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How we’re learning to talk about Race at Creating Space

Beloved community,

We began writing this piece before the tragic events in Charlottesville occurred last weekend. Its message emphasizes the importance of acknowledging the threat of white supremacy within our communities, our workplaces and our homes. We proudly stand with all those fighting against racism in Charlottesville and hope that this post will encourage solidarity and much-needed internal reflection to affect the change we need in our country.

In solidarity,

LLC Staff

We’ve been in the design stage of Creating Space for quite some time now. This process includes developing the convening’s agenda, working out travel and stay logistics, and most importantly, agreeing upon how we plan on talking about this year’s theme for Creating Space.

 

This year, we selected the theme Freedom to Lead & Leading for Freedom.

At Leadership Learning Community, we’ve come to believe that freedom cannot be achieved until we address some prevailing factors impeding upon everyone’s access to that very freedom. That’s why one of Creating Space’s main objectives this year is to provide folks with tools that help them identify, challenge and change systemic racism broadly present in our work.

In case you need a refresher, systemic, or institutional racism, is defined as the existence of institutional systemic policies, practices and economic and political structures which place minority racial and ethnic groups at a disadvantage in relation to an institution's racial or ethnic majority.  

White Supremacy

Missing from this definition is a larger issue, that some of our design team refer to as white supremacy. White supremacy is the belief that white people are superior to those of all other races, especially the Black race, and should therefore dominate society.

 

When many of us think of white supremacy, perhaps the KKK is the first thing that comes to mind. Some of us will even think of what is now referred to as the alt right. Groups of white nationalists that openly believe in their biological dominance over people of color, as unfortunately witnessed in Charlottesville this past weekend. While these examples certainly demonstrate the power of actively realized white supremacy, it’s important that we also acknowledge that white supremacy, whether intentionally or unintentionally perpetuated, is at the root of systemic racism.

 

After all, how can an institutional system of dominance exist without actual people knowingly or unknowingly acting on their unconscious biases against people of color on a daily basis? Short answer: it can’t. Systems and practices of racism are upheld by people. Folks who we work with, shop with and have over for dinner.

 

And whether we’d like to accept it or not, many of us practice unconscious biases that reinforce this prejudice on a daily basis. That isn’t to say that all white people are actively racist. Or that all institutions hope for their employees of color to suffer. Rather, it is important for us to practice internal digging to identify how we subscribe to a narrative favoring white cultural dominance and work to change that.  

 

Heavy much? We know!

These are some things we plan on addressing at Creating Space this year in New Orleans, a space with its own racialized history and that is actively challenging the existence of Confederate iconography as well.

 

We know that conversations about race, especially when focused on our individual roles in racism and injustice can be difficult. We ask that you join this gathering with an open mind and an open heart. When we discuss racial equity and the importance of centering it in this work, let’s collectively think about each of our roles in this process.

 

There’s no more time to point the finger at others. Creating Space will be a space for internal and communal reflection, allowing us to ask ourselves these two important questions: who gets to lead? And what are we leading for?