I've been spending time lately engaged in work around inclusion and equity. I was privileged to attend a training recently with Dr. Reverend Jamie Washington. I have heard Jamie speak multiple times in the past. Something he shared has been sitting with me that I think I have really been unpacking.
“The primary goal of higher education is to prepare the next generation of leaders. These leaders will need the competencies, skills, and capacity to engage and lead effectively within, across, and about difference.”
He has shared this multiple times before. Something though clicked. Jamie went on to engage in something that seemed new to him from the front (which he confirmed afterwards.
Jamie shared, although the current landscape in our field, our society, and our country has yet to accept accountability for social justice and inclusion competencies, the future is coming in which that accountability will be there.
When we stop and consider how effective we are as leaders to engage and lead across difference, we DESIRE to build this competency, but we (maybe I should say "I") also know in the back of our (my) mind(s) (especially as a white, cisgender, heterosexual man) that no one will REALLY hold us accountable if we don't develop this competency. What are my negative consequences for not having capacity to lead across difference? To ONLY be able to supervise certain "types" of professionals (oh you know your type, right?) There really aren't any.
However, the time is coming and the winds are shifting when it comes to this accountability. Our colleagues have been sharing stories lately; whether it is a campus tour and someone calling the cops, someone getting fired at a campus coffee shop for playing the wrong music, removing by physical force students graduating and walking on stage, or calling the police on a grad student falling asleep in their dorm lounge.
In each individual incident, we can dig and push, and talk about "what really happened" or respond with "we should wait to hear all sides of the story." But what is REALLY happening is just the front waves of accountability around being held responsible for leading across difference. No one posts these stories to hold individuals accountable (well, maybe a little) the goal of these stories is to remind us; accountability is coming. Are we ready?
Because these stories remind us that if we won’t hold ourselves accountable on building capacity to lead across differences, the media and others will.
That’s the point.
And I want to make sure I acknowledged that this idea is not new. Nor is it an original thought. It’s something I’ve been chewing on and wanted to share my process with other