The following article originally appeared in the January 2017 Newsletter of Conditioning Leaders. The author, Madeline McNeely, a Trinity parishioner and co-leader of the Anti-Racism Team, has graciously allowed us to re-post it here.
There’s much to be upset about in our world today. Inequity and white supremacy isn’t new, but feels more intense these days. With a new president signing executive orders that will disproportionately hurt those on the margins (immigrants, rural people, people of color, transgendered people, Muslims and the list goes on), it is sometimes hard to feel inspired and hopeful, which is why I write this newsletter.
Finding inspiration is essential when addressing oppression. Our bodies and minds need inspiration to keep us centered and courageous. As a white racial justice leader and organizer, it’s my practice to keep looking at my own microaggressions, interpersonal racism and structural inequities. I am committed to my boot camp classes to keep my body in shape, and I am committed to building my consciousness muscles to see what people of color and people on the margins of society see and experience daily. I do this because I care about my own humanity and creating inclusive spaces for everyone. I do this because we need more white leaders thinking and acting strategically to create a world that works for everyone, especially those on the margins. Here are two stories of inspiration that I hope propel your work forward.
My mother, Susan McWhinney-Morse, was highlighted in the Huffington Post along with 13 other women describing why they marched with over one million people in DC on January 21st. Read and watch it here. When I interviewed my mother about her experience, she said, “It’s important to be counted, to be part of something much larger than myself and my own concerns. We all march for our own concerns and we were marching for people that may not feel they have a voice or many opportunities for good housing, jobs, healthcare, and education that so many people like me take for granted.”
The second story of inspiration is from the Trinity Boston Foundation, the non-profit youth serving organization affiliated with Trinity Church Boston, where I co-lead the church’s Anti-Racism Team. Here’s an inspiring article about how they’re working to dismantle racism and create an equitable and inclusive institution. Creating multi-racial trusting relationships and leading organizations to address white supremacy in a racially equitable and inclusive way takes intention, vulnerability and courage. The Trinity Boston Foundation is in the trenches doing this work and it’s inspiring.
Having been a part of Trinity’s anti-racism work for over a decade and as the principal of Conditioning Leaders where we support leaders who and organizations that do equity and inclusion work locally and nationally, it’s the most meaningful work I know to do for myself, our collective humanity and ecosystems. We need everyone leading equitable processes, organizations and networks, so that we can have a society that works especially well for people on the margins. This is more and more critical with each passing day. It is with gratitude and inspiration that my mother is a source of wind at my back and that I get to support and be close to organizations and leaders like those at the Trinity Boston Foundation. These leaders and stories inspire me as someone working to undo inequitable dynamics personally and professionally.
What and who inspires you? Call these people and images repeatedly in close to you, so you can be even more bold and courageous as you work to undo structural inequities.