Episode 89 – Unstoppable BIPOC Advocate and Social Entrepreneur with Peter Bloch Garcia
So, who reading this knows the definition of BIPOC? Listen to this episode and Peter Bloch Garcia will define the word for you right at the start. Peter’s life after being in school stayed in education where primarily taught at the secondary school level.
Later, he decided to move out of being a direct educator and into working for and serving with a number of not-for-profit agencies in the Washington State area.
Our conversation ranges far and wide and, as far as I am concerned, is one of the most pertinent discussions I have had in quite a while. We talk about everything from racial inequity to climate change and how all interrelate together.
I urge you to listen and even leave the interview with a list of books Peter suggests for outside reading. I hope you will give this episode a 5 rating and that you also will review it. Enjoy and be inspired. That’s the best thing I can suggest.
About the Guest:
Peter Bloch Garcia is the son of a Mexican immigrant, and grew up in Yakima, Washington. He began his career as an educator, later becoming a foundation program officer focused on improving education quality and access for students from low-income and BIPOC youth, and empowering them to advocate for systemic change.
When he learned that foundations do not equitably support BIPOC communities, he organized others to form the Latino Community Fund of Washington State, where he served as Board President, Treasurer and Executive Director to steward growth and development of a vitally needed organization. He was instrumental in forming and leading Progreso: Latino Progress, a c4 organization to build political power in the Latine community for more representation and voice at state level issues.
While at LCF he increased resources to enhance community leadership, build capacity of non-profit organizations, and advocate systems change to improve the well-being of Latine residents across the state. As head of Progreso, he coordinated with LCF to increase Latine voter registration and civic participation and engaged Latine community voice to lobby for racially equitable policies at the state and local levels. His leadership with LCF and Progreso was honored when he received the American Society of Public Administration northwest chapter’s Billy Frank, Jr. Award for Race and Social Justice in 2017.
To round out his experience and impact in the community, Peter moved to the public sector to focus on economic equity and justice by supporting neighborhood business districts in BIPOC communities to improve safety, placemaking, and community building events.
Peter is passionate about advancing racial equity and addressing climate change through movement building of BIPOC communities for systemic change. He is also dedicated to moving the nonprofit sector to improve their internal organizational cultures to match the values of their mission and become intentionally anti-racist in practice. He is a co-host with Tania Hino of Adelante Leadership podcast to encourage and inspire more Latine community members to step into leadership.
He serves on the Seattle Foundation Community Programs board committee, the board of Evergreen Social Impact, and as treasurer of Sustainable Seattle.
At Valtas Group, Peter has served in the following Interim ED roles.
● Seattle International Foundation (SIF)
● Mockingbird Society
Peter’s educational background includes
– BS in English and Secondary Education, Western Washington University
– MPA, University of Washington, Evans School of Public Administration, Concentration: Public & nonprofit management, social enterprise, quantitative analysis, financial management, community & economic development, and urban environmental sustainability.
– Certificate in Leading DEI Initiatives, Northwestern University
Social Media Links:
Seattle International Foundation
The Mockingbird Society
Latino Community Fund
2019 San Jose Poetry Center Finalist
Blue Mountain Review
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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Michael Hingson 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson 01:20
Well, hi again, wherever you happen to be. This is Michael Hingson. And you are listening to unstoppable mindset. And today we get to meet Peter Garcia. Or would you rather go by Peter Bloch Garcia?
Peter Bloch Garcia 01:34
It’s Peter Bloch Garcia.
Michael Hingson 01:35
Peter Bloch Garcia. All right. And Peter grew up in Yakima, Washington, and as spent most of his life in I guess the the Northwest, has been an educator and a foundation person who’s been responsible for a number of things, and he’ll talk to us about that, and definitely an advocate. And among other things, Peter has spent a lot of time dealing with education and quality of access for low income and bipoc people. And I asked Peter, and I’m gonna ask you again, what is bipoc? Because I think probably a lot of us haven’t heard of it at least, I hope I’m not the only one.
Peter Bloch Garcia 02:16
Yeah, happy to in No, I don’t believe you are the only one. Because it’s a relatively new term that’s emerged in the last few years. It’s actually an acronym that stands for black indigenous people of color. And it’s being used more as an inclusive way. But also to amplify the significance of an importance of addressing racism by calling out and emphasizing the importance of black and indigenous aspects of that of people of
Michael Hingson 02:54
color. Got it? We have acronyms for everything nowadays, don’t we?
Peter Bloch Garcia 02:58
Yes, it is. Nothing. More is a common noun, though. Yeah.
Michael Hingson 03:04
And that’s fair. But we we do like to describe everything. Well, tell me a little bit about you growing up and kind of how you got to where you are?
Peter Bloch Garcia 03:14
Well, so basically, my story is, so my mom is an immigrant from Mexico. And I was born here in the United States after she came to the US. And she came without speaking English, but learned it fairly quickly. And how that sort of has shaped me, you know, we grew up with as we got older, we, me and my siblings had very typical or stereotypical even challenges and situations that are typical of folks of color in this country and in society. From a background like that, it is a time Yakima was it was very much of a migrant farming community. And growing up there, I was really not very happy growing up there for a variety of reasons, both the typical traumas and issues within our family, as well as the extended community that was not very inclusive, and but I didn’t have the language. I didn’t know I didn’t really understand why or what was happening. But what I think was really important to me that shaped me who I am today was that I had some adults in my life who were very influential one was, I was in a youth employment and training program for low income kids. That was federally funded back in the day, and my case manager. Her name’s You and Karaca, she, she saw more in me than I saw in myself. But also, as an African American woman, she was starting to talk to me, it started, that’s where I think I started getting some of the language to understand issues around race. But it wasn’t until I went to college where I also got active on campus. Back then, in in mid 80s, you know, if race in this country was seen as something that we had already dealt with in the past, oh, that was something in the 60s. In fact, all kids of color, pretty much were seen on campus as taking somebody else’s seat, taking a white student seat, or that we got into the school, because we weren’t qualified, but it was a affirmative action thing that we we didn’t really belong, you know, all of that stuff. And so I spent something like, you know, in my spare time on is an undergraduate as a student activist and, and try to work on improving things, recruiting more students of color, supporting the students of color, improving our, our graduation rates, and things such as that. And then I went into teaching after that, partly because I felt so privileged from my kind of background to have gotten a college education. Some of my siblings didn’t graduate high school. And yet, here, I was going through college, and I wanted to give back. So I first started going into education, because I wanted to, to, you know, share the kind of education that I felt privileged by with other kids like me. So I started going into teaching, and I taught for a number of years, I taught in different countries, Mexico and Italy. I taught for a short time in New York City. But I left teaching eventually, and I ended up working in nonprofits. And that’s where you mentioned the foundation work, which was purely coincidental, because I didn’t know there was a sector on giving money away, you know, philanthropy, right. But I learned a foundation.
Michael Hingson 07:14
What kind of places did you teach high school, college or why taught
Peter Bloch Garcia 07:18
mostly secondary levels? So high school and more of the years was spent in middle school? Sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, some ninth 10th? In a few junior level classes. You say? Go ahead. I was just gonna say I was an English teacher, mostly. But I taught a little bit of social studies as well.
Peter Bloch Garcia 07:41
Which kind of relates Oh,
Michael Hingson 07:45
well, you said something really interesting. Which I thought about a lot. I know it’s true. But you said that people probably in the 80s sort of thought, well, race is all taken care of it was all dealt with in the 60s and 70s. But the view generally was that people of different races were taking seats from white people. Yeah. And I think actually, there are still a lot of people who think that way today, but nevertheless, that doesn’t sound like it was really dealing with race, of course, does it?
Peter Bloch Garcia 08:26
Right. Yeah. I mean, it is still definitely a part of the frame. You know, especially with our immigration policy, you know, for the last 30 some years, it’s been Oh, we got to control immigrants, immigration, because they’re taking our jobs kind of thing.
Peter Bloch Garcia 08:43
But I think to your question,
Peter Bloch Garcia 08:49
it it was it still was rooted in racism from my, my perspective. But it was sort of a, it was sort of an excuse, like, you know, no, no, we don’t have to deal with racism, because it was done before. And, and no sort of self awareness of the privilege. In fact, there was this one class I was taking. In college, it was an ethnic studies, political science kind of class. And the professor throughout this, this term of reverse discrimination in a lecture once and in my study group with friends. They mentioned something about reverse discrimination. And I said, Oh, but that’s not what he meant. But at that time, in that period of time, there was this belief that reverse discrimination was rampant all over the country. And that’s where, you know, it’s reverse discrimination because folks of color students of color are taking the seats of white students then they’re not they’re not qualified to be here kind of thing. So It was about race and racial bias. But also the system at the time itself was not doing a good job of encouraging more kids of color to go to college.
Michael Hingson 10:11
What do you think about this whole concept of they’re taking our jobs? And today we’re talking about immigration, and well, we’re letting them in our country, and they’re taking our jobs.
Peter Bloch Garcia 10:24
Well, I mean, there’s been plenty of research that’s been done on that to show a how that’s not true. And the type of workers and partly like, there’s more experts in that in that research field that have disproven that over time. And again, and there’s even other research that talks about how countries with thriving economies, it’s because they are thriving economies, because they have a growing immigrant population all the time. They have they continue that, like you’re adding to the workforce, and that sort of thing. So there’s plenty of other evidence to counter it. But, you know,
Michael Hingson 11:13
nevertheless, it gets promoted.
Peter Bloch Garcia 11:15
It is an important political wedge, it’s promoted as a political wedge,
Michael Hingson 11:18
right? And I’m still looking for the jobs that they are taking, because most of the time when I hear about that I’m I’m sort of looking at people that I know. And I know a number of people who have come from other countries. And mostly, I haven’t seen people who live here. And I guess, if we say, white people, or whatever, or are people who come from here, necessarily even wanting to work in those jobs, yeah, which is a little. Now my, my mystery about that is, of course, I’ve spent a lot of time in New York. And for the longest time, cab drivers were white guys and white women, and so on. And that’s evolved. And I’ve never figured out exactly why that’s the case, because it’s just in the US. It’s just the economics. But you know, but in general, I just don’t see that as really being anyone’s taking anyone’s job.
Peter Bloch Garcia 12:20
Well, and I’ve heard the expression not as frequently as I did back then. But I still hear it from time to time. Often it’s with In fact, just maybe three or four years ago, I was at this social gathering. And there were some high school students who were just graduating high school and applying to college. And one of the young men said, Well, I didn’t get accepted, because they, they probably prioritize some students of color over me. And I was like, Really, though, like, it’s an easy go to steal that, that folks of color have been getting privileges and special treatment that it’s become on, the system’s become unfair. However, when I used to, when I used to challenge people, I did not challenge that young man. He wasn’t I just overheard his conversation I was like, right. But I would often say to people, well, if there was so many more advantages for folks of color to go to college, and or over employment opportunities, why are they so why are the numbers so low in college? Why are the numbers so low in terms of percentages of employment, for folks of color, in fact, it’s, you know, for African Americans, no matter what the what the the unemployment rate is, nationally, historically, African Americans have always had twice the level of unemployment, whether in good times or bad times, economically, their unemployment is twice the rate for white populations. So there’s, there’s lots of other evidence of it not being you know, that there’s still systemic challenges with racial equity, but yet, the myths and the beliefs of people still hold on and come up.
Michael Hingson 14:19
Of course, we’re dealing with, in this case, race and so on. Whereas if we really want to get to statistics, we could deal with persons with disabilities whose unemployment rate is something close to 20 times what it is for so called Able bodied people, and it is just as much a prejudicial issue, whereas the reality is, it isn’t that we can’t do the work. So we’re not given the opportunity to do the work.
Peter Bloch Garcia 14:48
Right. And, and, you know, do you do you know, if within the disabilities population or the disabled populations, the intersectionality of race within that is that Like if if a disabled person is is disabled white person has a 20%? Or what how did you how did you say
Michael Hingson 15:09
20 times as much? The unemployment rate typically is between 65 and 70%. Yeah. Is it as it defines it? Is it different based on race? Oh, there are definite differences.
Peter Bloch Garcia 15:21
Probably I suspect there is. But given that I’m curious, just curious.
Michael Hingson 15:27
But the overall, I think the overall number from census and yeah, so Security Administration and others is, is that number is it is a different? racially? I don’t have the statistics, but I think I have heard that it is. So you’re not going to find that. A look. I know blind people who are very prejudiced against people who are black. Yeah. And it’s an extremely unfortunate. We know that’s a learned behavior. Right. Personally speaking. Not having ever seen color. It doesn’t matter to me a single solitary bit. But it is it is an issue that we we encounter. Yeah. And we’ve got to get over that somehow. And the whole immigration thing is such a problem, because we have allowed it to become political, which makes it even worse. To to deal with.
Peter Bloch Garcia 16:24
Yeah, yeah. For sure.
Michael Hingson 16:26
How do we how do we deal with the immigration thing? Do you have any thoughts?
Peter Bloch Garcia 16:31
Well, to me, the anti immigrant views are one form of racism. In fact, there’s a there’s a guy I know. And I’m forgetting I’m totally blanking on his name right now. Oh, no. Got it. Eric Ward, Eric Ward, who? I think he’s currently the Executive Director of that lost the name I have may come up with it later. Eric Ward, had done research that showed how there was a symbiotic social relationship between the rise in anti immigrant speech and media coverage, leading to violence against African American people and other races. And I think, Raisa Yeah, well, right. Right, right. And we probably saw that play out. We will we all saw it play out more. So during the the racist and the racially biased and statements that the former person who’s currently under indictments
Michael Hingson 17:51
who shall not be named.
Peter Bloch Garcia 17:54
Right, when he would say these things, there was an increase in hate crimes, you know, people being accosted at gas stations and, and things So. So. So I think of, you know, anti immigrant sentiment, being an extension of racist views, mindsets and values. And so in order for us to address anti immigrant mentalities and thinking, we have to address the root causes of racism. And I think within that, we have to look at how do we help individual people learn? How do we shape or restructure or reshape our organizational systems have, you know, our nonprofit organizations, that’s where I’ve been spending a lot, so many of my years working in and thinking about how to use those spaces of organizational structure to undo racism. And then there’s the systemic level, that racial inequity is perpetuated from the policies and the systems that have excluded or set barriers for equal access. So so in order to, to address it, it’s sort of a three pronged strategy, I believe. Yeah, not and I would say also, at the, at the beginning place, for the individual level, is learning about racial bias, because there’s a lot more research and writing just about I’d say, in the last four years, there’s more books that are coming out than ever before when I was young. That’s partly why I didn’t have any language to understand my world around me that right, but yet, there’s been so much more great work that’s been done in this field, and more and more books coming out in the last four years than ever I’ve seen in my life.
Michael Hingson 19:53
What’s unfortunate is that in some quarters, people want to ban books. I mean, there there’s a lot of there’s a lot The value in what To Kill a Mockingbird teaches. Yeah, and, and similar books and yet people want to get rid of those. And that is just crazy.
Peter Bloch Garcia 20:10
It is the To Kill a Mockingbird one in particular. I’m a huge fan of having been an English teacher actually not just because of that, but when I I used to have to teach it To Kill a Mockingbird is a frequently taught book in like eighth or ninth grade, right. And every year I would teach it, and I swore I don’t know, I probably read the book like 10 times. And every time I would read it, I would see a new insight into Oh, my God, look what she was doing. Look what Harper Lee was, was raising with that story. So I’m a huge fan of it. And I think though to to that point about book banning, I think that’s partly the how the power structure of the system, as we’re going through these social changes, with the emergence of more consciousness, more intentionality, to eliminate racism, you know, that thank God for the Black Lives Matter movement. Thank God for the me to movement. And all of these, these these social reckonings that have been happening, I’d say, really, more so than in the last six years. I think that there’s more more of the, the white privilege mentality that is desperately wanting to hold on because they see it as a loss, they see it if if we give those people of color, the same thing, I’m going to lose something, right. So they are striking out at anything that they think is going to challenge the system, the status quo, or the system or their privilege. And so that’s where I think some of the, in fact, I swear, I just saw a post on social media about librarians, getting harassed and called names from folks who are wanting them to banned books in our library. So kids are not exposed to these sorts of ideas.
Michael Hingson 22:11
I am a great fan of and collect old radio shows as a hobby. And I think that it is part of our history. And some of it, from time to time reflects racism. One of my favorite shows, and I’ll explain why is Amos and Andy, which is about two black guys. And I’ve had an opportunity to interact with one of the foremost experts on Amos and Andy, some time ago. And for me, my history with Amos and Andy is that Bob long before I really understood a lot about old radio. I grew up watching Amos and Andy on television. Well, you know, I didn’t see the colors, but I didn’t even know they were black. And I didn’t even understand all of that. Okay, so anyway, I learned later that it was taken off television, because black people objected to being portrayed that way. And I can appreciate that intellectually looking back on it. But I asked this expert from the the, the whole issue of Amos and Andy. So when did they stop? Really referring to Amos and Andy is black. And what she said was basically, it started out that way, when Amos and Andy came to New York, they asked where all the dark people lived, and so on. But by 1937, it wasn’t even talked about. They were just there they were characters, and yes, they had the voices they did. But there wasn’t really a lot of reference to black or white or anything else. And you could draw your own inferences. And I know a lot of people did. But it across the board as a radio program was extremely entertaining, and came up with a lot of very good plots that people reacted to, in fact, on Saturdays during the matinees people would the this, the theater, people would cut off the film so that everybody could listen to Amos and Andy. Hmm. And and I appreciate the problems with the show from that the standpoint of race, but at the same time, it was something that across the board was very entertaining to people, but now we see discussions of well, we can’t have that our libraries. We should get rid of that. That doesn’t help either.
Peter Bloch Garcia 24:35
Right. Yeah. Well, and you’re reminding me of so one of the ways that racial bias has been perpetuated has been through media. Right? In fact, I mean, there’s much more research of late on this looking back at movies and television shows and and I was I remember thinking about this a few years ago when my my kids were young. And I thought, Oh, I’m going to I’m going to look up those movies that I enjoyed as a kid. And I’ll watch them with my kids. And so I watched them. And I was stunned at how many racial stereotypes they would they would portray in these movies. And I’m like, Oh, heck, I can’t share that. And that’s, but we just grew up with it. Right? It was that’s part of where our racial biases come from the images, the stereotypes that were used throughout media, and similar within the nonprofit sector, actually, I kind of think the nonprofit sector has perpetuated racial stereotypes as, as all folks of color are poor. Because most of the time, I mean, this is the whole premise of of fundraising, for nonprofits, as they put pictures of the very small percentage that they’re actually serving of the kids of color, or colleges. And universities do this all the time. It’s the they find the few kids of color in their organization, and they put their pictures up there, and they go, they tell the sad story, oh, this poor child, he had all these disabilities or challenges and, you know, setbacks and, and we turn their life around and give to us so that we can, you know, keep doing that. But it’s perpetuating a deficit based story, right, and a stereotype in that set entire industry. And I’m seeing there’s actually, and I’m, I’m not remembering his name, but there’s a guy, I think he does a TED talk. But he’s been developing this work around asset framing. And he he talks about it as the media is that as the news, he goes into journalism, I think his angles, about that, of how here’s an example of the way the traditional story talks about communities of color, from a very deficit based, there’s always problems Oh, the crime or the blah, blah, blah. And then he illustrates how to how to change that it doesn’t mean that there aren’t still needs within and disproportionality within communities of color. But there’s a way to frame that that is what he calls sort of his asset framing. So that’s another area that’s emerging more and more so these days that I think is helpful.
Michael Hingson 27:29
But I think the issue also has to be in part, that we can’t deny our history, what we should do is learn from it. And so taking programs like Amos and Andy away, and just denying that they existed, doesn’t help either. Well, and
Peter Bloch Garcia 27:45
but it has to be brought forward as a as a learning opportunity. Right. And, and, in fact, Michael, I think, you know, I’m still, I still continue to be surprised at what how little or we received in our high school, or college history courses about the inclusion of people of color in history,
Michael Hingson 28:11
or, or any minority group. Right,
Peter Bloch Garcia 28:14
right. And, and, and, like, in fact, there’s a woman, Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, she’s written a number of books, one of them in particular is the Indigenous People’s History of the United States. And I only just read this maybe a year or two ago. And it was mind blowing, I had no idea. And I’m somewhat fairly informed by other things I’ve read about Native American, you know, information in books and literature, but it’s still eye opening. There’s such a rich history of within our diverse populations that has been excluded.
Michael Hingson 28:53
Yeah. And we shouldn’t do that. But we do. We we, in our high school environment, don’t discuss it didn’t discuss it. Right. I hope it’s better than it was. I have not taken high school history lately. But I’m aware that there is so much that we didn’t discuss and refuse to really look at the rich history that all of us, whether it’s race, persons with disabilities, and recognizing all of the things that that people have contributed. One of the poll, most famous cardiac surgeons in the early 1900s was Jacob Lawton, who was blind. You know, and there’s so many others, and there are so many different people who have contributed to our country, and they’re not all white men. And there’s no reason that we should be excluding those other than some improperly placed attitude, shall we say?
Peter Bloch Garcia 29:55
Yeah, well, and Michael, I’m wondering, I got a question for you. What As a couple years ago, I felt like I was seeing more disabilities. Inclusion around the term when organizations and people were talking about D i diversity, equity and inclusion, they were adding another lever, was it I forget which letter it was useability. A, was it a thing so and so it was being more included a couple years ago, but I’m not hearing so much about it being included. These Well,
Michael Hingson 30:35
the problem with saying diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility doesn’t deal with it. So that deals with part of the issue with for persons with disabilities, if you will, but the issue still comes down to social acceptance, issues still comes down to equals, and I and I realized that the term disability has an implication. But we have totally warped the concept as far as I am concerned, of diversity. When you talk to people about diversity, they’ll talk to you about race, gender, sexual orientation, social class, and so on. You don’t hear discussions of disability, which is why inclusion has gotten to be part of it. Yeah, but then they want to add in accessibility. But again, that is a nebulous term. So accessibility is as relevant for Latino people or black people, it is for persons with disabilities in that sense. And so we need to change our definition, if you will, of disability, and include it directly in the discussion. Or another way to put it is if you’re truly going to call yourself inclusive, then you have to be inclusive, you can’t be partially inclusive. It either is or it isn’t. And I tend to believe in the quantum orientation of the word either you’re inclusive, which means you’re going to involve disabilities as well, or you’re not inclusive at all, you can’t have it both ways.
Peter Bloch Garcia 32:05
Right? Yeah. And so
Michael Hingson 32:09
I think there’s there continues to be a significant effort. There are places where it’s getting better, New York announced some about a month ago, that and it’s not going to happen instantly, there’s a lot to be done to make it happen. I forget his 2045 or 2050, or something, but they’re going to make 95% of all the subway stations in New York City wheelchair accessible. And that’s a major undertaking to do, given that a lot of those subway stations were not, and are very difficult to make accessible. So that’s a major commitment. On the other hand, are they going to hire blind architects to help make that happen? Because they are blind architects? Are they going to do other things? There’s, there’s a lot to the process. Yeah, yeah. And so I’m not I’m not trying to leave out persons of race or whatever, or different races, as opposed to blind people. But we need to get back to really expecting and demanding equity and inclusion across the board.
Peter Bloch Garcia 33:14
Yeah, yeah. For sure, you,
Michael Hingson 33:17
you talk a lot about racial equity and inclusion and climate change. Tell me something about that, why you bring the two together?
Peter Bloch Garcia 33:28
Well, for me,
Peter Bloch Garcia 33:32
for a couple of reasons, actually. But, you know, for me, I think at this stage of my life, where I want to spend my efforts and energy is to address racism and climate change, because I think there are two root problems or root roots to so many other issues, that if we, I like to think about getting upstream or to the root of an issue, so that if we can fix that, then so many other things will will improve consequent to that. And for climate change. You know, if we don’t, as humans address climate change and reverse it, the predictions, the scientific predictions are so severe, that, you know, college access to college education kind of won’t matter because the college might be underwater, when the seas as the seas continue to rise, you know, like, that’s just one. There’s so I’m kind of being facetious about that, but but
Peter Bloch Garcia 34:39
not all three.
Peter Bloch Garcia 34:42
And so, for me, part of the the view is that it if we don’t reverse climate change, there are going to be so many other catastrophes from hurricanes to forest fires can Continue devastation, that it will wreak havoc on so many of our other people’s lives and our systems, that some of the other issues kind of won’t matter so much not that they aren’t important, I’m just saying that people are going to be so strapped we, as human beings around the world or, you know, we’re facing more droughts, etc, when basic needs are not going to be met. So we need to at the same time address climate change, but how I connect these two, and why they are connected, is, is that racism at its root is about power. And I think the same sort of mindset or thinking that is, the foundational beliefs or mindsets of racism, are about power in the same way that has led us down the system’s paths towards creation of climate change, like the if we which which are about a power, exploitation control. There’s there’s so many different factors and variables to it. But I see the two definitely in are interlinked. And even so, in addition to that, I guess I’d say, there’s, there’s plenty of other research that’s been describing this is that people of color, historically have always had a disproportionate disproportion disproportionate environmental impact from pollution from where they live, where their housing is built upon waste sites, or air pollution quality. In the city of Seattle, there’s one of the poorest neighborhoods where life expectancy is nine years lower than if you just drive 20 minutes to the wealthier neighborhood where the families in that neighborhood are. And that’s because of the air pollution, the air pollution is so severe in the poor neighborhood, which is mostly folks of color, that, that it’s affecting their health in just a short distance away, right. So there’s always been that disproportional environment or environmental exposure. And our systems have not necessarily changed that. And that’s where climate change is continuing to impact folks of color more so as a frontline impact as climate change continues to increase. For more folks of color percentages of folks of color are going to be experiencing the impact sooner and more severely.
Michael Hingson 37:41
So what kinds of things are you doing to advance dealing with these issues?
Peter Bloch Garcia 37:45
Well, so with with climate change, I have done some work here in Washington before we formed a few years ago, we formed a coalition of bipoc coalition called front and center. And we worked with other mainstream environmental organizations to propose legislation. That was we came up with a more racially equitable policy proposal, we tried to work on it legislatively at the time in Olympia here in Washington State, we we didn’t get it passed that legislatively. So then we organized a statewide ballot initiative. It was close, but it still didn’t pass. But but those were some of the kinds of in that coalition continues to work today. And so I’m involved in another environmental organization and that sort of thing. But most of my time has been, because like I say, I don’t believe that. I believe that these two things are so intertwined, that most of my time lately has been spent on anti racism work that will also benefit and lead to systems change. For climate issues.
Michael Hingson 39:00
Do you think that we need to somehow completely tear down the process that we’re using and start over? Can we can we make progress with doing things the way we are to promote racial and other kinds of difference equity, if you will, as well as dealing with climate change? Or maybe climate change can help lead us to the other?
Peter Bloch Garcia 39:25
So had you asked me this question? Maybe four years ago? I would have I would be giving you a different answer. I think four years ago, I would have said, I don’t have a lot of belief or hope in the existing system, that it’s going to be able to change enough in my lifetime. But what I’m seeing on a broad scale, and in talking to folks about there is been finally what I never thought I would see in my lifetime Is some social reckoning around race. And even even some of the opinion polling is starting to shift focus on on their understanding of climate change. In fact, it was maybe only just about six years ago, I attended a chamber of commerce conference, and one of the keynote speakers at this conference, you know, it was mostly for profit corporations, lobbyists and different elected leaders across different levels of our regional and local governments. And the keynote speaker was saying how he said, it doesn’t matter. His talk was about how, even if you personally as your business does not believe that climate change is real, you’re going to have to, to change your opinion, because more people believe it’s true, whether or not you think it is or not, but that was only six years ago, right. And similarly, in the same way that we have anti rhetoric constantly in our politics, that’s shaping public opinion, we have had an enormous amount of, of misinformation about climate change climate change deniers, politicians, claiming that it was, you know, it was a hoax from China or whatever, you know, it was, we’ve had so much of that influence. But even that has started to change. And some more of the folks who have claimed before in at the federal level are finally seeing the impacts like in Florida, that how they cannot continue denying the impact of climate change that’s happening right on their shores, you know. So so there’s some of that, but that that’s what I’ve seen starting to change in the last few years, and especially around race, there does seem to be a social reckoning, a desire from people wanting to change to learn. Whereas my own racial bias, there was that book that came out, and it’s getting more and more broadly read the book, white fragility. And it’s, I think it’s really helping people see things that like, oh, yeah, we cannot continue down this road. Look what it’s led us to, we have to change course. There was a part of your question, I didn’t answer that. What was what was the question again?
Michael Hingson 42:31
Why is there air? I think the question basically was, oh, burn it all down? Do we burn it all down on start over?
Peter Bloch Garcia 42:42
And that’s where so so I similarly, I would have said six years ago, when I used to do more direct lobbying work or direct policy advocacy work, that there was such a lack of understood fundamental understanding about racial inequity. Like, I would talk to potential candidates who were running for elected office and do interviews with them and say, What’s your view on racial equity? And what would you do if you got elected to advance it? And nine times out of 10, they didn’t know what I meant by racial equity. But these days in the last several years, I’d say, I’m starting to see much more understanding the policies that are coming out of our legislature are. In fact, in fact, some of the advocacy and lobbying started to shift a little bit of when when I was going with in coalition’s to talk to policymakers, and we’d say, Okay, we like this, we want to support this issue. But we want it to include some aspects that will address the racial inequity in this issue. And they’d say, Oh, okay, that sounds great. But what should it be? So so then we would come up with their recommendations to make it more racially equitable. But that was a new thing. And now, I’d say in the last four years, more and more elected folks are coming up with, you know, talking to folks in the community, asking for their solutions, so that they can make new new policies and new improved systems to break down the barriers that have been in place that have perpetuated. So these days, I’m much more optimistic that the system is finally moving in a way that is going to start undoing it, self and improving. But secondly, I guess I’ve come to the belief, Michael, that our systems are so massive, our organizational structures are so entrenched, that we would never be able to tear them all down, that we have to work within the structures that we are given and that’s where so my work around antiracism has been focusing on. There’s this whole sector of nonprofit organizations and structures. So How do we work within the structure because some of those structures actually have some value, there were some aspects of structural things that were supposed to be in place to, you know, to ensure that nonprofit organizations had some level of assurances or accountability that their missions were going to benefit the public. Right. It was a, some sort of checks and balance. But the way the how the organization’s were implementing is where the the perpetuation of racism has been occurring. So I’m still working within the system of nonprofit structures to shift the way that people think about how it shows up, what does racism and power show up within our existing structures? And how can we work within that to make to, to do things better, or undo racism?
Michael Hingson 45:55
So I have a couple questions. Let me start with with this one, which is kind of more general and it just came to mind, we tend to let’s talk about climate change, as an example, we tend to not want to pay attention to or deal with things that collect well, that don’t affect us directly. And so climate change is a very existential thing. How do we, in our educational system, for example, start teaching people to be more curious? And to look a little bit farther than just their own psyche? And I, I can think of, of answers to that question. And it depends on where in the country you live, because some people have beliefs that are so entrenched, that there’s just no discussing it. Yeah. And as you point out, there are places where there’s a little bit more open to openness to it, but it still is an issue that we’re going to have to deal with. And you talked about climate change, look at what’s going on in California. Yes, all of the fires with the Colorado River, now being where it is, and Lake Mead is 27% of where it normally is. And we’re going to have to figure out these things. And I suppose some people can say, well, you can blame it on climate change, but it’s natural. Well, it’s not natural, right, in the scheme of what we need to do or can do to address it. So how do we get people to be more open and look beyond themselves a little bit?
Peter Bloch Garcia 47:29
The last part of that question for me is about undoing racism. Because being an anti racist is about caring about other people. It is about its fundament anti racism is fundamentally about love. You know, when Dr. King talked about the beloved community, it’s a creation of a caring community. And it’s a recognition that my, my, my future is completely intertwined with your future. And that we have a mutual inextricable interconnectedness in our in a shared positive future, right. That value or that it’s almost like a value that we need to teach. Right. But how you teach that is it’s something I continue to experiment with in my work with nonprofits, right? Sometimes I draw from Dr. Keen kings writing, but also Bell Hooks, one of her books called all about love talks about love and an aspect of within society, within family within within organizations. But there’s the other part of your question, that is exactly what some researchers are grappling with trying to figure out. Why is it that we as human beings, they sit you know, that they’ve they’ve recognized that that because climate change is, you don’t see it happen? I don’t know how to say this very well. I’m not saying this very well. Climate change has been happening, but it’s been happening over time and so slowly, that sometimes it’s been hard for people to recognize it right when it’s happening, but it’s accumulating so much like you say in California, that it’s undeniable, right? It’s speeding up, and it’s speeding up. And I just heard this, my wife and I’m not going to remember the name of it, but she had me listen with her to to a news program. I can’t remember if it was an NPR program. And it was this story. Was it Lake Mead was that the lake that completely dried up, there’s a lake in California that did completely dry up a few years back.
Michael Hingson 49:49
Not like me, but there are some so I’m not sure which one was in the program.
Peter Bloch Garcia 49:55
There was it was one that dried up a few years back already and completely. But what, what what happened? He goes in and I had never heard of this, right? I was like, Oh my God, how did I never hear this before? Because he’s he talks about he’s the story he’s starting with is how Salt Lake is drying up. Right? And the ramifications of if Salt Lake completely dries up what a disaster it will be, it will be a disaster to the families who make a living whose economy depends on it, not just the the birds and the species, etc. But he also goes and says he tells the story about this other lake in California that did dry up and it caused so many other disasters and the impact of it was so massive, it’s the state of California had to spend like billions of dollars for the ramifications of of that one lake drank drying up. And that was small compared to what Salt Lake is.
Michael Hingson 50:57
Well in Lake Mead is fed by the Colorado River, which is why it is so low compared to where it normally is because the water just isn’t there.
Peter Bloch Garcia 51:06
Yes. Well, and that’s part of what he said. Like I think I thought this was fascinating in his story where 70% I think he said of Salt Lake is from the reason it’s shrinking. The reason is shrinking 70% of the reason it’s shrinking is because the rivers that feed Salt Lake is being diverted. Right. And that’s in it’s being diverted for agricultural reasons, which is important. But that’s again, a systemic challenge, because we have had the technology to to implement agriculturally, to be more to ensure that the water that we are using for irrigation systems will be more efficient and not wasted. But we haven’t really implemented that.
Michael Hingson 51:53
Right. Tell me about the nonprofits that you work with. And you started one I believe,
Peter Bloch Garcia 52:00
Oh, yeah, I well. I’ve helped start a few of them. But what the one that that I talk most about? From my end, I’ve learned so much from getting started a few years back is called the Latino community fund Washington State. I started that when I was working in in the foundation world where there was some research that came out that pointed out how foundations everybody assumes that Oh, foundations give money to all these poor folks of color, right? Well, in reality, foundations were only giving 1.3% of their foundation grant dollars to Latino nonprofit organizations, all communities of color combined, it was only 8.6, which is significantly disproportionate to the size of the populations for the inequities in the systems. And so a few of us started up what’s called Latino community fund in Washington State to try and see what we could do to move more resources to Latino programs and organizations here in the state.
Michael Hingson 53:05
So what are you doing today, primarily?
Peter Bloch Garcia 53:08
So, I mean, I continue to support Latino community fund. But mostly as I’ve been working in different nonprofits, I’ve been serving as a Interim Executive Director. Currently, I’m working for one called the mockingbird society, actually, a reference to Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird. And its mission is to eliminate youth homelessness, and transform the foster system to one of caring and doing that with a lens of racial disproportionality. And so what I’ve been doing it within these kinds of organizations, and I do some consulting projects, from time to time, working with boards, working with staff, to work within the structure of the nonprofit organization to to adopt an anti racist practice, to move towards an anti racist culture of the organization that all people in the organization can be happy health healthy and thrive, as well as how they deliver either programs services in the community, or how they engage and develop the organ of the community that they’re working in. In fact, I just came out with an article that I co authored. I think I just sent you the link to it. Now, if you can’t access it, let me know and I might be able to find some other way to share it with you. But a few months ago, like for Well, let me back up the story a little bit because it was where were these notions had been coming from and why I focus on this so much of my work is part of my story of you know, I think when I When I was working, when I started working in foundations, I was they were miserable places to work. But I also started a graduate graduate school program. And in that program, they had a series of courses on leadership. And I think at that time, I had assumed that leadership meant the people at the top of the hierarchy, as commonly what that definition meant. In my leadership courses, I was doing all this reading and a part of the program to realize, oh, leadership is actually a set of behaviors or actions that people do wherever you are within structures, whether it’s society, whether it’s in an organization, whether it’s in a family, or your neighborhood, or wherever. So I remember thinking, Hmm, oh, okay, well, maybe I’m a leader. Maybe that means does that mean I’m a leader, right. And so over the years, then I started looking at, like, around me in the organizations that I was at, and especially when these organizational cultures were so toxic, so painful places to work. I was trying to figure out well, why, you know, they have this wonderful mission statement, or externally, they’re seen as having such a great purpose. But yet inside, it was a toxic, horrible place to be. Right. It was like the opposite of their own mission and stated values. So I’ve spent many years trying to figure out like, what do we do about that? Again, back to your earlier question of within this structure, how can we make it better? And that’s where I use a lot of the draw, I draw from a lot of the previous work that others have done, especially around identifying characteristics of white supremacy culture, you know, I think what is there’s like 15 or 16 of those, and the work that they’ve done, folks, prior to me, learning about them have done to identify what are the antidotes to white supremacy culture. And that’s where I think there is also a complete alignment of the antidotes to white supremacy, culture, with the effective leadership behaviors and practices. And so that’s where I’m working on trying to empower more Latino leadership for folks to see themselves in that and to step into it, right, but to have some understanding of it based on the values that are also going to advance anti racism. And that’s where I’ve been working with a friend of mine. And working with a friend of mine, Tanya, you know, Gonzalez, and we came out with a podcast series ourselves called adelante leadership. And we’re interviewing a whole series of folks that are unrecognized, often unrecognized Latino community leaders, but having them share their wisdom, knowledge and experience to inspire and encourage others. And similarly, about when was it earlier this year, a lot of this thinking and work I’ve done with friends and colleagues in the nonprofit space led me to put on a workshop at the Washington nonprofit conference called applying anti racist leadership across the whole organization. And that workshop led to me co authoring a piece that just came out yesterday with a title very similar to that.
Michael Hingson 58:40
The reality is that if we really talk about leadership, and we look at leaders who are recognized, because maybe they lead companies, and so on, and they’re the, the ultimate people in charge are the people who direct the smart leaders are the ones who know when to give up leadership to other people in the organization, because those people have specific expertise or gifts, that make them more able to strengthen part of the organization. And the wise leaders, the one that knows how to essentially what I’m saying is create a team where everybody can contribute and feel like that they can contribute.
Peter Bloch Garcia 59:26
And that example, is one of the antidotes to white supremacy culture. Sure, it is about sharing power. We you know, the example you’re citing to me sounds like sharing power and that’s where, you know, the, the, the, but not all, but right the people who are the CEO of an organization if they don’t have sort of an awareness about power, because it they will never even be consciously or intentional to to share it because that’s right Talk in the same way that racism is the default. So is hoarding power is the default?
Michael Hingson 1:00:07
Sure it is. And it makes you and the organization a whole lot less effective. When to use your terms you hoard power. Yeah, rather than recognizing the gifts that everyone has. And you talk about love and joy and healing, as being part of what one needs to do to deal with improving equity across the board. And the the good leader is joyous in finding other people who can add value to what they do. And for me, I’ve led organizations and one of the things that I say to most people and other people on this podcast have heard me say it before is, my job isn’t to tell you what to do. My job is to add value to enhance what you do. You and I will figure that out together. Right? Absolutely, then that’s what we really need to do is find more ways to work together, and we’ve got to make it a volitional process. Or we’re, we’re going to be in a real world of hurt, and it’s going to become worse as time goes by, whether it’s with climate change, racial or Yeah, attitudinal toward persons with disabilities or whatever the case happens to be.
Peter Bloch Garcia 1:01:17
Absolutely. Right. Right. And that’s where for me, I think, fundamentally, you’re reminding me, Michael, it’s like, why, why this is important, these issues are important to me, is because at least if we can make some progress, it will reduce the pain and the harm and the hurt so that maybe more people will surely have opportunities to experience more happiness and joy. That everybody, that should be mental, right?
Michael Hingson 1:01:47
It should be. And we’ve got to get over thinking that we’re better because they’re different than us. Yes. So much. Well, Peter, tell me how can people reach out to you maybe learn more about you or find ways to work with you? And so on? Oh,
Peter Bloch Garcia 1:02:08
gosh, well, so I’m on Facebook and LinkedIn. Peter Bloch Garcia B L O C H oftentimes, P because it’s pronounced block, but it’s spelled with a ch instead, people often mix that up. Yes. But you know, any, I’m always responding to people on that reach out to me on LinkedIn or Facebook. They can find out more about the work I’m doing with my friend Tanya. on Atlantic leadership. It’s Adelante leadership.com. They can find our jeeze, like to write it out.
Peter Bloch Garcia 1:02:53
It’s a test. It is.
Peter Bloch Garcia 1:02:56
It is it’s like, right, actually, because,
Michael Hingson 1:03:03
Oh, it’s okay. Yeah,
Peter Bloch Garcia 1:03:05
A D, E, L, A, N, T, E, and then leadership all together as one word. Right? Yeah. Adelante means to like, kind of push forward to go forward. It’s got sort of a, a sentiment in Spanish. That’s, that’s an encouragement to, you know, advance. And so, and we’re kind of combining it trying to do some of these interviews, both in English and Spanish, so that it’s a bilingual podcast. But it’s adelanteleadership as one word.com.
Michael Hingson 1:03:42
And you’re gonna say something about the podcast? How people can listen. Oh, right.
Peter Bloch Garcia 1:03:48
Yeah. And the podcasts are also available wherever podcasts like on Spotify or Apple, whatever platforms that people access podcasts they can find Atlantic leadership on
Michael Hingson 1:04:05
if people feel that they might be able to contribute to it, how can they explore being guests,
Peter Bloch Garcia 1:04:11
they can email us at, I think there’s a mechanism on the website, but also other people have reached out to me through LinkedIn or Facebook. They have emailed me that way, too. I think we have a Facebook or LinkedIn adelante page. No, I know we have. I know we have an unrelenting LinkedIn page. Maybe that’s where I’ve had some people reach out that I’m talking to this one young woman. She’s, uh, I don’t know how old she is. Dang, she’s smart, young, Latina, like PhD, etc. That she just came across us on the internet on social media and emailed us. Cool. Yeah.
Michael Hingson 1:04:55
Well, I want to thank you for being here. And I want to continue this in the future. Sure, I’m sure there’s going to be more that we can talk about. So I hope that we get you to come back on maybe you and Tanya both ought to come back on at some point. And because I’d love to continue this discussion, it’s been fascinating. And I’ve learned a lot, and I hope others have as well. So I’m really glad that you were able to be here. And all of you listening, wherever you are, please reach out to Peter and learn more about Atlanta leadership.com. And learn more about the efforts that are going on and help all of us get rid of these prejudices around difference, because it doesn’t matter whether you’re dealing with race, or disabilities, or any topic that identifies somebody is different than somebody else, we’ve got to get rid of it. We’ve got to start recognizing we’re all on the same planet, and we need to work together. So, Peter, thank you, but also, again, all of you, thank you. If you’d like to comment on today’s podcast, please do so. You can email me at Michaelhi at accessibe A C C E S S I B E.com. Or go to the podcast page, Michael hingson H i n g s o n.com/podcast. Or, again, wherever you find this podcast. And as Peter said, wherever you can find podcasts. And I would ask that you give us a five star rating, please say positive things and give us a great rating. We appreciate it. Your comments and your thoughts are what help us. If you know of anyone else who should be a guest on our podcast, please let us know. And we would be glad to talk with you and them about that. So once again, Peter, thank you very much for being here with us today.
Peter Bloch Garcia 1:06:46
Thank you for having me. It’s my pleasure.
Michael Hingson 1:06:53
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.