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Do you celebrate Juneteeth?

Published 06-15-2018

It’s the only long-standing commemoration of the ending of slavery in the U.S.   I’ve always been struck by the near firewall between races in our understanding of our country’s history.  If you’re one of the many people who don’t know much about Juneteenth, it has it’s own website where you can learn more. It has been celebrated for over 150 years by African-American communities throughout the U.S. “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” This quote could have

Planning and scheming for 2018

Published 01-29-2018

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5 Things You Can Do To Challenge Racist Behaviors

Published 11-08-2017

“Are you okay?” When we witness one-on-one incidents, we sometimes feel like it’s not our place to intervene. There’s the fear that a person of color will respond to our well-meaning intrusion with something like: “Get out of my business, you don’t need to rescue me!” In this type of situation, start by approaching the person being victimized. Introduce yourself. If the perpetrator seems volatile, sometimes simply standing between them and their target is enough to send the message to STOP.

Standing up to Racism…But HOW?

Published 11-08-2017

All of a sudden, white supremacy is all over the news. Like the sleeping giant, it has been present all along – never actually asleep but lying low, at least where mainstream media is concerned. While the rise of neo-Nazis is alarming, a silver lining is that more white people feel compelled to take a stand against racism. Over the last few months, white people have been showing up in record numbers to drown out the voices of hate in cities and towns across the U.S.  And yet…in my work

A Few New Resources For These Challenging Times

Published 09-13-2017

“Go home from work if you need to, and take care of yourself.” This was Rockwood Leadership Institute’s advice to staff after the Charlottesville white supremacist rally and counter-demonstration. NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS will benefit from Rockwood’s words of wisdom in: After Charlottesville, 5 ways nonprofits can process, heal and fight. "What will we do as CDCs if ICE raids come looking for tenants in our affordable housing projects?" For COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS, this is a

Humbling Truths

Published 09-13-2017

For many years, I have used the Pacific Education Group Courageous Conversations Compass as a framework in my training workshops for understanding how to engage more productively in discussions about race.  It describes four quadrants for how people tend to react when issues of race come up. We each have our default quadrant, and meeting others based on their default quadrant is key to effective engagement. In July, I shared this compass with my UMass graduate students, almost all of whom are

An open letter to my white friends, family, neighbors and colleagues

Published 11-21-2016

Two days after the recent elections, I had the privilege of attending the national Facing Race conference, spending three days with 2,300 racial justice activists from across the country. After the devastating results, it was just what I needed: a space to grieve, make collective sense of what happened, and hear from many of the best organizers, thinkers and strategists in the U.S. about where we go from here. While many of us were shocked at the election results, others were not. People of

“Are the Police Racist?” Thoughts on Implicit Bias

Published 10-04-2016

During the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton’s response to this question brought the concept of implicit bias into the living rooms and minds of 84 million people. It’s about time. As someone who has been teaching people about implicit bias for the last few years, I was pleased. For those of you who want to ride this wave, and support further understanding of implicit bias with your colleagues, friends and family, here are a few great resources. Please share widely! Eight Great

Where are the Women Leaders in our Communities?

Published 08-18-2016

This course was a Wednesday session sandwiched in-between other 2-day courses that usually leave Institute participants brain-dead by Friday afternoon. As I opened the session, I announced that this would be more of an experiential course, to give participants a mid-week break from the “how I am going to completely change how I do my job” lists that other courses generate. We created a list of the cultural characteristics common to women, and used the positive ones to create strategies for

What does it mean to teach our youth to "fit in" to the mainstream culture?

Published 02-29-2016

This question recently sparked a thought provoking and lively discussion in my graduate course with teachers-in-training.  I was sharing a framework for cultural proficiency, and remarked that being inclusive of diverse cultures does not dismiss the need to teach children what they need to know to succeed in the mainstream culture. But what exactly is the mainstream culture? A couple of students who grew up outside the U.S. responded that this country’s culture is not monolithic, and that has

Do you really want to go there?

Published 02-29-2016

That was the reaction of some community development organizations to NeighborWorks America’s newly launched Race, Ethnicity, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative. Yet, there is also a tremendous amount of good will among community development leaders and staff who recognize the need for, and value of, addressing issues of equity and inclusion head-on. Most agree these issues are critical in the face of stark racial disparities in wealth, continuing discriminatory lending practices, and changing

The Power of Possibility

Published 11-09-2015

I am honored to be part of a number of other efforts to awaken new possibilities for racial justice in this country. I am excited to have been invited to help shape NeighborWorks America’s new Race, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative. I am hopeful that Community Change Inc. in Boston has recently brought together under its’ banner several dynamic racial justice organizing efforts that engage white people, including an anti-racism meetup and local chapter of Showing up for

Educating the Educators

Published 09-21-2015

I now have 3 years under my belt of teaching new teachers about race, culture, community, and their role in creating a more just society. When my own kids were growing up, I couldn’t figure out why their schools never took on these issues. Even after a shooting in the playground adjacent to their elementary school, the faculty didn’t want to discuss the escalating violence. “It’s too big for us to take on. We’re not equipped to talk about it.” WHAT? Slowly, I came to realize that these