Seena Hodges is CEO and Founder of The Woke Coach, a racial equity consulting business. Hodges says to be “woke” means having the ability to think about things in a racialized context and consider how power, systems, and access may impact any given outcome.
The company began in 2018, with a mission to help individuals and organizations committed to eradicating racism in their lives and using their privilege for the benefit of others. Hodges says ending racism isn’t just up to Black people.
“If it was up to people of color in this country to say, ‘we don't want any more racism,’ it would have been gone. But that's not it. And what's the worst part of it is that racial identity not only is made up, but it is completely outside of our control,” she said.
Hodges just published “From Ally to Accomplice: How to Lead as a Fierce Antiracist.” The book offers guidance in navigating unconscious bias, engaging in difficult race-centered conversations, and actualizing leadership against white supremacy and racial inequities. Hodges says while allies may be well-intentioned, they are often doing the work simply to make themselves better.
“An accomplice, on the other hand, is someone who understands that this is a continuous process, that this is a lifelong journey. They are committed to educating themselves and they are committed to restoring and eradicating policies and procedures that are racist–that have racist undertones,” said Hodges.
Hodges says anyone can be an accomplice in creating positive change.
“It's up to them to make a decision that they don't want to be impacted by racism, too,” she said. “And the first step of that is them actually recognizing how racism actually does impact them. And then saying to themselves, Oh, I have a personal responsibility. Now I need to educate myself, and I need to move to action.”
She says everyone benefits from anti racism work. Hodges points to other social justice movements.
“Before 1990, it was fully legal to not provide accommodations for people with disabilities,” she explained. “These curb cuts that you see on the streets and at the airport, when you get ready to pull your luggage up - didn't even exist. And because these curb cuts exist now, it makes it better for everybody. And so that's the kind of thinking that we have to have when we're thinking about inclusion and why it matters, and why the eradication of racism needs to be our top priority. Because it makes it better for everybody.”
Hodges says by building solidarity in the fight against racial inequities, she is working to honor her ancestors.
“I want to provide as much closure as I can for my ancestors. For me, it's that closure piece that is so important. I know that I have ancestors that never saw Barack Obama become president. I know I have ancestors that were along for the ride with John Lewis and never saw how far he got. Who marched for the Voting Rights Act and it never came to bear. My father's family is from South Carolina. So I know they live in a place where the Confederate flag flew freely over the dome. My goal is just to continue to chip away at that and make as much progress as possible. And I believe that that progress always starts with broadening the perspectives of people,” she said.
“From Ally to Accomplice: How to Lead as a Fierce Antiracist” is currently available for pre-sale.