Last week, I wrote a blog post called “Hey progressives, can we stop using the tools of social justice to tear one another down?” The post resonated with many people, and I received lots of positive feedback from colleagues who felt seen and heard. However, there were also some disconcerting reactions as well. A few people from the opposite end of the political spectrum were gleeful—“Ha ha, the libs are attacking one another! Get the popcorn!”—which is to be expected.
More alarming were a few colleagues who dismissed the nuance and basically used the article to rationalize their fragility—“See, y’all were just meanies when you said I was centering myself as a white person! Stop using the term mansplaining!”—or stereotype whole groups of people—“POCs are always piling on white folks!”
The work we do in this sector is incredibly complex, and we must learn to exist in states that seem to be direct opposites of one another, such as gratitude and impatience, and grace and anger. A while ago, my colleague Tara Smith, who co-founded the Nonprofit Happy Hour and ED Happy Hour Facebook groups with me, pointed me to the concept of Polarity Management. I’m paraphrasing here, but polarities are usually two things that seem completely opposite, and we’ve been conditioned to think they can’t co-exist, but usually both are necessary, both can simultaneously be present, and in fact often are most effective when they are both present. For example, an effective leader being assertive AND humble. An artist being disciplined AND disorganized. An organization being flat AND hierarchical. An org plan being focused AND completely flexible.
[For more on this story, go to https://nonprofitaf.com/2018/0...nd-being-called-out/]