Our nation is living in considerable uncertainty, and associations are being impacted on multiple fronts simultaneously. We are dealing with an intersecting knot of disruption that includes the global pandemic, new social-distancing norms, the economy, upcoming election, and racial justice. Today, I’d like to work my way through that knot via the thread of racial justice.

Through my work, and a personal goal I set to speak with 100 CEOs in 100 days, I have had a chance to discuss racial justice with many association leaders. The responses have run the continuum. Some leaders feel that racial justice is an absolute game changer and acknowledge the importance of understanding structural racism and the role organizations play in it. While other CEOs see the issue as a social issue only and it’s business as usual.

Here’s the thing: Racial justice will change the face of every other issue we face today because it changes the frame, not just the substance. Regardless of where you personally land on the spectrum, as a leader in the association world you have an obligation to understand how it impacts your Black members, volunteer leaders, staff, and colleagues – and by extension, everyone else.

I heartily recommend you watch this video, Text to Table, a conversation between 4 Black association CEOs who share their candid reactions to the murder of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter and, white allyship.

These leaders lay out the impact on their lives and their leadership. More importantly, they make visible what has been invisible to whites all too long and too great detriment to our country’s well being.

Thank you for stepping up and leading:
Shawn Boynes, American Association for Anatomy
Donté P. Shannon, Association of Equipment Management Professionals
Michelle Mills Clement, Chicago Association of REALTORS®
Irving Washington, Online News Association