Walking Our Talk: Applying a Racial Justice Lens in Our Organizations
Gita Gulati-Partee, OpenSource Leadership Strategies, Inc.
In her book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, Beverly Daniel Tatum explains the roles we play in structures of systematic racism and white privilege as walking on a moving sidewalk with essentially three choices: walk forward, stand still, or turn around
and walk the other way. The forward motion of the sidewalk is ultimately progressing towards the same end and whether you’re walking briskly in that direction or you’re standing still, things are still moving in that direction. Thinking about racism, individuals can fall into these three camps: moving briskly towards upholding systematic racism (Actively Perpetuate), passively “going with the flow” (Passively Collude), or working to dismantle the systems as they exist (Resist/Interrupt). Most folks identifying as progressive are likely working to find themselves in the latter.
The trouble is that the movement between these three camps is exactly that: movement. Action. Intentionality. Working to create an intentional movement towards racial equity and organizationally embodying not just diversity, not just cultural competency, and not just inclusion, but full, radical, racial equity is crucial to the success of any organization working to serve communities. This work does come from merely talking about race, it comes from taking a hardline look at the policies, procedures, structure, and approach of your organization and calling out passivism for what it is: passive compliance.
This morning’s academy was a fantastic opening to the weekend. The group was small, but it only allowed the conversation to get that much deeper, and I definitely walked away with tangible ideas to begin moving away from passivity and towards racial equity. It’s not just something I want to do, it’s something we need to do.
Things are moving fast here. Last count I heard was pushing 2000 folks here at the conference (which is a lot of gay, trust me).