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Are you not yet free?

There are quite a few free negroes in Memphis. I am proud to be one of them. It is a risky path to take, but there is nothing like freedom. I wake up every morning knowing that no matter what, I’m going to be my authentic self. I learned the hard way that swallowing the poison of racial microagressions can make you …

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Being a Wellesley Woman Could Get Me Killed

Dear Hillary, I’ve been thinking about Sandra Bland a lot lately. I’ve been thinking about her more than usual. I think about her every time a police car appears in my mirror. I check my speed. I hope my lights are all working. Being pulled over for any reason horrifies me since Ms. Bland’s death because I saw myself in …

Lead Like You See Us

Dear Hillary, I need your help. I’ve been struggling during this exceedingly long campaign season, and I think you’re the only person who can resolve the challenge I’m having. I imagine you have black people advising you–black women even. But I also know how pragmatic you are. I’m also quite pragmatic. But our times don’t call for pragmatism. I understand …

Trust is (Also) an Action

The first time I facilitated a Collaborative Action Network meeting, I knew I was in a room full of people who wanted dramatic change in our community. I assumed that all we had to do was clarify our roles and get to it. I was wrong. The idea that “collaboration moves at the speed of trust” is commonly shared in …

Dear Hillary, I’ve got some thoughts…

Dear Hillary, People have some strong feelings about you. I don’t. For some reason, I’m neither foaming at the mouth with hate or drooling with admiration. I do respect you. I am quite excited at the idea of voting for a woman for president. But there are a great many things that anger, frustrate, and concern me as a black …

A Team of Rivals

When I joined Seeding Success in Memphis, TN, I was the third employee: the facilitator.  I, a black woman, would be the person managing relationships with the most diverse group of people involved in the effort. Memphis, TN is a majority black city and our county-wide work focused on a majority black population. We had recently gone through a period …

Flat-Footed Truths

One of the many things I learned as a loud black girl developing into a loud black woman, is that folks don’t really like the truth. I’ve been told more often than I can count that lying is an important function in maintaining civility. Well, I appreciate civility, but being born a black girl child in the south basically dictates …

My Crucible

In March 2012 I quit my job. In the midst of an economic downturn where tenure-track jobs are very hard to come by, I resigned. I had no job. I had no plan. And because I ended a 12-year relationship a month earlier, I was alone. But I was happy. And by happy, I don’t mean that Disneyfied birds singing, …

Risk it. Trust me.

There is no straight line from setting a goal to creating an action plan to getting it done. Those are things we aspire to as we grapple with the messiness of people trying to protect their turf, their egos. Collaborating toward collective impact is risky business. We have defined collective impact as an end. It is the sustained dramatic change …

The Real Work of Collective Impact

Collective impact is an increasingly popular concept. It is inherently appealing that otherwise intractable problems can be resolved if everyone joins together to solve them. The simplicity of many hands making light work stops cold in the face of political and cultural realities. Three fundamental components of collective impact efforts, especially as promoted by StriveTogether, are civic infrastructure, continuous improvement, …