Okay Constant Listeners, get your Jetpacks on because we are getting a little serious this week.
There is a conversation happening in this country right now, and it’s long overdue. Race and inequality are heavy topics, and they can be really uncomfortable to talk about, so often we just don’t. Jason and I have been struggling with the best way to approach this conversation ourselves. The effort to be a helpful ally is confusing and challenging. On the one hand, we want to sit down, shut up and amplify voices of people who know this subject through their own personal experiences. However, we also know that construction is a tough place to talk about a subject like race, and sometimes speaking up, having the conversation with people who may not have thought it all the way through can be meaningful.
We didn’t want to not talk about the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests that are making headlines right now. We didn’t want to record an episode of the two of us, talking about an issue that we don’t (that we can not ) fully and truly understand.
Before COVID hit, we were working on a Foreman Training program. Many of you have heard something about it. As a part of that program, we were also trying to untangle the tricky problem of how to structure the program to encourage opportunity for people of color in construction, something that has been a goal of ours for a long time. In this process, we were working with carpentry training professional Jason Jones and having some tough, but illuminating conversations.
We talked to Jason about the struggle we were having with how to use what little public platform this podcast gives us to add something useful to the conversation, and what we realized is that there are a lot of people who might like to know more about the experiences of Jason and people who look like him, but don’t know how to start that conversation, don’t know how to have that conversation. They say, “talk to your black friends.” What if you don’t have any? (Hint: a good place to start might be taking a deep and thoughtful look at why you don’t have any.)
So we had a really great conversation with Jason about construction and black people, about Seattle and black people and about why this is everyone’s fight. If you are having conversations like this in your life right now, perhaps this conversation will raise some new ideas. If you are not having conversations like this in your life right now, this episode is especially meant for you. Pull up a chair and join us for a deep dive on race, opportunity and understanding. Watch for it.
In the episode, Jason talks about resources for people who want to understand the history and dynamics of this issue better, here are those links. They are all an excellent starting point, very thoughtfully curated (thanks to Jason Jones for the list!)
“Four Ways Diversity Will Save the Construction Industry” ~Construction Executive Magazine (4 min)
“How Institutional Racism Works” ~Thread Reader, @MimZWay (8 min)
“How Construction Executives Can Embrace Diversity in an Evolving Workforce” ~Construction Dive (10 min)
“How the GI Bill’s Promise Was Denied to a Million Black WWII Veterans” ~History.com (10 min)
“How Racism Kept Black Tacomans From Buying Houses for Decades” ~The News Tribune (12 min)
“Has Seattle always been so progressive?” ~KUOW (7 min)
“Here’s How Seattle Became So Segregated” ~Seattle PI (8 min)