June 4, 2020 Carole Levy

Blog Pause

Dear Friends,

In the last few days, many leaders and organizations have spontaneously elevated their voice against structural and systemic issues of racism in the US society. I have found it inspiring and clarifying. I decided to pause, reflect and take a stand myself. Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

I’m a middle-aged white woman, born in Casablanca, raised by biracial parents in France (my mother is French, my father was Moroccan), and have been living in the US for almost 20 years. Although, growing up, I had my own tensions regarding being different and was sensitive to social identity issues, it took me a long time to understand what structural racism in the U.S meant. Essentially, it is institutions, policies, and practices systematically offer privilege and widespread opportunities to white people (including me), while ripping off  people of color,  including African-American people. Despite my personally diverse background, I have had to educate myself — and have done so, thanks to academic friends; clients from various racial and ethnic minority groups; HR leaders invested in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives; conversations and trainings at Learning as Leadership; books like White Fragility; and ongoing discussions with Jean-Pierre, my husband and co-founder at The Trust Factory, who has shown me the way in participating as a faculty member at The Inner Activist.

Discovering the roots and ramifications of racism in this country is an on-going learning process for Jean-Pierre and me. We are still grappling with the complexity of addressing these toxic and pervasive dynamics and the legacy of the misuse of power as part of our mission of fostering learning organizations and distributed leadership. There is room for improvement, and we are ready for the challenge at hand.

 In our work in progress, we are committed to recognizing our privileges, tracking our biases and blind spots, and – hopefully — stopping our own cycles of demonization and aggression against ourselves and others. The work begins with individuals within organizations, it begins with us. We are committed to using the frameworks of personal mastery and leadership development to better identify the systemic and structural issues that limit opportunities and growth for people of color in the workplace. In our work with others, we are committed to creating a safe space for communication where leaders and teams can have hard conversations, show up with honesty and vulnerability, and clarify inconsistencies or assumptions – all in order to systemically create trust.

We hope to stay in this conversation with you all. Be safe and well. 

Carole and Jean-Pierre

PS: I loved the profusion of exchanges of resources in the last days – I’m sharing two:

  1. A comprehensive HBR article from Laura Morgan Roberts and Ella F. Washington to help leaders find a map and take meaningful actions against racism at their workplace:

https://hbr.org/2020/06/u-s-businesses-must-take-meaningful-action-against-racism

  • A heart-opening song that had accompanied me in the last 30 years: Children of the Ghetto, performed by Susaye Green land Courtney Pine. Music is healing. Enjoy.

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