Working for Racial Equity While Nurturing a Cross-Racial Friendship

working for racial equity while nurturing a cross racial friendship with Aurora Archer and Kelly Croce Sorg
picture of Aurora Archer and Kelly Croce Sorg

Aurora Archer and Kelly Croce Sorg share a deep, strong cross-racial friendship as unicorns in the sunset. They share how they nurture their friendship while navigating the challenging demands of working together in a company that centers racial equity. You must check out their site and podcast at

We recorded this episode on June 9, 2022.

I can be in close, close relationship with Aurora, intimate, intimate relationship. And yet there are some days, and there are some times that I am not the person to be there for her. That’s not what she wants. And that is okay.

Your Challenge Invitation

Where can you opt-in for change and transformation toward the world you want to create? Visit for ideas. You can choose to opt in, in the smallest of ways or the biggest of ways, but you get to choose. And the step can be the smallest of all steps, but it’s just simply the choice to opt in.

Learn the history of whiteness if you don’t already know it. You can do that by listening to the Seeing White podcast. You need to know the history in order to avoid recreating it.

Contact and follow Aurora @auroraarcher, Kelly @kcsorg, and their business @theoptin. Their business website is, and they also post on YouTube.

You can connect with Damianne on the Changes BIG and small website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube. You’re also invited to join the Changes BIG and small Facebook community.

[Our friendship] it’s not perfect. There’s not a handbook. You learn it through messiness.

Similar Episodes

Timeline of the Chat

01:13 –  A Friendship Origin Story 
04:23 –  Reading White Fragility 
09:17 –  Phase Three of a Friendship  (Going Deeper)
13:33 –  Benefits of a Cross-Racial Friendship 
18:29 –  What Gets in the Way 
19:20 –  The Fifth Phase of this Friendship – Friends and Co-founders
23:46 –  The Most Energizing Part of the work
27:55 –  Protecting friendship in the context of working together 
33:37 –  Rupture (or Tears) and Repair in Friendship
38:37 –  Race and Friendship
43:36 –  Invitation/Challenge 
45:20 –  Lessons on Community

My favorite song is number two on this playlist from The Opt-in.

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It is very critical that we carve out time when we just get to be friends and unicorns in the sunset.

I find it so interesting when people think, oh, all the conversations are so beautiful and happy. No, they’re messy but they’re real. And they’re truthful and they’re vulnerable and they are healing and they are respectful.

Transcript of the Episode

[01:13] A Friendship Origin Story

[01:13] Damianne President: I want to start with, how long have the two of you been friends?

[01:16] Aurora Archer: Oh my gosh. So first and foremost, thank you so much for having us. We love Changes Big and Small because Kelly and I believe that that’s literally the cornerstone of life. The only thing that’s constant is change and they come in small packages and big packages, but they always come. 

[01:37] Kelly Croce Sorg: So. true. I was going to let Aurora answer this question and we know that her years get, get very blurry, sometimes times by three or four; time doesn’t quite apply to Aurora. So it is a manmade construct, but I follow the man-made this have it way too much. So I’ll answer this one. Then you can jump off if you want.

[02:01] Aurora Archer: Yes. Ma’am. Yes.

[02:03] Kelly Croce Sorg: So I um, I had been living in Key West and I moved back to the Philadelphia area and was sort of stranger in my own land. Uh, 12 years ago when I was pregnant with my third child and a friend, not a friend yet, but a woman came up to me at their nursery school and was like, Hey, I heard we have to be friends. This wasn’t Aurora, but this was Aurora’s best friend.

And so Ravi and I, uh, I was kind of reluctant like, oh my gosh, why’s this woman trying to be my friend. I was, at the time, a much more closed off, skeptical, mistrustful sort of person and Ravi doesn’t really let you be that. She just is like a puppy dog and just won’t let you not be around her.

And so she had a dinner party or two that I was invited to, and I was so nervous. Actually thinking back on it, it was probably the most multi-racial dinner parties that had ever been at. And I was one of the only white people at them. And I was like, oh, I hope I’m not going to be an idiot, like, I hope I’m cool enough to be here. I hope that I don’t make a fool of myself or whatever. 

Aurora was one of the people at the dinner party, a couple of different times. And when I say it was this aura, I like this in and out. And then it would be like, I don’t know, it felt like months or years until I saw her again. She was working so much at that time and little did I know flying cross the globe, weekly so it was no wonder why.

I was a stay at home mom and I was around all the time. So it wasn’t until Aurora sort of left corporate America and had like a year long hiatus that we got to spend a concentrated amount of time. And so I would say I would look at our friendship in like three phases.

First phase was whisk in, whisk out, best player of Cards Against Humanity I’ve ever played with. I’ve got to see her marketing brain explode in Cards Against Humanity. I’ve never seen somebody get 13 points and everybody else in a group of 11 people get zero. So anyway, that was like phase one.

Phase two was yoga, yoga retreats, year long hiatus, where we’re just talking about celestial stuff or, you know, according to me really shallow stuff. When can we go drink? When can we go party. Well, let’s go out to eat? You know, all of these sort of things that I was used to in my life.  

[04:23] Reading White Fragility

[04:23] Kelly Croce Sorg: And then from between phase two and phase three, the book White Fragility came out by Dr. Robin Diangelo. And Aurora bought 30 copies of the book. And she told me that she handed me one. I do not remember it. Actually, I sort of blanked that part out and that’s a whole thing of disassociation or something that I need a therapist to help me work through. 

But I do remember reading the book and I remember feeling like I was reading a tome, like a, like a giant book that I felt shame and guilt on every page. I was just like, oh gosh, like I thought we were talking about these white people over here, like, oh, those white people. But we weren’t, we were talking about me, talking about my family, and we were talking about my best friends. Like, this is so close and everything I thought is not what I thought it was. And in retrospect, I see I had to hear it from a white woman’s voice, perspective.

[05:26] Damianne President: There’s been a lot of criticism of this book and some people, their response to a book like White Fragility, where they feel shame or guilt or uncomfortable emotions as they go through it is to put the book down. And I’m wondering, how did you process through whatever feelings you were having to keep reading through and engaging with the book?

[05:49] Aurora Archer: I’m going to say one thing. The fact that Kelly did not, and then the fact of what Kelly did after she read the book is a testament to the incredible human being and transformative spirit she is. Go ahead, Kelly. 

[06:06] Kelly Croce Sorg: Oh, Well, I was just honored when she gave me the book. I thought I was in the cool white woman, like white friends side of the fence. And then I was like, oh geez, no, she’s sending a message and I can not turn away from her. There’s no way I can read this book or even half of this book and then just go back talking to the two are the same way that I was talking to her or how I was being. That couldn’t happen. So I was like, I guess I got to go through. The only way out is through. We did a lot of yoga work and I’m sure Tara Brach work or whatever, that like the only way I was through. So I’m just going to keep reading; it’s just a book I could keep reading. And I did and finished the book.

Like I said, Damianne, it felt like this tome. And when I re-read, it like two other times, it’s like 225 page book. It’s like 12 chapters. It’s not even that long. and there is a lot of controversy around it because it is this white woman that did a lot of work on the backs of black and brown women who have been preaching and teaching and facilitating DEI work and academic work for years, decades, that she sort of condensed down into this book and then I was able to digest it.

So I give her a lot of credit because she loosened the jar that then opened the Pandora’s box of where I had to go down the rabbit hole of really a lot of self-awareness work, learning, relearning history, and a lot of racial literacy work to be able to even then come back to Aurora and have a salient conversation and cross race, racial relationship and make some actual, real connection with her. So I’ll just pause there, cause that’s a long answer to like how we met.

And then that’s when phase three of our friendship started, which is probably now on phase 5, but did you want to take it from there?

[07:57] Aurora Archer: I mean, that was fantastic, but that is how we met. And the pivotal point was, you know, I bought that book. And I was very judicious about who I gave that book to. And my whole premise was can this white embodied person receive this book from the place of love and accountability by which I’m sharing this book. Because ultimately I care enough to gift this book to this person because I need them to do better, to do better as a human being, to do better as a female identifying person and to do better as my friend, to do better as a white friend that is in my ecosystem. And, you know, quite frankly, Kelly was the first one to read it and she to this day has been the first one to really examine every aspect of who she is, and driving deep self-awareness and then unpacking that within the construct of her life and how she lives her life every day.

[09:10] Damianne President: So how long ago was it that you read this book Kelly?

[09:13] Kelly Croce Sorg: I think it came out in 2017 and It was that fall.  

[09:17] Phase Three of a Friendship (Going Deeper)

[09:17] Damianne President: So you said this opens up phase three. What happened after you’d read this book, and what effect did it have on your friendship?

[09:25] Aurora Archer: Do you want to start Kelly because I love the way you preface the realization that receiving this book as a full grown human being and a mother of three was the first time that much that was being revealed through the pages and the words on the book. And then connecting that to conversations that Kelly and I had previously had as friends really was the impetus for Kelly saying, if this is the first time I’m connecting those dots, I don’t believe that I’m the only white female liberal who thinks she’s got this on lock without recognizing I don’t have anything clear. And this is a complete reexamining of everything I’ve known to be true as a full fledged adult. And so how about we begin a conversation, a public conversation. That was ballsy. 

[10:25] Kelly Croce Sorg: At first, I really had to dive into racial literacy. Once I started, you know, grasping like, wait a minute, 1776 is not all it’s cracked up to be. I’m from Philadelphia. I thought it was, you know, land of the free, home of the brave. That is in fact not true. Holy shit. I’ve been doing how many 4th of July parades with streamers and flags and I, all of a sudden looked at her one day and I was like, do you celebrate Fourth of July, knowing that she was going to say no. And I was like, oh man. So it started these conversations… I knew I should not go to Aurora to say, like, teach me this or help me with that. But there was times where she’d be like, so what are you learning about? And I would say, gosh, I just really didn’t understand that this was connected to that.

And so the racial literacy for me was a huge thing that I had to jump in and just start digging and digging and digging as fast as possible. And then things and feelings would come up and defenses would come up and all this internal stuff that I had to do a lot of self-awareness work. And before we got on the call, Damianne and I were talking about Tara Brach and definitely mindfulness exercises, therapy for the first time ever. I got sober two years ago. Like there was a lot of self-awareness work. I went to a narcissism course for a year, to the point where I used to be like to Aurora, you know, we really need to go to couples therapy to now where I’m like, I got to go to therapy. So there was racial literacy, self-awareness and then really stamina.

My stamina was so low for staying in the conversation. We were in talks where now she could call me in on my stuff and sort of point out the ways in how I was being racist. At first it felt like a gut punch or a slap across the face. And now it’s like, I know it’s just part of my conditioning or lack thereof awareness about myself and the ways that I was brought up and the ways that I was cultivated in a environment that’s all about whiteness and all curated for my enjoyment and for my success.

So to really start to work on that stamina took some time. It just takes time. And then really like I crave being in relationship with Aurora. I realize how surface level my conversations were, even some of my friendships. Even some of my close familial relationships have deepened greatly because to me, how you do anything is how you do everything. There’s that Buddhist quote, how you do anything is how you do everything. So how I was being in my racism was exactly how I was acting unconsciously and arrogantly in my life with white people, with my kids, with my husband.

It wasn’t just like, oh, this aspect of my life has to change. It’s like, if we’re centering humanity, then everything has to align with what are my values? What do I value? I realized I valued money and status but that’s not what I wanted to value. So it was like, what do I want to value? And who am I? And then how am I acting. 

[13:33] Benefits of a Cross-Racial Friendship

[13:33] Damianne President: It sounds like you’re getting into what are some of the benefits as well of being in a cross-racial friendship. I don’t think that the benefits are automatic from a cross-racial friendship. I think that the depth of the friendship, the intensity of the friendship relates to the benefits that you can have from that friendship.

You just said that I knew that I wanted Aurora in my life. I was going to ask what kept you going? And I thought, okay, well, she’s already answering that question for me. That depth of connection, the meaningfulness and the richness of your connection kept you going.

So for this type of deep, meaningful relationship, what are the benefits when it’s a cross racial one?

[14:18] Aurora Archer: We meet a lot of white people who actually don’t know what the benefit is of being, and doing this work and being in a relationship with a person that is not white embodied. And it is the richness of life, right? It’s the richness of the breadth of who you are and what is meaningful to you. It’s the breadth and depth of value. Like Kelly, who are you, what do you believe and what are you willing to stand on the front lines on and who are you willing to do that for? And when you ask yourself those questions, do you like the answers? 

And when you get to the end of the road that we will all get to on this planet, can you look back and say, yeah, that was me. That is how I showed up. That is what I modeled into this world. And that is how my life, my heart, my emotions expanded as a being living on this earth and the depthness of my truth and humanity.

[15:29] Kelly Croce Sorg: There’s a scientific thing that when you go through hard things, when you go through things that are really, really challenging, that it can create like dysmorphia like not euphoria, disphoria, like a sadness or deep, you know, like, oh, this is hard. And on the other side of that, it actually enhances our receptors for euphoria and for these feelings of joy and love so much deeper.

So for me, I had two emotions, like happy or angry. That was really it. And most of the time I was trying to stay in happy or numbing out whatever the heck else was coming up for me. And now it’s like, I feel like I can feel a thousand different emotions. And I hate to say this because it’s like, oh this white lady feels so much better now that she’s learning about her own racism, oh, thank God, you know. It’s not that. 

It’s like I realized how much I hated myself. I realized how much I identified myself with the things that I had or the things that my dad did or succeeded at. And it was like, I couldn’t even claim who I was as a person and what I stood for and how I was worthy and how I have deep love for others and wanted to show that more.

And I think Aurora was like, what do you mean you hated yourself. You guys have everything. Like, how could you hate yourself? And I’m like, oh but you don’t even know. Really we’ve been taught to hate. We’re not good enough, we’re not thin enough, we’re not blonde enough, we’re not tan enough, we’re not rich enough, we don’t have the right bag, all the things.

[17:06] Damianne President: We’ve heard what Kelly learned from you and from your friendship. What have you learned from this friendship with Kelly?

[17:15] Aurora Archer: I’ve learned hope. I’ve learned that the evolution of people, particularly of white people is possible. I’ve learned deeper levels of love. I’ve learned co-creating in such a different way. And I’ve learned the deepest appreciation for a friend who shows up with such a commitment to evolving and transforming who she is, and witnessing that grit. It’s really humbling to me.

 There is nothing in Kelly’s life that is pushing her or nudging her or expecting her to do what she does. Nothing. She could simply choose to live the rest of her life without having to open up a book, without having to go to a seminar, without having to sit in conversations that at times are messy and difficult with me and others, that ask her to be the evolution of every aspect of who she is. She could choose to do none of it and live a perfectly happy and content life. And yet she chooses not.  

[18:29] What Gets in the Way

[18:29] Damianne President: And now when you think about your friendship, what gets in the way? 

[18:32] Kelly Croce Sorg: My lack of skills. So our friendship friendship is gold. Like we’re, we are unicorns in the sunset. 

[18:42] Aurora Archer: Oh, I love that.

[18:43] Kelly Croce Sorg: Our work relationship, there’s a disparate amount of skill, like Aurora is an exceptional CEO marketer, brand strategist, product manager, and I am just a rich girl that got a job and I am trying to learn as quick as possible. And she’s So overly skilled, it’s amazing. I just, I hope we can just pay and create the team that she needs to orchestrate because that’s who you want to work with.

[19:20] The Fifth Phase of this Friendship – Friends and Co-founders

[19:20] Aurora Archer: Thank you, Kelly. Thank you. So the part of all of that is like I’m hella hard to work with. I’m a fabulous friend and Kelly and I, I love that. I love we’re unicorns in the sunset. And the next or the fifth phase of our relationship has been being able to hold true to our friendship and all of the beautiful aspects that embody our friendship and how does that ground us as we are business leaders, co-founders of a culture shifting company, here to defy and disrupt patterns of dominant culture in a way where we keep each other whole, number one, in a way that I don’t forget that the white woman across the conference table is my friend and not the twenty-five years of white women that I may have worked with, who may respond or share something in a way that doesn’t keep me in the moment and present with my friend and co-founder, but takes me back to multiple hundreds of times I’ve had conversations with white women that sounded similar. And how do I not attach the same assumptions to those statements or to those actions versus remember that I’m working with my friend. So that has been, over the last year and a half, I think that’s been one of the biggest inflection points in our friendship. And what I know to be true is that we will take the tools and the learnings and the vulnerability and the honesty and the self-awareness that we have built in our cross racial relationship to then take this inflection point and just take our relationship as business partners and our friends even deeper, even greater, even better.

[21:28] Damianne President: I think this is a good point to talk about your business as well. So your website is the opt-in and you have a podcast. You have a business. What’s your elevator pitch?

[21:40] Kelly Croce Sorg: We’re a culture strategy firm. And so we’re on a mission to disrupt patterns of dominant culture so that we can have evolved leaders and humanity centered workplaces and create real connection. I think that’s what people want in their work. I think that’s what the great resignation has showed, what COVID has showed.

It’s like, I want to work with people who want to grow and change and do better. I want to work in a place that appreciates that I’m here and wants to hear the fullness of my voice and how I show up. And I want to actually really like the people that I’m around and at least appreciate and respect them. And I think that in us modeling a racially equitable company. It’s not easy, rewarding, super fun too. But I think a lot of white people that I see are comfortable with themselves and they don’t want to be challenged or the ugly sides seen of them or something. So it’s just this very surface level and they hire who they know but they’re missing out. 

They’re missing out. Their products are missing out. Their services are missing out. Their teams are missing out. They just, they don’t have the identities of who exists in an America, in the world represented. So it just comes from such a narrow lens, everything that they make. And it’s just, we settle for this level of mediocrity. Like we’re just used to it. We’re used to it being subpar.

Aurora’s taught me and everyone that she comes in contact with how things can be re-imagined and how if those of us who have the most intersections of the most disadvantaged identities can do better and thrive somewhere, then we all thrive.

We all do better. It’s not this pie that there’s only so many pieces and if I have two pieces and you have two slices and there’s only two slices left. It’s like, no, we’ve been sold a bill of goods. That’s actually not true.  

[23:46] The Most Engergizing Part of the work

[23:46] Damianne President: What’s the most energizing part of work?

[23:51] Aurora Archer: Oh, what’s the most energizing part of our work. Ooh. It may actually be different. Yeah. Yeah. 

[23:58] Kelly Croce Sorg: It is different. 

[23:59] Aurora Archer: Yeah, I think it’s different. I think it’s different. You want to go first, Kelly? 

[24:03] Kelly Croce Sorg: Um, mine is white people waking up. I can be in close, close relationship with Aurora, intimate, intimate relationship. And yet there are some days, and there are some times that I am not the person to be there for her. That’s not what she wants. And that is okay. And I’ve learned that on those days, I also need some white friends that understand this work and understand the depth of who I plan on being that I can spend time with to say like, oh, I really screwed this up or like, shit, this feels terrible. And I know the way I’m being perceived and this sucks, you know? 

And so when I’m in community with white folks in businesses that are waking up that are coming to office hours that are in tears that they’re not showing up in the right way for their executive director, or they know this person that is black indigenous or a person of color in their office, they know that they’re not happy and they don’t know what to do. They don’t know what to say. Once they start to be in community and they start to share those feelings and they see that they’re not the only person that’s feeling that way, all of a sudden we get closer. Start to see people crave more crave more interaction, crave more connection, crave more conversation. And it’s through, you know Damianne, but it’s through conversations that these small changes make giant shifts. So for me, it’s white people waking up.

[25:24] Aurora Archer: So the most exciting part for me is two-fold, 1) It’s building a company that at its core is centering equity and the messiness and the triumph and the excitement and the fallback 

[25:43] Kelly Croce Sorg: dance parties. 

[25:44] Aurora Archer: and the dance parties and the times that we completely just drop the ball in the wrong way. That is what is exciting for me, is the building and the modeling of the re-imagined way in which we can have a work life is what is exciting to me. 

[26:05] Damianne President: It sounds like you really love the process. 

[26:08] Aurora Archer: oh, I do.

And the second part, I love it when I get to walk into meetings with my best friend and my co-founder, and to have her embody and model for white people, the possibility of who they too can be and transform into. I can’t do that. That’s not my role to play here, but that is unbelievably Kelly’s role to play and she does that magically.

The reality is that we don’t have a world yet where many Kelly Croce Sorg are pervasively existing across every aspect of society and every aspect of work. But I dream of that day because what Kelly does when she walks into that room is that she models. I don’t believe there are enough Kelly’s out there in the world so white people don’t have these models.

We are so blessed, Damianne. We have incredible people that have modeled hope, resilient, humanity at its core. And so, I relish and I love seeing white people see what’s possible in transformation with Kelly and to see themselves reflected. 

[27:36] Damianne President: So you’ve blended your friendship and your work in this beautiful way where you’re embodying the message that you’re sharing in the world with your work and building a community, getting more people to be part of this journey of racial equity.

[27:55] Protecting friendship in the context of working together

[27:55] Damianne President: How do you protect your friendship? You alluded to it earlier saying that you have to be careful for the past to not cause you to react in a way that would be detrimental to the person sitting across from you that you know is different than the white women you dealt with in the past. But are there any specific strategies, practices you have to protect your friendship?

[28:20] Aurora Archer: Yes, yes. And we’ve learned this through messiness, right? So I want to just let everybody out there know it’s not perfect. There’s not a handbook. You learn it through messiness. So one of the things that we have certainly learned this year is compartmentalizing, right?

Who is my friend and who is my business partner, that’s number one. Number two, Kelly and I spend a lot of time together. We talk to each other every day in the context of the work we get the privilege and opportunity to do together. And what we found is that it is very critical that we carve out time where we just get to be friends and unicorns in the sunset.

So as much as we may plan strategic meetings and offsite, we have to equally plan togetherness and weekends, just girl weekend where we’re not talking anything that has anything related to work. We’re just hanging out, being goofy, silly, crazy as laughing belly laughing friends. 

Sweaty. Now that I live in Texas. Yes. 

[29:30] Kelly Croce Sorg: Yeah, I think what comes up for me Damianne is that the relationship that Aurora and I each have with with work and in our lives and growing up. I remember reading The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. And when he’s describing the plantation and the white folks that are enjoying their holiday or their vacation, I saw myself in them very much.

 I come from a very celebratory family. We take vacations, we always have birthday dinners. Everything’s an event or a party or whatever. Simultaneously, my dad worked 24/7 and I worked for my dad for years. So work and life was always very closely tied together and a love, a creative love in my family.

And that programming is still there in me. So then Aurora also, she can tell her own story, but came from a service and a domestic home work life that work was 24/7 and vacation and weekend and holiday time was actually time and a half. That was actually more work for her family. So work was work, was work, was work. And then you put that into a corporate environment and you’re the top dog and you’re getting flown here and there and you’re round the clock on every time zone on calls. So we had to sort of both examine our relationship to work, our relationship to home, our relationship to vacation, our relationship to time off just like we do with our friendship. 

It’s all sort of this amalgam of alchemy that we, you know, I value Q2, Q3, Q4 now, and she can come away with sunlight, actual vacation time and weekend time and not feel guilty or that she’s missing out. Or actually know that she has to take it because otherwise our staff and team then can’t take it. So we sort of peer pressure her into her vacation. But kind of watching how all of that conditioning and race and environment all sort of melts together and really valuing what we need and what we desire. 

[31:51] Aurora Archer: And taking the learnings of that and centering, again because centering equity means how do we define what work, vacation, and time off as a company. And the responsibility to model that as a white woman and then as a woman of color, a black women. I still don’t know when Memorial Day is. I have no idea. I don’t know when Labor Day is. Probably the one I know July 4th and not because I celebrated it, but because it’s labeled as such. Otherwise I have no idea. Like literally I have no idea.

Because I think in quarters and like Kelly said, for my family, those holidays actually symbolize that we got paid time and a half, so you worked them. And coming together with Kelly, becoming business partners and our friendship was like, okay, how do we find the piece of that and the honoring of that, that is the restorative piece, the resting place, because we’ve chosen to do work that is taxing on the body. It’s taxing on the soul and Kelly and I both know that how it will tax her is radically different than how it taxes me or anyone that is in our organization that is black, indigenous, or a person of color. 

And so for me, it’s raised my responsibility with regards to holidays and vacation and the modeling of that for myself and for people of color in our organization.

[33:26] Damianne President: Yeah, that’s so interesting because it’s the whole concept of rest, right? Which is a privileged experience in a lot of places for people.  

[33:37] Rupture and Repair in Friendship

[33:37] Damianne President: One thing that’s implicit, as we talk about you having to figure out where you fit with the way you work and with your friendship is the importance of conversation and of presence and of being able to work through things. So what I want to get into is the concept of repair, because I think in all friendships, there are tears. There are disagreements, and I believe that friendship gets stronger when you can work through this because it’s revealing. It actually builds intimacy when you can reveal yourself in all your vulnerability to somebody else. But I’m interested in finding out how you go through experiences of tear and repair. 

[34:22] Aurora Archer: Directly and through it. 

[34:24] Kelly Croce Sorg: Yeah, as quick as possible. 

 Not that it’s quick to do, but in real time as possible. 

[34:31] Aurora Archer: Yeah, in real time. If I look back at the relationship Kelly and I had before, the reality is that I spent many a times in conversations with her where I actually didn’t say anything. Now she texts me, I text her. We pick up the phone and we engage in those conversations real time.

I find it so interesting when people think, oh, all the conversations are so beautiful and happy. No, they’re messy but they’re real. And they’re truthful and they’re vulnerable and they are healing and they are respectful. I find it very interesting how many times the truth that we may have as people of color is received with such negativity by white people. And if they only knew sharing my truth in the deepest place of love and honesty. There’s nothing here but love and I think the ability to get past that. 

[35:37] Kelly Croce Sorg: Yeah, that 

was a big learning for me. It was like what my dad said when. And we all sort of just walked on eggshells and I did not share in real time where I felt there needed to be repair or anything like that. And So I would say when I was more unconscious, I made more overt, explicit mistakes that the world couldn’t tell me at the time, because I was unconscious. And then as I was becoming more aware, I would make those mistakes and she could tell me about them. 

And then I also would regress and not tell her things and try just to please her and not bring up what maybe was true for me. Or maybe I didn’t agree with, or that I did have a problem with and then I wouldn’t share it. And that wasn’t fair to her either. I wasn’t stepping into my power to say like, this is how I’m feeling, you know, can we have a conversation?

And so it took me some time to like, have the pendulum swing completely where I can share, hopefully can share now, honestly, in a real time when there is a riff or when there is something that doesn’t feel good. Maybe there’s something there, maybe not, and just sort of be able to ask and it not cause rupture at all. It just takes some extra communication and care.  

[37:00] Being real and vulnerable in friendship

[37:00] Damianne President: What made the difference for you in between holding yourself back and being able to show up fully or express those concerns in the moment?

[37:11] Kelly Croce Sorg: Ooh, it was a long November for Aurora. I had not shared clearly how in the business I was overwhelmed or I didn’t even know what to ask for help with. I felt like I was holding a million balls and Aurora was moving and there was two companies combining, and I was in way over my head and I was strung out, overwhelmed. And I was just like, I can’t even think about this right now. 

And Aurora’s soul said, take a break. It’s November, just take through Thanksgiving and just take a break. And I said, okay. And I did. I felt really guilty and shameful for like the first two weeks. It was really healing and really revealing for me to understand what I was here to do and why I was taking all this other stuff that I wasn’t here to do, but I was doing it I thought for her. And she’s like you’re not doing me any favors. And she went through a dark night of her own soul in that month time. And so when I came out of that, it was much more revealing to see what am I here to do? How can I make the biggest impact? How can I show up as a friend and the best person I can in the business with the tools and skills that I have while building those and evolving them in real time? 

[38:30] Damianne President: It sounds like going through a process of self awareness and self acceptance for yourself.

[38:36] Kelly Croce Sorg: Yes. Well said.

[38:37] Race and Friendship

[38:37] Damianne President: I have a lot of friends that are not of my same race and I have different levels of intensity, different deepness of connections with different people. And I think connecting to what you said earlier, knowing that people see me fully and that they can stand up or show up when I need help, does make a difference in how close I feel to them. I think that people seeing race in this society where race does matter is important because without that, it’s impossible to see the inequity that exists or to be able to stand up when you need to for somebody else.

 Can you be intimate across races without seeing race? 

[39:24] Kelly Croce Sorg: That’s why I’m in this work cause I actually don’t think it can happen without seeing and understanding, especially your own race. I did not understand whiteness and how it operated and the more I delve deeper into it, the more I know myself and the more I can show up more intimately with others of same race or different race, but especially different races, because unless that white person is really examining their own race, we’re probably not going to have the same level of intimacy because I feel that whiteness is so entangled in our conditioning.

It’s so hard to see for us because we’re centered as white people. So for me, that’s why I’m in this work because I don’t know how you can be intimate without really understanding your own race.

[40:14] Aurora Archer: I would agree. My level of intimacy or depthness of friendship is directly correlated to a person’s ability to have self-awareness around their racial identity. Absolutely. The less racial self-awareness you have, the likelihood is our relationship is just acquaintance. Racial identity and your racial self-awareness is critical particularly at this stage in my life to be in intimate relationships with people. Because otherwise you are harmful and you have no consciousness of how harmful you are and in my life now I have very little space or room in my intimate friendships and deep friendships for toxicity and harm. I just have none. 

[41:10] Damianne President: On your website, you have a lot of resources. People should definitely check out the the Opt-in. But one of the things that I found interesting is that you have some Spotify playlists, and I’m wondering does music play a role in your friendship? Where does that come from?

[41:26] Aurora Archer: Hey, yes, we love music

[41:28] Kelly Croce Sorg: yeah. Joy, joy, joy. 

[41:31] Aurora Archer: Dance sisters all the way. 

[41:34] Kelly Croce Sorg: Yeah. music communicates sometimes a lot of things I can’t. I don’t even think we have it on the website yet, but we have like a bangers playlist that we start our Monday and Friday team meetings with, like just a fun dance or rap or R and B song. And we all just like jam for two and a half minutes because this is embodied work. This is not in our head. This is in our heart, this work that we’re doing. So it’s like, we can’t just get stuck in like PowerPoint, books, reading and you know, all this stuff. This is heart centered embodied work. This has to do with the, you know, bodies that we’ve been born into. And we want to be able to move that energy through it. And there’s no better way. than music and dancing. And that’s why our parent company’s called Abundance productions, the dance in abundance. 

[42:24] Damianne President: I love it. Yeah. I noticed that your second song on one of the playlist was Golden by Jill Scott, which is one of my 

favorite songs. 

[42:35] Kelly Croce Sorg: there you go. 

[42:36] Aurora Archer: Yes. Yes,

[42:39] Kelly Croce Sorg: that your favorite Damianne 

[42:42] Damianne President: Yes. That’s like, that is the song I strut to like, this is how I show up in life. Like this is the song

[42:51] Aurora Archer: yes,

[42:52] Damianne President: is on. Repeat if there’s any ever doubts. Yeah.

[42:57] Aurora Archer: Love 

[42:57] Damianne President: the one. 

[42:59] Aurora Archer: Music 

[43:00] Kelly Croce Sorg: good. 

[43:00] Aurora Archer: vibration, energy, heart. That is what we are connecting to. That is what we are connecting to. And what we believe is the essence of our evolution as humans and our evolution as humanity. 

[43:16] Kelly Croce Sorg: I said one time that my book someday that I write is going to be white people can’t dance but they could. We could dance. If we really get out of our own way and we really get down to our common humanity, we get all the other fears and all the other locked up stuff out of our body, we’d be able to dance. 

[43:36] Invitation/Challenge

[43:36] Damianne President: I want to end with an invitation or a challenge for listeners. And I know that a lot of your work is to get people from being passive to being active. So do you have something that you want listeners to take away and do as we end this episode?

[43:53] Aurora Archer: You know, the name of our company is The Opt-in. The takeaway is we want people to opt in and opt in, in the smallest of ways or the biggest of way, but you get to choose. And it’s simply opting in, opting in to transform, opting into change. And the step can be the smallest of all steps, but it’s just simply the choice to opt in.

[44:23] Kelly Croce Sorg: Yeah, what’s coming up for me is listen to black women. And history is always present. History is never past, it’s always present. So really learn the history of whiteness. Listen to Seeing White podcast, like really learn the history of whiteness if you don’t already know it because it’s a deep and long and violent and sad and traumatic story. And if we don’t know it, we’re going to recreate it. 

[44:55] Damianne President: Oh, I said, this was my last question, but it’s not because the last season of your podcast was on community. And I thought that was so beautiful because I think also community relationships are a lot of what we’re missing in the world, not just those one-to-one relationships, but knowing that we’re part of communities and what we do impacts communities. 

[45:20] Lessons on Community

So is there any lesson that has stayed with you from this season that you want to share with listeners or an episode you would like to recommend they start with.

[45:29] Aurora Archer: Ooh.

[45:31] Kelly Croce Sorg: I thinkDr. Gail Christopher is in the last season about healing, racial healing, and racial truth and transformation. 

[45:41] Aurora Archer: Yes. 

[45:42] Kelly Croce Sorg: she is the most 

[45:44] Aurora Archer: amazing.

[45:45] Kelly Croce Sorg: I mean, she simplifies it down to the cellular level that we can heal. A cell can heal, like everything that can be broken can be healed. And she just has such a message of hope and faith and joy and responsibility that I would say, Dr. Gail Christopher.

I would say when I was more unconscious, I made more overt, explicit mistakes that the world couldn’t tell me at the time, because I was unconscious. And then as I was becoming more aware, I would make those mistakes, and she could tell me about them.


Vibration, energy, heart. That is what we are connecting to. That is what we are connecting to. And what we believe is the essence of our evolution as humans and our evolution as humanity.

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