“When one door closes, another door opens.” So goes the popular adage. But if the door is a metaphor for access and opportunity, then an implicit truth of this adage is that a new door does not open for everyone.

On March 25, 2021, Georgia State Representative Park Cannon was arrested and dragged out of the state capital when she knocked on a closed door, behind which governor Brian Kemp was signing a voter restriction bill largely aimed at making it more difficult for people of color to vote. The simple act of knocking on the door brought her a charge of obstruction and disruption of the general assembly. Meanwhile, the governor, seated in front of a picture of a former slave plantation, and the white men protectively standing on each side of him smiled as they posed for pictures. Did the governor gatekeep? Use the door to keep Cannon from exercising her right to advocate for the constituents who voted for her?

I am a Black woman working as a cabinet (C-suite) executive at a nonprofit organization. I work for an organization that believes in “opening doors of opportunity” to those who are underserved, marginalized, and disproportionately trapped in systems—that is, designed to keep people trapped in cycles of child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health, and/or substance abuse. In my role, I contribute to the reimagining of how our organization advocates for clients to interact with these systems in ways that support growth.

The door of diversity has been open, yet I still must make decisions grounded in survival that affect my current freedom in the workplace. We are not talking about the forced choice of life or death that plagued my ancestors. We are talking about the subtle pervasiveness of racial prejudice in the workplace.

Read the full article about the office door and power relations by Jennifer Outlaw at Stanford Social Innovation Review.