Wednesday, February 24, 2021
#55 / [Don't] Speak Of The Devil
Megan Fluke (she's the one pictured at the bottom of this blog posting) is the Executive Director of Green Foothills, a grassroots nonprofit that is working to protect open spaces, farmlands, and natural resources in both San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties.
Green Foothills' periodic newsletter is called "Green Footnotes," and in the Winter 2021 issue, Fluke wrote a nice column called "Lessons Along Our Equity and Inclusion Journey." As she said in her column, quoting environmental activist Leah Thomas, "the longer racism is not addressed, the harder it will be to save the planet."
The point of Fluke's column was to relay what she had learned from her participation in the American Leadership Forum's second diversity, inclusion, equity, and liberation affinity group. This is a group of ten nonprofit leaders who have dedicated themselves to achieving racial equity in the nonprofit world. In her column, Fluke presented the group's "Guidelines For Our Conversations," consisting of nine admonitory points:
1. Center BIPOC voices
2. Put relationships first
3. Notice power dynamics
4. Create a space for multiple truths and norms
5. Be kind and brave and lean into discomfort
6. Show what you're learning, not what you already know
7. Allow for space.
8. Be okay not having the answers
9. Focus on our common goal
I found this listing quite helpful, and was pleased that Green Foothills, a group I have long supported, and also a group that does such great work in our region, is taking so seriously the need to eliminate racism, root and branch, from every part of our lives. I particularly appreciated Fluke's acknowledgment that we need to do this systematically, both individually and in the organizations with which we are affiliated. It takes effort, in other words, to eliminate racism, and we need actually to work at it.
Fluke provided a brief explanation to go along with each one of her nine points. "Center BIPOC voices," for instance - Point #1 - means that "rather than 'empowering,' we should focus on listening to and following the leadership of Black, indigenous, and People of Color." This is good advice for white people who are serious about eliminating the racism that pervades our society.
"Create a space for multiple truths and norms," Fluke's Point #4, means "speak your truth and seek understanding of the truths of others that differ from yours."
I particularly liked Fluke's explanatory note on Point #6. That point, remember, is to "Show what you're learning, not what you already know." Fluke added the following advisory, to augment this rather easy to understand piece of advice, and what she said is valuable beyond providing a guideline on how to overcome the racism that continues to plague our society. In fact, Fluke's advice on Point #6 is more generally applicable to virtually all of our political discourse, and particularly to those postings which scroll before us on virtually all forms of social media:
Avoid playing devil's advocate; the devil has enough advocates already.
(1) - https://theconversation.com/the-vatican-the-exorcists-and-the-return-of-the-devil-in-a-time-of-enchantment-92575
(2) - https://www.greenfoothills.org/team/