What I’m Reading – Oct 2020

This article is cross-posted from the ZS intranet (which we call ZSpace), where I write episodically about issues of interest to the LGBTQ+ community and our allies. It’s been lightly edited for an external audience.

I’ve been reading way more than I’ve been sharing these days.  A lot of it has to do with how busy my teams are at the moment, and the backdrop of Covid-19, of course.  Back to school has brought new challenges – both my boys have ADHD so I find myself acting as administrative assistant and homework tracker in addition to my regular mom duties.  But, I’ve always been a voracious reader and this Fall is no exception!  So here are some articles I thought would be worth sharing.  Some educational, some light-hearted … hopefully something for everyone.  

Drag queen physics

To start with something a little light-hearted, here a funny clip of draft performer Amrou Al-Kadhi (aka @Glamrou) talking about drag queen physics.  “If subatomic particles defy constructs all the time, why should we believe in fixed constructs of gender or any kind of reality?”  She is so brilliant and funny, I hope you’ll enjoy it. 

 You can watch the clip here.  And the full interview here.    

McKinsey LGBTQ research

Earlier this year Anne Brocchini circulated the latest Diversity & Inclusion report from McKinsey.  I was disappointed to not find much at all on LGBTQ+ topics.  They said “Our observations on other forms of diversity beyond gender and ethnic/cultural diversity, such as LGBTQ+ or age/generational diversity, were limited by a lack of access to publicly available representation data.”  So, there wasn’t much in here to inform our Pride@ZS efforts. 

But, tecently the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced that McKinsey is going to share their latest insights from LGBTQ+ research:

Recent research from McKinsey & Company explores the state of LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace in two key reports. “LGBTQ+ voices” is an inquiry into LGBTQ+ workplace experiences that drew on a global, cross-sector survey of 2,000+ employees as well as interviews and focus groups with LGBTQ+ senior leaders. “How the LGBTQ+ community fares in the workplace” finds that despite visible corporate support, today’s workplace is falling short of full inclusion, especially for LGBTQ+ women of color, and other insights.  Join us to hear more about McKinsey’s research, its findings and important takeaways for D&I professionals, leaders and all champions of inclusion.

If any of you are interested in joining this webinar, the session is on Thursday October 14th at 2 pm CT.  A summary of their findings is also available here – https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/lgbtq-plus-voices-learning-from-lived-experiences.  You can learn more and register for the Look Forward series here – https://www.thehrcfoundation.org/professional-resources/the-look-forward.

Income inequality in the Black community

I continue to learn as much as I can about racial inequality and what we can do about it, in an effort to be a better ally to our The Black and Hispanic Alliance (BHA) colleagues.  Recently I read an article in The Atlantic called How Black Middle-Class Kids Become Poor Adults.  We know that Black Americans disproportionately experience income inequality.  But this article describes that “Many black Americans not only fail to move up, but show an increased likelihood of backsliding.”  It’s really tough to think how badly our American experiment is broken, but nonetheless so important to acknowledge and discuss.

Racism in everything objects

On Medium, there is a series of blog posts called A Hundred Racist Designs.  The author Pierce Gordon says:

Unfortunately, racism proves to be larger, more abstract, and more elusive than the objects traditional designers are used to constructing. To some extent, it’s not their fault: racism’s been designed into our society for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, designers still fail to recognize the countless ways — tangible, yet invisible — that racism has been injected into our technologies.  It’s time to do more. … Just because a design isn’t intentionally made by a racist doesn’t mean it hasn’t adopted racist politics.

If you found his first post compelling, you can also read A Hundred Racist Designs: Part Two.  I hope that everyone in the User Experience Expertise Center (UXEC) will read them both.  

Coping with Covid-19

I know we are all sick of hearing and talking about Covid-19!  If you want to skip past this section you won’t hurt my feelings.    But I read three interesting pieces recently that I think are worth sharing more broadly. 

  • One is a Medium article called Your ‘Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted — It’s Why You Feel Awful.  It describes how – at the beginning of the pandemic – we were all operating on adrenaline.  But, as it drags on we’re feeling increasingly depleted.  The author talks more about why and what we can do about it. 
  • Along similar lines, Dr. Aisha Ahmad posted a series of really interesting tweets about “the six month wall”; it is a real psychological hurdle, and she helps us understand how to move through it. 
  • Finally I learned a new word – acedia – which 

… distinguishes the complex of emotions brought on by enforced isolation, constant uncertainty and the barrage of bad news from clinical terms like “depression” or “anxiety”.  Saying, “I’m feeling acedia” could legitimise feelings of listlessness and anxiety as valid emotions in our current context without inducing guilt that others have things worse.  Second, and more importantly, the feelings associated with physical isolation are exacerbated by emotional isolation – that terrible sense that this thing I feel is mine alone. When an experience can be named, it can be communicated and even shared.

All that said, I hope you are all weathering the pandemic and our crazy work demands as much as humanly possible.  Thank you for being here!

I could share so much more … but lately I’ve been getting lost in sci-fi and fantasy books as a way to avoid election and Covid-related news.  So, I think that’s about all for this post.  Look forward to your feedback … and I’d love to hear what you’re reading these days!

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