White People Are Tired of Talking About Racism

A Collection

Winter 2021-2022

White People Are Tired of Talking About Racism

By Janine Quijije 

White folks hashtagged #BlackLivesMatter. Read the book, White Fragility. Apologized to Black colleagues. Earned their DEI certificates. They are now tired and want to get back to what they deem a sense of normalcy and where they don’t have to talk about oppression. But we are not going to talk about them. I also recognize that there are authentic white allies who lock arms with us in the path toward equity. We need them. But we are not talking about them either. 

To borrow a line from the fabulous Issa Rae, this is “Me Season”. In this case, “Me” is “You!” 

How do we embrace self-love when we exist in environments that don’t always love us back? How do we leap into the unknown when we are taught to mind our place in oppressive environments?  So these are loaded questions. Especially when we consider the intersections of our identities. Tragically, racism is not the only form of oppression or “ism” we are forced to co-exist with. So in 2017, the year of my 40th birthday, I decided to take a literal leap of faith and remove the shackles that were holding me back. I went skydiving because I am scared of heights. Something about skydiving felt metaphoric to me. As a Latina who was raised in a community of immigrants, I can’t fail. I don’t have the same privilege to fail and get backup as white men do. I have to get it right the first time. So I’ve often accepted mediocre terms in all aspects of my life because I was scared to try to have more and be reminded to stay in my lane. So when I jumped out of an actual plane, I was making a commitment to myself that I would choose to be brave and take risks even if it resulted in failure. I encourage others to jump out of their non-literal planes and push past their comfort zones and march toward their greatness. I have gathered a compilation of essays from a few of the badass BIPOC bosses that I am humbled to call my sister friends. My hope is that their stories will inspire you as much as they have inspired me. 

Taking that first step when you leap is the hardest one. And if you have a BIPOC identity, you are likely familiar with rejection and being told that you are not qualified, not good enough, or simply not enough. It’s important to separate thisenvironment that glorifies whiteness from your self worth and personal greatness. Be sure you lean in on your circle who can fuel your spirit during moments when you feel defeated. They will ground you in your identity andworth. As the people who know you best, you should totally believe them.   

And during moments when you are pouring from an empty cup, always remember, “To the underestimated, the overlooked, and theoutcast, trust your power.” - Colin Kapernick 

Janine Quijije is the Chief Advancement Officer for Communities In Schools ®(CIS™), the national organization that ensures every student, regardless of race, zip code, or socioeconomic background has what they need to realize their potential in school and beyond. In her role she oversees the fundraising and marketing & communications functions for the organization. Janine’s passion for the mission of CIS stems in part from her own experience as the Latina daughter of immigrants who navigated the public school system in New York City. That passion for equity extends to her personal life. Since 2017, she has served as a “Big Sister” for the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of NYC. In 2018 she founded a book club that unites women to foster a sense of sisterhood. 


Owning My Expertise 

By Danielle Pulliam 

A few years after getting my master’s degree, I was thinking of my next career move. I was fortunate to meet and work with executive coach Gina Amaro Rudan. Gina wrote a book about cultivating the genius within you. She had me do an exercise where I had to complete the following sentence, “I am an expert at”. She had me practice my response over and over again and I never forgot how powerful that exercise was. 

Years later, when I was in a room surrounded by incredibly accomplished women of color and we were discussing our career goals, I challenged them with the same exercise. I struggled to complete the sentence myself even years after first completing the exercise, but I was surprised that the women in the room struggled as well. All of us could easily point out each other’s expertise but we resisted our own labels of expert not just because of our respectable humility but because we have been conditioned to devalue our worth. However, I am reminded that even when women elevated their voices during the Women’s Suffrage Movement, Black women were visibly excluded. As a Black woman myself, I understood why, a room full of accomplished Black & Brown women struggled with expressing their badassery. We are the product of a system that has always excluded us. 

So part of my leap is to proudly own my expertise! I am an expert at organizational development, capacity building and grantmaking, and leading groups on international travel experiences - just to name a few. 

Now it’s your turn to leap. Fill in the blank. Then look in a mirror and say it loud and proud. 

“I am an expert at...!” 

Danielle works with multiple stakeholders to address the needs of economically disadvantaged residents in New York City. During her career she has focused on issues including housing, workforce development, financial literacy, and education. As a senior program officer with The Pinkerton Foundation, Danielle manages grants for literacy, sports, and arts programs for young people and serves as a thought partner for the foundation’s Racial Equity Initiative to support BIPOC leaders. She is also co-chair of the New York City Youth & Education Funders Working Group which facilitates funder learning exchanges and analyzes issues facing New York City youth. A native of the Bronx, Danielle earned a BA from Brown University and an MPA from the Baruch CUNY School of Public Affairs through the National Urban Fellows Program.  In addition to her work, she finds joy in practicing her faith and liturgical dance, traveling, and enthusiastically sampling the world’s cuisines.



By Rae Negron  

I was the first in my family to go to college which was beautiful and extremely challenging. Moving into another world I had never known; I went from being an exceptional high school student to being on academic probation at the end of my first semester. I didn’t have the tools that many other students take for granted. Instead of going out to get the tools I deserved, I felt embarrassed for not knowing what others knew to begin with. I was afraid that if I asked for help, others would see me as a failure and not worthy of being in college. I didn’t realize that by not asking for help, I was only hurting myself. Fortunately, advisors for first generation college students reached out to me and pushed me to receive their services. Receiving help was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done – it’s just not something I learned or saw growing up. However, getting that help strengthened me in ways I never imagined, and boosted my confidence to take on many challenges to come.  While in college, my confidence led me to develop an empowerment event for young girls attending public high schools in Denver (my hometown). I heard about a program that was giving grants to students who wanted to run their own projects. I spoke to the director about my idea as something I could possibly do a year later. The director was so taken by my idea that he told me to submit a proposal ASAP. Instead of feeling joyous, I was terrified. I never led anything before, I didn’t have the experience, I would certainly fail. That doubt crept up again, but somehow, I pushed myself to submit the proposal. I received the grant and worked before and after classes and work to build a team and create Mask-ara: The Self-Image Project.

At the end of the event, I wept as I thanked my team. It was at that moment that I realized I was capable of anything. Those two moments came to my mind when I thought about launching my business last year. I had accomplished much since that time, but that doubt, though much smaller than before, was ever-present. I had thought about launching a consulting business...later in life when I gained more experience. However, as fate would have it, I began receiving requests for consulting services. It turns out these folks thought I had enough experience – even calling me an expert. I couldn’t believe it, but then again, I couldn’t ignore what I was hearing. 

I decided to bring this up to my beloved friends at our book club. They did more than encourage me to start a business, they challenged me to do it! Again, I was terrified, but they (and many others) reminded me that women of color, like us, expect ourselves to achieve perfect standards to be considered worthy of being in any position. This is no fault of our own as the system of white supremacy has taught us this fallacy for generations. 

It’s up to us to knock down those walls, ceilings and ladders, and build our own tables. But to take that leap, we must quiet those doubts about ourselves and ignore the doubts of those who aren’t here for us. 

I took that leap and launched Strategy With Intention, LLC. I currently provide evaluation expertise for clients, but I have dreams to do more with my business. Ahh, my business! Taking this leap would not have been possible without having acommunity believing in me and me believing in myself. 

Rae Negron is an experienced strategic analyst with over 9 years of nonprofit and performance management experience. Rae is a first-generation college and graduate student, holding a Bachelors in Psychology from Colorado State University and a Masters in Social Work from Boston College. She is also a Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW) in Massachusetts. 


Finding My Power Through Expression 

By Latasha Wright, Ph.D. 

I am a cis-gendered African American woman scientist. Yes, you heard right - I am a Black Female Scientist! BOOM! 

For many years, my identity was wrapped up in my professional career. As my career progressed, I saw injustices and inequalities in the workplace. I found myself thinking, am I the only one who sees this and how can I effectively change the situation. My immediate response was to use art in some way. Art is an agent for change, it can be a palatable vehicle that reflects the world around us. It can expose our blemishes and give voice to the voiceless. 

Think of how Alex Haley’s novel Roots from 1976 is still quoted and is embedded in our cultural DNA. I wanted to challenge the ideas of masculinity and femininity in order to challenge the perception of POWER. The feminist movement has been evolving for more than one hundred years, as a result the perception of what it is to be femine and masculine is constantly changing in the home and in the workplace. 

As part of my leap, I decided to channel all of my frustrations and use my voice in a new and different way for me - I wrote my first screenplay! This piece was an effort for me to explore those concepts, not to bring clarity but to promote empathy, empowerment, and energy to the conversation about what it means to be a powerful woman in the workplace.  

Latasha Wright, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, received her Ph.D. from NYU Langone Medical Center in cell and molecular biology. She continued her scientific training at Johns Hopkins University and Weill Cornell Medical Center. She has co-authored numerous publications, presented her work at international and national conferences. BioBus enables Latasha to share her love of science with a new generation of scientists. Latasha spearheaded the creation of the first BioBase community lab, the BioBus internship program, and our Harlem expansion. Everyday that Latasha spends teaching students about science in this transformative environment helps her remember that science is fun. She loves sharing the journey of discovery with students of all ages.


Embracing My Leadership  

By Jenny Negron 

When I first started my career in philanthropy I experienced culture shock and imposter syndrome. These internal feelings were intensified whenever I was faced with subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, interactions or behaviors by others that communicated to me that in their eyes I in fact did not belong. I would be asked to share my credentials as to how I got my job or reminded that my perspective -- on issues that I care deeply about -- was flawed because it lacked the expertise of their intellect. I learned to withhold my opinion or adjust my words so as not to make others feel uncomfortable. I learned to accept being verbally belittled, having my decisions questioned, and feeling inferior. And so any time I was invited to take a leadership role in a predominantly white space, I would shy away, ask if the person truly thought I was qualified for the role, or take a back seat in the room. 

But…someone once told me that doing things that scare us helps us become stronger and braver. 

So I decided to take a leap and step into my leadership. With the support of allies, mentors,and friends, I learned that my voice and contributions matter. I have written papers, presented at conferences and joined local and national committees and a non-profit board where I share my expertise with pride. This year, the Rockwood Leadership Institute invited me to join the Equity in Philanthropy Fellowship where I learned how to have courageous conversations, focus on my wellness, and deal with stress. I also learned what my leadership style is -- and my strengths and weaknesses -- so I know how to approach a situation in a way that is authentic to who I am and what I believe in. Imposter syndrome is still a struggle for me and I continue to run into people who remind me to mind my place. However, I am learning how to speak up, not only for myself, but for the people, communities, and issues I care about. I feel comfort and strength in knowing that I have a community of BIPOC leaders to turn to for support and guidance. 

Because of my identity, my qualifications will always be questioned, but surrounding myself with leaders who share my identity and my experiences is a reminder that I am not the one who needs to adjust to comfort others. I have a responsibility to be a voice for the voiceless. I will continue to lead in my own way and for them. 


Jenny has a unique perspective on the value of Pinkerton grants. In 1998, three days after graduating from New York’s high school for pregnant and parenting teens and six weeks after the birth of her son Joel, she went to work as an “Explainer” in the Science Career Ladder program at the New York Hall of Science–a longtime Pinkerton grantee. While there, she completed her B.A. at Queens College and went on to earn a Master’s in Public Administration at Baruch College. She eventually rose to lead the 100 high school and college Explainers who guide thousands of visitors through the Hall of Science each year.  Jenny has presented papers and led discussions at science education conferences at home and abroad and has been recognized as a Next Generation Getty Leadership Fellow. She brought her interest and expertise in youth programs and science and technology training to Pinkerton in January of 2012.