These past months brought a lot of excitement as people debated and voted in (or out) a new class of elected representatives. We saw large voter turnout across the nation and many first time voters: 18-year olds, new U.S. citizens and those who felt compelled to be more involved given our current political climate. But even if you didn’t vote, you’re an important part of what happens next.
In the fall of 2015, I was honored to be chosen as a member the Transformational Leadership Program’s third cohort. TLP was designed to create a pipeline of leaders of color and equip them with “critical skills and knowledge required to fill positions of influence across Grand Rapids to support systematic change and to achieve racial equality.” As part of our graduation requirements, we had to write a final reflection paper answering several questions about our learning and experience with the program. The following blog post was my response to the question, “What has been your most significant area of growth of the course of the program?”
Racism, socio-economic inequities and gender based violence are part of the lived experiences of Black men and youth in the Grand Rapids community. To address the generational trauma and post traumatic stress disorder affecting these young men -- a wrap around services and culture of belonging is not only important but necessary. Family Outreach Center, member of our collective, is addressing the trauma head on -- with clinicians who look like and understand the experiences of these valued members of our society.
The Urban Core Collective is one of a rising contingency of voices contributing to leadership development discourse in this city in a manner that unveils invisible truths, disrupts notions of ‘rugged individualism’ and makes place for the voice and visibility of leaders of color.
Kendra Avila, a Grand Rapids resident passionate about equity and social justice, shares her experience attending the Urban Core Collective Refuel Road Trip to the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia and why she strives to build a community of belonging.