Long-time VISIONS consultant, Joe Steele, took some time to discuss his journey to and with VISIONS, how he is processing his stay at home order, and how it’s all shifting how he views DEI work.
“Taking the time to still my mind, it’s been one gift I’ve given myself. Getting used to not-doing, and loving it. It’s been one of my biggest learnings – how do I keep that schedule of not-doing,” Joe said, noting that he’s tried many types of meditation as part of that practice.
As COVID ravages the world, Joe is also investigating how this pandemic highlights oppression on multiple levels: structural, cultural, intrapersonal, interpersonal – even down to what language is used to convey the message.
“I don’t see any genuine interest or concern for the AA community” from the federal government, he said. “My education background is in economics and business administration. This perspective leaves me terrified at how bad [the pandemic] been handled [by the Federal government] and why it’s wrong.”
But what we, as individuals, can do is support each other, he said.
We can “help keep people present,” he said. “And people are going to be experience COVID at different levels and it’s important to ask, and listen, and offer ‘What support can I give to you?’ ”
Joe believes that people are going to show up back at work very differently than when they left it.
“Part of time is time to reflect. Lots of folks are just going to show up as new people. And lots of folks will not come back. People will reassess their values,” he said.
“The whole notion of how we care for each other, intergenerationally, is really being challenged.”
While his career started in multinational investment banking, after getting downsized in the 1980s, Joe realized how hostile his former corporate work environment was to his own LGBTQ+ BIPOC identities. He met founding Director Val Batts through former classmates and “fell in love” with her and her approach, throwing himself into VISIONS training, no matter how challenging.
After years of working with VISIONS and others in DEI work, and taking an extended break, Joe returned to VISIONS around 2010. He’s been a consultant with us since.
Want to hear more? Joe Steele's full-length conversation with Multiculturalism Happens Here is available here.