We’re lucky to live in a thriving community in the San Francisco Bay Area — one built on mutual respect, inclusion and appreciation of the individuals and small businesses that call it home. With AAPI Heritage month having just passed and the observances of Juneteenth and Pride Month coming up, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to highlight the role we all play in building authentic allyship.
So, what does it mean to be an ‘authentic ally’?
An ally is a person or group who takes action to support a group they are not part of. This is done through learning about the group and championing their actions, though never taking the spotlight for their work.
As both a Latina woman and a small business owner in the Bay Area, it’s important to me to ensure the diversity and inclusion of all groups in everything that we do. And in the events space, that means two main things:
- Learning our client’s business inside and out, so BB Events can help them create an event that showcases their work and raise awareness.
- Using diverse, POC vendors in an effort to support their small business success.
And here’s how the team and I put it into practice.
Learn By Unlearning
As a society we are bombarded with messaging — consciously and subconsciously — and despite our best efforts, these can create biases and opinions. It might sound backwards to say, but I think the best way to really get to know our vendors and clients is to learn by unlearning. Start with a fresh pair of eyes and ears and hear their stories. Media, our environment, cultural norms and expectations are shaping our brains every day by forming a network of neural pathways. Without even knowing it, these may be creating pre-conceived biases. It’s our job as individuals to challenge them.
At BB Events, we’re constantly considering the way we run our business, rethinking creative processes and actively learning from the people we are most privileged to work with. I like to start by asking myself ‘How do I view the world?’ and ‘What does it mean for how I choose to advocate for inclusion in my life?’ From there, I know I’ll be working from a place of an open mind and heart.
Living in a Kinder World
Though many of us are lucky enough to feel supported and heard by our peers, for some, the world can still be an unkind place. Right To Be is an organization that runs bystander training, with the aim to build a world “free from harassment and filled with humanity.” Sign us up!
Their courses have trained hundreds to respond to, intervene in and heal from harassment, as well as provide a space to share stories of harassment and feel supported in their journey. I always come back to the quote “In a world where you can be anything, be kind” as a guiding force in decisions both at BB Events and beyond.
Embracing the Power of Storytelling
Storytelling creates deeper, meaningful connections. It’s a way to get beneath the surface and learn where someone has come from, their life’s journey and what makes them unique. It provides a source of inspiration and allows me to become a champion of their life story.
It’s what we embraced at the Force for Change fundraiser for the International Rescue Committee (IRC). We helped our clients create an immersive and interactive experience that had the attendees explore the stories of refugees who had come to the US. Guests were better able to understand the emotional and physical journeys refugees had to endure, building empathy and, ultimately, support for the IRC’s work.
It’s these experiences that help us connect with people who come from different walks of life and fuel their desire to create a better world – particularly by helping the non-profits and community organizations we create events for.
Championing Diverse Vendors
I make it my mission to continuously grow my list of vendors. There’s a whole world to be discovered right on our doorstep in the Bay Area. Every client that comes to BB Events has a different vision whether it’s an outdoor team-building picnic or a charity gala. Growing our vendor list means not only being ready to satisfy each client’s needs, but also offering new, fresh, creative products and services.
Take our food vendors, for instance. Whether you’re looking for Vietnamese food, interesting corporate canapés or Arabic street food, each is a tantalizing tastebud of a journey into the many cultures that thrive in San Francisco.
It’s Your Turn To Become an Authentic Ally
It’s time to show up for our community. Go out and start conversations, join groups to learn about your neighbors and be an advocate for the success of each and every person you meet. If you’d like to learn more about running an event built on social change, I’d love to hear from you!
Contact Becca and the team today.