This is an inflection point–a moment of racial injustice amidst our country’s long history of white supremacy, all wrapped up in a global pandemic. This moment is putting a tremendous amount of pressure, grief, and trauma on all of us, and like everything else in our country, it is doing so in inequitable ways.
Our team at MAYA Consulting works to achieve excellent and equitable schools, school systems, and communities in which all children and families thrive. We believe that our partnership with clients seeks to address the systemic challenges of this moment.
Nevertheless, as a white, cisgender, straight man, I benefit from and perpetuate white supremacy culture with our clients and partners, and within our own organization. As the invaluable Dismantling Racism Workbook points out, “the longer you swim in the (white supremacy) culture, the more invisible it becomes.” I’ve been swimming in this culture for 41 years. I recognize these faults within myself and that change begins with me.
My inbox is full of statements from organizational leaders, many of whom are white, about standing with the Black community. This language is necessary but insufficient. As described in one of MAYA’s go-to newsletters to learn what we can do to increase inclusion–5 Ally Actions–solidary is not enough. We must shift from the language to the labor of allyship and anti-racism. This is the beginning of my and MAYA’s actions to show that Black Lives Matter:
- Recognizing Pain: I am acknowledging to our team members, clients and partners that it is okay to not be okay right now. It is okay if you are distracted, depressed, and angry. It’s okay to ask for help with projects you cannot take on. It is okay to ask your colleagues–especially white colleagues–to step up and be the active allies they say they want to be. As we were reflecting on these events, MAYA consultant Audrey Boklage reminded us, “no one of us can carry the burden of this moment on our own.”
- Inclusive Leadership: I am committed to closely examining ways in which my own leadership has exacerbated racial inequity. For example, twice last month I received feedback that my actions crowded out the leadership and voice of MAYA team members. At first I was unsure what to do. It then became clear that I do this often; and I must do the hard work of acknowledging my actions, apologizing, and practicing awareness about the impact of the space I take. In addition, I am committing to supporting MAYA’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) lead, Rachel Franco, to expanding our DEI support for partners, to ensuring all MAYA team members engage in targeted DEI training and learning opportunities, and to making sure anti-racism work thrives at MAYA. Thanks to Rachel’s leadership and expertise; the courage and vulnerability of MAYA team members like Kassi Longoria and Karen Weissinger for their efforts in allyship; and the generosity of many Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), I recognize that this starts with my own leadership and actions. I am on my own journey and am investing in my learning to ensure MAYA advances deliberately through the organizational stages of racial equity.
- Investing Resources: Last week, we invested $5,000 in the Austin Justice Coalition, which educates and builds community power for people of color who live in Austin. I know the struggle towards justice will require more than a one-time investment. For this reason, I commit to ensuring that a significant portion of our charitable giving is distributed to organizations on the front lines of advocacy and support for Black people in our community. This will include organizations like Huston-Tillotson, Austin’s oldest institution of higher education and historically black college and university (HBCU); MEASURE, an advocacy organization that uses data and education to empower communities to eliminate social disparities; and Texas Empowerment Academy, a K-12 school with an academically rigorous and culturally-sustaining curriculum. I also commit to continue our partnership with Black-and-Latinx-owned businesses and vendors. At MAYA, we find our greatest success with an inclusive workforce and diverse partnerships.
As we continue to walk this journey, I look forward to sharing our progress and learning with each of you and your organizations. We are all accountable for ensuring organizational leaders are honoring the commitments they make during this time. I am grateful to be a part of a team that will hold me accountable for the plans I am making today. As a community, I hope you also reach out to me with your feedback and suggestions for how we can do better.
We must show, not tell that Black Lives Matter.
Chief Executive Officer