I’ve been thinking a lot about tokenism and being a token.
I’ve been thinking about the definition of token – something done for the sake of appearances or as a symbolic gesture. Then I think about how I’ve been a token and tokenized in my professional life.
At first I didn’t realize it, but recently it’s become very clear – that whether it’s intentional or not, I’m a token. I’m actually not sure how to not be a token in a system that is majority white.
I’m trying to reconcile being gifted and being a woman of color. I’m never quite sure why people are asking me to serve, lead or speak. I recently said to someone that when they ask me to lead, I can’t fill every box – young, female, person of color. You can only pick one category for me to fill.
I also think about how I can grow in my clarity of my self-interest – how do I say yes to things or participate in things that actually fall in line with what I feel called to.
I have no desire on being used for another’s purpose that mainly meets a quota.
I don’t like the feeling of being used. I’m realizing that I am lifted up by people when things are going well or when I’ve brought positive attention to something. However, as soon as I say something that is critical or viewed as disparaging, my “token status” is revoked.
So I’ve decided. I will no longer be a token. I have no desire to keep up appearances or do or say things that only have surface meaning. I have always said that integrity and authenticity, that embracing the fullness of who I am and helping others do the same, is my call.
In order to move to the next stage in realizing this, I can no longer be tokenized or invite others into systems or processes that work in this way.
So before you hand me the microphone, you better ask yourself why you handed it to me in the first place.