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Anti-racism Starts With Me, and You

By June 15, 2020February 12th, 20212 Comments

If you want to break down systemic racism in your business or nonprofit organization it has to start within yourself first.

I am a reluctant equity facilitator. I don’t consider myself an expert on this topic at all. The truth is, I break down systems in the local economy and social enterprise sectors to rebuild them for better long lasting impact on our communities. However, racism is pervasive across every system we have and every sector we work in. Therefore, I need to talk about it when I facilitate and consult. But I have to do my own work first. The  “I, We, It” framework of transformational leadership I use in all my work means you have to do the inner work on yourself before you work with others or within your sector or organization to make change. So, what am I doing? I’ve enrolled in a year long racial justice affinity group to listen, learn, share, and do better. 

If you jump to solutions to fix racism, it’s like putting a bandaid on an open bleeding wound. Your board or staff are probably saying things like, “maybe we should talk about these issues” and then never does. Maybe in their good intentions they read a book about racism but are now so paralyzed in their own shame they can’t even talk about the book. Or, they say “we should take a training” and only commit to a day or two, thinking they have checked a box on racial equity.  Perhaps someone suggests: “let’s hire an equity coordinator.” What they are doing is seeking to fix a problem without working on themselves. 

I urge you to step up bravely and hold a conversation about what anti-racism would look like in our businesses and organizations. Just hold the conversation, with all the painful things that will need to be said and heard, with all the shame that will be felt, with all the oozing messiness of discussing systemic racism. You don’t have to be an expert. You just need to admit that you are holding racist bias yourself. Hold THAT conversation before you jump to solutions.

And if you can’t guide that space for an open and honest dialogue to happen, call me. I’ll hold space for you.