I Just Quit My Job...and this is how I said Goodbye

Email Subject: EVERYTHING IS LOVE

I fell in love with this organization and willingly drank the Kool-aid from the first day of orientation, July 28, 2014. I connected with all aspects of its mission and values. I loved the power and the people that drove this organization in DC. I met some of the most beautiful and incredible people in my life here. I fully embraced idealism. However, I’ve learned that—from that same lens of idealism—the organization is perfect; the people within it are not. Since then, it was only a matter of time until I became disillusioned by the vision of idealism this organization uses to recruit varying degrees of talented young people, but not necessarily to maintain them. 

Education is my truest form of social activism. My only desire in all my four years serving here was to campfire the site and the organization. From training the corps to leading my teams and staff, I've only wanted to do the best of my part to make better happen here. My only motive was to push the education innovation and reform needle forward through (my) insight and innovation; to leave this site better than I met it, and to do it intentionally and with excellence. I have worked assiduously to do that, even when met with contrarian perspectives.

This time last year I was told by a member of the SMT (senior management team) that this company was not a social justice organization. That I was underqualified for a position I received my master's degree in. Those statements have rung in my psyche ever since, but even more loudly as my time here comes to an end, and I reflect on my past four years. So while I am forever grateful for every team, every lesson, every opportunity, every rejection, all the laughs and smiles and tears, and moments of conflict, support, sabotage, and subterfuge, I would be remiss if I did not let it be known that being an (outspoken) Black Woman in this organization...at this site...has been the most traumatizing professional experience of my life.

It’s already a slippery uphill battle to be a Black woman with a strong voice, differing opinions, genuine heart, and apparent desire to move change forward in American and global society. But, to feel anxiety about who you work with; to hear your voice stifled to a mute; to see your efforts ignored or devalued; to know that your intentions and actions have been contorted and misunderstood; to feel the insidiousness of the flagrant displays of White Feminism and misogynoir...it changes the way self-confidence moves through your body and your work. My body and my work. Out of all the Black women who have left the site during my time here, I strain to find/remember more than two who left feeling happy, fed, and full from this site’s culture. I’m glad to finally see steps to rectify the poor office culture that has been cultivated and sustained here since before I first served. However, since I’m interested in training and social justice work, I just want to leave the site with a few home improvement tips:

1) Promote the insanely talented Black women and Women of Color at this site. It is incredibly disenfranchising to not see yourself represented in senior leadership as a manager or as a corps member. Actively diversify the recruitment and hiring pipeline. There’s no reason why Black women should only saturate middle management. White women and men don’t have all the answers. So, shout out to the recent hirings of 2 (Afro)Latinas.

2) Stop tokenizing the sole Black man or “amiable” Black Woman, especially at the expense of other WOC who do an incredible job, or simply need the opportunity to be visible and given a platform. Remember Whitney Purnell's mantra from last week...

3) Stop being intimidated by, and microaggressive toward, Black women at this site. We are not aggressive or angry or bridled with attitude. When we speak passionately, it is because we care. When we don’t speak at all, understand we don’t all strive to be social and likable if we know our work speaks for itself.

4) Understand that we see your lack of belief in our potential as professionals...but mainly, we see your inability to effectively manage, coach, and train us. So, for this new wave of determined Black women in Impact, don't just tell them they're doing a good job; cultivate their work. Don't just gossip about their shortcomings; coach their development. 

5) Actively work against allowing professional cliques, that promote cronyism and ostracize people, to thrive.

6) If you’re no longer happy at the site or in the organization, know that it’s evident in your management and work. So, please trust all that you've learned and given to this beloved community and leave before your disengagement stifles the development of new people and those who still care.

7) Celebrate your staff in more intentional and thoughtful ways. We can tell when the last minute decision is made. You may call our reactions ungrateful, but recognize that everyone can identify when something isn't handled with care, especially concerning employee relations.

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I have attached a picture of a graphic that perfectly summarizes my journey here for the past four years. I’m quite confident that I’m not alone in this experience, and I can’t wait to hear of the lasting changes to this.

I will always have a deep sense of appreciation and love for this site and social justice organization. But, what is love without correction, and a (practical) call to action?

Yours in National Service,
Stella Oloyede
(new job title) Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Talent
(new place of employment was inserted here)

 

Disclaimer: identifying content has been removed to avoid any legal organizational implications, and therefore, edited to provide further clarity.