I had the good fortune to attend this year’s Courageous Conversations with Inner Strength’s Board Member Leashia Lewis. Leasha is the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director for Athletics at Villanova University and has a deep knowledge of the work needed and the gentleness, kindness, and fearlessness to engage in ways that open minds and make changes to dismantle barriers drawn by color lines.
The conference was powerful in many ways. The presenters were top of their fields, sharing insightful and complex understanding of the implications of book bans, what Critical Race Theory is and the legal implications of limiting its study, the views from different generations and so much more. Breakout sessions allowed affinity groups to meet and find a forum to explore their own reactions and experiences, small group sessions let educators learn and practice different forms of the Courageous Conversations protocols, learning how to infuse school curriculum with this methodology developed by Glenn Singleton. The food and entertainment was a key part too, from amazing poets like Jessica Care Moore, to a dance party with the inimitable Doug E. Fresh, to jazz brunch, and youth talent.
Inner Strength’s team and board will be doing more work with Leashia over the year, to make visible submerged ideas and beliefs, learn skills to dismantle systemic white privilege that runs through our culture, and expand the ways that we can support the potential and flowering of creativity of everyone.