Lisa Reid, Chief Learning Officer, North Carolina Center for Nonprofits
As a nonprofit dedicated to promoting capacity building in grassroots organizations, we have recently concluded an inspiring executive leadership training series, "Building Equity and Anti-Racist Change Agents." This series was designed to empower local nonprofits in creating equitable, diverse, and inclusive spaces where every voice is heard, valued, and respected. This program also aimed to empower conscious, competent agents of change who can recognize, challenge, and rectify systemic biases and racism in their community organizations. Here are some key takeaways, lessons, and highlights from this enriching experience.
- An Open Space for Dialogue: One of the significant successes of the program was the creation of a safe and open forum for open-hearted conversations about equity and racism. It was encouraging to see participants – one cohort of white people and one cohort of People of Color – ready to address tough questions, share personal experiences, and challenge their own beliefs, ultimately inspiring each other towards personal growth and transformation.
- Deep Dive into Structural Racism: Our training delved into the heart of systemic racism, enabling participants to understand its deep-rooted pervasiveness across institutions and communities. The participants appreciated the historical context, the exploration of the socio-political structures, and how deeply entrenched biases can influence marginalized communities.
- The Power of Self-Awareness: An essential step towards becoming an anti-racist change agent is self-awareness. Participants learned to identify inherent biases and discover their role in perpetuating systemic racism – even unknowingly. The training emphasized cognitive techniques for unraveling these biases, creating a path towards open-minded perspectives.
- Strategies for Action: The series provided concrete strategies for participants to be proficient in anti-racist practices and equity-building in their organizations.
- Inspired Change Leaders: Perhaps the most significant takeaway is the transformation of participants into bona fide change agents. The program had a profound impact, inspiring participants to carry the torch forward into their organizations with renewed resolve to foster an equitable and anti-racist environment. To continue sowing the seeds, a few participants from the program will present their personal and group takeaways at the 2023 Conference for NC’s Nonprofits on November 3 in Winston-Salem.
Recapping this exciting journey, we are reminded of the shared commitment to equity and justice that fuels our work. The lessons learned over the course of this program clarified that the road to becoming an equitable and anti-racist society is indeed challenging, but hopeful. Inspired by our participants' determination and growth, we move forward knowing that some of the seeds of change have been sown and expecting to see the fruits of this labor in the form of more inclusive, equitable nonprofits across our communities.
In this monumental quest for racial justice and equality, we extend our gratitude to all the participants for their engagement, questions, challenges, and unique perspectives that enriched this learning experience. Let's continue to build a world upon the pillars of fairness, equality, and respect for all.