Like most of the world we are saddened and outraged by the recent killings of black persons at the hands of law enforcement. As leaders it can seem paralyzing to address such huge societal issues. Yet we must in our workplaces and communities. This is not about politics but about equity and human dignity. We know that systemic and structural racism are enormous systems that have been perpetuated for centuries. But leadership is not about doing the easy thing or being comfortable.

Racism divides our region and communities. It drives poverty, disparities in educational outcomes, and diminished health. The current pandemic lays bare the unequal outcomes for people of color.

As leaders, it can be hard to figure out what to do. We are asking ourselves, what can we do as leaders to affect change?

  1. Follow the expertise, leadership, and guidance of Black-led organizations and community networks focused on racial justice, and donate to support their work. There are many in our region including MLK Family Services, Healing Racism Institute of Western MA, and Partners for Community Action Springfield.
  2. Listen and educate ourselves on the history of inequality and racism in the United States.
  3. Speak up and lead courageous conversations in our personal lives and the workplace.
  4. Support black businesses and artists.

It is time for more than inclusion. In our daily lives we must speak up and disrupt injustice.

The staff and board of Leadership Pioneer Valley.

Staff: Lora Wondolowski, Rosemary Manu, and Jessica Roncarati-Howe;

Board of Directors: Michelle Barthelemy, Ann Burke, Annamarie Golden, Richard Griffin Jr., Calvin Hill, Gladys Lebron-Martinez, Tony Maroulis, Kevin Maynard, Kelvin Molina-Brantley, Callie Niezgoda, Yemisi Oloruntola-Coates, Russell Peotter, Christina Royal, and Francia Wisnewski