Guest Opinion – Trailnet Intern Reflects on Racial Equity Workshop
On the second day of a two-week internship, I attended Trailnet’s racial equity training. Walking in, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had barely met the Trailnet team, and now I was going to sit in on a training meeting about race. All I had were questions. Was equity a typo for equality? Was this one of those “check the box: we’re getting our diversity quota in” type of meetings? Was this a meeting where no one was engaged and just listens? Was this one of those workshops where people discuss issues in the comfy office chairs and then forget about them as soon as they exit the room?
The answer I soon learned was, “No to all of the above.” I’m glad I got to participate this meeting. As an outsider, I was able to consider my own notions of the problems we face with inequality—the problems that I don’t know how to address.
I’m not very familiar with discussing the topic of race. It’s easier to talk about ethics and respecting the views of other cultures before discussing race. Race is a volatile issue and it rocks the boat. I learned Trailnet is willing to rock that boat.
What I saw is that Trailnet is a group of visionaries. The organization challenges itself to identify equity gaps and offer reasonable, workable solutions. They examine all the angles critically, then offer up feasible solutions that are both financially responsible and sustainable. Trailnet seeks to find problems and then solve them. I watched the staff look within the organization and wrestle its own challenges with inequality. How are you supposed to work to elevate equity when the money mostly comes from rich, white men? Trailnet is actively looking for solutions, and that speaks a lot of this organization.
From this meeting, I gained a greater understanding of how race can influence the systems within companies and organizations. How we speak about helping the “under-served” when we may be treating symptoms more than the cause.
When I see racial inequality in my own life—in the world around me—I see symptoms of larger systemic issues. I see proposed solutions, but they don’t attack the cause. They can solve a bit of the problem if people banded together, but it isn’t the true solution. Trailnet is an organization that wants to address the systemic inequality and racism in our community. That gives me hope; that there are people out there who want to solve this problem, who want to get their hands dirty and consider options that aren’t the easy, traditional way. Who are willing to stop doing it “the way it’s always been done” in order to solve the real problem that exists. It’s refreshing and encouraging to see that Trailnet is willing to begin a conversation to solve a problem that has been with us for far too long.
– Sarah Becker