On "Advocate for yourself"

On "Advocate for yourself"

May 14, 2021


"Advocate for yourself". Sometimes, those are the exact words that needs to be said. Other times, those same words come across as tone deaf. Black people and other minoritized groups are often told that they need to advocate for themselves. While this is undoubtedly true and bears repeating, it is also only one side of the coin - the side that recognizes the responsibility of the people being minoritized. The fact that some groups have an elevated need for new and improved ways of self advocacy is a result of structural issues. The root problem is structural and therefore responsibility also lies with those who define structure.

While individuals are responsible for their self-advocacy, organizations and their leaders are responsible for providing fair, consistently, and inclusive hiring/assessment/promotion processes.

It is an organizations responsibility to figure out if it is retaining and promoting the people who do the best work or the people who are best at promoting their work. As an individual, I can find ways to identify and ask for what I need to be successful and to elevate the visibility of those successes. Be that as it may, the extent to which self advocacy is required is a design feature of a system (even if that design is emergent and/or . If a system consistently overlooks minoritized people and the organization is values diversity, then it is the organizations responsibility to redesign those systems.


When you assign responsibility for self advocacy, assume responsibility for

  • Normalizing the level of self advocacy needed
  • Amplifying the effectiveness of said self advocacy