Goodman Community Center | Community Chat with Letesha: JEDI Masters

Community Chat with Letesha: JEDI Masters

Letesha was joined by four local leaders to discuss justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) work. It was an invigorating morning!

December 12, 2023 |
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Justice Castañeda, Kelvin Alfaro, Letesha Nelson, Nicole Lopez Purkapile and Stephani Díaz de León

On Tuesday, Dec. 12, Goodman Community Center CEO Letesha Nelson hosted four local leaders who are doing important work related to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI). The hour-plus discussion included some remarkable insights from the panel, and the audience in attendance was energized and engaged as they were preparing to leave. (Quite a few lingered for quite a long time to continue the conversation!)

Panelists included:

Panelists talked about the importance of being ok with being uncomfortable – something so many of us have heard before – and the equal importance of continuing to do the work every day.

They offered the community some ideas of how they can engage in JEDI work in their everyday lives:

  • Get uncomfortable and get curious, said Kelvin Alfaro. We’re not going to change people’s minds by posting on social media. We’re going to change minds by connecting heart to heart, human to human.
  • Justice Castañeda said JEDI needs to be embedded in our organizations, businesses and systems. If it’s not being brought into everything we do, it’s easy to get rid of the department. If it’s embedded, it’s part of the day to day.
  • Nicole Lopez Purkapile agreed, saying you have to keep the conversation at the forefront and infuse it in the work so it’s always there.
  • Everyday self-work is a skill you have to build, said Stephani Díaz de León. There are times when you have to ask if it’s worth getting fired for, and sometimes the answer is yes. Use the influence you have, whatever that might look like.

At the end of the conversation, Letesha asked those in the audience to share what they will take away and implement in their professional and personal lives after this chat. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Host and/or provide space (physical office/meeting space) for JEDI community members and teachers of JEDI topics while providing an opportunity to break bread together at our office. We would like to address how we as a company can work with JEDI leaders in the community to address the housing crisis in Madison and Dane County as a real estate company with a focus brought by JEDI-focused conversations at consistent community meet ups and bread-breaking get togethers. Please reach out if you would like us to host!
  • Remember that we not only serve people or they are stakeholders, but also we NEED all voices to make this a better world.
  • Set with my organization’s Framework for Change – a detailed DEIJ journey for individuals and organizations.
  • Engaging in community discourse, while standing in solidarity with Palestine, Sudan, Haiti and the Congo.
  • Continue to talk, listen – get used to being uncomfortable. Explore how I can be part of the solution in my own neighborhood – i.e. housing access.
  • Complete a course with our staff about whiteness at work.
  • Boldly, unapologetically uplifting the “unpopular” strifes (like the genocided people of Palestine).
  • Donate to the Goodman Center to help to continue conversations and equitable practices.
  • Continued commitment to hiring and structuring org to meet needs of community.
  • As the Director of an early childhood school. We have been taking steps over the least 12 years. Recently we have about 6/7 teachers who will take the Black History for a New Day course. We have done work and continue to do work with the organization Embracing Equity. We have a mission statement that we back with time and resources. And many more ways.
  • Family and community events. Stronger and better business relationships. Basic necessities which encourage school attendance.
  • I was recently in a space that was exclusively white (county agency), this included staff and the supporting commission. I saw their DEI statement posted in several places. I asked them to share what they’d done and where they’re going on their DEI journey after acknowledging my appreciation for their commitment to DEI. Unfortunately, the room was silent. Other than the posted statements, no work had been done. I will continue to ask these questions.
  • I commit to showing up, speaking up, even when it is scary. Showcasing and spotlighting voices and stories of harm, success, grief and shame. Listening and breathing with my fellow loved ones in this community.
  • I’m on City Commission, will ask who/how people were engaged to bring more voices and shift power flow to include others.
  • In every program I facilitate, engender some opportunity to build JEDI awareness. And perhaps even talk/address systemic issues.
  • Use my power and privilege to change my organization’s leadership and structure to reflect diverse communities.
  • Find ways to fund and support environmental education in marginalized communities.
  • I’m committed to using my influence/social capital to challenge my organization when it follows status quo, reinforces power dynamics or does not center JEDI in all we do.
  • Encouraging conversations about radical hospitality in our organization, exploring how leadership can be open to a wider variety of people and life experiences.
  • Do the internal work at my organization by engaging in a cultural audit and uncover norms to dismantle.
  • Make space in our network of organizations to regularly discuss justice through reading and sharing experiences.
  • Push every organization I work with to commit resources to the long game and embed JEDI in all aspects of org life. ACTIONS and words.
  • Call out those not aware of their actions. Keep educating myself.
  • Introduce more coworkers and friends to organizations that are doing great work in Madison and get them involved.
  • Identify areas where I have privilege – consider ways to use that privilege to serve others.
  • Share what I learned today with the team. Reach out to Ho-Chunk nation. Lean into discomfort and curiosity.
  • Self-reflection and personal accountability as a person in a position of leadership – focus on a diversity of relationships (who’s at the table) and listening.
  • Will continue to be an ally where possible, learning more about the places to plug in within the Madison community and Dane County.
  • That my community of staff represents those we serve.
  • Network, reach out, broaden my circles, get into the trenches, just keep moving forward.
  • I am going to listen to my employees about what they need to know they are supported and can feel safe and secure and belong at our organization.
  • Asking for youth voices from BIPOC or marginalized communities to have seats on our board. Our organization works with youth 16-24 and they need a voice to be engaged and hold us accountable.
  • Ask about process for policy improvement as mapped out by JEDI roadmap – we can get the ball rolling.
  • Challenge social norms. Recognize when systems work for me. Connect with others heart to heart, human to human.
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