I recently returned from The Aspen Institute Symposium on the State of Race in America. It was a great morning with a lot of brilliant and accomplished people discussing issues like the wealth gap,  diversity in business, challenges in education, public safety in urban communities, you name it, the scope of the morning was large. But what struck me the most, as it does with all of these types of events, is what was missing, that is the lack of tangible outcomes. There wasn’t any guidance regarding how to transfer those top-level discussions into meaningful action into our local communities. That part is rarely talked about and even less put in practice. And it got me thinking, How come every time I go to a leadership meeting on public safety or education or race in Richmond, I see the same people? I guess others ask the same about me, or at least the same question.

One thing that is becoming increasingly clear is that when it comes to broad topics like education, poverty, and crime in Richmond, is that we need to widen the scope of advocates and involvement. To clarify, we don’t need to replace people, we need to add people and take the conversations directly to the people. I know that is easier said than done, but these topics can’t be discussed just in leadership rooms or symposium because the people who need to be in the rooms simply are not there. I don’t know how much good it does for me to have conversations about the state of race in Richmond with the same people who I always see.

So, how do we widen the scope? And what really needs to change to make meaningful improvement in Richmond…is it the approach, is the policies, is it the people, or is it all that and them some?

I’ll start by saying that I don’t know the answer. The floor is yours. What do you think? #WESEEIT


  • Garet Prior says:

    Cheats, I’m in an LMR group tasked with race relations in Richmond. We came to the same question. Its’ tough because we live in such separate communities and life-tracks, that we have few interactions with diverse or challenging opinions.

    For me, I want to be intentional about entering different environments. Maybe that’s shopping at a different grocery store, attending events, or incorporating diverse perspectives in my workplace. Then, be willing to listen and be uncomfortable.

    Just my thoughts…

  • Treen says:

    Yes…”we need to widen the scope of advocates and involvement” is a common challenge. I think many groups, regardless of the mission struggle with this on some level. I’m sure the “doers” in any club, church group or family reunion committee would agree.

    I don’t have the answer either. The people you think should be at these meetings aren’t barred from coming. Even if you hand-picked them & offered “incentives” for attendance, a positive response is not guaranteed, but it could be a start.

    Seek out specific people with specific strengths: that creative “think-outside-the-box” person, that inspiring/motivating person, that “git-r-done” person, that “big-picture” person who knows how to stay focused on a vision, that “dots-i’s-crosses-t’s” person. It takes all types of people to get anything done. These leadership sessions should be equipping the attendees to direct their own orchestra.

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