Last month I shared what I was asking myself to do with regard to what needs to be a continuing national conversation examining, validating and challenging racism. This month I share what I am doing to educate and inform myself.
As a white person, this conversation is not an easy task to begin. I know that I don’t know what I don’t know. I know that my circle of friends and family, although somewhat diverse, are not people I have explored this with. Why?
It is uncomfortable to talk about things we cannot fully understand, especially if we are a person people go to for their expertise. It makes me vulnerable. As a business leader, it also makes me upset to think there are things I might be saying or doing that I don’t even realize are micro aggressions. Getting past myself, it worries me that my staff might be doing the same.
Where to begin?
The Business Record, Urban Dreams and Tero are hosting a five-part Executive Vision Series focused on Strategies for Racial Equity. It starts on Nov. 6 after the conclusion of the United Way’s 21-Day Equity Challenge. Why this team? The professionals at the Business Record are experts in bringing together leaders from diverse businesses for memorable and transformative events. Those at Urban Dreams are subject matter experts in the lived Black experience and the systems that perpetuate racism. The Tero Team is bringing expertise in instructional design and facilitation to offer a unique educational experience for executives and board members to challenge their unconscious beliefs, share their vulnerabilities and learn together.
I invite senior leaders in our community to join me on this journey. Together we will gain answers to questions that seem elementary but are complex below the surface. Questions like:
What constitutes a micro aggression?
Do Blacks hold values I am not aware of that are demonstrated in behavior I misinterpret?
What is the difference between race and racism?
What are the developmental mindsets we travel through when managing difference, and how do I manage it based on my present mindset?
What is the Black experience, and what challenges does my privilege present to Blacks?
What challenges do Blacks have for not having that privilege?
How do I make sure my staff is aware, informed and inclusive?
What minimizes equity in our policies and organization practices?
What power structures inherently exist in our organization that we need to reexamine?
Do we hire for diversity yet promote assimilation?
These are just a few of the questions I have. Joining the Executive Vision Series on Strategies for Racial Equity, I hope to answer all of these and more. I plan to challenge myself to be OK not knowing. I am eager to begin to learn, grow and most importantly find out how to be an authentic champion of diversity, inclusion and equity in my organization and community. I hope you will join me.