Fatimah Gilliam is an author, lawyer, sought-after speaker, consultant, and founder of The Azara Group, a consulting firm that provides diversity and inclusion, leadership development, negotiation, and strategy consulting services to Fortune 500 corporations, senior executives leading billion-dollar businesses, and industry thought leaders.

Her groundbreaking book, Race Rules: What Your Black Friend Won’t Tell You, is a practical manual of the unwritten rules that can help readers navigate today’s racially polarized world. In short, it’s a ‘how-to’ manual for white people to be less racially offensive; enabling them to develop stronger and more respectful cross-racial friendships and professional relationships with people of color.

Today, Fatimah joins us as “white America’s Black friend” to tell us what others won’t say to our faces nor share about perspectives of color on white behaviors, choices, and interactions. She shares deep, transformative insights from her book, which seeks to open the door to perspectives of color so white people can learn, make better choices, take different actions, and evolve with a diversifying society in the 21st century.

This conversation is an excellent source of well-informed and hard-hitting advice for those looking to move beyond performative allyship and live their non-racist values, rather than just talk about them. As we discuss, this is ideal for anyone who wants to bring the unconscious forward to consciousness, so they can take new actions every day that will directly and powerfully address and combat racism both in our own lives and behaviors, and in the world we live in. Tune in to learn more!

Key Highlights From This Episode:

  What inspired Fatimah to write this book and what her intentions are for it. [04:31]

  Ways that being a light-skinned Black woman has impacted her view of racism. [07:57]

  Defining racism and why Fatimah chooses to focus on impact rather than intent. [09:53]

  The ‘how-to’ guide she offers and how Race Rules differs from other books on racism. [13:37]

  How racism is distinct from prejudice with the key ingredient being power. [18:42]

  Fatimah’s “Top 5” of 31 race rules and insight into her three-step Bedrock Race Rule. [20:15]

  Othering, marginalization, and how to ensure the language you use isn’t offensive and   harmful. [28:00]

  Rules for discussing race for white people who see themselves as anti-racist allies. [33:59]

  Understanding the relationship between defensiveness and exceptionalism. [41:14]

  A favorite passage of Fatimah’s from Race Rules, where to get the book, parting advice, and more. [46:08]

For More Information:

Race Rules: What Your Black Friend Won’t Tell You

The Azara Group

Fatimah Gilliam on LinkedIn

Fatimah Gilliam on Instagram

Fatimah Gilliam on X

Kathy’s Forbes.com interview with Fatimah:
Race Rules: Critical Information To Know That Your Black Friend Won’t Share


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“Part of what I’m trying to [change] is the impact of people’s choices and behaviors and not the intent of their choices and behaviors. I want people to make better choices that positively impact communities and people of color.” — @fatimahgilliam [0:10:18]

“This is not about good and evil. It is about whether or not the impact of your choices harms people of color individually and collectively.” — @fatimahgilliam [0:11:05]

“With Race Rules, I’m trying to give people access to information so that they can live their values and not just talk about their values.” — @fatimahgilliam [0:18:10]

“What happens a lot of times when we’re talking about race is we move to all the other ‘isms’ and don’t focus on what is the hardest thing for American society to focus on: – having a conversation, evaluation, and analysis of race in peoples’ [personal and professional] lives.” — @fatimahgilliam [0:39:44]

“[All whites in America], even the person who is the most woke, liberal, and progressive, all of them are engaging in decisions in small [and] big ways that – have a harmful, racialized, negative impact on people of color.” — @fatimahgilliam [0:43:22]

“People can change collectively and individually. It has to start somewhere and I see Race Rules as my patriotic contribution to American society so that we can evolve.” — @fatimahgilliam [0:51:25]

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