Edge Leadership hosted a Race and Power Roundtable. In this clip, Kelly Bates, Angela Romans, Kad Smith, Anastasia Tomkin, and Monna Wong share their thoughts on the state of power in the US.


Kelly Bates: We’re in a battle for power. I don’t know how to contextualize it or describe it, but it’s clear that white folks in the Capitol, and around, and in places feel like they are losing their power or lost the power, and they’re going to take it back through force and domination and overturning the Capitol. And, frankly, what we understand, they were trying to do a revolution. I mean, that’s what was trying to happen, they were trying to make happen a civil war. There is a contest over power. Not sure our side would say that, you know, that’s how we look at it. But I do think that’s what’s happening.

Angela Romans: To build on that, Kelly, I feel like, yes, it is. I was gonna say, “What is the state? Conflict.” That is the state of race and power right now—and physical conflict right now, as we can see, although lots of conflict that is not physical. Very emotional. And it is conflict, because there are lots of wins on our side. And I feel like last week—was it last week?—I kept saying, “What a week we have had!” Right? It had been like this, and I want to acknowledge the wins, right? So, Georgia, and the power of black folks, black women who’ve been organizing around voting for years, and the fruits of that that people can see. So, it is conflict. I think there are…part of the state is that there are more people of color in this country—more and more people of color in the country—and therefore the numbers are shifting, and then the backlash is huge and violent in response. So, I think I would echo everything Kelly said and say that the conflict is because there are some clear wins on the side of right, and the backlash against that.

Kad Smith: Good to see y’all’s faces as well. I’ll say that, the state of race, I think the global majority has successfully started to articulate just the impact of race as a construct in ways that we’ve never seen before. So, things like technology, things like access to information, have allowed for that kind of permeation of a colorblind society to not be able to continue. And I think that there are some things in pop culture, across both the US context but even across the world, by power brokers who wanted us to believe that that was true—that race no longer matters, that racism is a thing of the past, that the institutions that upheld it have eroded and are no longer significantly doing so. And we basically said, “bullshit.” And the global majority has been very successful—by which I mean people of color across this world—in saying, “No, the impact is still very much still felt, and I can point you to a thousand ways where I see it every day, and you no longer have the privilege of not listening.” So the state of race, I think, is evolving in that regard.

And I think as it pertains to power, it’s a similar thi