COLLEEN KENNY

Calling in not calling out

As a socially conscious Gen-Xer, I find myself smack dab in the middle of the so-called culture wars and specifically “cancel culture.” A lifelong writer, I tend to have an expansive view of art, expression, and free speech. And as a feminist and student of history, I am also leery of appropriation, whitewashing, and exploitation. 

So the matter of who can say what about who where when and how is of particular interest to me. Try as I might, I never seem to have it all figured out. 

One thing I DO know is that the conversation is the relationship. If you are not in conversation with others, there is no hope for change. And there is A LOT that needs changing in our world today. 

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Ain’t that the truth? Taking on the mantle of parenthood, and any kind of leadership role requires dedicating ourselves to something greater than ourselves. A future for the collective that is better than the one we inherited. 

So I don’t throw up my hands. I keep learning. Over the years in business and in my teaching career, I have had direct reports, students, and peers who had strident views about what’s acceptable. At times I, too, have been sucked into the strife. But experience has taught me that judgment is a bottomless pit. The best path to relief is to take constructive action rather than just bitching. It calls to mind one of my favorite quotes from Warren Buffet, “Predicting rain doesn’t count, building arks does.”

Often we are losing the plot with our eagerness to judge and condemn others. I repeatedly observe how unproductive shame, anger, and criticism are in the workplace and classroom, and how recognition and appreciation can get previously disengaged, unmotivated students and personnel into an open, receptive, and collaborative mindset. It’s not easy, especially when we have to humble ourselves first to set the tone. But we can suck it up, be brave and just do it because it’s worth it! 

I am very excited to be starting a 6-week course with dred feminist Dr. Loretta J. Ross tomorrow night. I learned about her by watching her TED talk. Check it out and let me know your thoughts! 

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