Generating ideas, connections, and action

Action Learning Seed Fund's Community of Practice

By Susan Misra, CoDirector of Management of Assistance Group

Looking back over the last year of the Action Learning Seed Fund's community of practice, a major theme that surfaced was how to hold and wield the power of our full intersectional selves in racial healing and equity work. This is complex and exhausting work to name inequity and hold space for racial healing between different communities and within the same community.

Our group of eight people struggle with patriarchy, sexism and misogyny among leadership within our communities, for instance. We work with these leaders to confront Islamophobia or xenophobia, to have courageous conversations with other communities, and to salve historic and current racial wounds. At the same time, we need to call these (often male-identified) leaders into sharing power and leadership with women and gender non-conforming people. This can be particularly challenging when there are formal gendered roles (e.g., in a religious institution).

We also reflected on anti-black racism that emerges among our Asian, South Asian, Arab, and Latino/a/x families, friends, and colleagues even within the same religious or geographic community. Those of us who are allies and accomplices spoke about having the power to name and call attention to differences within racial/ethnic communities. For instance, if we are Latinx/a/o talking with other Latinx/os/as, we play an ally role when we raise the legacy of indigenous genocide. Or, if we are South Asian talking with other South Asians, we play an ally role when we address anti-black racism and colorism.

Finally, we talked about how we heal, recharge, and sustain each other in this work. Racial healing that brings together communities across divides is draining. Calling in our community based on one of our identities to recognize and address oppression based on our other identities is also exhausting. On top of this, personal life issues, related to health, family, finances, etc. are challenging. We support each other in slowing down and taking care of ourselves so that we don't burn out in the face of unending demand.

As a virtual community of practice, for me, our conversations were a gift towards this sustainability - a place to reveal our true selves, to be accepted and validated for tackling challenges, and to be celebrated for our achievements. These achievements include building a larger community - of black women (WISE Network), black Muslim youth (Black Muslim Youth Rising), and LA-based organizations (Vigilante Love) to deepen and expand racial healing and equity and to support each other for the long haul.