four individuals in a semicircle engaged in conversation, two of them with coffee mugs, three women are smiling, one man has back turned to camera

Understanding Equality, Equity, and Social Justice

We’re thrilled to have Dr. Elizabeth Banks, a highly esteemed professor from National University, joining us for a deeply important and insightful conversation. Passionate about equity, justice, and dismantling health disparities among marginalized groups, Dr. Banks brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our discussion on equality and equity. Together, we dig deep into the differences between these two concepts, and how they can shape our understanding of social justice.

Our conversation journeys through history, revisiting the long-standing systems of oppression that have dictated societal norms for centuries. With Dr. Banks as our guide, we retrace the path of voting rights in the US, exploring the challenges that African Americans, women, and other minority groups have endured in their fight for equality. Highlighting the nefarious practice of redlining, we reveal how this discriminatory act continues to affect banking and housing practices, further marginalizing minority groups.

Finally, with a candid and thoughtful approach, we tackle the issue of privilege in society. Using real-life scenarios, we dissect the concept of privilege and its impact on individuals across various situations. Guided by Dr. Banks’ expertise, we navigate how to have balanced and open conversations about privilege, especially when it intersects with different experiences of oppression. Join us for this enlightening episode and rethink equality and equity for a more inclusive society.

Show Notes

  • 0:00:11 - Achieving Equality and Understanding Equity (61 Seconds)
  • 0:04:56 - Impactful Experiences and Confronting Privilege (83 Seconds)
  • 0:10:57 - Leading With Validation in Difficult Conversations (124 Seconds)
  • 0:19:48 - Voting Rights and Discrimination in America (116 Seconds)
  • 0:24:40 - Understanding Historical Context and Present Realities (61 Seconds)
  • 0:29:06 - Confronting Homophobic Remarks and Oppression (83 Seconds)
  • 0:35:21 - The Power of Listening and Compassion (74 Seconds)

0:00:01 - Announcer

You are listening to the National University Podcast.

0:00:10 - Kimberly King

Hello, I'm Kimberly King. Welcome to the National University Podcast, where we offer a holistic approach to student support, well-being and success- the whole human education. We put passion into practice by offering accessible, achievable higher education to lifelong learners. Today, we're discussing how we achieve equality and the differences between equality and equity. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it says sameness versus fairness, and just an example is sometimes this distinction is explained with an illustration showing people of different heights using boxes to stand on in order to see over a fence. Equality is if all the boxes are identical, but equity is if the boxes are different sizes to permit the people, regardless of their height, the ability to see over the fence. We'll hear more of this with today's guest. Stay with us.

On today's episode, we're discussing the differences between equality and equity and we're joined by Dr. Elizabeth Banks. She is a professor of marriage and family sciences at National University. She earned her MS from East Carolina University and her PhD in marriage and family therapy from Syracuse University. In addition to teaching and mentoring, she's particularly passionate about equity, justice, inclusion and reducing health disparities among historically marginalized groups. She's committed to promoting systems and relationships that enhance our ability to be authentic, congruent and in just relationship with self, others and context, and we welcome you to the podcast, Dr. Banks, How are you?

0:01:49 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

I am well. Thank you for the lovely introduction. Yeah, I'm excited to be here today.

0:01:54 - Kimberly King

Well, we're excited to have you. Why don't you fill our audience in a little bit on your mission and your work before we get to today's show topic, sure.

0:02:03 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

I guess my mission is to highlight issues of injustice and for the purpose of promoting justice, both in and out of the therapy room and also within the student learning experience. So my hope is to keep issues of social justice alive in all aspects of our lives.

0:02:23 - Kimberly King

And I love that you said in and out of the therapy because, boy, we're in an interesting time in the world where we were just talking before we started recording, about how difficult some of these conversations can be, so you are really kind of a bridge to open up these conversations.

0:02:41 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

I hope so. Yeah, it's not always easy.

0:02:44 - Kimberly King

Right? Well, today we are talking about how do we achieve equality, and so, Dr. Banks, why do we need to talk about equality and equity in general?

0:02:55 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

Well, that's a big question. And I thought about that a lot before we when I was preparing for this talk today, and I was thinking, trying to put it in the most simple but most meaningful way is that we don't live in a just world. And I think, as a person who's interested in justice and is interested in progressing as a society, I think we are. We need to talk about these things, because the more we talk about these things, the more we can make progress towards a more just world.

0:03:24 - Kimberly King

And just for context as well, we were. I was asking you before we started recording, because this is obviously a conversation that has bubbled up in the past couple of years from the pandemic, from the Black Lives Matter, But you were always interested in this, weren't you?

0:03:40 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

I was. I think there was something I've always wanted to challenge myself And I think I've had some life experiences pretty early on that made me interested in justice. That made me interested particularly in injustice and how certain people seem to get certain things and certain people didn't seem to get certain things, and it depended on who you were, whether your stories were believed, whether you got certain things in life. And that really primed me from a very early age to want to think outside of the context in which I was raised. I think, being a white woman, being from the South, I was raised in a certain way and we certainly and I don't mean that in a negative way, I was just raised in a certain way and we certainly didn't talk about injustice And particularly being white from the South, I came from a family that was not overtly racist, but certainly covertly, in the way that many white people are, and I think just my own experiences made me really want to challenge myself because I found, I found, I knew I had blind spots in this area. I knew that there was something that I was not getting about the way that the world worked, particularly when it came to things like race, when it came to things like gender. So I intentionally put myself in situations where I would be challenged.

So my doctoral program, which is probably my most impactful experience, is I was a white woman from the South going to a program that was in the North and I was the only white person in the program. It was a two-year program and it was very, very intense. It was a very, very intense social justice training and I was confronted with my privilege. I was confronted with what it meant to be white in the world. I was confronted with what it was to have marginalized and oppressed and also oppressive identities, and that's something I've been pretty actively working on for about 20 years.

So I'm very excited in the last two or three years, not that I'm glad that bad things happen, because bad things have happened, like many light coming to the police, brutality, just a general lack of understanding of the rights of everyone. I'm sorry I'm not saying that right. I think it's come up in the last couple of years and there's an opportunity here to have a conversation and to continue the conversation and I'm very grateful that I've had exposure to these concepts and I've been doing this for a long time and there's. Now. The world is maybe a little more ready to listen to me or have these types of conversations.

0:06:08 - Kimberly King

Yeah, I was just saying you were ahead of the curve, but it sounds like it happened to you because of your life experiences and what your knowledge that you gained during that particular time. Why is it important to talk about equality and equity as a mental health professional?

0:06:24 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

That's a really good question, because people ask me that all the time. Like I'll give presentations on DEI or diversity, equity, inclusion, and talk about looking at people's context, And people are like, what are you talking about? You're a therapist, You're supposed to just- What does this have to do with therapy? What does this have to do with people's lived experience? And I would say, particularly as a marriage and family therapist, we see ourselves as having a bio who look at the biological, psychological, social and spiritual reality of our clients. So in other words, the biopsychosocial, spiritual perspective. And in order to really understand someone's perspective and you have to understand where they're situated in larger systems, in the larger context. So if you truly want to be able to help people, you have to understand where they're coming from. And if you don't understand the larger systems of oppression and marginalization and suffocation and privilege in which we live, it's very difficult to truly build a bridge to someone else, and that is a good point.

0:07:25 - Kimberly King

We just talked about that too, with where the world is today and mental health, and you again have an opportunity to start these conversations. And, while we're here, what is the difference between equality and equity?

0:07:40 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

Sounds like a simple question, yeah, but it has probably been, it does, and I think a lot of people get this confused. So this is the way I understand it. Equality means everybody gets the same thing. Equity means people get what they need, so there's justice there. So an example that I came up with and this is a theme topical I remember during when the COVID pandemic was at its height. I don't know what everybody did, but I think there was some COVID tax breaks or stimulus. There was a stimulus package And everybody I think, if I'm understanding it correctly everybody got the same amount, regardless of what their income was.

You got a check from the government. That's equality. Everybody gets the same thing. So let's say that I get a check for $500, that's going to mean something different to me than it is to someone who's living on the poverty line. So $500 isn't equality. So me and the person who lives in poverty and I don't live in poverty, I'm very privileged, I live with a middle class lifestyle.

But let's say that I got $500 and the person down the street who doesn't make as much money as I do also got $500. That's equal, but that's not equitable. Does that make sense? So an equitable would be only people who needed the money got the money. That's the best thing. We have a lot to think of. So maybe equality means everybody gets the same thing. Maybe equity would mean only people who were under a certain tax bracket, or people who could show that they needed the money or couldn't afford something by some type of means test, or the money would be calculated based on your income. So maybe I would get $10 and the person on the street who needed it more would get $500. That would be equity. So it's taking into account the person and not just everything being equal.

0:09:23 - Kimberly King

So from where you started with and this is this really I didn't- You might not be prepared to answer this question, but I'm just curious from where you started and you really started getting your passion for this and talking about equity and equality? Where do you think the ball has moved in the world between when you first started I think you said 2005 until now?

0:09:48 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

Correct, I'd say the ball has moved almost not at all until the last two or three years.

Yeah, Because I think I've been trying to have these conversations with people for 18 years. And I would say in the last, unless I'm among a group of my peers and people who understand this stuff. Up until two or three years ago it was 100% pushback. People do not want to have this conversation. People get very offended, very upset, very defensive, and it's just difficult. And I would say in the last couple of years, when it's become more visible, when we have people talking about it, people talking about inequality or inequity and how certain people tend to get maybe the benefit of the doubt more than another person would get the benefit of the doubt, What is it?

0:10:42 - Kimberly King

Go ahead. No, I didn't mean to interrupt you, go ahead.

0:10:47 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

I was just- I was trying to think of an example where maybe one person would kind of think of a good example. Can you repeat the question?

0:10:57 - Kimberly King

Well, you know, and my next question was sort of when you are, say, in a, just an intimate conversation with somebody or use, because you are so aware of what equity and equality is, do you, how do you step outside of your realm as the professor and yet lend a hand to kind of bring somebody? Say, without offending, how do you, is there a formula?

0:11:27 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

I wish I had it. I'm still working on it. I think it's always good to lead with validation, right? Cause I think when you start talking about privilege, people get defensive, because sometimes people think, oh, this is kind of going into other questions, but this idea like, oh, I have, let's say that I say I have white privilege and I do that doesn't mean that nothing bad has ever happened to me. That doesn't mean that my life has been perfect, that everything has been handed to me, because it hasn't. You can be poor, you can have a history of trauma and you can be poor, but if you have white skin, that's just another aspect that you didn't have to deal with, right? So, understanding leading people and I'm talking about race, I could be talking about any aspect of marginalization, but I'm thinking about how people say I don't have white privilege or I don't have gender privilege because all these bad things have happened to me. So I think you have to lead with. I'm not saying that your life hasn't been hard. I'm saying that it's important for you to think through the eyes of the other. And if you can think about what it would be like to be someone else and try not to be defensive. Try not to defend yourself. Try to absorb it and try to think about what I'm saying without needing to defend yourself. I think that's hard to teach. To not be defensive.

I think the way and I feel like I'm rambling now but the way I feel, like the way you leave people in and make the conversation more palatable is to always lead with validation, always lead with. I know you've had these things happen to you. I know you're a good person. No one's saying you're not a good person. I'm talking about a system of inequality and inequity that exists, that we are all raised in, and so you didn't do anything wrong. So let's say we're talking about race. Nobody, you did not go and sign up to be a white person. You did not go and sign up to be a man or sign up to have anything. We all got these things and we can't help it, but we are afforded certain privileges based on that And you can't. Again, it's not your fault, you didn't do anything. But acknowledging what it means in the world is the first step to being able to connect better with others and to have more meaningful and authentic relationships with others.

0:13:41 - Kimberly King

That's a great- beautiful example. I like that And again, with validation and when just with sharing your stories and being just honest but compassionate.

0:13:53 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

Sure, yeah, honest but compassionate, sensitive but direct, like I feel, you, I think and I have this conversation for well, this recent conversation with someone I really care about, and I was saying these things tend to happen with privileged white people, and this person was like, what about just privileged people? I'm like, no, it's privileged, like, yes, privileged people, but whiteness has something to do with it, because whiteness has white people are more likely to be privileged around economics. Those are two separate things. But being able to separate out different aspects of identity is really important. And I'll give you an example of that, if that's okay. Yeah, so we all have intersecting pieces of identity. We all have places where we are subjugated, where we experience oppression, and we all have these experiences where we experience the opportunity to be a purpose creator, whether we know it or don't.

So an example for me in my experience of understanding equity and inclusion and understanding privilege was understanding that the fact that I had never thought about race or never thought about myself as having a race was racist, because I thought of other people as having a race, like race didn't really apply to me, because I thought of myself as the norm.

So many white people think that way because we're specialized. If you look at the representation, you look around this, everything that is represented, at least from my perspective. Generally, what is normal, what is common, is white people. And I thought of myself as the norm. I didn't think about myself as having a race. I thought race as applying to other people and understanding that, even though that was good intentioned and even though there was no ill intent there, there was no me actively saying I don't like people of color. The fact that I didn't think about myself in terms of race and the fact that I didn't think about how my race or the perception of my race impacted my experience with others was a big epiphany in a very painful realization for me to realize.

And I talk about these things, not like. I try to always use myself as an example, because it's a little less threatening. The thing. You do this or think about this. I can tell you a thousand stories about how I've been racist and not known it, of how I've been oppressive and not known it, and I am ashamed of that. And I look back and I think how can I do better going forward? And the way that I can do better going forward is being very self-aware, being able to interrogate myself like interrogate my assumptions and think about why I think the way that I do. And when I realize that I'm holding on to an oppressive belief, I do what I can to push back against it. And also acknowledging and again I'm talking about race, because that's just. It's what's salient and what's topical in my mind is that we can't do better until we know what we're doing. That may not be effective. So that requires self-awareness and the ability to stay in the conversation, even when it's uncomfortable and people don't like being uncomfortable If a change to happen.

You have to allow yourself to be uncomfortable and be vulnerable in my opinion.

0:16:56 - Kimberly King

Yeah, absolutely. I think there've been a lot of uncomfortable conversations in the past few years, for sure, so this is great information. We have to take a quick break, so stay with us. We will be right back in just a moment. And now back to our interview with Dr. Elizabeth Banks, and we're talking about what does equality mean and the difference between equality and equity, and so, Dr. Banks, it's been really interesting to hear your pathway, to follow your passion and teach people about this, and we were just talking a little bit off air about the level of merit and how their- I guess it can be confusing too. Where is the line? And I guess some people think that work could reach a certain level of success, but they could also be defensive that someone didn't work as hard. What would you say to that?

0:17:51 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

I think that's a great question. And I'm happy for the opportunity to give my opinion on that. Looking at, so, this idea of merit, I think the idea of merit assumes an equal playing field, and I think we don't have an equal playing field. So let me just back up, because I'm a history nerd and because I wrote these things down, and this is just- This is an example that I think I hope talks about kind of talks about what I'm talking about. So, looking back, let's go all the way back to 1776, right. So we have the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The only people's rights that were considered were the white male landowners. That was 1776. African-Americans were enslaved, women were considered property, children were considered property. Same in 1787, when we have the United States Constitution, neither of those documents, which are the founding documents of our country, acknowledged the experiences of anyone but white male landowners as real human beings. So we've had progress since then, right.

So we had black men got the vote in 1870. That was the 15th Amendment. Women- supposedly black women as well, but we'll get to that in a minute- Women got the right to vote in 1919, which was I think it was 1920, actually 1920th Amendment. It wasn't until 1965 that people were able to vote without harassment, right. So from 1870 until 1965, I'm not great at math, but I'm pretty sure that's 95 years it was common practice, particularly in the Southern states, to not just to harass, to intimidate, to be belligerent, to somehow prevent not just black people but most of the time black people, black people and women of color. There was all kinds of things that were done to prohibit them or keep them from voting, like putting dogs on them, hoses, literacy tests. There's a story I don't know if anybody's seen the movie Selma which is a dramatic reenactment of right before the Voting Rights Act in 1965, the black woman that went to vote and was told that she had to recite the Constitution in order to vote and she or the Preamble to the Constitution and she kept going back and they kept telling her that and she memorized it and she went back and she recited the preamble and they still found a reason not to let her vote.

So I give this example as this idea that we don't live with a level playing field and that even though the laws have changed so in 1965, it became illegal to use those discriminatory practices against people that they didn't want to vote. And I want to emphasize it wasn't just black people and it wasn't just women, it was also poor people. It was also anyone who they decide- it could be poor white people, anyone who they decided that probably should be prohibited from voting or not the right kind of person that they wanted voting for a leader. That was not illegal until 1965. And in the last couple of years, from 95 years, from 1870, from black men getting the right to vote it was 95 years before they could vote without being harassed or discriminated against or had dogs sicced on them, they met with violence when they were trying to vote. So if you think about that, that's 1965, that's not within my lifetime, but it is within my parent's lifetime and certainly within my grandparents' lifetime. And during so up until 1965, it was completely legal to intimidate people from voting, to keep them from voting, and voting is really the most fundamental thing about being in a democracy. It's very important in our society. So if you think about it, so between so 1965, we had the Voting Rights Act up until I don't know if you're familiar with redlining in 1933, when white people, when really middle-class white people were getting the right to, were getting grants to buy homes in which we're promulgating that. It's not even worth them trying to use. Promoting people into the middle class.

Black people were systematically denied loans because of who they were and they weren't allowed to move into certain neighborhoods. There was a discriminatory practice of only lending to white people or only lending to people who lived in certain neighborhoods which were predominantly white. So we think about all of these institutional things in place, that where it wasn't just white people out there being mean or men being mean to women. That wasn't what it was. It was systems of oppression that were designed to keep some people at the top and some people at the bottom. So, yes, there is merit in going back to what we're talking about, but in order for there to be true merit, our systems have to be set up in a way that there is a level playing field, and that is not the case. So it used to be in 1933, and, of course, these laws. It's illegal. Now to housing. Discrimination is illegal, but the new redlining is people. There's still discrimination banking. So black people are far less likely to get a home loan than white people.

The most common way to accumulate wealth, or generation wealth, generational wealth, is through home ownership. Black people have been systematically denied the ability to accumulate wealth through home ownership up until the last couple of decades. So, yes, there is merit, merit is important, working hard is important, but for some people it doesn't matter how hard they work, they're not gonna get ahead. So until we have a system where everybody can succeed at the same level, where you can put in the same amount of work and reach the same outcome, then we need equity, because we're not there yet. I was looking on before our conversation today. I was looking up, trying to remember everything I knew about redlining so that I could talk about it, and the newest thing is the new redlining is they're still discriminatory housing practices and they're still discriminatory banking practices. They're still active institutional discrimination preventing people from accumulating generational wealth. So, yes, work hard. Working hard is really important, and if you work hard and you look a certain way, it's gonna be easier for you to get the things that you want, as someone who looks like me can work hard and get farther in life at a quicker pace than someone who has brown skin, even if we work the same amount.

So here's another example. This is a fairly recent study and I can look up a study if you want me to, but I found this. They did an employment discrimination study where they had two people who had the exact same education, the exact same experiences. Of course they think people as a research study, but one of them was a black man, one of them was a white man and they did these different studies. The black man with no criminal record was less likely to get the job than a white man with a felony. Same job, same experiences. So the idea of merit is great, but we have a system that doesn't recognize merit as much sometimes as it does how people are situated within social systems.

0:24:40 - Kimberly King

And I think it's thank you for explaining that and then even pulling back the history on that. I think that's also been missing where we are today. but then really knowing where we've come from, and people either wanna wipe that part out or just not open their ears to hearing that, yes, those practices in some cases still are happening today. So, especially for our kids who didn't grow up in the 60s and didn't see that the segregation you know, for them it's just a lesson out of the history book. But you know, there we have come a certain amount, but we still have a long way to go.

0:25:17 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

It sounds- sure. And if I could just say, one other thing about that- I think we had the sense of saying, well, I didn't know about slaves or I didn't do that. You know, this has nothing to do with me. That's true, that's absolutely true. It is not your fault. You did not personally enslave anyone. And for some, people have benefited from a system in which generational wealth was built on the backs of people who couldn't accumulate it.

0:25:40 - Kimberly King

Yeah, good point. So, on this note, what can you explain? What is privilege?

0:25:48 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

Great question, glad you asked, and I tried to do the simple example that I could think of, and that is can I tell you first what it doesn't mean? Sure, so it does not mean that nothing bad has ever happened to you. It does not mean that you weren't poor. It doesn't mean that your life is perfect. No one has ever hurt you. The only thing that privilege means is that there are certain things that you haven't had to deal with because of who you are. That's all that means.

0:26:19 - Kimberly King


0:26:21 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

So I'll give you an example. So I am a white, middle class cisgender woman. I have experienced trauma. I have experienced gender-based oppression. I have not experienced racial oppression or class-based oppression. I have white middle class privilege because I don't have to deal with racial or class oppression.

0:26:39 - Kimberly King

Okay, that's all that means. Okay- In simple ways, and it's true. I mean, there are things. I'm white as well. And I have a dear friend of mine who is black. And during the Black Lives Matter she did come from me and said ask me what I thought about that. And I think my mistake was saying that I feel like everybody's life mattered. And I think she wanted to be heard. So what would you say to that? Because I wasn't trying to not hear her. But I have a niece who has special needs. And I was trying to bring up that. I really was trying to say she's a dear friend of mine because of who she is, not what she looks like, and I think that offended her even more. So how can you say she came from a great place?

0:27:27 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

Yeah, I think that's such an interesting thing because I've come across that a lot, like, well, how come everybody's life doesn't matter, because it's obvious that white lives matter. We don't have to say it because people with white skin typically, when things happen to them, it's acknowledged. So I saw this great meme like how come we don't have cemeteries for alive people? Well, because we don't need them, right, we don't say all lives matter, because we don't have to say all lives matter. We do need to say black lives matter because black lives have been devalued, so it's necessary. Like I understand, like you came from such a good place. And this is actually a really good example, and I have another example of that, so that's okay. That actually kills nicely with what you're saying. So here's my example.

We all have places of marginalization. So it sounds like for your niece, her marginalization is ability, status, right. So different aspects of identity are more salient in different situations. So let me tell you my example. So let's say that I am a black, cisgender, homosexual woman, right, and actually let me make the other person that. Let's say that. Let me make a better example, because we're at a conversation here. So let's say you have a niece that has a disability. And I am gay. Let's say that that is the case. So we're talking and you say something to me that I experience as homophobic, right, and I'm feeling offended by something you said and I feel the need to confront you on that. Like, you know, that thing that you just said, it just really didn't feel good. And I just let's talk about that.

In that situation, in that particular instance, we all have to use places of marginalization and oppression. And let me say it- And let me assume, without knowing anything about you, that you're straight. I don't know that you are, but let's just assume that you are. And let's say that I'm gay. So in this situation, my place of oppression is my sexuality, is my sexual orientation, and in this situation, my place of oppression is sexuality. And in this situation, your place of oppression or marginalization is sexuality or sexual orientation.

So we have to look at it. You know the interactive. We have to think. Look at one thing at a time. So I am challenging you on sexual orientation, something that you said that offended me, on sexual orientation. If I challenge you from that place, you need to come back at me from that place of privilege of oh, I am straight. And I can see how that might have offended you without saying but if you say to me, you know, but my niece has special needs and you know like I understand what it's like to be oppressed, I can never hold you accountable in conversation Because it's not from the same. If you're not from the same place. Same place, yeah.

0:30:29 - Kimberly King


0:30:30 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

So in that situation, it sounds like, and again and I'm sure that you love her and that she's a wonderful friend, and I don't mean this to be critical at all. But it sounds like in this particular situation, what she needed you to say was like wow, I hadn't thought about that. And it must be really hard for you, instead of coming to her, so you came to her. And this happens all the time. Right, this is not you, but this happens in conversations all the time where I come to you for my place of marginalization. If you come back to me from your place of marginalization, which is on a different topic, we just missed each other. Yeah, I can't hold you accountable. We can't have a conversation, there can't be any connection, because that's a little bit of a defensive place, right?

0:31:07 - Kimberly King


0:31:07 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

A lot harder to say wow, that was a crappy thing that I just said.

0:31:11 - Kimberly King

Well, you know, and that is interesting too. And I this is probably because of the privilege of where I've grown up and I'm not in the South, I'm in Southern California. But the same person and this is another example, and I don't mean to come from a defensive place, but I will tell you from a very honest place I was on the board of directors. I won't say who it was, it was a nonprofit. And I remember inviting my friend and her husband to the event And it was. It was all white people. I didn't even notice, it didn't even cross my mind until we were in a buffet line. It was a fundraising dinner. And an older gentleman turned around and said who, basically I don't know, not word for word, but who invited you to my friend?

And I was so taken aback because I've never seen that right in front of my face here in Southern California, and I almost started crying. And I said I'm so sorry that that just happened to you, we're done, we're leaving, and I got myself off the board because I didn't. I saw it firsthand. And it was really intensive at all. You did the right thing, oh my gosh. But to this day, you know, anyway we've had, it's still very hurtful because we haven't spoken and I feel badly. And I'm like, wait a minute. I do so appreciate this conversation. And I feel like she's she's mad at you because of that. Not because of that, I think because of how I reacted during the- You know I didn't say what she needed me to say But anyway I would, and then you didn't ask me, but I would continue to reach out. I think there's a relationship of strength there because you've just she might be upset because you didn't say the right thing. I think there's value in coming back and saying you know what? I can see why that might have upset you And I want to let you know that I am open to reconsidering this.

0:33:06 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

I think there's value in that and there's connection in that. And I totally get where you're coming from. And I think it's a hard conversation to have, and particularly because I've had and I will be honest, I have had lots of conversations where I did the wrong thing or set the wrong thing and faced some relational consequences for that and had to do that repair And I didn't know what I'd done wrong.

Like when I was at a piano I'm like. but like I don't understand. And I think sometimes it's hard to be, particularly when you're constantly in a marginalized position, and I think that sounds like your friend is particularly as a black person and black woman of color, that maybe she gets tired of explaining that. Yeah that could be.

That could be, and I hate that. That has some relational consequences. But I also would encourage you to, if you feel called, to go back and say you know, I've thought about it and I can see why you might have reacted that way and I'd love to talk about it if you want to.

0:33:58 - Kimberly King

Yeah, good, that's great advice. And I appreciate that, because it's still is really hurtful to me, because she has been a dear friend and I feel like I lost a best friend. So what else can we do as a community? and that and I appreciate the sidebar for me you know just specifically.

0:34:16 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

But what can we do moving forward? The first step is acknowledgement And the first step is thinking about who you are and how it's afforded you certain privileges and really trying to look at yourself from the outside and being open, asking for other people's feedback and being open to receiving it. I think that's hard, I think I think it is natural. It's a natural thing to be defensive. It's a natural thing to, it's a natural thing to be like. But look at all these good things that I did and look at all these ways and I'm a good person And I think, not defending yourself and really trying to look at it from the perspective of the other and it's very natural to want to defend yourself Like I want to defend myself too, but wanting to like really kind of developing a self awareness and allowing someone else's experience of you to impact you.

I think that's the first part being okay with being uncomfortable, which is probably the hardest part, because we hate being uncomfortable. I hate being. I'm not any different. I also hate being uncomfortable. It's not like I have some kind of special skill, I just learned to tolerate it. And once I learned to tolerate it and sit with it and really allow people to tell me how they experienced me, my life changed And I was able to develop much more meaningful connections with other people. It really has changed the way that I look at the world and the way that I relate to people.

0:35:41 - Kimberly King

You know, and even a simple how are you doing? you know that just bringing it down to just and that's being a compassionate, a good listener, a friend, And again I say this to all, but really wanting to hear the answer rather than going, okay, great, everything's good by you know, because that's also the world we live in, on, that's your text, is everything good? good, But to be able to sit with it and understand how are they doing?

0:36:09 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

And that's funny that you said that, because there's a saying I don't know if it's a southern thing, but it's definitely a southern thing where I live and it drives me crazy. Where I mean, it really makes me insane, And people do this all the time. People will say How are you? And the response in this area is fine. Hope you are. Oh, wow, It sounds like a brush off. Yeah, it's like it does. It does to me like Yeah, I'm good, I don't care if you are a bit.

0:36:34 - Kimberly King

Right, but I have everything to do and you don't matter to me, or something like it does sound sort of like it.

0:36:40 - Doctor Elizabeth Banks

It's very much like don't care, don't tell me.

0:36:44 - Kimberly King

Right, and that's what I'm saying. Like so many people can say, How are you doing? How, really, how are you doing? You know, and it's just a matter of being able to receive how they're doing, you know, and sometimes people want to unload and or, you know, just say OK, fine, bye, see you later.

Yeah, so really, I think, listening, listening and being open and being able to look at yourself right, things that are not definitely not socialized into us.

0:37:22 - Kimberly King

Well yeah, well, this has been a great conversation, Dr. Banks, thank you so much for your time.

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Show Quotables

“Equality means everybody gets the same thing. Equity means people get what they need, so there's justice there.” - Dr. Elizabeth Banks Click to Tweet
“Once I learned to tolerate [being uncomfortable] and sit with it and really allow people to tell me how they experienced me, my life changed. And I was able to develop much more meaningful connections with other people.” Dr. Elizabeth Banks Click to Tweet