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creating space

Blind Spots (Part 3)

At Creating Space, Elissa Perry shared a framework on White Supremacy Culture from Tema Okun and Kenneth Jones as she invited us to reflect on the ways in which this culture shows up in our organizations. Since then, I have been thinking about how these characteristics are often the default in our leadership development practice as well. Today, I wanted to discuss the remaining characteristics which fall into two areas: how we value what we do, and how we address power and conflict.

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Response to "Blind Spots (Part 2)" by Lisa Miller Mattsson

Dear Deborah,

 

Thanks so much for the powerful theme and the questions being raised by “Blind Spots: Are Leadership Development Programs Contributing to Greater Racial Equality or Inhibiting our Progress?”  Lots to think about!

 

I just wanted to share a thought regarding “worship of the written word” as a means of support for white supremacist culture.  It is definitely true that there are many valuable and powerful ways to communicate other than in writing. Personally, I believe effective oration to be more a powerful form of leadership communication than writing, as a general rule.  Even negative leaders know this, and use the spoken word to move people.  Hitler, the iconic example of white supremacist leadership, comes to mind.  He utilized the power of the spoken word as a means by which to stir and mobilize people.

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Blind Spots (Part 2): Are Leadership Development Programs Contributing to Greater Racial Equity or Inhibiting Our Progress?

Last November on the heels of our annual national convening, Creating Space, I felt compelled to sharpen the discussion about the ways in which leadership culture can work hand in hand with white supremacy to reinforce the status quo unless we are vigilant in our collective efforts of uncovering the blind spots in our thinking and behavior.

 

I was inspired by Elissa Perry and Susan Misra, from Management Assistance Group, who described this process (referenced in part 1 of the Blindspot Series, “White Supremacy Culture” by Tema Okun and Kenneth Jones) of understanding how the 13 characteristics of white supremacist culture show up in their work. This is the rigor we need to upend white supremacy and enact equity across communities. In my last blog post, I took on Individualism, Paternalism and Urgency. This month I address perfectionism, objectivity and the worship of the written word.

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Blind Spots: The Role of Leadership Development Programs in Inhibiting or Contributing to our Progress Towards Racial Equity

Since Creating Space, I have been doing a lot thinking about the ways in which leadership programs often promote leadership models that reinforce the dominant culture. At Creating Space, Design Team Member, Elissa Sloan Perry, Co-Director of Management Assistance Group, shared a presentation on how white supremacist culture shows up in our organizations based on an article by Tema Okun and Kenneth Jones. We focused most of the discussion at Creating Space on organizational culture, which I later realized cannot be separated from leadership culture because after all, most leadership programs are preparing participants to lead in an organizational context.

 

I strongly recommend their article. They share thirteen characteristics of white supremacist culture, all of which resonated, and for the sake of this article and beginning this discussion, I chose three to share that I think are provocative and reveal leadership characteristics being cultivated in leadership programs that help to reinforce white supremacists culture. (In future articles I will share additional characteristics.)

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Reflections on Equitable Design

I felt honored to be part of the Creating Space Design Team with an amazing group of leadership development funders, delivery partners, network and movement builders and racial justice champions. I was eager to learn from the team about how to create an event that would deepen our learning about the ways in which our approaches to supporting leadership for racial justice need to shift.  I did not have to wait until me met in New Orleans to begin learning. I was struck by the fact that some of our conversations were filled with questions that people creating leadership development programs should also be asking, e.g. how would we honor the whole person and multiple ways of knowing; what does it mean to assume good intentions and look at impact; how do we hold space for courageous conversations; how are we thinking about power and whose knowledge is privileged; and how do we build authentic community?
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Early Reflection on Creating Space

Last week, we were honored  to spend three days convening with 85 members of the LLC community in New Orleans. We discussed, analyzed, and practiced Freedom to Lead and Leading for Freedom. To hold the container for these conversations, we trusted that the design team and everyone present were all catalysts with stories, strategies, and the capacity to create solutions to dismantle systemic problems. Our time together was focused on sharing and listening to our experiences and holding a container for healing, and strategizing solutions.

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9 Ways To Practice Racial Healing (August 2017)

This year LLC has been focusing on dismantling racial inequity and moving towards healing. With this goal in hand, earlier in the year we opened an Action Learning Seed Fund, and with your help, we selected three final projects. As part of this project, the recipients are also required to join four communities of practice bimonthly between inception and December. In January, you will all have the opportunity to hear directly from them. We will host webinars for each project to present their final report and share more about their process and allow you time to ask them questions directly.

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Leading for Racial Equity: The Reasons I Need to Be at Creating Space

I have been meaning to write a personal article about why I feel so strongly about attending Creating Space in New Orleans this year. I thought for a moment about a catchy top ten list and quickly realized that my spirit these days is anything but light. I was still reeling from Charlottesville while Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast. Twelve years after Katrina, I am reminded how natural disaster also becomes a social and economic disaster with a toll that hits vulnerable communities hardest.

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Creating Space 2017: Announcing The Agenda

Creating Space provides opportunities for experiential learning and sharing regarding what is required to increase the impact of racial equity in leadership development work.

 

At Creating Space, you will be supported with

  • tools that help you identify, challenge and change prevailing systemic racism/white supremacy broadly present in our work.
  • conversations with multiple entry points for engaging participants with varying levels of awareness and a rich tapestry of experiences with racial equity within leadership development.
  • opportunities for those in need of  defining language and for those already embodying understanding, to practice undoing and eradicating systemic racism/white supremacy.

Recognizing that conversations pertaining to race can trigger past trauma and open new wounds, healing is a big part of this experience. Creating Space offers safe spaces for grounding and healing, which will be readily available and easily accessible. Join us in learning new tools for strengthening leadership development rooted in racial equity, and be a part of these experiences helping you to grow in your own leadership.

 

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Creating Space: Freedom to Lead & Leading for Freedom

 

This year we are hosting Creating Space in New Orleans. Our design team (introduced last month) has been creatively engaged in designing a  space that fosters deep learning experience that invites courageous conversation, humble sharing and collective meaning making. Our theme this year is Freedom to Lead & Leading for Freedom; below we share the values and ideas that are shaping this year’s design. In the next month, we will share a working agenda and seek your input

 

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