How to honor the labor of multiply marginalized people you invite to speak at your school, organization conference, or institution …

Candice Rose
5 min readFeb 18, 2022

For those of you who invite us to speak or lead, and actually care about creating a transformative impact.

Marginalized people don’t owe anyone our voices or labor. Our positionality means that our labor is both unseen and exploited. We exist at multiple intersections of societal power, which means our experiences of both joy and exploitation are made invisible in the dominant discourses which lack nuance or power analysis. That being said, many of us do enjoy sharing our wisdom, medicines and perspectives in service of self-healing, and towards collective consciousness, intergenerational healing and systemic, structural change. Because we’re dope like that.

There is a tension between the urgent need for leadership and centering of BIPOC, disabled, queer, trans, poor, neurodivergent and all societally marginalized peoples, and the blurry line where this centering becomes tokenistic, harmful, exploitative and violent. So many multiply marginalized leaders are repeatedly ignored, silenced, punished or shamed for their knowledges and power, especially when they are already existing or working within an institution. At the same time, we often feel exploited, harmed and dehumanized by the constant extraction of our emotional, mental, political and physical labors. The determining factor is agency, choice and consent.

If and when we do choose to offer our labors, here are some ways to honor that we do so at great personal cost. I believe that these actions work in service of the disruptive dialogues and structural change that need to occur within social institutions, especially those institutions and organizations who give lip service to “equity” and justice. I want to be clear that this message is not just for white people. You will notice throughout the article that I do not specify the race, gender or class of who this message is for; rather I speak of people with positional power within institutions. *

  1. Pay above the competitive rate for us. Even if it is more than our asking price. Don’t try and bargain us down because so and so charged less (or because your organization refuses to invest dollars behind their equity statements). Period. This shouldn’t need to be explained, but often just to arrive at your space, we are…