By Caitlyn Gudmundsen, Senior Manager of Program Development and Outreach
Today’s Front Line Hero is Lutheran Social Services of Southern California for its efforts to dismantle systemic racism and promotion of productive conversations about race.
For Lutheran Social Services of Southern California President and CEO Dr. LaSharnda Beckwith, the current focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion that are filling our consciousness offer an opportunity for candid conversation about race. Dr. Beckwith recognized that many people in the United States do not talk openly about race because those conversations are often considered uncouth, and she asked if that culture norm is still acceptable in the face of such stark racial disparity. She saw a need for genuine, cross-cultural dialogue, and took action.
Dr. Beckwith hosted a virtual roundtable comprised of voices of dynamic women from across the country. The participants included women from diverse backgrounds, including higher education, social services, religious organizations, technology, and government who have influence over the culture, policies, and performance of their organizations, making them the ideal conduits to have this conversation. Dr. Beckwith facilitated a candid yet respectful roundtable discussion that focused on the intersection of systemic racism and growing disparities revealed in recent months, and how our society can dismantle that systemic racism.
The roundtable proved to be a valuable discussion, leading Dr. Beckwith to continue to lead these difficult and critical conversations about systemic racism and how we can work collectively to address the problem. Recognizing that there have been some successes in this work, such as progress made by corporations in the US in creating a fair workplace for people of color, upcoming conversations will focus on that progress, while recognizing there is still work to do. Join the discussion at www.lasharndabeckwith.com.
Thank you to Lutheran Social Services of Southern California for your work to dismantle systems of oppression, and to Dr. LaSharnda Beckwith for your courage, leadership, and activism.