August is the month dedicated to Black liberation. The fight for the freedom of Black folx led by Black folx is the central theme. During this month, called Black August, folks devote time to dig deep into the history of Black freedom fighters. To sharpen their political analysis about the experience of being Black throughout the diaspora. To engage in reflection and action in support of our freedom journeys. Black August includes:
While this site isn’t a go-to for Black liberation theory, it is a place where Black women on their personal freedom journeys come for information and support. So I want to share a few resources that might help y’all deepen your knowledge as Black women in the fight.
- The Edge of Each Other’s Battle: The Vision of Audre Lorde (Documentary)
- Want to Start a Revolutions? Radical Women in the Black Freedom Struggle (Book)
- Liberatory Leadersip (framework)
- Design for Wellbeing (framework)
Even if you haven’t read any of the resources above, I hope you’ll keep reading.
Liberation. Freedom. For many of us, these terms feel impossible. Impractical. I mean, you work in corporate/nonprofit/government. You’re not the CEO. You’re not a final decision-maker. I know the script. I’ve used it on myself.
After all, I was socialized into work by well-meaning Black women Baby Boomers who were often the ‘first’ in their careers. They had to ‘get along’ at work to move up the ranks. Just getting the job was making waves was, so pushing for more was risky. Many of them felt anything but liberated. They did what they had to do and as a result, they opened doors that I was able to walk through. I am so, so grateful.
Here I am, forty years later still thinking I don’t have power and it’s actually not true. How I supervise, who I see as qualified candidates, how I invest in and support the leadership of my direct hires — are all under my control. I have agency. I can influence policy. I can make suggestions on ways to improve practice or just teach by doing things differently than my peers.
It took me a long time to mature as a Black leader in white spaces. The more I exposed myself to leadership training, models, and frameworks aligned to my values, the freer I felt. I was more than my Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinders, list-making leadership profiles.
Before you default to the ‘but I can’t do that where I work’ reaction, I’d like to invite you to consider the following:
- What is ONE thing you can add to your leadership approach that would be liberating to YOU?
- How can you introduce a way of being to your team that would make those with less power feel more included/welcome/seen?
- Consider writing a liberation statement that will guide your leadership. Here, I’ll give you a head start: “As a liberated leader I…”
Working toward liberation starts with us owning the power, no matter how finite, that we have. If you are in any position of leadership, are supervising another human, have any decision-making influence or authority YOU HAVE POWER.
So I want to know:
Are you willing to use your power for the collective liberation of Black women?
Share your thoughts in the comments or on LinkedIn. I really want to know.
We have a lot of work to do but I hold hope that this (and every) Black August will be an opportunity for reflection and action that creates more liberatory spaces for Black women.
Brandi Brown says
Yes, I want to use my power for the collective liberation of Black women! And I am so happy you have reminded me I have power. I think so many times I move in spaces not fully understanding I have power and this month, I am happy to be reminded that there is nothing I can’t do especially when I have powerful Black women around me!