“If you want to change things in a big way, then you have to make some big changes”, Brooke Sinclair and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

The life lesson quote that is most relevant to my life and work is “If you want to change things in a big way, then you have to make some big changes.” It’s a quote Rocky says in Creed II. Rocky is the classic underdog story. Rocky was underestimated, ignored, and dismissed and so was […]

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The life lesson quote that is most relevant to my life and work is “If you want to change things in a big way, then you have to make some big changes.” It’s a quote Rocky says in Creed II. Rocky is the classic underdog story. Rocky was underestimated, ignored, and dismissed and so was I. I have been repeatedly underestimated, ignored, and dismissed. I stand before you today a failure and I’m proud. I’ve taken hits, I’ve been knocked down, but I’m resilient. I’m strong and I don’t stop.

As a part of our series about ‘5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society’ I had the pleasure to interview Brooke Sinclair.

Brooke Sinclair became an authority on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion through years of experience in translating black culture and black experiences into words and feelings non-black people can relate to. It wasn’t until quarantine began when she discovered the connection between the addiction to biased thoughts and actions and its similarity to drug addiction.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

I was born in Chicago but grew up in Houston. I’m the independent rebellious middle child of three.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I read Jerry Springer’s autobiography, Ringmaster!, after I bought my first home. Coming from Chicago, the Jerry Springer Show started out as a reputable television show. That book taught me about the journey of a person’s life. Jerry went from a political advocate to a politician. Then he went from a talk show host of a reputable talk show to what we know the show is today and now he’s a judge in a daytime court show.

Then I read Hillary Clinton’s 2003 memoir, Living History. I drew inspiration from the story of her and Bill in Arkansas. Hillary’s story resonated with me because of her amazing courage, bravery, and determination. Regardless of Clinton’s policies, Hilary is an underdog. She did not hide in shame; she rose above the embarrassment.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

The life lesson quote that is most relevant to my life and work is “If you want to change things in a big way, then you have to make some big changes.” It’s a quote Rocky says in Creed II. Rocky is the classic underdog story. Rocky was underestimated, ignored, and dismissed and so was I. I have been repeatedly underestimated, ignored, and dismissed. I stand before you today a failure and I’m proud. I’ve taken hits, I’ve been knocked down, but I’m resilient. I’m strong and I don’t stop.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

I define leadership according to George C. Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Reading Maxwell’s Laws of Leadership changed everything I understood I knew about how to interact with people. It’s workbook accompaniment, the Irrefutable Laws of Leadership helped me write my personal mission statement, and it taught me how to be the type of leader people want to follow.

In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

I’m a nerd, I love a good outline. When I’m preparing for a big meeting, I’m usually up at night going through my notes writing an outline of talking points, or adding the finishing touches to a presentation.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality, and inclusion.

This is of course a huge topic. But briefly, can you share your view on how this crisis inexorably evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?

The U.S. is indeed facing a reckoning about race and inclusion. When I think about how long the country remained in quarantine before certain groups began protesting, it reminds me that I am a descendant of slaves who were brought to this country against their will. We have reached this boiling point because after four centuries, the descendants of slaves want the same constitutional freedoms, rights, and privileges as those who protested quarantine and who continue to protest masks.

Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience working with initiatives to promote Diversity and Inclusion? Can you share a story with us?

I have a long history of translation of black culture and experiences into words non-black people can understand and relate to. My colleague and I drew from years of experience in nonprofit, community development, and management/leadership training to create a new initiative to promote Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion. It’s an incredibly unique Diversity and Inclusion initiative unlike anything anyone has ever experienced before.

During quarantine we noticed an uptick in the number of “Karen” attacks. A “Karen” is a nickname for a “white-lady-with-a-bone-to-pick.” The New York Post defines a Karen attack as a socio-cultural faux pas online. Calling the police to shut down a kids’ lemonade stand — because they don’t have a permit — or calling the police on black bird watcher who asks you to leash your dog. Essentially, a shorthanded term for a mean middle-aged woman who makes a big fuss are all examples of Karen attacks.

As I was watching my fourth Karen attack on YouTube, I started to recognize a familiarity in the behaviors of the women randomly lashing out at unsuspecting individuals. There was something in each person’s mannerisms and determination to succeed that seemed familiar. Until one day it hit me…They’re addicts!

That realization inspired the hypothesis that the biased thoughts and actions of privilege are addicting. They are an addiction. A typical Karen works in a corporate office environment and is the person who says things like, “You’re not one of those Black people” or passing up qualified minorities for promotions and raises the minorities are qualified for. However, during quarantine those Karen’s were at home with their families and were not able to get a fix of privilege from lording their privilege over minorities. Our theory is when you see a Karen attacking an unsuspecting, innocent bystander who was simply going about their business, what you are actually seeing is a drug fiend looking for a fix. And that’s how The Bias Rehab Center was born.

The biased thoughts and actions of privilege are addicting, they are an addiction. Therefore, it should be treated like an addiction. The Bias Rehab Center utilizes a similar formula for breaking free of addictions to meth, crack/cocaine, and heroin.

First, the 11 Step Program. Built to mimic 30 days in rehab, the 11 Step Program is a quick impact on the psyche. Focused on helping participants identify who they are versus who they want to be, the 11 Steps are great for dynamic group settings. Venture capital firms, limited partners, private equity offices, Homeowner Associations, and fraternities and sororities with 5 or less minorities have a choice between Half Day or Full Day sessions.

For those who prefer to get over their addiction cold turkey, there is the weekly conversationalist group, No Invitation Required (NIR). A safe space for those addicted to privilege, NIR is a weekly, steadfast refuge for those who want direct feedback on the actions they can take to be part of the solution.

This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?

Contrary to popular belief, or what the CEO of Coinbase may articulate, it is critically important for a company to have a diverse executive team because the people of society (customers) are diverse. Although Coinbase may have only lost 60 employees, customers measure the strength of an executive management team by how it embraces the concept of diversity in thought. An executive team that embraces diversity in thought takes their company from “How do we reach this demographic” to “We’re serving this demographic in this region, this region, and this region.”

We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved? Can you explain?

I am optimistic that this issue can be resolved. I’m optimistic the United States can change because change is the only constant we have in this life. It’s society’s only guarantee.

You know, I realized recently that there is a topic that is just as controversial and polarizing as racism; trophy hunting. Either a person is for racism or trophy hunting or they are not.

Black people are a highly coveted prey. Similarly to lions, rhinos, leopards, and elephants, slaves, and the descendants of slaves, are game-winning prey. The tusks, tanned hides, and lush pelts from Black people are symbols of power. The “African Big Five” are lions, elephants, and slaves.

Trophy hunting fills an empty heart with pleasure. The triumphant pleasure of hurting another living thing. Scientists suggest hunting signals a psychological need for power.

People who understand trophy hunters say that displaying dead prey is how a hunter proves his/her power or wealth. Hence the term “trophy hunting.” Unlike the traditional hunter who eats what’s been killed, trophy hunters kill because they can, and they want to. Even the most avid hunter has more than one deer mounted on their walls.

Have you ever asked yourself, why do hunters hang the heads of big game prey on their walls? When a moose head hangs on the walls it is what hunters call a trophy. It’s a souvenir of the kill. In the article “How Hunting Trophies Work” writer Andrew Aguecheek describes hunting as an intense, visceral experience. In short, it’s a high. After the thrilling victory of the hunt, it is only natural for the hunter to want to keep a memento that captures the memory. Human predators take pieces of flesh and bone as souvenirs of the victims they’ve tormented.

‘The Trophy Hunter Psychology’ suggests that under the context of the law one cannot murder a non-human animal, a corpse, a corporation, or any other non-human such as a plant or bacterium. In my opinion, I think that is where Black people fall in the minds of those who control this country. I think that’s where Black people are in the minds of the powers that be, non-human animals.

“Cruelty to animals is wrong, but it is not murder. People kill animals for a wide variety of reasons.” Some of these reasons may be seen as cruel by different people: for example, some feel that killing animals for food is cruel, while others see it as a necessary evil, and some (like those who enjoy hunting) even take pleasure in it. However, even cruelty to animals does not constitute “murder.”

Not too long ago, mob violence was socially acceptable. Socially accepted, aided, abetted, and attended by law enforcement. Historically speaking, lynching participants were never punished and if they were tried or convicted, it was for arson, rioting, or some other much more minor offense. Sound familiar?

Based on the detailed empirical research, the word for nonhuman is embedded in legal systems globally. It is the burden of the prey to outsmart the predator and that’s why I believe the descendants of slaves are victim-blamed for their interactions with police officers and figures of authority. Black people may see themselves as sentient beings rich with deep cognitive and emotional lives, but that is not a widely held perspective.

For example, take the 1931 story of Raymond Gunn from Maryville, Missouri. The pubic lynching of Raymond Gunn drew an estimated crowd of 4,000 watchers. That was only eighty years ago. After the event, Arthur Raper wrote The Tragedy of Lynching. In his book, Raper describes the story of a woman who held her little girl up so she could get a better view of the Negro’s naked body burning in front of hundreds of children.

That means it is up to the slave descendants to use their skills, resources, and influence to change the narrative. The men who sit at the head of police unions are descendants of people who wore their Sunday best to watch a murder in public, often taking dismembered body parts as souvenirs as trophies. “Whole families came together, mothers and fathers, bringing even their youngest children. It was the show of the countryside — a very popular show,” read a 1930 editorial in the Raleigh News and Observer. “Men joked loudly at the sight of the bleeding body … girls giggled as the flies fed on the blood that dripped from the Negro’s nose.”

Less than a century ago, lynching victims were typically dismembered into pieces as trophies for mob members. I do believe there is hope for the future because I believe there is a better way to get into the psyche of those in power. I believe we can elicit empathy from the powers if we play on the psychology behind trophy hunting.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I’d enjoy a private breakfast with Issa Rae and the comedian Kevonstage. Issa Rae introduced the world to the Awkward Black Girl and Kevonstage and because he’s found success by following the path the universe has laid out for him.

How can our readers follow you online?

Readers can follow me on Twitter at @brookessinclair and on Medium @11Steps.

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