For the past several months, I have had the opportunity to participate in The Path to Thriving Communities: Creating Anti-Racist Communities in the Eastern Connecticut Region, hosted by the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut (CFECT). Led by Equity Consultant Randi R. McCray, this six-month cohort is intended to encourage nonprofit leaders to collectively explore and use their work to cultivate anti-racist communities.
Needless to say, it’s a lofty goal, requiring a dedicated effort.
Through a series of exercises and dialogues, our group has delved into difficult questions, starting with “what does it mean to be anti-racist?”
What I learned is that being anti-racist is a way of life: “It is an active way of seeing and being in the world, in order to transform it.”
We have examined the concepts of diversity (the presence of difference), equity (fair access to an opportunity) and inclusion (bringing people in to create a more diverse environment) and compared them with anti-racism.
Although we have several sessions to go, the experience has already helped me in evaluating CLCC’s programming. This includes three new Regional Land Trust Advancement Initiatives aimed at engaging and readying land trusts to recognize and address diversity, equity, and inclusion issues within the land conservation sector and broaden their outreach in traditionally underserved, vulnerable, and Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities.
Through this process of self-examination and organizational assessment, the conversations have not been easy nor comfortable. I have much to learn both personally and on behalf of CLCC to ensure that our organization and the land trusts we serve do more to create welcoming, inclusive, and anti-racist communities.
I’m grateful to CFECT for inviting me to participate, and to Randi and the members of our cohort for helping to guide me through this process — which can not and will not end with the program.
Through the lens of perpetuity, we must recognize that like land conservation, creating and sustaining anti-racist societies is a long term commitment.