Pay attention to these lessons on community engagement from three local leaders of color - Generocity Philly

People

Aug. 28, 2016 1:54 pm

Pay attention to these lessons on community engagement from three local leaders of color

Policymakers need to listen, be aware and not assume they know what's best.

Mo Manklang, Otis Hackney, Erica Atwood and Kellan White.

(Photo by Julie Zeglen)

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.

It’s often said that those closest to social problems are also closest to their solutions. But what does that actually looks like in practice?

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-
LEAVE A COMMENT

From our Partners

Meet Kim Andrews, new executive director for The Fund for Women and Girls

Be the leader to bring a 26-year mission into the future in Chester County

RealLIST Impact: Meet 45 Philadelphia-area leaders whose work makes a difference

SPONSORED

Generocity Philly

Meet Kim Andrews, new executive director for The Fund for Women and Girls

Camden, New Jersey, 08102 United States

Camden Coalition of Healthcare

Program Manager, Field Building & Resources

Apply Now
Camden, New Jersey, United States, 08102

Camden Coalition of Healthcare

Program Assistant – Health Information Exchange and Data Quality

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA (hybrid)

First Tee Greater Philadelphia

Development Director

Apply Now

Power moves: So much Latinx leadership buzz!

Power moves: Varsovia Fernández and Patricia Wilson Aden named to top posts

Collective power: Nine Philadelphia-area Latinx leaders answer our questions

SPONSORED

Generocity Philly

Be the leader to bring a 26-year mission into the future in Chester County

Philadelphia

Ceiba

Bilingual Collective Impact Coordinator

Apply Now
Philadelphia

32BJ SEIU

Political Director

Apply Now
Philadelphia (hybrid remote / in office)

Regional Foundation

Grants Manager

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Generocity