On June 18, the Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) Co-Chairs Letecia Rose and Idil Burale and Executive Committee members Debora Jesus and Anika Harford hosted Real Talk with Black Leaders, a dedicated space for Black rising leaders in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) to come together to share experiences and aspirations for building a more inclusive and equitable region.
The goal was not only to connect, but to also recognize emerging leaders leading anti-Black racism efforts, and to hear what is needed to improve the quality of life for Black residents in the GTHA.
With over 120 Black rising and risen civic leaders registered to attend, it was clear that convening a space on this issue was much needed.
Here is what we heard from the network:
Many Black rising leaders are not feeling supported by their workplaces but feel hopeful that change can be made.
- In the face of recent events, Black rising leaders feel alone in their workplaces. Some shared that their organizations are failing to recognize that systemic racism exists in institutions and needs to be addressed by senior leadership.
- Black rising leaders feel responsible to educate others on anti-Black racism, but this leaves many feeling emotionally drained and exhausted while still trying to do their jobs. They expressed the hope that allies would take on a greater role to support the education of peers.
- Despite the above, Black rising leaders are still feeling hopeful about change. Some attendees shared coping techniques like yoga, exercise, and listening to music and podcasts to prioritize their mental health and wellbeing.
Organizations across all sectors in the GTHA need to play a greater role in actively addressing anti-Black racism.
- Organizations in our region should create continued and intentional spaces for Black employees to engage in conversations about anti-Black racism without fear of reprisal. This is key to understanding the experience of Black employees in the workplace, ultimately improving organizational capacity to respond to and address anti-Black racism and drive positive change.
- Organizations need to be held accountable for addressing the lack of diversity in the workplace and confronting anti-Black racism amongst their networks.
- Black professionals must be better supported in leading conversations on anti-Black racism, active allyship, action planning, and ensuring accountability. These conversations need to happen at all organizational levels, from staff to those in leadership positions.
CivicAction and the ELN will continue to leverage our convening power to support Black rising leaders in combatting anti-Black racism.
- We know that the ELN and CivicAction have a role to play. As an organization with convening power, Black rising leaders would like to see CivicAction continue to leverage this power to initiate conversations across sectors on how to actively tackle anti-Black racism.
- As we build back better post-COVID, CivicAction and the ELN must ensure that conversations are grounded in equity and account for the lived experience of Black communities.
The ELN Executive Committee will be working with the CivicAction staff team and Board of Directors to support their work in taking concrete actions to address anti-Black racism in our region. These findings will support CivicAction’s commitments to addressing racism and violence against the Black community.