Diverse Communities Thrive
Sometimes WPMotivate is our way of working through life’s challenges in a productive way of looking at challenging situations. In this week’s episode, we talk about dealing with other people’s judgements and why diversity is important to our global WordPress community. After a simple observation turned into a firestorm on Twitter, Michelle found herself in the epicenter of some raw commentary. We reframe the experience and talk about how all communities benefit from diverse perspectives, ideas and experiences.
Speaker 0 00:00:00 Start your week smiling with your friends, Kathy Zant and Michelle Frechette. It’s time to get ready for some weekly motivation with WP Motivate.
Speaker 2 00:00:13 Happy Friday, Kathy,
Speaker 1 00:00:15 T g I f. Happy Friday Michelle. My gosh.
Speaker 2 00:00:19 You know, I, that T G I F has never resonated as much with me as it does today. It has been one hell of a week. How about you?
Speaker 1 00:00:30 Well, we just spoke a little bit and I think I ranted for like two minutes straight about everything I’m dealing with. It’ss been, yeah.
Speaker 2 00:00:36 So
Speaker 1 00:00:38 And every time I try to record videos my neighbor mos and he’s got like the writing mower and then he is got the push mower and it’s like you just did that section .
Speaker 2 00:00:49 I’m trying to record the other side of the house.
Speaker 1 00:00:52 Please. Just for 10 minutes. I just like need to rerecord this one part. Yeah. So like that’s going on. Stuff is not downloading from places. Uh, technology is on my last runner and I think a few people are. So yeah, same and situations have been stressful. So I’ve been, yeah, I’m T g I fing pretty hard right now.
Speaker 2 00:01:12 Yeah. And I am 100% there with you. I mean, anybody that knows me and follows me online has seen what this past week has been like for me. Um, and I will say, like I, I’ve said to more than one person, I did it to myself. Um, because I like to remind the community that it needs to be fair and balanced. That it needs to have representation. And sometimes that means that you’re gonna all of a sudden have a giant target on you. And that people who feel threatened by equality, equity, um, inclusion, belonging, diversity, those people are going to counter. And I wouldn’t say countercheck cuz what I did wasn’t even an attack. It was an observation and a hope. Yes. Literally an observation and a hope. And the very, you know, one of the first responses was to call me prejudiced. Another person said I was demonizing white men. Um, other people are now co saying that I’ve accused people of being sexist. I’ve never done any of those things. Um, I have, I’ve dated white men. I was married to one, my brothers, my father was, I mean, like, it’s just ridiculous. Right? Like, I am so inclusive, I am so embracing, I just, yeah. I could just go out and out about that. But I, I, I
Speaker 1 00:02:36 Love white men. I do. My son is a white man. I’m married to a white man. I’ve, I I, but it’s, but it’s not like a, like, I prefer to like only talk to like, it’s, yeah.
Speaker 2 00:02:50 I
Speaker 1 00:02:50 Don’t think that is the issue. But there have been many instances in my life where I have been, um, where I end up being a spectator. Well, you know, I don’t know if it’s like locker room, like they wanna talk more in the locker room mm-hmm. and I end up being like more of a spectator than a participant. Yeah. And I’m not gonna participate. You know, you don’t want my, you don’t want me around. You don’t want my contribution. I have nothing of value to offer. Mm-hmm. . Okay. I’ll go someplace else where I do feel valued. Yeah. And that’s gonna happen to more and more communities. If people aren’t, if people don’t like, just step up, step aside, step back from where their, their connections are happening. And I, this is not to say that like white guys can’t do the locker room thing, but if there’s people on the periphery that are just spectators, it’s, it’s up to everyone. If you’re seeing a locker room moment happening to like turn to the side and say, come on in. Yeah,
Speaker 2 00:03:54 Exactly.
Speaker 1 00:03:54 What, what’s your experience with this? What’s your experience? Do you, have you had this exp it, it, so, but, and to, I will say that there are, you know, I’ve watched what’s happened with your Twitter experience and I try not to read the people who are being
Speaker 2 00:04:13 Negative, who
Speaker 1 00:04:13 Are let, who are letting their filters or letting their per their perception or their trigger or their reaction be what they lead with. I am celebrating those who are making their observations too and contributing to a conversation because I think mm-hmm. that it’s worth having. It’s a conversation worth having. Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:04:35 And there are ways to disagree with me without demonizing me. Right? Yeah. Like you can say, yeah. You know, and, and, and, and I’ll say, so some people have said to me, you know, Michelle diversity looks different in Europe than it does in the United States. I can agree to that. It does look different in Europe than it does in the United States. However, and this is the big, however, our flagship events are not local events. They are global events. And I think they should true be held to global standards of diversity. And if somebody with a phase that doesn’t look like yours says, I don’t see myself represented there, or I don’t see myself represented enough there, you should listen to that because your white male face isn’t noticing the things that my female face does that other people’s ethnic minority faces see Yeah. That other people’s L G B T Q status minority sees like there are, and I made an observation absolutely purely based on names and faces.
Speaker 2 00:05:35 I am happy, I will be incredibly happy if I hear that some of those people are actually diverse in other ways. Great. That is wonderful. That would be awesome. But instead of saying, oh, we’re, you know, we’re gonna publish statistics on that, so you’ll be able to see that it’s not always observable. Great. So show me some statistics. That’s not what happened. I got called prejudiced and I got called, told to just wait. And I will tell you like my stomach has been in knots, a lot this week. Cause I don’t think people remember that I’m a human being too. Right. And that the way they talk to me is they’re talking to a human being and yeah, I’ve got thick skin and brought shoulders. But damn it , I shouldn need a little bit of boundary keeping and self-care for myself because I have blocked a few people this week.
Speaker 2 00:06:22 And anybody knows I don’t block people easily on Twitter because I am all about open discussion that when all you do is continue to hammer at me about how wrong I am and call accuse me of things that I haven’t done, you’ve earned yourself. Yeah. That’s tough. A big old block. And then to be told by other people, oh, that person is saying things about you on their account now that you’ve blocked them. I’m like, I, I can’t control what other people think of me. I also don’t care. Like if that person is so racist and so misogynist, they don’t like me. Well I guess I did something right because I spoke out against the things that they, um, disagree with. Right. I spoke out against who their core person is and if their core, core person is a racist misogynist, then by all means enjoy being blocked because I’m not going to engage further. And you can have conversations with the other misogynists and the other racists about what a horrible person I am for wanting equality. Go for it. I don’t really give a, I don’t really give a crap anymore.
Speaker 1 00:07:19 I don’t need to be. This really underscores.
Speaker 2 00:07:21 I don’t need to be everybody’s darling. It’s okay if you don’t like me. It’s, it really is. Um, anyway, sorry I interrupted you.
Speaker 1 00:07:28 It, it underscores something that, and, and, you know, I, I have a hard time talking about about race and I’ll, I’ll go on gender. Like if I’m like the sole woman in a male room and I’m the spectator, I’ll go on about that because I feel I can speak, I don’t feel like I can speak about race cuz I’m just Hello. very European. Right. Right.
Speaker 2 00:07:56 I’m, I mean, I am too, right? Yeah. But
Speaker 1 00:07:58 Yeah. Yeah. I have,
Speaker 2 00:07:59 I have projects though, which is different.
Speaker 1 00:08:01 Yes, you do. And, and you’re closer, right? Your daughter mm-hmm. is, yeah. Your daughter is biracial, half black and she’s biracial and Yes. So I’ve, you know, I I feel like you can speak to it because you’re closer to it. I don’t feel like I can, but if I see somebody, like we had someone in the Cadence Facebook group who said something about diversity and he got attacked and I stood up for him because I didn’t feel like they were making it. Um, it wasn’t fair. So Right. If I see a specific situation, but I feel very, so I, I have a hard time putting myself out there as a spokesperson, but I will celebrate those who do. Yeah. Um, but it does underscore those, uh, those of us who take a risk wherever they feel comfortable taking a risk where they feel like empowered to like you are you.
Speaker 1 00:08:52 When you take a risk like that and you speak your mind and you speak your observations, especially in something that’s like, got such a heated every, why is everybody so hot about, I thought we were over this first of all, but you run the risk of like being attacked. You run the risk of, of abrasiveness happening. And it’s so hard. You have to protect yourself if you’re going to be in this, if you’re going to speak your mind like this. If, if you’re gonna put out music, if you’re going to make videos, if you’re going to write anything, if you are going to put yourself into the world, there are gonna be people who say that it is crap. Mm-hmm. that say that you are wrong, that fight you, that, um, block you and say bad things about you. Mm-hmm. , this is gonna happen if you are, if you are a trailblazer and you are changing things, how do you protect yourself?
Speaker 2 00:09:48 True. Yep.
Speaker 1 00:09:51 How do you protect yourself?
Speaker 2 00:09:55 Me personally, I try not to look at Twitter sometimes.
Speaker 1 00:09:59 Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:10:00 So like I’m, I always have my phone nearby and I love to engage with people on Twitter, but this week has been hard for me, so I’ve been trying to set my phone down and walk away from it. I, I binged the six episode, um, Bridgeton, the Queen’s journey or whatever it was called Queen Charlotte. Oh yeah. I binge that this week. Right. I looked at that. I have been, um, planning my weekend so that I am tomorrow morning getting a manicure and with a friend. And then, um, in the afternoon I’m gonna go out with my camera and take pictures because I love birds and I love to be outside and, and even though I don’t get outside my car often because travel, you know, walking is difficult, things like that. But at least getting out there, um, in the sunshine and having the opportunity to commune with nature and the things that I enjoy.
Speaker 2 00:10:48 And then Sunday is mother’s day and I’m just gonna enjoy time with family. Um, because awesome Monday’s gonna come and it’s gonna start right back up again. But yeah, there’s, there we definitely need to not only self care, but but build the boundaries. Right? So like, yeah. I, like I said, I hate blocking people. I really like to be open for discourse, but if you’re gonna continue to attack me, I’m going to have to block you because I am a human being with mental health and I want my mental health to stay positive. I don’t want to start to feel bad because, you know, people hate me and that kind of stuff. And I try to develop this mindset over the years that I, like I said, I’m not everybody’s cup of tea and I’m okay with that, but to attack somebody, it’s like, there are people I could take relief, right? Like, oh, it’s nice to meet you, blah, blah, blah. And then like a month later you’re like, don’t even remember meeting them, it’s fine. You don’t have to remember meeting me, you don’t have to like me. But to openly attack me means that I have to put up a fence, I have to put up a wall, I have to put up a boundary because I am a human being with feelings. And so putting up those boundaries I think is super important.
Speaker 1 00:11:53 Oh, it is. How are you going to, yeah. If, if you take anything, well, the thing is, okay, so you’ve got the stimulus that comes in, somebody says something or somebody blocks you, something happens this Right. Annoying thing happens. Yes. And so your, you know, Victor Frankl talks about we put a st uh, buffer zone between our stimulus, the thing, our response. Mm-hmm. , like we get to choose how we respond and how we respond. How we respond to these types of stimuli are the defining moments of our life. It’s the story you’re going to tell yourself in your head. So, you know, you can tell yourself the story of, you know, screw these guys. They’re just, you know, whatever story you tell yourself, we can choose what story that’s gonna be. So if we choose a story of this is this is just gonna happen.
Speaker 1 00:12:43 This is just part of me being a trailblazer. This is part of me putting myself out there, . This is part of me making changes. There’s gonna people be people that hate it. And I am willing because I believe in this no matter what, I’m gonna do it anyway. And mm-hmm. , they are going to be drowned out by the people who are supporting me. And they’re going to be drowned out by the fact that diversity is going to be considered much more. And that accommodation for accessibility is going mm-hmm. , because you’ve been vocal about that too. You’ve been vocal about the things that you believe in and you’ve had flack for it. But I think bec I think the flack is, I think the story we need to tell ourselves when we’re in a situation like this is, this is par for the course.
Speaker 1 00:13:26 This is what happens when you change the world. You know, I look at my daughter’s really into Taylor Swift right now, so she’s like, been an example watching this absolutely adorable young woman take on the world. And she has been, her music has been sold to someone she hates. You know, like all of these things happen and she is still just rising above it. And none of that other stuff is gonna matter because what are people gonna remember? They’re gonna make the D ma, they’re gonna remember the difference that you made in people’s lives. I hope so. They’re, they’re gonna remember the difference that Taylor Swift, you know, rising above all. Yeah. It’s just so inspirational to me because it’s like none of this stuff is going to matter in the long run, but when you’re soaking in it like this week Yeah. Its like, yeah. But maybe we can tailor swift it and like shake it off.
Speaker 2 00:14:17 Good. Id like a hot talk about it. I’d like a nice hot, hot bath in hot water with like maybe some lavender or something. I’m done like soaking in the sewage this week. . Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:14:31 Yeah. I feel you. It’s, it’s
Speaker 2 00:14:34 Hot too, but it’s really stinky and it’s so not good for you, .
Speaker 1 00:14:38 It definitely isn’t, but I think time will be, time will tell you the story that the difference that you’re making. I mean, you’ve, you’ve had many people in the community looking at your conversation, looking at what you’ve said. Well, I, you know, here’s the thing, just from my perspective, it’s like you just make an observation mm-hmm. , but the observation got like other people’s stimulus it, that became other people’s stimulus. Mm-hmm. . And their response says way more about them than it says about you mm-hmm. , but you have many people in the community talking about this mm-hmm. and you’re elevating it to another level. You know, like I remember, um, word Camp Miami, do you remember when it was, I think it was 2019 and it was like 51% of the speakers were women. Hmm. I don’t remember this. It was, I think it was, it was when I spoke, I think.
Speaker 1 00:15:29 And that’s nice David bi, just, he makes that a priority. Mm-hmm. , it’s a priority. Um, yes. And this whole idea of merit. I’ve seen some things about merit. Um, if you have two people of equal merit, two people who have the same stories to tell, two people who have the same, um, depth of experience to bring to the table and you have a speaker lineup, it behooves the people who are organizing to bring in someone with diversity in mind, whether it’s women or someone from a different background or Right. Just a different cultural perspective. And this means like, if you’re organizing in another place where, you know, white people really are a minority , like bring some white people in, you know mm-hmm. just balancing out because, because WordPress is a global, it is a global phenomenon with a global market that we have, you know, yes.
Speaker 1 00:16:30 Different perspectives. This is the things that gets me is like, and, and one of the things that I am, um, really getting fired up about with WordPress right now is WordPress, our community has kind of been like our community and we’ve got people who’ve been in the community for 10 years and, and people who have been telling like the same stories and stuff. And it’s like, I am now conversing with people in different, different communities. And the freakiest thing to me is like, why is everybody using, show it. What the heck is show it. I’ve never even heard of this as a WordPress, WordPress competitor, but people are building websites with something that I would’ve never seen if I stated in WordPress and just kept talking to people here. Mm-hmm. , we need not only diversity in terms of like people’s backgrounds, but diversity in terms of what people are doing online.
Speaker 1 00:17:17 Because if we just keep talking WordPress and WordPress is problems, and why is Russ, why is Jetpack on my side again? And like mm-hmm. , all of like the standard complaints you hear from people who have been using WordPress forever. We’re never gonna innovate. Innovation’s gonna come from different perspectives, different backgrounds, different cultural backgrounds, and different ways of publishing online and different objectives of doing things online. Mm-hmm. . So d it’s not even diversity culturally or, um, heritage or gender. It’s dive, I think our diversity, I’m just coming up with this off the top of my head, but I, I think our diversity issues and WordPress are Yeah. Reflective of a greater diversity problem. Mm-hmm. where we have become, I think a little too, and I love this community. I really do. I do, absolutely. I wanna see it, I wanna see it grow, I wanna see it better, and I wanna see different perspectives and different people who’ve never, people who’ve never used WordPress, see what this is about. What, how can this better their voices online? Um, and I think that we need that. So I think that maybe this conversation is reflective of something greater that we all need to think about.
Speaker 2 00:18:29 Yeah. Go fuck. Yeah. For sure. I know I’m on my soapbox a lot this week for sure. But, you know, one of the things that I am really focused on is not just the fact that we need diversity and, you know, across genders, across, you know, representation, all, all the things that we talk about in underrepresentation, but if we’re gonna continue to grow WordPress for the next generations, our focus can’t be on what it looks like now. It has to be what it needs to look like. I think, you know, my daughter’s 31 and she’s to almost older than the de demographic I’m talking about, but she’s socially motivated. She will look at two equal products and say, which one isn’t, you know, testing on animals or isn’t, you know, using slave or slave labor or children’s labor or whatever labor in their country. Um, you know, when she and her husband looked for diamond rings, they made sure it was an ethically sourced diamond, not a blood diamond, like all of these things.
Speaker 2 00:19:30 And, and she’s just one person, but the next generation after her even is more focused on Right. And yes, of course there are still gonna be racists in every generation. There are still gonna be misogynists, there’s still gonna be ableist and sizes and sexist and just everything. Right. But by and large, those generations coming after us are looking at our generations saying, oh my God, there’s so messed up. Like, why, why are we only showing white men? Or why are we only showing white people? Or why is it only 25% female when we ha we know that there’s more than just male, there’s women and non-binary. Why are these things not mattering? And so I think that we’re gonna shoot ourselves in the foot if we don’t ha pay serious attention to how representation matters within our communities. Yeah. And our flagship events are the, are the best place to see that or not. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:20:22 And can I s and to do it for the right reasons.
Speaker 2 00:20:28 Absolutely
Speaker 1 00:20:28 Not do it because, because I can sense like, certain brands just not in the world, not just WordPress, but certain brands who try to use diversity, but it doesn’t, like they, they paint their picture of diversity, but then their actions don’t speak to like they’re faking it. And I hate that mm-hmm. , because you can tell it’s like, all right, you’re just trying to get clicks or likes or
Speaker 2 00:20:52 Oh yeah.
Speaker 1 00:20:54 You can see right through it. So brands that are out there, even beyond WordPress, don’t just be real about it and not Yeah. Don’t try to like fake it. It’s cuz we smell it. Yeah,
Speaker 2 00:21:05 For sure. We do. And this, this week our episode may not be the sunshiney, like things our favorite things and you know, motivational stuff, but, but motivation doesn’t just have to come from sunshine and flowers and rainbows and kittens and the things that are fun to do. Sometimes motivation has to come from a place of discomfort. Um, change comes from a place of discomfort. And it’s those things. Like my , my desk chair is killing me. I am so motivated right now to get a new desk chair because I need to be kinder to my sciatica. Yes. That means my ass hurts and I need a new chair. Right. So you, we are more, I’m not gonna buy a chair if my chair is comfortable. I’m motivated out of discomfort. And the same thing is true about how we’re motivated to action. If we’re happy with the status quo, great. But if enough people are telling you that they’re not happy with the status quo, we need to listen to that because as a community, we need to make those decisions together.
Speaker 1 00:22:11 Yes. Yes indeed. And comfort zones kill. Don’t get too comfortable .
Speaker 2 00:22:16 No, exactly. You gotta
Speaker 1 00:22:18 Constantly be pushing yourself and watch that with my husband right now in terms of just like, he wants to be comfortable and I’m sorry if he continues to be comfortable in trying to move towards comfort, it’s mm-hmm. eventually going to kill him. Yes. I’ll just be bla blatantly obvious. Yes. That, you know, there are certain things happening with his physiology right now where comfort zones really do kill. It’s not a platitude. So pushing yourself out of comfort zones, pushing yourselves to get into new environments where you have new perspectives, um, pushing yourself where it might hurt and be uncomfortable and not feel right. But if you want your life, if you want your life to be better, you have to move out of the comfort zone. Mm-hmm. . Otherwise there’s this dichotomy of, or it comes in on the same, same coin, sort of like the yin yang thing.
Speaker 1 00:23:10 Mm-hmm. where you have, um, if you go too comfortable, life gets harder mm-hmm. . And if you do the hard things, life gets easier because your comfort zone is, is someplace else. It’s someplace different. So pushing yourself out of, out of comfort zones and pushing yours and, you know, that locker room thing might be just like people who have insecurities and have, um, have issues with, you know, accepting new ideas because it makes them feel uncomfortable. Well, guess what? Mm-hmm. , if you can put that discomfort aside and let in new perspectives, it’s going to make your life maybe a little bit harder in the short run, but the long run is greater innovation and greater success for us all and that that’s going to lead to a better community all together and a better environment. So mm-hmm. .
Speaker 2 00:23:57 Absolutely. I have a family member right now who I had to take for us and Tess on Tuesday. Um, he’s got congestive heart failure, c o p d, emphysema, now they’re testing him for lung cancer. He hasn’t smoked in over 20 years, but he is smoked for over 40 years and you can’t expect to make late changes and, and react after the damage is done. You have to be proactive in your health. And we have to be proactive in the health of a community as well. Um, because if we don’t, those cancers will become evident years later. So I’m just gonna leave it at that and say, I think that as a community, we need to hold ourselves accountable. We need to hold each other accountable and as a community we need to do better.
Speaker 1 00:24:47 Yeah. It’s for, it’s for the good. It’s this is, it is for this is,
Speaker 2 00:24:54 I love insular
Speaker 1 00:24:55 Communities die. Yeah. And, and if, if it’s too insular and if it’s too much just the same old shamer all the time mm-hmm. if keep yourself comfortable and don’t allow new perspectives. Mm-hmm. c communities stagnate and I think the health word pressed depends upon a healthy community. Absolutely. Im h o
Speaker 2 00:25:14 Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, thank you for the conversation. It’s been a rough week, but having friends that I can talk to and vent to and that I know are in my corner is incredibly helpful. So thank you very much.
Speaker 1 00:25:29 Always good to talk to you.
Speaker 2 00:25:31 Yeah, you too. We’ll see y’all next week or we’ll talk about maybe something happier, but time will tell Until then, bye
Speaker 1 00:25:41 Bye. This has been WP Motivate with athy Zant and Michelle Frechette. To
Speaker 2 00:25:46 Learn more or to
Speaker 1 00:25:47 Sponsor us, go to wp motivate.com.