I'd loath the fact that I'd been born a girl. I was like I should have been born a boy then I would be able to have more rights and I could do more stuff because that was what I had been exposed to. So I've always been in essence a feminist, right? I'm going to fight for the female voice, so this was great, it was a cause. Yes. I'm going to make another female, go on the CST cut. Yes, awesome. But I didn't find many females who were CST because I mean there was a few, who were even willing to do stuff with me like the whole co-train stuff.

Lizzy:

I just didn't find a lot of women who were willing to do that at all and the one that had done it, there was like two or three who kind of worked with me, I became quite close to them as a result of them being willing to open up themselves to me just because of the horrible experience I had. And so I went through the journey thinking everything's okay and et cetera and I got to the place where I was finally in front of the tech committee, my first time. And I probably, to be honest looking back, should maybe have canceled that particular tech because my grandmother had just died and I literally had made the decision to stay versus go back to UK for her funeral because my relatives were like, "Look, this is something you've really worked for, do it, et cetera."

Lizzy:

So I did my first attack and I was super-duper excited and I was all dressed up, I believe I wore a blue dress suit because I was respecting this process, et cetera and I went on. I got some really great feedback but I didn't get through the first time and I was okay with that. I was disappointed but I was okay and so I came back rally crying second time I'll do better but my second time was so flipping traumatic.

Lizzy:

I experienced such unScrum like, such a feeling of... I definitely felt racially profiled for the first time in my life and I thought the scrum and agile community was somehow above that. Like it is a safe space, I did, I thought it was the safe space in the world where we were just all inclusive and we just all loved everybody and we were all about individuals and interactions and we just love each other and the rest of the world has those issues but not us. And somebody I had attempted to co-train with who had blatantly refused to co-train with me when they found out that Devon and I were connected because obviously Devon is the first ever black CST, right?

Lizzy:

And they didn't want to work with me. So when I found out that this person was going to be on my attach I had really said I don't think that's a good idea because I don't think they're going to be able to be impartial. I think they're carrying somethings because I've tried to call and I just and he was like, "Oh no, listen." And I said look, I even suspect that they may have a few racial biases, I really do. And the answer somebody gave me was, "Oh, they can't possibly because they have adopted black children."

Dr. Dave:

Oh, really.

Lizzy:

And they're like do you think that takes care of biases that people have on the inside, really? Okay. And so nobody paid any attention to me and just told me that I had to go ahead and go with it and I watched people allow this person to say things to me that were totally should never have been said to me, should never have been brought up, and everybody sat there and let it happen.

Lizzy:

And I was told, "Well, once you came back in the room you seemed like you'd had it together so we thought you were okay." But again I'm British, okay? I've been born and raised in the UK so I am not the most emotional person. I don't do emotions particularly. I'm very kind of stiff upper lip, I've always been that way. Now, had it been somebody who wasn't British black, they wouldn't have even got away with doing half of the things they did because once the conversation went in the wrong direction, they would have course corrected them and they'd had to have dealt with it and I-

Dr. Dave:

Maybe.

Lizzy:

Well, maybe because I guess there's such of power

Dr. Dave:

Shocked?

Lizzy:

Well, there's the shock therapy and there's a fear factor that exists when people go in front of the tech because these people kind of hold your life in the balance and they're the judge in jury so maybe not, but afterwards I definitely felt like it didn't make sense what I just experienced. And then there was so much of a kind of coverup thing that everybody did about it that was worse for me and what made me stay with the Scrum Alliance because I was ready to forget it, I'm not interested, I don't want to work with people like this, was Bob Hartman and Tom Miller.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah. Bob is a good guy. I like Bob.

Lizzy:

Bob is awesome. Bob came up to me and he hugged me and he said, "Lizzie, don't give up. We need you to be part of this community." And Tom Miller said, "I've heard what's happened, just go again we're going to make sure we're going to make this right." So when everybody started talking to me about they're going to make it right I thought they would make it right but they didn't make it right. It then created such animosity between me and people I thought I was friends and close with all because I wanted justice, right? It was a horrible experience and it put me into a really deep depression that most people today don't know that it did that to me.

Dr. Dave:

And I could only imagine because I heard you said something and when I was on the Agile lady show, I hope I'm not screwing up the name.

Lizzy:

No

Dr. Dave:

I heard you said, "We felt that we had to be almost perfect in the CST process." And I connected that with the same statement by former first lady Michelle Obama as she was going through being the first black female and she said, "We felt we had to be almost perfect." So I'm asking what was the trauma like for you and your family because we're talking about depression, that's serious stuff.

Lizzy:

Well, Devon obviously was very defensive that, "Okay, I've been telling you that this is what Americans are like and you've refused to believe it. White people don't like you." Was literally what Devon said to me, "And you need to know that they don't like us, okay? And you keep thinking they're your friends." That was what he said to me. And that was a hard thing to stomach but for the first time I started to understand what I'd been hearing and what I thought wasn't true about America. So I'm like, oh my God, they're serious. You're allowed to go so far but the minute you start to climb a little bit higher they're going to remind you who you are.

Dr. Dave:

Of course.

Lizzy:

And that wasn't a good pill for me to swallow because it felt and I'll explain to you, the reason why I got so depressed I felt like I had no control over the situation. And when I feel that feeling of not being able to change something and it's out of your hands, it's a horrible feeling especially as an adult. And for an adult like me who's very kind of, I make things happen, I control my destiny, I control my life, it was a horrible feeling and I felt like I was locked up and that's what just kept messing with me. And it was interesting, the more and more that time went on, I started to kind of be victimized and I was bullied by other CSTs.

Lizzy:

There's just so many things that go on in the community that's just ridiculous, right? And again my personality, I am not naturally confrontational. I don't like confrontation, it's just not my wiring. So as a result it makes me come over as being extremely passive and I think bullies can tell that because bullies always know who they can bully, right?

Dr. Dave:

Certainly.

Lizzy:

And so I just kind of started being victimized by... I'd go to certain towns, people told me I had no right to be in that town, I couldn't train there, who did I think I was and dah, dah, dah and then Devon would be like, "You know what? I'm going to go train there. How about they talked to me." [inaudible 00:17:45] Nobody would. And so I think in many cases because I was connected to Devon, a lot of things people maybe wanting to do to him or say to him was coming at me.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah. I could see that.

Dr. Dave:

... That, I could see how that could be. I want to talk about a West Indies roots connection. So as I watch Hulu, another streaming app, they figure out that I'm Black because they're sending me all of these recommended social justice jaw drama, which was great, because I would've never heard about them, right? So one thing that I watched recently called Small Acts and it was stationed within Notting Hill in England, where you had the Mine Grove restaurant in West London in the 1970s. We're talking about Black people from the West Indies and they experienced this racial hatred within the metro police there, right? What I'm looking at is that I really want to compare those experiences of living in the UK versus the USA and how do they show up the same or differently in U.S. because it's just [crosstalk 00:19:01] I have family who live there that tells me that it's really bad.

Lizzy:

It's still there, right?

Dr. Dave:

Yeah.

Lizzy:

I've heard now from my relatives that are there, that it's got really bad.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah.

Lizzy:

I'm starting to think the reason it's gone backwards is although, in essence, England had moved way forwards, from way beyond where America was because interracial marriages and all that, wasn't no big deal. Nobody looked at anybody twice. If somebody was with somebody else of color, of a different race, that wasn't a big deal. But I think with the mass influx of Europeans moving into England, who hadn't been exposed now to Blacks being around, that, "We don't know who you are. We don't trust you." All those things, I think, is what has seeded what we're experiencing today in the UK now because it was never like that while I was ... when I think about growing up and being junior school, kind of, in my teens and ten-year-old and age, it wasn't around.

Lizzy:

It wasn't in my space. I didn't experience it at school. We were just all British. But I think as people have come from Eastern Europeans and et cetera and have moved in, a lot of this stuff now is morphed up. I remember going to the UK on business about three years ago and go into a hotel and the receptionist was a European, meaning they weren't born and raised in England, so you can tell when they open their mouth. They didn't believe that I had status. The Marriott, so they questioned it and I had to prove it.

Dr. Dave:

Status?

Lizzy:

"What are you talking about?" I said, "Yes. So I get this." "Oh, no. You have to have status for that." "Yeah, I do."

Dr. Dave:

Yeah.

Lizzy:

So I had to prove it and I've never really had to do that before. Do you know what I mean, in that kind of question, why like, "Who do you think you are?" "I don't know. What the hell was that?" I remember commenting on it to one of my cousins and she goes, "Yeah, they're like that. All these Europeans, they got an issue with us."

Dr. Dave:

That's crazy.

Lizzy:

So it's brought back all those things that were happening in the '60s and the '70s have suddenly heightened again. You know what I mean? I remember a organization I worked for in my early 20s in London. It was an insurance industry and the organization was 100 years old that I worked for and I won't say their name. I went in originally as a temp to the executive IT director. So what we would call today, the CTO, that's who I was working for on a temporary basis. We got on really well, so he offered me a full-time job. But at the time, I had three other offers from some finance companies that I was looking at and where he had offered me the job at, there was no way I was going to take that. It was way low. I was like, "No, no, no. You got to match." So I negotiated the match, but HR had originally sent me the letter of his original offer and said that that's all they would give and I renegotiated. Well, I made an enemy with HR.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah. How dare you.

Lizzy:

How dare you. What I didn't realize, I was the only second Black female in that company and I hadn't paid attention to that because I'm used to being around Whites. So I don't think it funny if I don't see anybody else who looked like me, because that was my norm experience, so it wasn't weird. But then when I sat back, I went, "Well, the only other Black female here is a secretary," and I had just got promoted to be a business analyst and be part of this elite team that managers around the country had been vetting for, and how dare I just be on the team? I didn't realize it had caused such an issue until the executive went on six-week vacation as executives do in the UK, take their whole six weeks at one time.

Lizzy:

All of a sudden, I became a target and so everything I did was being watched. I had sent out a email to my colleagues to invite them to meet some multi-level marketing people I had known from Canada to come in. Well, next thing I knew I was up with the tribunals at the office and the head legal counsel and they were accusing me of all kinds of crazy things. I'm like, "I couldn't believe." I'm like, "I don't get it." He literally said to me, "Lizzy, there's no way you did this. I know you didn't, but the managers who put this against you, you're not going to be able to fight it."

Dr. Dave:

Yeah. I know that experience.

Lizzy:

I was in my 20s, right?

Dr. Dave:

Yeah.

Lizzy:

So I'm in my 20s with a great job. At the time, I had two young kids, one is in private school because I negotiated where all my jobs and my kid's in private school, and now everything's being threatened. So what the compromise was, they sent me over to London Bridge to work in the project management office, which was this dingy little place in London Bridge with this lady who smelled like cigarette all 24 hours a day, this old, what I would call old decrepit looking woman. She was a sweetheart, but she was an old decrepit looking. Once she walked past you, my God, you were choking on cigarette and that sent me into the worst. I actually became acute asthmatic.

Dr. Dave:

Wow. I could imagine. [crosstalk 00:25:15]

Lizzy:

Because of the whole stress of it to the point where I couldn't go upstairs. I had to live in the living room.

Dr. Dave:

Ooh, wow.

Lizzy:

It was so stressful because here I'd come in, I had made a charge for myself. I had made my place in this organization, but I had created such animosity because, "Who the hell are you to have this position, to have this access?" So when the executive came back, he literally said to me, "Lizzy, I'm sorry. There's nothing I can do, because if I do something for you now, it will look like I'm undermining my managers."

Dr. Dave:

Yeah. That's a cop-out, is what I call it. So talk to me about your family and how are they coping with the craziness of social injustice and what awareness are being discovered, right?

Lizzy:

So what's been interesting is how each of my kids have dealt with it. So one of my sons doesn't actually identify as Black, period. Funny enough, when he's gotten himself into some craziness, because he was in the military and military boys like to drink and do et cetera. When he got stopped by the police, they thought he was White.

Dr. Dave:

Okay.

Lizzy:

So he got White treatment. "Oh, don't worry about it. We can get rid of this. Don't even worry about it. Yeah. Yeah. Just go over there and do this, do this, and you'll be fine." On the arrest record was White male.

Dr. Dave:

Wow.

Lizzy:

Right? Okay. Now let me tell you about my other kids now who don't identify, they identify as Black. So I have three kids who identify as Black, one that doesn't. But those who do, my daughter said to me, "I'm sick and tired of people crying at me. If they feel they've done something wrong and there's injustice, fix it. Don't cry at me. I don't have to wipe your tears." So my daughter got really upset with everything that was going on. She was fed up. She's like, "Stop crying at me. Why is everybody crying at me?" She was quite offended by it. Then my other son has kind of been like, "Well, mom, it's the way it is. You just got to have connections," and so that's my other military son.

Lizzy:

He's like, "You need connections because if you don't have connections, something happens, you're going to be up the creek. So mom, I'm about making my connections." So it's just very interesting, the dynamics amongst them, of how they've dealt with it and how they've seen it. What was the hardest for me was when my son told me he bought a gun.

Dr. Dave:

Wow.

Lizzy:

When he did that, he called, he goes, "Mom, I've just gone and bought a gun. I'm getting a safety deposit box for it." I was like, "You've got a license for it?" He goes, "Of course, I've got a license for it. How else would I get the gun if I didn't have a license for it, mom?"

Dr. Dave:

Buy it on the black market.

Lizzy:

I immediately was panicked for him. I couldn't let him see that panic but I was, because one of the things I knew, he was in the military. He'd had the designation as a marksman. So in my head, if you shoot somebody, they're going to find a way to make you guilty because they're going to say you have that skillset.

Dr. Dave:

Right.

Lizzy:

So even if it's self-defense, it won't be, so I was just panicked. I was like, "Make sure you take out this ... " So I made sure we had the special insurance, that takes care of if anything happens, they're supposed to take care. It was just a panic and every time my boys went, I would, "Make sure you call me when you get back home." Devon was getting ready to take a trip and I said, "You need to get a camera to put in your car. Don't take that road trip without a camera." So he went and bought cameras and put them all in the car so that anything that happened could be recorded and would load up to the cloud, et cetera. It felt like going into a war zone.

Dr. Dave:

Hmm.

Lizzy:

Do you know what I mean?

Dr. Dave:

I understand [crosstalk 00:29:39].

Lizzy:

That's what it felt like. It felt like being in a war zone and my Blackness was suddenly polarized. It was bad enough that here people are judging you by your packaging, but now the whole world's looking at you because of it and it's a point of conversation. So it was horrible and I found myself constantly wanting to just go to bed, to sleep the day away like, "Maybe when I wake up in the morning, it'll be gone." Those are the kinds of tricks I was trying to play with myself because there was so much distrust that came up in me.

Lizzy:

All I thought about is, "I'm not wealthy enough to fight it. If something happens, I don't have enough money to be able to really fight this system and I'm not well enough connected to be able to fight the system." That's all I kept thinking to myself and so I just kept having these things, "Oh my God. I wish I had made this connection here," or, "I wish I had done this." I made sure everybody's passports were good because maybe we need to leave, leave dodge. There was all these things, so God, it's been horrible.

Dr. Dave:

You know what? I could empathize because I'm right there with you.-

Lizzy:

Horrid.

Dr. Dave:

I could empathize.

Lizzy:

Absolutely horrid. It's been horrid and it's been horrid to see the fear factors, how frightened I became. You know what I mean?

Dr. Dave:

I understand.

Lizzy:

So it was horrible starting to live with that amount of fear and anxiety. It was horrible. The world was one way. The world was one way and then I had COVID and had to deal with all the financial things with COVID as an organization, and blah, blah, blah. Then now you've got, "Oh my God, there's this. If you say too much, is it going to affect you when everything shifts?" Because that became my worry? "If I start to have a voice about this, is this going to affect me getting work and clients down the road, because they're going to be like, 'Oh, she's just too much into that Black stuff. I don't think she'd be a good fit.'" So there's all these worries you so then you almost go into silence because you're trying to make sure you can secure your dollars because at the end of the day, you need your dollars to take care of whatever. It was Tricia that helped me with that.

Dr. Dave:

Hey, that's beautiful. So it was funny when I was on your show, you were with your pal, Tricia Broderick. I cracked up when she said, "Oh, we have a man on today." I think the conversation was, I said, "So Tricia, we have a man on today?" I'm like, "Oh."

Lizzy:

It's normally just us girls, right?

Dr. Dave:

Yeah.

Lizzy:

Normally, it's just girls. She became a real lifesaver for me.

Dr. Dave:

That's nice. She's a grounded person as a partner-

Lizzy:

Because I was able to talk to her and talk to her about the fears I was feeling, which is how the whole show came about of Let's Continue The Conversation because she's like, "Well, let's do it then," because I said, "I'm just so fed up that once this goes out in the news, people will forget there's been injustice. They'll forget the years of injustice. They'll forget all this stuff and then we're just supposed to go back to normal." I said, "The conversation has got to keep going." She goes, "Well, let's have a conversation that keeps going, then."

Dr. Dave:

I dig it. I truly dig it and that's why I signed up to do what I'm doing right now, to keep this stuff. Hey, I want to pivot from 'Oh, what?' and move to 'Now what?' So what do you see and hear going on with Black, Indigenous and people of color, which we call BIPOC now, in the agile community?

Lizzy:

If we look at our agile community, we are still not very well-represented. BIPOC people, period, aren't well represented, right?

Dr. Dave:

Nope.

Lizzy:

Just period. I have a really good friend who is Latino and identifies as Latino and she's like, "Lizzy, where have you seen all the people like me in the agile community?"

Dr. Dave:

Yeah.

Lizzy:

"Girl, you're right. You're really a minority too. I haven't seen you, you're right. There's not many of you." She has experienced being downplayed a lot when she's tried to get certifications and rise up too. So until we make a reality the fact that we need to create an environment in which people feel motivated, we have got to take on that. We are going to have to take on the idea of individuals and interactions over processes and tools because the process is the system.

Dr. Dave:

Certainly is. Certainly is.

Lizzy:

So we are go into have to keep pushing that system. One of the reasons why with the show I speak so much to corporate space, is because it's corporations that pay the lobbyists.

Dr. Dave:

Without a doubt, yes.

Lizzy:

Right. So-

Dr. Dave:

That's who they work for.

Lizzy:

So politicians really work for the corporations. I know people don't like to hear it, but that's the reality, right?

Dr. Dave:

Yep.

Lizzy:

So if we want our system to change and the world to change, we're going to have to change things in the corporations. So that's where we're going to have to keep pushing on and thank God for social shaming that sometimes can make things happen a little bit better because organizations don't want to be socially shamed.

Dr. Dave:

No.

Lizzy:

So they want to be seen as doing something, so in this day and age, that's going to work in our favor, but we're all going to have to keep pushing on it. I'm so passionate about it, I went and took a DEI course. So I'm studying after the exam so with that I'll be a certified DEI professional.

Dr. Dave:

Wonderful.

Lizzy:

Taking the course, I have learnt the legalities.

Lizzy:

There's a lot of legalities and there's such a spectrum to diversity. A lot of times when we start saying DE and I, almost sounds like it's just a black issue, right?

Dr. Dave:

Yes.

Lizzy:

And I understand that because DEI was born out of affirmative action that never accomplished what it was supposed to accomplish for blacks period. So sadly, when you look at the backlog and that's the way I always put it, when you look at the backlog, you're still having so much that hasn't been dealt with from the legacy of what's left over from injustices to black indigenous. So the backlog is full of that. Plus now, you're adding everything else. So we have a huge backlog that we've got to deal with and I don't feel that moving forward, if we don't get to address the legacy of black cruelty and that's the best way to put it.

Lizzy:

If we don't address the legacy of black cruelty, we're not going to have a future true equality, because what will happen is society will just take the black issues and drop them underneath and say, "Well, we're dealing with the LGBTQ issues. We're dealing with women issues" because see, those are easier to address than the systemic problem that you actually have created because it's created, that has been created in the US. So it has to be dismantled. And I remember getting really bent out of sorts. There was an Agile Open and we were having a discussion about race and the older black gentleman said, "It's going to take a good other 400 years before this thing changes for me."

Dr. Dave:

Anyway, he's so right.

Lizzy:

And I was like, "I don't believe that. How could you say that? If it's going to take 400 years, why would..." I was so upset by that statement and I thought he was so negative. I really did and I really kind of came at him. But learning what I've learned, being educated the way now we're being educated, seeing what I'm seeing, I'm edging to actually align with him on that and that's sad.

Dr. Dave:

I could completely concur that that is the reality. And even though the work that has been done has helped other groups that are suffering some level of cruelty, we've been able to move that along a little bit and perhaps we'll get a little bit of a tow along in the process.

Lizzy:

Well, I'd say what's going to work for our favor, I believe, Dave? Is that the other groups are willing to stand.

Dr. Dave:

Yes.

Lizzy:

That's so there is collaboration amongst all those who've been victimized. So they're willing to stand and hold hands with us to make the change happen. And I think that's what's going to... if we're going to get a fast forward, the fast-forward will come because of the unity amongst the victimized.

Dr. Dave:

Yes, and I agree. As you study history, you would see that that's the poll that we get to move us forward. But the conversation like we're having right now, do you think is enough to build awareness of the challenges that exist for us? The things that we experience as a people, as individuals, do you think it's enough?

Lizzy:

No, I think we all need support groups just like they... Even normal people who've been traumatized go to support groups, so they have a place they should talk. I think every organization needs to have one of those, just like we have Agile practice areas and centers of excellence, we need to have centers of caring.

Dr. Dave:

I agree.

Lizzy:

I think that is necessary and safe places where people can talk and learn and understand. So if we don't have those, there's gaps because we all have assumptions about things based on whatever your grandmother told you or what you read in a newspaper and you assume it to be true. So until people come alive to each other, and this is where my #allhumanityisbeautiful until we start to see each other on a human level and converse on that level, I don't think we have much hope of killing the new biases that will come about.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah, especially as resources become scarce or you're dealing with a pandemic, more of these type of attitudes would become more prevalent without a doubt.

Lizzy:

Absolutely. But inside of me, I don't believe that our colleagues are sitting intentionally with hate or bias against us. I don't believe that.

Dr. Dave:

Some are. I would say some, I wouldn't say all but I think some are because that's just where they are.

Lizzy:

Can you see that? When you look at that, when you think about the some that are, do you think you find that more at a certain age group?

Dr. Dave:

It's age, it's demographics, it's where they live. So it's all of those different things because your practice Agile does not necessarily mean that you're going to be a humanist, you could just be a capitalist. "I'm going to make some money and it's easy me to do that and give us some-"

Lizzy:

Well, I never thought about it like that, but yeah, you're right. You're absolutely right. Yeah, you're absolutely right. I guess yeah, that's true. But see, that's what I'm saying. I have this in-built optimism and believing that there is a thread in each of us that's... you'd call it that silver core that helps people to transcend, I want to believe that it exists in each of us and it's the right conversation. It's the right experience that will help that thread pull out and help us then unite because a lot of times people don't... It's like when I read the... I haven't read the whole book, I read half of it because it starts to just be really depressing, White Privilege. When you look at that, when you are talking about equity... let's not even talk about equality just let's talk equity.

Lizzy:

If you took away things like redlining and you gave back to the black population, the ability to acquire property, so they could at least have equity with the counterparts, then I would think we could really say we're starting to do things. But I don't see that there's anything working for that. So all the horrible things that were happened to the indigenous Indians that were here, all that Horry stuff that happened to the, they're still fighting for justice, but at least they don't pay taxes. They've been shoved into these little corners of land when they should have so much more, but there's something that they have. It's not enough. It's not enough. There should be way more that's done for them. But when you come back and you look at what has been done for blacks, it doesn't compare. What have you done? What have you done? What have you done to make it right?

Dr. Dave:

We've get nothing.

Lizzy:

What have you done to make it right? Nothing. All you've done is created a system that allows you to still use the black males as free labor in your prison business. When I sit back because again, I'm becoming more and more educated because understand, coming into America, I had no idea about this stuff, nothing. I came in fact with the concept of, "Black Americans had a chip on their shoulder and they should get rid of it. They need to just get over this slavery issue." That was literally what I would say. [inaudible 00:45:15]. I'm being honest, I'm telling you that's where I was when I came in this country. That's how I thought. That's how I used to think when I was in England. I'm serious, that's what I thought.

Lizzy:

And then I came here and I started to see, and now I've started to learn and I have to say to you, I take my hat off to the whites who put the system in place. They weren't stupid. They were bloody strategic about this to have put a system in place that plays the game for you and protects you even after you're dead in the grave. That is genius.

Dr. Dave:

Well, they've had centuries of that level of oppression from where they came right before they came to this land on many of the lands that they've taken over like Australia and things like that.

Lizzy:

So, we too have to be as educated and as strategic. So we have got to use the system that they've put in place. Learn the system, know the system and work the system to give us some lift. That's going to be the best that we can do, and then you understand now when, and this is probably really heavy when you think about the Caribbean and you think about Africans, we push for education. We push for our children to do more than we've done. "You've got to be better than us." That is a huge thing in the Caribbean and in Africa, you must excel. You must be better. We push really hard that way.

Lizzy:

So I feel here, that's what we're going to have to do, is pushed to education and push to educate black children in fields where they will earn good money. Do you know what I mean? So where they can begin to have the where we thought to be able to fight injustice and support injustice, because you look at the civil rights movement, it was the Pullmans on the trains because they earned so well, who supported a lot of the movement that happened.

Dr. Dave:

They also enabled the movement because they could transport. They could write.

Lizzy:

Right, they can transport the papers and dropped them off. So they're able to... We have got to understand we have got to enable this next iteration.

Dr. Dave:

I agree. So I want to ask you this what would you recommend as a course of action to bring about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the Agile community for BiPAP professionals because I'm saying now what? What are we going to do? I know it's a big question, sorry.

Lizzy:

Well, that's a big... One of the things would be good. I love what women in Agile is doing because they're really pushing this. They're doing a really good job, but you always see women tend to do a good job of stuff like this-

Dr. Dave:

They do.

Lizzy:

...because we're just that way. But I think it has to become a thing where from the highest levels down, we start looking at it. So it's not going to be good enough for people to say, "I don't see color."

Dr. Dave:

If anyone tells me that again and I always tell people this, when you say that you don't see me, [crosstalk 00:48:51] so don't tell me that.

Lizzy:

Yeah, you're going to have to first put your color glasses on and look. I did a search, I think it was last year on black scrum masters because it's actually a search that you can do in LinkedIn.

Dr. Dave:

Really?

Lizzy:

Yeah. And I was like, "Okay, we got it on a black scrub masters around." But are they being represented? I remember when I would go to like Scrum Alliance and you wouldn't see any of us and then you look at-

Dr. Dave:

Very few.

Lizzy:

One, two.

Dr. Dave:

One or two.

Lizzy:

Three, four, five. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, and it started to grow. It's started to be more of us, but that needs to become a norm.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah, that's the work to be done.

Lizzy:

It's like one of the Scrum Alliance, we had a seat that opened up and there were three women of color.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah, I saw that.

Lizzy:

But only one could go through. And one of the sad things, I think that is burdened on our Asian brothers and sisters, there is a concept that they are the best behaved immigrants. So if we're going to have one, we'll have them because they're the better class.

Dr. Dave:

Yes.

Lizzy:

And that's a burden that's been put on their population. They didn't do that to themselves. That's that's something that's been done. I think that equitable thing would have been made three seats. Why can't you? Why don't you just do three seats?

Dr. Dave:

Yeah, write it on the board.

Lizzy:

Why couldn't you have expanded it? That would have the inspection and adaptation, right?

Dr. Dave:

Yeah.

Lizzy:

Make that. Do what we preach, eat our own dog food and make those things happen. Now one of the reasons I love Trisha is Trisha doesn't just talk. She's very good at making actions. So she gave up her seats to say, "Okay, since you guys aren't going to make room, then I'm going to make room. This seat right here, you best put you a person of color in this seat." So she pushed for action and I know she gets anxious for that. She doesn't care, but she still does because people think, "Why do you have to go that politician?" Kind of thing because everybody to do it quietly.

Dr. Dave:

Every time she understands.

Lizzy:

Yeah, if we can have 10 more Trisha’s, I think we'd have a really good fighting chance of trying to make the what's next. But I think we've got to make demands of our community.

Dr. Dave:

We have to, and we have to keep doing the work that we do and we have to step up and make those demands. And the work that we have to do that we're not doing is as a collective.

Lizzy:

Yes.

Dr. Dave:

It's one of the things that I'm trying to do at Agile for Humanity is to make that a collective, but it's hard. But I think God gave me broad shoulders for a reason so, I'll take it as far as I can and hopefully others will join and then pass the torch.

Lizzy:

Yeah, because that's what we're going to do. None of us are going to live forever.

Dr. Dave:

No.

Lizzy:

None of us are going to live forever, so the idea is that we want to empower those coming behind us. So I think one of the things we need to do is make more initiatives of where we're reaching into schools, work with the education system to educate the masses.

Dr. Dave:

Yes.

Lizzy:

And hold our hands up. Go out there and say as much as we've been Agile, we've messed up and so we're being transparent about our mess up. And here are the steps that we're taking. Be a beacon. I really feel that I think all scrum organizations, Scrum.org, Scrum Inc, Agile Alliance, Scrum Alliance, they need to be beacons because they're leading innovation. If you're innovating, part of innovation has to be diversity because that's where creativity happens is in diversity of thought, diversity of people from different backgrounds and creating these beautiful collages

Lizzy:

... of teams. So if we're not the beacon, who will be?

Dr. Dave:

Well, this is an opportunity. So it's beyond just being customer centric. It's about being people-centric and I think that's what we're really trying to say here, is that if we want to be people-centric, we should really include everyone.

Lizzy:

Yeah. All right. It's time for us to understand... My humanity's beautiful regardless of what package I'm in. Your humanity is beautiful and our humanity is beautiful. And humans make the technical systems work. Humans build the products. Humans consume the products. We talk about the human component, right? We do. We talk about it. But now it's time for us to expand that and bring attention to the human component. We talk about, teams should be happy, the happiness metric. What is the happiness metric right now for our BIPOC?

Dr. Dave:

Yeah. That's a very good question. All right. That's a very good question.

Lizzy:

What is it? And we have to work on that. Let's get that happy metric up and do what we need to do. Two years ago, consistently, people were coming to us and going, "When are you guys going to do a black scrum thing, we need to have a black thing for us." And you know, I really rejected it. "What, what do you want to do that for?" And I just couldn't really necessarily get behind it. Although people kept coming to us, because obviously we represent... It's kind of like, "Well, you guys should lead it. You guys should start it." But now I'm seeing lots of grass root movement stuff, right? Black Agile group. Melanated Agile.

Dr. Dave:

Yes, Melanated Agile is beautiful, I love that group.

Lizzy:

Right! Again, because why is that having to be formed? Because there's still not the comfort that we welcome in the space. I never understood when I came to America why there was a black component to every white thing that existed. I thought it was the weirdest thing ever. I was like, "Well, why do a black one, and then there's a white one? Huh? Why didn't I just want, isn't it the same kind of thing?" And I used to be confused by it. I'm not confused by it now.

Dr. Dave:

That's wonderful.

Lizzy:

Not at all, because nobody wants to walk into a room where they're always the foreigner.

Dr. Dave:

Yes. You're the alien in the group. You're the alien and it's like, no one wants that.

Lizzy:

Nobody wants that. Everybody wants to feel a sense of belonging. So it's up to us as an Agile community, as Agile influencers ,to create a space where everybody feels a sense of belonging, like they feel their home. You know when you know somebody really well, and you are friends. You can go to their house, you can go in their fridge and you can sit back and just kick the breeze, right?

Dr. Dave:

That's it. Yep.

Lizzy:

That's what we're talking about when we're talking about inclusivity. I should feel like I belong, not like you've given me permission to be here.

Dr. Dave:

Without a doubt. But you know what? I just want to say, thank you so much for sharing today and giving so much of you to what's going on. This is really, really important for us to have more and more of these conversations and-

Lizzy:

Thanks for inviting me. When all this stuff happened, I made a conscious decision that I was willing to open my mouth and voice my opinion.

Dr. Dave:

Likewise. And thank you.

Lizzy:

Right. And that's why we're doing it. So, it's that intention that I am actioning, why I'm sharing things and opening up. It's not because I want anybody to see me as victimized, but I want people to understand that, if I can tell you I feel this way, this is what's happened to me, these are the things that have been going on with me on the inside. How many people do you know who are feeling these things and having these thoughts that haven't told you?

Dr. Dave:

Yeah. We have to lead, and we have to lead to be very intentional about what we're doing.

Lizzy:

Yeah. And we're leading with vulnerability here. So we are committed to having the courage to stay open about our vulnerabilities, the things we normally hide behind our professional personas. We're now saying, "Okay, we're going to take that mask off, and this is all of me. I want you to accept all that I am. Because if you don't, then you don't get my brain, you don't get my creativity." Because you can't dice me up. Go and take this of you, but I don't want that part.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah. Got to allow our whole selves to come to work.

Lizzy:

We talk about authenticity. Well, in order to facilitate true authenticity, we have to facilitate true inclusivity. So, then you can get people being authentic because you're creating a place where it's safe. It's not safe right now.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah. It really isn't. And it's not just psychological safety, we're talking emotional safety as well. And in some cases, physical safety.

Lizzy:

Yeah. We are, we really are. That is something that we have to be concerned about. It's something I have to be concerned about for my children. And when you think... There was something I wrote a couple of days ago, Elizabeth, I think her last name is Labetha? Does these really, really amazing posts that really amplify the injustices and things that people go through. And I commented on one of her posts because it just made me cry. It just like brought me to tears. And I had said this once in one of our conversations, the conversations I had with Trisha, I said, "If blacks could at least be treated at the same level that whites treat their pets"-

Dr. Dave:

Oh, I heard you say that, I'm like "Don't say it!"

Lizzy:

I know, it makes you cringe doesn't it? Every time I say it.

Dr. Dave:

I'm like "Ahhh".

Lizzy:

Right? We would be at a much better place and have a better leap, a shorter leap to get to. Now the fact that I can say that, and it triggers you every time I say it, but then I have to use something like that, that that is more important to society than we are. That's what we're talking about. It's those harsh realities. And that's what our white colleagues have got to understand. What was her name now? I've blocked out her name. But the lady who called the police in the park.

Dr. Dave:

Oh, Karen or whatever her name was.

Lizzy:

Her last name was Cooper. I remember that.

Dr. Dave:

I think so. I blocked her out.

Lizzy:

And they came and charged her because she was holding her dog like that. And they came and took the animal.

Dr. Dave:

Yeah, for animal cruelty. Yeah.

Lizzy:

Right?

Dr. Dave:

Yeah.

Lizzy:

But if, and here's the thing I think is really important. It so happened that the black male that she went after was an affluential black male. So he has connections.

Dr. Dave:

And tools.

Lizzy:

Okay. What if it wasn't-

Dr. Dave:

Yeah.

Lizzy:

Because we know whether we're professional or not, the first thing people see is the packaging. And then you are accosted based on the packaging. What happens to me is the packaging is seen, and then I open my mouth, they go, this is a comment, "Oh, you're different." So then I get different treatment. But if I don't open my mouth at all, the treatments consistent. Meaning-

Dr. Dave:

That is a fact-

Lizzy:

It's still seen that if you came from here and if you're one of our blacks, we're going to treat you any which way we want to. Because there's still the concept of "We own you." And that's really what's at the root of it. So it's kind of like every time your property says, "No, you don't own me. I'm equal to you." "No, you're not."

Lizzy:

Because what's wired in the brain is, your house can't tell you it's equal to you. Your chair can't tell you it's equal to you. Who's talking about... "You're something I use. You are a resource."

Lizzy:

Now, in our Agile community, we hate the word resource being put with people.

Dr. Dave:

That's correct.

Lizzy:

Right, we hate that. But wired in the brain is the fact that blacks are resources. So what do we do, so we can make sure we get the best out of the resources and keep them as resources? So it's kind of that goal. That goal that somebody had when they had their meeting to figure out how they're going to make this thing work. "Okay, they're free, but hey." That's what we're fighting against.

Dr. Dave:

Well, you're fighting a counterculture, because one culture says all men are created equal, but not if you were a descendant of one of those people, so let me create different rules that affect you in a very different way. And if you watch 13th, which talks about the 13th amendment and all of the different rules that they came up with, it's like, "Hey, we're going to create every different types of policies that would limit the ability for you to be human." And that's what it is.

Lizzy:

I know, that's what it comes down to you. And unless you have had the privilege to have been well-educated and studied some of these things, you have no idea what you're coming up against. And so it's easier. And now I understand why so many people stay in welfare, stay in the ghetto. It's easier because sometimes the fight is just too much.

Dr. Dave:

The pain. It's not even a fight. It's the sustained pain that it's not even just physical. It's emotional, it's spiritual. It's at that core level that it impacts you and I, as other human beings. So, that is what it is-

Lizzy:

I think it's why we're probably more religious, right? That's probably why blacks are more religious than many other races. Tuned into spirituality because it's the one thing we can pull on for strength and survival. I mean, I know I have been rinsing some gospel music during this time. For real, rinse and repeat, rinse repeat, rinse repeat. Can't tell you the last time I kind of put my foot in a church, even prior to COVID, but that gospel music has been playing quite heavy because-

Dr. Dave:

It's a start-

Lizzy:

You know what I mean? Because it's kind of like, you need that "Phew."

Dr. Dave:

Yep. Well, I put my foot in church all the time. It's my thing, it's the foundation for me, that helps me cope. And it's okay. You know, for all of us who do, and even for those who don't, I have great hope that they will get there one day.

Lizzy:

Well, I've always believed this, and I come from a long line of preachers.

Dr. Dave:

Yes, you come from Jamaica.

Lizzy:

I come from a long line of Ministers. I've always, in my heart I believe this, that at some point there is an intervention. And a lot of times we're looking for "Who's our savior? Who's going to come?" But I think in every generation, there's a David, there's a Samson that rises up. But now what we're looking at is a collective coming together to form the Davids, to form the Samsons, who will go out there and they will wage war with the system.

Lizzy:

And I want to be very clear when I say this, cause I don't want people to say I'm inciting people to go murdering. I'm not talking about that kind of war. So please be very clear when you go back to say, "Lizzie said." Lizzie is talking about a warring against a system, which means they have to understand the system to be able to fight the system.

Lizzy:

So we're talking about a grouping of intellectual people who can peel through laws, and who can read, and who can see between the lines. And have collaborative units of people have this knowledge and experience and able to share it and equip people, so that we start to make the change happen. Because if we get enough laws on the books, then we have enough precedence, and that's what we're going to have to do.

Lizzy:

So when it comes to our community, we need precedence of behaviors, habits, and start doing the principles and making them real. And when it comes to our community at large, beyond our community into our world, we need to start having laws on the books that make humanity a reality. Not just a concept.

Dr. Dave:

Yes. I thank you. I thank you for your sharing today. So let's close, and I want to say thank you for listening to the KnolShare with Dr. Dave podcast. I hope this learning experience would also prompt you to seek more, and discover how you can contribute to positive experiences for BIPOC lives. I said it doesn't take much, all we have to do is to tap into our own humanity.

Dr. Dave:

So I would like to tell you, you could find Agile for humanity, social justice and impact series under KnolShare with Dr. Dave podcasts in iTunes, Google play and Spotify but it's also on a bunch of different websites, including the AgileAlliance.org, knolsharewithdrdave.com, grokshare.com, knolshare.org, and also agileforhumanity.org.

Dr. Dave:

So if you're on the Agile Alliance website, I want you to look for sharing black, indigenous and people of color stories under the webcast section.

I want to give attribution to Kayanna Brown-Hendrickson, my niece, who will write the intro music for this. This is copy written 2020, 2021 for KnolShare and Dr. Dave Cornelius.

And I'll say until next time, be well, stay safe and connect soon. Lizzy, you're awesome. You're awesome!

Lizzy:

Thank you.

Kayanna:

Let's talk about it, talk, talk, talk. Let's go deep. We all have something to share, KnolShare with Dr. Dave.