(Photo by Julie Zeglen)
This is part of "Leaders of Color" month of the Generocity Editorial Calendar. Find the series here.
The secret to positive community relations is simple: Shut up.
“Silence is powerful,” said Kellan White, political director for Katie McGinty for U.S. Senate. White, along with the city’s former director of Black Male Engagement, Erica Atwood, and Chief Education Officer Otis Hackney, spoke at this month’s Impact Solutions meetup around the topic “leaders of color.”
Authentic relationships between policymakers and communities require meeting people where they are. It’s all about acknowledging a problem and allowing those affected by it tell you why that problem exists and what possible solutions they see, White said.
Plus, “the problem you’re trying to solve might not be a problem for the people experiencing it,” he said.
For policies to be effective, governments should give the community in question the resources they need — “and then get the hell out of the way,” Atwood said. In other words, be saviors “with,” not saviors “of.”
And what should white people do to support people of color?
For one, be on their team, but let them speak for themselves: “It is having someone in the room who understands [your] problems but doesn’t try to explain for you,” Atwood said.
But on a more basic, everyday level, they must be conscious of their own implicit biases about which spaces people of color can inhabit. Hackney shared that even now, as a member of the mayor’s cabinet, he’ll still be asked by white people if he’s the security in City Hall. [Editor’s note: Sound familiar?]
From our Partners
“You have to expose folks [to leaders of color],” he said. “Whatever the few lenses you have of people has to change.”-30-
From our Partners
Power Moves: Jasmine Sessoms joins Community College of Philadelphia
These 5 aspects make a good workplace — and they all point to leadership
Power Moves: Lynn Schwartz joins Women’s Way as chief advancement officer
PA Humanities Council helps communities reclaim their stories
Community Legal Services, Inc
PARALEGAL – Homeownership & Consumer Rights UnitApply Now
YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School
Senior Director of Human ResourcesApply Now
Power Moves: Rachel Miller becomes director of Criminal Records Expungement Project
Immigrants in Philadelphia, we get the job done
Brittnie Knight joins the Leeway Foundation as communications director
Nonprofits and startups can win up to $360K at the WeWork Creator Awards
Sign-up for daily news updates from Generocity