I am responsible for my actions
I am accountable for my words
Rarely, if ever, have I seen leadership, responsibility, accountability and skill from the men and women placed on pedestals and called leaders in American society.
Most often, these individuals are white and privileged. The ideology and standard thrusts upon us all stems mostly from the desires, likes and dislikes of a mostly white, mostly privileged cohort. Thus, American society and its obsession with whiteness readily agrees to promote such persons of similar characteristics and traits with only the barest minimum of scrutiny. To scrutinize our laws and adopted values would certainly lead to responsibility, accountability, and redress. So, this democratic and natural process of questioning, testing, reviewing data, drawing conclusions, and using the information to formulate the best way forward is passed from one mostly white and privileged cohort to the next. The cohort acts as it’s intended: quickly advancing to approval and confirmation stage with great latitude and almost no meaningful checks on their discretion. They confirm and repeat, confirm and repeat.
It is no accident that American leaders are mostly white, appear white (i.e. has a white complexion or skin tone), or – when a person of color is selected – has a white parent, spouse, adopted parent or other close personal connection to a white individual. These are the values on which America was built: only this cohort may grant and remove power, prestige, and inalienable rights.
Black American leadership and authority is so rare that there is no book, guide or example for those who rise to meet the challenge. The world has yet to see what Black American leadership absent white influence looks like because no Black American, in a quasi leadership or authority position, has yet to achieve the status inherited and passed on of non-black peers. The few multi-ethnic, multi-racial Black Americans who have been granted power, prestige, position and wealth, have been quick to concede territories and values which Black American descendants of slaves, and those who do not have white descendants would give our very lives for so that our children can finally thrive.
This realization is a painful reminder of all that Black Americans endure in a nation that claims to be a beacon of civil and human rights, and an inspiration to those who heed the call to undo, redress, and demolish the racist status quo which today ensures that Black Americans in America are separate and not equal.
This realization also presents a unique duty and responsibility for Black American leaders. We are the first. We must show the world what Black American leadership looks like. We are a defining generation, and we humbly accept this great responsibility, and execute our duties with diligence and care.
Earlier this month I shared a holiday greeting that contained a portrait of what it is like to live surrounded by un-neighborly non-black neighbors. The account included references to anti-Black conduct carried out by neighbors who are not Black, including that such behaviors were alleviated slightly only after a notice of impending litigation was sent naming individuals responsible.
The information shared was entirely true. However, those who entrusted me with such great responsibility gave me reason to re-think the impact my sharing could have on future generations of Black leadership. Together, we decided that we would fight hate and discrimination from non-black neighbors moving into territories where Black individuals long before resided. Therefore, with guidance, I decided it was not appropriate to share such details until further developments are made with the un-neighborly neighbors – for better or worse.
As a Black American female leader, and a Christian, I am duty bound to my moral, ethical, professional, and personal values. I am accountable for my words and actions, and I am also responsible for demonstrating to the world that Black American female leadership can lead successfully. Therefore, for the aforementioned reasons, we excised the depiction and characterization of the neighbors which appeared in the earlier posted holiday greeting.
A man with a gun who intended to rape me once told me to pick how I would be raped. I replied: over my dead body. This is the same fire I bring to every civil and human rights fight. It is in my blood, and from generations of fighting for civil and human rights, and against great oppression and evil; it cannot be summoned, inherited, copied, taught, or faked. I’ve inherited strength, courage, bravery, action, and great fortitude.
What will you pass on to your children?
Our offices and laptops remain closed for the holiday and end-of-year festivities. However, good works, cheer, and merriment burn bright year-round. Our thoughts are with you and your families during the holidays. And please spare a moment to think how you can inspire those around you to be the very best version of themselves.
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