Who Is In The Seat?

I watched her walk by and was taken right back to that place when I was Parent Teacher Organization Chair and fighting a private school to make way for families of color. The student demographic was about 75% children of color, about 60%+ of which were black.

Looking back, I know that my ego was the greatest barrier in my leading for racial equity in that school.

That year, we made tremendous changes and saw our families of color gain agency in ways the school hadn’t seen in a long time, if ever. The problem was that I had begun to see myself as the reason for that change. I had misunderstood the praise of our black families. They didn’t need me.
In the spring, I was asked by white people to lead for another term. I said yes but then was struck by the fact that my holding the seat of power meant that no person of color could sit in that seat. I resigned and told our team that a group of white people cannot lead for change on behalf of Indigenous, Black, and Brown students and their families.

I see this same thing over and over…white people holding seats of power and believing we can act on behalf of another racial group. This is an others centered focus. We’re fighting for someone else instead of against the very thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behavior IN US that resulted in the disparity we fight to end.

I believe this focus will have to turn inward before we will experience significant change in our communities.

How would it impact the narrative of racial difference for white people to let go of our grip on power? How do we slow down institutional decision making to hold space for Indigenous, Black, and Brown people to fill seats? What work do white people need to do internally to unpack the narrative we tell ourselves about why Indigenous, Black, and Brown people aren’t present in these spaces?

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Rebecca Greenidge (she/her)

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