Stressful Times Highlight Painful Truths: A Progress Report on Brown v. Board

This month marks the 66th anniversary of one of the most significant cases in education and civil rights history: Brown v. Board of Education. In 1954, the Supreme Court ended our racist, Jim Crow separatism in favor of equality and access for all, establishing the on-paper precedent that racial segregation in the U.S public school system was unconstitutional. At Promise54, we take special note of the landmark decision that inspired our name as well as our work to support our clients and push ourselves to deliver on Brown v Board’s promise. Unfortunately, there is still plenty to do.

If You’re Choosing Between “DEI” and Crisis Management, You’re Choosing Wrong.

The last few months have left me reeling - and fielding questions from clients who are reeling too - about how to approach DEI work in this maelstrom. Is now really the right time to be “doing DEI?” If so, why is it essential to prioritize DEI as the winds storm around us? And finally, how should organizations and their leaders prioritize DEI in the context of unprecedented strategic, financial, and moral obstacles?

The answer to all of these questions hinges on one of my fundamental truths: DEI is not a thing we do, it is the way we do everything.

Both/And: Values Based Decision Making in a Time of Crisis

Transforming core services to virtual overnight...bring your child to work EVERY day...sleepless worry for ourselves and our at-risk loved ones...even deeper divides along socio-economic and generational lines...amplified racism and xenophobia....How are we supposed to make the range of critical decisions required of us while swirling in the stress? Our brains have developed a response through biological evolution: pre-programmed shortcuts based on habits. But are the habits that we’ve built in the past representative of the leaders that we want to be today?
In times of stress, our brains naturally default to previously ingrained behaviors to navigate uncertainty. This includes existing habits around top-down, individualistic decision-making; information- (and thus power-) hoarding; and binary either/or thinking. In other words, unless we interrupt it, the extreme stress of today’s circumstances could lead many of us to default to white dominant culture habits in this exact moment when slow and intentional leadership, clear and transparent communication, and trust and relationship-informed decision making are most critical.