This past week marked a year since I had to do one of the hardest things I ever had to do in my life and certainly in my career. And that is, I had to stand up to what I perceived as a racist attack by somebody in my field. I’m not gonna go super into it, like the details of it. I made a video about it, I dealt with it, I addressed it (last year).
I want to talk about what’s happened in the year since, because I think it’s important to talk about change, and I think it’s important to talk about progress. And I think it’s important to talk about why these things are really, really important.
And I first wanna say I did this because I genuinely felt like I had to. This person tried to attack me publicly, and a lot of people in the field got mad at me saying that I shouldn’t have made this video and shouldn’t have posted it publicly. And to some degree I agree with them. I would’ve much rather had this conversation privately as I’ve had conversations with this person privately for 10 years leading up to this moment. But I don’t think I should have been attacked publicly either.
I think a couple of things are important to highlight here. The first one is, I’ve been saying for years that there was a racial problem in the field of Solution Focused Brief Therapy. And this moment kind of made that overt, it made it kind of undeniably true.
It was really funny, when I posted my video at the time, I was on a board of an organization. And this guy named Victor Nelson he sent an email to this board. And for years, this particular organization had been treating me very poorly. And he said, “We weren’t treating Elliott poorly because of his race. We were treating Elliott poorly because we didn’t think he fit in.” And I was like, but that’s exactly what racism looks like. “Fit in. ” Based upon what? What gave you the right to say who fits in and who doesn’t to a public organization? What makes you the gatekeeper on who fits in and who doesn’t? You’re admitting of the accusation that I’m making. So in the year since there’s been tremendous change because people could no longer deny that there wasn’t a racial problem in the field.
And I think the other thing that happened is there have been so much allyship. There were organizations that continue to stand up and say what’s right. There have been organizations that continue to stand for what is right and stand for justice and contact me and work with me to make sure that things are being done in a more equitable and positive way.
These moments are hard and I don’t want anybody to think that I get any joy or satisfaction from having to do this. But as the leader, and the person with the biggest following in this field, I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility to stand up to for people who don’t have the voice that I have.
My grandmother, one of the biggest influences of my life, even though my grandmother’s no longer with us, I still want her to be proud of me. And in moments like this, it was important that I behave like the grandson that she influenced and invested in. At that moment, I didn’t care what happened to my career. I wasn’t interested in being politically correct. I needed to stand up and advocate for justice and what was right. And in the subsequent year, this field is much more equitable. My organization has become the biggest organization that this field has ever had. And every single time we do an event, it’s incredibly diverse.
Recently, in Los Angeles, I hosted my first live event since Covid. And we had an intensive event. It was a two day event. We had like 20 people there. And more than half the room were people of color. More than half the room, way more than half the room were female. And that’s really important to me, that this field represents the female voice, the ‘people of color’ voice, the often underprivileged and under-recognized voices. I really hate that it took all of this to get here, but I’m so proud of where we are now. I’m so proud of where we’re heading now.
I’m so proud of the fact that the people in the field who were doing racially unjust things and behaving in a biased and oppressive way can no longer do that in silence. They can no longer do that in secret. If you’re gonna behave that way, they have to own it, and behave that way and deal with the consequences of behaving that way. And the consequences have been a lot of those organizations and events and those people are going away because there’s no home for hatred. There’s no home for that kind of conduct in our field and in this space. And I’m proud of that. I’m really, really proud of that.
So in the year since what, without question was the most challenging episode in my career, I look back and it’s, it’s the proudest that I’ve ever been in myself because I had the strength to stand up for what I thought was right, and to call out an injustice in a way that there’s been a ripple effect that has a positive impact on this field.
And I intend to continue to do so. If there’s another incident, I’m gonna address it. If there are more circumstances where equity and inclusion have to be dealt with, I’m gonna address it.
There was an incident recently, there was an organization, and I’ve only mentioned this because it’s an example of what I mean. There was an organization dedicated to Solution Focused Brief Therapy in the Southern Hemisphere, Australia and New Zealand. And, and they posted a picture where there was absolutely no diversity at one of their conferences. And I pointed that out to them. I pointed out that like there’s no diversity represented here, and we have to start asking ourselves, “If we are hosting events and there was no diversity there, what are we doing to exclude people accidentally and what could we do to include them?” And the people were wonderful. They engaged in a conversation.
There was a woman who sits on their board named Emma Burns and another woman. We were chatting, Andrea is her name. We were chatting on Facebook, and really talking about “How do we make these things better.”
But it’s still not perfect, ’cause associated with that same incident, this guy named David Hains sent me an email saying I’m a horrible, divisive person and I shouldn’t call these things out. And he called me ridiculous and all kinds of things. And it’s like, I can live with that, bring it on David. I don’t care, you can think all of those things. But it was such a wonderful experience to talk to Emma and Andrea because we’re creating change. Emma and Andrea talk about this as a learning opportunity and next year they’ll do better. And I told them, I’m happy to, to come next year to your event and lend my voice and, and support what you guys are doing. ’cause if we’re moving in the right direction, we should be supporting one another.
And people like David, there’s just no home for you anymore if you’re gonna behave like that in this field. And I’m so proud of that. I’m so proud that, David gets to be David, you know, people get to be who you are. But now that we see it, we don’t have to engage in it. You just have to go do that over there. Because now the mainstream of Solution Focused Brief Therapy has accepted that diversity matters, and diversity is important, and are taking actionable steps to make diversity important.
A gentleman by the name of Mark Mckergow, Dr. Mark Mckergow, who is one of the brightest and best people I’ve ever known, has taken over a journal and he is making sure that equity is, and social justice issues are, taken seriously, and doing a lot of work to make sure that this journal, which which has a very questionable past in terms of equity, inclusion and diversity, has a very bright future. And I love Mark for that.
And there’s just so many examples of the way we’re moving and doing things differently, that I sat back the other day, and realized it’s been a year since that moment, and just realizing how much different and how much change has happened. And I’m proud of it. And I intend to be a part of even more change.
I wanna thank you for being a part of this journey with me. I love you guys so much. I thank you for supporting my channel, supporting my work, supporting my content, and I look forward to continuing to serve you and making sure that people understand that it doesn’t matter whether you’re black, if you have a disability, if you’re female. You have a voice and you matter. And there needs to be a space for you to have that voice. And as long as you are not oppressing others and expressing hate and bias and judgment, I think that you should be welcomed into the world of Solution Focused Brief Therapy, or anything else, and contribute to the direction that we’re going, ’cause we’re now going in a much more positive direction and I’m super excited about it.