Dr. La Sharnda Beckwith, President and CEO of Lutheran Social Services Southern California recently met with prominent women from across the country to discuss the intersectionality of systemic racism in our country and the growing disparities recent events have revealed.
A community leader with a global perspective, Dr. Beckwith facilitated a respectful yet candid discussion on a number of wide-ranging topics. At the heart, however, were the intersections of two key topics: how African American and European descent peoples interpret terminology, patriotism, inherited biases, fears and stereotypes and the importance of safe spaces that inspire, protect and encourage transformative dialogue around racial equality, equity and inclusion.
The virtual roundtable included professional women from various socio-economic careers and backgrounds, including higher education, social services, religious organizations, technology and government.
The discussion was born out of a conversation between Dr. Beckwith and a peer who simply said, “Let’s pull together a select group and chat.”
Dr. Beckwith reflects, “Our conversation raised more questions than answers and I began to ask myself why is it that we don’t talk about race in the United States? Within our own racial and socio-economic groups or between them? Are the politically correct mantras ‘we don’t discuss race, religion or politics’ still acceptable in the face of such abject discrimination and disparity? Can you simply sit on the sidelines and say, ‘I don’t see race?’.
As Dr. Beckwith pondered those conservations and others, she agreed, the answers could only be found in genuine, cross-cultural dialogue. Thus, the multi-racial, multi-generational, group from California, Texas and North Carolina was selected for its demonstrated commitment to creating sustainable and transformative change within the communities of those states. Moreover, their influence over the culture, policies and performance of their own organizations, offered the ideal platform to both confront the impact of institutionalized racism and dismantle the discriminatory processes and practices that enable them.
There have been successes. There has been change. In the coming months, continued discussions will address just how far corporate America has come in creating a fair and equal workplace for people of color, and although there has been progress, there is more work to do.
Join the discussion at www.lasharndabeckwith.com as Dr. Beckwith continues to lead the difficult yet critical conversations regarding systemic racism and the processes to dismantle them.