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Miriam Persley's blog

Leadership and Race: Bay Area Learning Circle Reflections

A couple days ago on August 15th, we co-hosted a two hour Learning Circle with the Rockwood Leadership Institute to address within our own community recent events as they relate to race and leadership. Some of you came to learn more about this subject, make connections among local organizations, and/or to find healing within each other.  We divided ourselves into smaller groups and dipped into our emotions, stories, and collected resources that had been on our mind.

 

Leadership and Race: Bay Area Learning Circle Reflections from Leadership Learning Community on Vimeo.

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Open Minds, Open Hearts: Developing People

Miriam Persley responds to: How Can Leadership Development Programs Make a Difference in the Challenges of Tackling Racism?

 

Trayvon Martin’s death was a symptom of a larger problem. Our society is littered with inequities. With time, legalized racism has evolved from physical segregation into something that is “happening at nanoseconds at subliminal levels, not conscious levels,” as Maya Wiley[1] argues. It is this subconscious racism which is embedded in our social system, and therefore into other systems as well. The symptoms are all there to corroborate this. We see the symptoms of racism in the criminal justice system,[2]  further corroborated by the discrepancy of “underrepresented minorities’” admissions into colleges,[3] as well as by the data on income distribution[4] or the percentages of children below poverty,[5] none of which reflect racial equity. All these symptoms come back to racism; its roots in American history of colonialism, slavery, and imperialism. The problem is not one of Black vs White, this in itself ignores the American reality of others that are outside of the White or Black communities[6] and those that are of mixed descent. Rather this is a social problem which affects everyone.

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Leadership Development Hiding in Plain Sight: Greater Grand Rapids Racial Equity Network (GGRREN)

This year LLC will be keeping an eye out for Leadership Development Programs Hiding in Plain Sight. This “New Leadership Development Mindset” acknowledges that Leadership Development also happens outside of what most of us expect Leadership Development to look like. The differences may seem banal, but when asked by our community what these programs actually looked like, we realized that there are many exciting examples of how leadership is being developed in the context of work, like the RE-AMP case study. Examples like the RE-AMP are hard to spot because they do not call themselves leadership development and do not fit the mold. (If you aren’t familiar with RE-AMP, no worries check out this LLC webinar on RE-AMP). Although this model is a great example, some of us learn through multiple examples, so we at LLC have been scouting to provide more concrete examples.  Here is another.

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The Individual in Collective Leadership

About two weeks ago, I was referred to a news article called, “Dribbling Man,”[1] about a man who embarks on a mission to find himself. His chosen path: to walk from Seattle, Washington, USA to Brazil in time for the World Cup all while dribbling a soccer ball. Richard Swanson had planned to follow the coast until he arrived in 2014, but a mere two weeks after his journey began; he was killed in a collision near the 101 freeway on the Oregon coast. Although this was an extreme tragedy, what intrigued me the most was what I saw as Richard’s quest for purpose[2].

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The Mountaintop: The Sacrificial Lamb at the Top

Earlier this month, I attended the last Bay Area showing of Katori Hall’s “The Mountaintop,[1]” a fictional play inspired by the last moments of Dr. Martin Luther King’s life. It takes place on his last day on earth, as he is battling with the public’s blame and guilt over the death of Larry Payne,[2] a 16-year old boy who died when a march lead by Dr. King turned violent the week before.  Here Dr. King is portrayed as a real person, who is not only reflecting on his life but also battling with his own demons and eventually accepts his own impending death. In this play, Martin Luther King is arrogant yet insecure. He is an adulterer but definitely a loving family man, a “King” who is undoubtedly devoted to the public’s service, and always very passionate about racial equality. Among these contradictions and passions, the play does not smooth over his humanness but rather highlights it.

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Collective Collaboration: Living Our Values Regardless

The past couple of weeks have been very hectic at LLC. For one, we have our core role as a small non-profit working to create a leadership community/network. Within that, we are planning Creating Space X; and as with any major conference, it demands so much of our time, energy, and brain power. In addition, this week the team has other deadlines to meet for other projects. All in all, the perfect storm.


But instead of pulling our hair out (which we have all been very tempted to do), we have been working better with each other. Here at LLC, “ We demonstrate our values of transparency, collaboration, and diversity in everything we do and create an environment that bridges differences and fosters trust.”


Transparency+Collaboration+Diversity = Bridged differences+Trust

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Uniting a Nation Through Leadership Development

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Very recently, we all witnessed the splitting of a nation.  During the Presidential campaign, divided cities became divided counties, and divided states of blue and red. Even social media became a battleground where shocked “friends” learned that their community was not what they expected and had to redefine their visions of friendship. It was hard to miss the tension, sometimes even passionate hate that these elections brought forth. The scandals, the ads, and the below the belt remarks that defined a national ideological turmoil; a community truly divided.

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