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The Pull And Push Of The Black Leader

Written by: Aisha Saintiche, Senior Level Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Aisha Saintiche

My peeps, my brothers, and sisters who remembers when being the Black leader was revered? When it garnered you opportunities to lead, be at the forefront and speak up and on the importance of naming anti-Black Racism? When bringing your lived experience to others (be it your colleagues, leaders, or staff) was desired in hopes of creating a better understanding about the systemic and structural barriers that impact Black people. And who remembers the “popularity” of anti-Black Racism and the significance of embedding this ‘important work’ to the larger EDI structure of an organization, institution and/or agency- because it was the right thing to do!


Gray scale photo of a woman wearing hat

I certainly remember this period. And yet here we are, 4 years post George Floyd and what many of us have bared witness to is not only the public execution of our Black leaders but a clear strategy to turn the tide on EDI. Now I know that this article may ruffle feathers, create discomfort, frankly it may straight up peeve people off, but imagine the daily, hourly, monthly experience of the Black leader required to swallow the “change in direction” meeting that has been slowly making it’s away across many conference room tables.


You see, at the peak of what the world felt was a real attack on the Black community (please know this was not our start date by any means) there wasn’t enough room on the Calendly of the Black leader who was willing to share, offer education and/or awareness or support the work of anti-Black racism. We were ready! And so, we did what we have always done. Push aside our personal pain, trauma, feelings, and mental health to ensure that organizations, agencies and institutions were equipped to take on this work in a real authentic way. And so, we embarked. We consulted.


We advised. We spoke. We Led. We collaborated. We guided. We supported. All in the name of bringing light to the real impact of anti-Black racism. For a while we were the leader they couldn’t be without (though likely we were always that leader!) until we weren’t.


One of the things I have come to realize and have had to accept is that the Black leader will always have an expiry date. Sure, we’ll be the beautifully shiny object to be revered and publicly recognized for our tireless efforts as a demonstration of the commitment to this work, but behind the closed doors of the conference room We are simply tired.


Tired of the gaslighting. Tired of the requirement to prove the need for this work. Tired of others being tired of this work. We are just tired. Being a Black Leader isn’t a position. It’s who we are and to think that we can be pulled in and pushed out at the discretion or leisure of an organization further reflects how deeply entrenched anti-black racism is.


And so, here’s my advice… and I share this advice with my Black leaders. What you bring to the table is valuable and needs not the signed off approval of any organizational leader. Your lived experience, your knowledge, your skill set may be challenged, but I ask you to be mindful of whose stick is doing the measurement. Stay true to the work of anti-Black racism, even when the policies, procedures and most importantly people are not in alignment. But most importantly self-preserve. This work ain’t for the faint of heart (but it’s also not worth your mental health, let alone your life).


As many Black leaders find themselves in limbo, wondering if their next ‘action plan’ will make it on the agenda, know that our work will never end. Being a Black leader isn’t what we aspire to be, it’s what we are, and for that quorum is irrelevant!


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Aisha Saintiche Brainz Magazine
 

Aisha Saintiche, Senior Level Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Aisha Saintiche is a certified Health Coach and the founder and owner of MetoMoi Health. With over fifteen years of experience in Mental Health, Accessibility and Diversity and Inclusion, Aisha has used her experience as a strategic advisor and health coach to understand the complexity and intersectionality of the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual barriers that keep people from achieving their optimized health and wellness.


Aisha also holds a Masters in Public Policy Administration and Law, as well as a certification in Change Management, Advanced Crisis Intervention and Counselling and Health Coaching. She is also an Integral Master for the Canadian Olympic Committee of Canada, and most recently she became a Published Author.


Always seeking opportunities to bring about change, she is also an active member and Board of Director for the Woman Abuse Council of Toronto (WomanACT) and the Board Chair for Afiwi Groove School.


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