Leading from the middle

One of my mentors has a leadership philosophy framed around leading from the middle. The concept, while very simple, is ultra complex. If you take a position that is on one end of a spectrum, you alienate those who are on the other end. How do you reach those who you disagree with if you are already miles apart? Leading from the middle means that you don’t get to take sides. It means that you are not going to be seen in a positive light by a lot of folks.

The recent legislative happenings in Arizona are a great example of the strains of what it takes to lead from the middle. Am I upset about everything that is going on in Arizona right now? You bet I am. I am saddened and angry. A lot of people seem to be forgetting what it means to be human. Humanity and dignity are being swiftly stripped away from marginalized populations in Arizona. Is it about racism? I think so. It’s about xenophobia, discrimination and power. Overall, those who are in charge of making laws in Arizona are doing horrible things right now.

How does this relate to leading from the middle? The protests that have been taking place in and outside of Arizona make a lot of people feel good. It makes me feel good to know that movements of people are joining together to fight for justice. However, I doubt that the lawmakers in Arizona are listening. I doubt that those who agree with the new laws are listening. Listening, in the sense that you are really processing, takes an awareness and openness that is lacking right now. Activism is important. Movements need to happen, but I wonder how we move forward when we seem to move backwards so much. How do we lead and live in the middle when things are so polarized right now….

Arizona State Legislature

The Melting Pot incinerates every culture except for white culture

The state legislature in Arizona seems to be under the control of a white supremacist group. A recent proposal targets race-based groups (note that groups that are all or mostly white are not mentioned) that largely consist of students of color.

Arizona public schools would be barred from any teachings considered counter to democracy or Western civilization under a proposal endorsed Wednesday by a legislative panel.

Additionally, the measure would prohibit students of the state’s universities and community colleges from forming groups based in whole or part on the race of their members, such as the Black Business Students Association at Arizona State University or Native Americans United at Northern Arizona University. Those groups would be forbidden from operating on campus.

via The Arizona Republic

The creator of this racist, Euro-centric measure is Republican Russell Pearce. Pearce who was formally the Maricopa County Deputy Sheriff, sneaked the measure into a state senate bill on homeland security.

Continue reading Arizona State Legislature

University of Arizona MASS

University of Arizona MASS Multicultural Affairs and Student Success newsletter - Praxis
The Department of Multicultural Affairs & Student Success at the University of Arizona sent me a copy of the latest issue of their bi-annual newsletter – Praxis [pdf].

Topics in this edition include:

  • Why we still need programs for students who are ethnic minorities
  • Exploring power, privilege and oppression with college students
  • Dry cleaner parents: hands off, not hovering
  • Is there a disability identity?
  • Record keeping dilemma: are there multiracial students at the University of Arizona?
  • Transformation abroad: encouraging minority students and first generation students to study internationally

Native Americans in AZ

What happens when Native Americans in Arizona attempt to stop construction of an oil refinery on sacred lands? Lots and lots of racist rhetoric.

According to the NY Times, Arizona is

“one of the fastest-growing parts of the country and a place where developers are increasingly running up against newly powerful but tradition-minded American Indian leaders.”

Don’t you just love the part about Native American leaders being “newly powerful”?

…or this

“Like the land itself, the fight over the refinery reflects a tangle of cultures and centuries of bitterness between Indians and newcomers.”

I wonder why Native Americans in Arizona might be “bitter” with “newcomers” (code for white people)?

…and then

Continue reading Native Americans in AZ

Racism and Sexism in Arizona and Michigan

The state language of Arizona is now English.

Affirmative action has been banned in Michigan.

Arizona | Proposition 103: English as Official Language
Would make English the official language of the state of Arizona and significantly reduce government sponsorship and funding of dual language-printed material for circulation.

Michigan | Proposition 2: Restrict Affirmative Action
Proposed amendment to Michigan Constitution would “prohibit the University of Michigan and other state universities, the state, and all other state entities from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.” On June 23, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, ruled in favor of affirmative action in the University of Michigan’s admissions policies. The Bush administration opposed the university’s pro-affirmative action admission policies.