Do y’all want it, or do you want to say you did it?

We are on-boarded into organizations with assumptions and roles, mechanics, and structures of power and oppression already in place.

When we do the work of creating equity, we begin to dismantle these assumptions and mechanics. We unveil things about our organizations and ourselves that we do not always want to see or acknowledge.

We do not want to acknowledge that we value some folks over others.

We do not want to talk about power and how it is used, that some have way more power and access to resources than others.

And we definitely do not want to talk about the deep sense of entitlement that many in the dominant group wield in everyday interactions.

You can’t talk about equity and NOT talk about power.

Where there are power differences, there is privilege, and where there is privilege, there is entitlement. Research shows entitlement makes people cognitively inflexible and behaviorally, professionally, and politically unable to adapt and change.

The further we get away from May 2020’s racial reckoning, the more I see folks making excuses for their leadership and their organizations.

Y’all are not alone in this work. We do this work together—each of us speaking unsettling truths and reimaging policies and practices. I am ready to fight with you.

What are some things you can do?

  • Name it when you see team members or leaders being inflexible and unwilling to acknowledge power. Set the precedent (proactively) that team members, especially the leadership team, are expected to give and receive candid feedback about how they are showing up to racial equity work. This should happen in real-time and specific check-in times should be set up. These must be regular and sustained.
  • Have honest conversations about what people need to be able to adapt to the changes happening. What needs to happen for them to move from acceptance to celebration? Is that possible?
  • If they can not or will not adapt- how can you help them transition out of the organization with dignity and care?
  • Acknowledge that racial equity happens at the speed of white comfort. You will not move the needle if your predominantly white leadership team is not willing to get comfortable with racial equity work on both a personal and organizational level.

So I ask y’all… Do you really want to create a more just and equitable organization, or do you just want to say you did?

We all know the work of equity is difficult. It has to happen on a personal and institutional level. Morally we know that we need to do this work in our organizations, but the reality is when we are doing this work, it’s hard.

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