Dax-Devlon Ross: “Folks have recognized now that a lot of the ways in which organizations have tried to address the conflicts and crisis is by finding Black folks to become the leaders. And what they find again and again is that leaves Black folks who become those leaders in a very vulnerable place. They’re often themselves pulled in multiple directions, because they not only have to be the leader of the organization, the face of it, but then they have to respond to all the crises within it. And it’s not a fair place to put them. And so knowing that that sort of superficial transition of power to a different body isn’t the solution; we have to dig deeper. It’s the systems. It’s the operating principles. 

We’re so steeped in and have all been socialized to believe that the only ways that we can possibly move anything forward is through the models that we have been steeped in—which is to say that there’s somebody at the top making all the decisions. And what organizations are finding—and what I think young folks are asking for, [what] leaders, people of color are asking for—[is that] people are saying: we want something different.  

Our accepted ideas around how hierarchy has to be the guiding principle for all organizing structures isn’t necessarily true. There can be other ways that we can be together, and that we can find that organizations can succeed. But we have to be willing to test that a little bit. It is an opportunity, and some folks will feel that as a threat. And naturally, whenever power is contested, people do feel threatened by it. But I’d see that as a way for a sector like ours to lead. It’s a call to leadership.”