Anti-Racism: Beyond Checking the Box

go beyond checking boxes

Did your organization put out its statement about race relations? 

It’s a start.

As the sobering murder of George Floyd inspired hundreds of organizations to take a firm stand, the emails flooded my inbox. I appreciate that organizations and companies I’m associated with took the time to let me know they stand against racism and police brutality. Yet, similar to the COVID-19 emails, so many of them were interchangeable.

If you want to go beyond performative morality, before even reaching out to your base to communicate,  engage staff in a far reaching inquiry of how your mission —if not already a social justice organization— is linked to issues of racial injustice. There may be some surprising positive connections between your mission and race relations that you can build upon. And then, engage the tougher questions about what aspects of your work secretly uphold the racist systems that are entrenched in our society. For starters, looking at your advisory or governance board will tell you a lot. 

Business Insider just released a (paywall) article about how empty the words diversity and equity have become; how tokenism still perpetuates the system. Fighting racism requires ongoing commitment to consistent dialogue intended to reveal and transform where and how racism operates within yourself; within structures and individuals in your organization. This is not a day training. It is not a box to be checked off. It takes a discipline of engaged conversations, usually with a consulting intervention, over a sustained (read: perpetually ongoing) period of time.

I’ll leave you with this brilliant article and quote from Sarah Bellamy. “It’s not about performing your wokeness. This isn’t about what you say—it’s about how you act; how your body might be predisposed to rely on a racial inheritance that endangers the lives of others.” 

Doing business as a small business or nonprofit is changing as I type. There are many questions and concerns about how to be as we proceed from the rubble of a pandemic and face the racial prejudices we all uphold and can no longer ignore.

Go beyond checking off the box. And if you need help restoring your leadership or rebuilding your team, and/or team culture as you manage the change we are all facing, don’t hesitate to reach out.  

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