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The Non- Profit Industrial Complex

  • What is the impact of this dynamic on the woman of colour in the organization?

  • What is the impact of this dynamic on the organization?

  • What is the impact of this dynamic on the community sector at large?

Looking back at the experiences I've had working in for and non profit companies I've come to realize it wasn't me. Last week I had a conversation with a colleague about why I structured BIPOC STAHC as a horizontal agency. We discussed our similar experiences working for and within white agencies, this does not mean that there are not folks of color leading these orgs, it just is a term I will use here for organizations that operate under historically systematically structured white agency. As our discussion progressed it occured to me that it wasn't me and when I finally made the decision 10 years ago to stop working for agencies that are not only hierarchical but operate with white agency infrastructures it was my intuition guiding that decision due to the many hurtful and painful experiences I had experienced trying to climb 'the ladder of white success.' After our conversation she sent me this model and it hit home. I wanted to explore these ideas in more depth from my own personal point of view.

When women of color enter into a binding commitment to serve as tokens or just accept a job position, they are usually accepting the job because it will not only better their lives but the lives of their communities, which is a very different perspective from which eurocentric folks accept positions in organizations. You see, more times than not, women of color are coming more from the concept of being leaders in their communities and have experienced way more outsider moments than their white counterparts. As for me this was the case. It took a great deal of effort and struggle for me to attain my degrees and I knew when I was aiming for graduation that with those two pieces of certification (my BA and MA) I thought I would be able to situate myself in a position within companies in which I could enact change. At the time of entering the job market I was delusional about the direct effect my race identity as an african american women would play. I was eager to be 'the change' I wanted to see in the world not recognizing that that change was not in alignment with my white colleague counterparts. It took me decades to understand what I thought it was that 'I was doing wrong.' Until, one day I woke and said, 'I can't do this anymore.' I started to unpack what that really meant for me. That took another decade as I plugged along in trying to start my own business working part time for others and part time for myself.

It wasn't until I was able to launch full time into working for myself that it occured to me, 'all along I thought it was me.' Which, now looking back I realize that there was actually nothing 'wrong,' with me and that it was the actual structure in which I had been operating that was the problem. As I started to unpack my experiences I started to gain more confidence not only in myself but in my abilities to recognize these traps. The stronger I became in my own skin and ability to be able to understand that race dynamics are front and center in every company in America, the more I could see that it