In recent weeks we white folks have been trying to educate ourselves, we’ve been listening to gut wrenching stories to understand the narrative, to learn how we can do more than just post the hashtag Black Lives Matter and be powerful allies. We may feel emotions from rage to shame to deep sadness and everything in between; perhaps even optimism once we realize this is one of those rare moments in history when people are actually listening to critical equity issues.
And you’re likely exhausted from the learning. Or if you’re black, you may be exhausted from dealing with us white folks. And yet we keep pushing forward.
In the social sector we deal with tough issues every day and fight injustice regularly. But this is different. As we look internally at our organizations as well as at how we’re serving our communities, we have big questions to answer.
So let’s move past intention and get to work!
Board members: You have action to take.
But how do you know that what you do will actually change things in the long run this time?
I don’t have all those answers for you. Partly because it depends on where you are right now and what you’ve already done to put systems in place that support an equity culture. And partly because I’m still trying to figure it out myself.
Here is what you can do right now:
- Start talking about race equity among board and staff; consider bringing in an expert to facilitate positive dialogue
- Identify champions who can shepherd your work, whatever it looks like
- Name equity as a priority in the organization and confirm your values or guiding principles
- Consider providing work around unconscious bias and how to address it. Here is a link to Nonprofit Ready that has a free, simple yet powerful (in 2-minute video clips) mini-course on the subject
Today I’ll share this e-book with you called Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture published by Equity in the Center. A few highlights:
- It explains in detail the race equity cycle and corresponding triggers:
- from focusing on being a representative organization that increases diversity numbers to
- having an inclusive culture that values everyone’s contributions to
- being committed to addressing systemic racism and root causes
- There’s an activity to help you envision what you want race equity in your organization to look like.
- There’s a list of questions that I think are imperative for us all to answer.
- There’s also a glossary I found useful.
As board members you serve as the governing body of your organization. That means you’re responsible for setting the strategic direction of this organization. That means you establish values and create a culture that you can be proud of.
This means if you haven’t already started the work, it’s time to start answering some questions. What do you want to be known for? How are you going to start or continue the hard work? Do you need to adjust your mindset?
Sitting on the sidelines isn’t an option any longer. Black Lives Matter.
We’re all inextricably linked as humans. It’s why we wear face masks for each other during a pandemic. We all have a role to play to end systemic racism.
It’s why we won’t accept the status quo now that we know better. The rising tide will lift us all.
Thank you in advance for doing the work.