Leadership & Learning Letters

Written by Deanna Rolffs, Senior Design Consultant
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But do we have to call it white supremacy?

Posted by Deanna Rolffs on Jun 16, 2021 6:00:00 AM

“Why do we have to call it white supremacy? Wouldn’t it be received better if we called it something else?”

“The term white privilege is too off-putting. Can’t we use a softer term?”

“You talk a lot about whiteness. Do you hate white people?”

I could paint a sign on my forehead that I don’t hate white people, but I’m doubtful that would help. We could change all the words above, replacing white supremacy, white privilege, and whiteness, but we'd still need accurate terms to describe the concepts used. The revamped terms would likely still be off-putting and threatening.

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Topics: leadership development, Design Group International, White Supremacy Culture, anti-racism, anti-white supremacy, diversity, equity, inclusion, anti-oppression, Critical Race Theory, Miseducation, definitions, Leadership & Learning Letters, Deanna Rolffs Consulting

Meet my best friend: burnout

Posted by Deanna Rolffs on Jun 2, 2021 6:00:00 AM

I am an utter failure at self-care.

It’s not because I haven’t tried, I swear! I’ve tried five million strategies: journal, schedule exercise, prioritize me-time, modify my bullet journal strategies to get more organized, set more healthy boundaries at work, practice mindfulness, embrace intuitive eating, breathe, etc., etc. and etc.

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Topics: leadership, Women leaders, learning, brave, burnout

Are you afraid?

Posted by Deanna Rolffs on May 19, 2021 6:00:00 AM

What scares you? Your hands shake and you can’t catch your breath. Butterflies swirl in your stomach. Your internal voice yells: “I can’t do that. They’ll know I’m a fraud. I’ll mess everything up! Why would I even try?”

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Topics: leadership, Women leaders, learning, brave, fear, vulnerability, voice, justice, lead, vision, retreat

But I Earned That! How Dominant Narratives Impact Us.

Posted by Deanna Rolffs on May 6, 2021 6:00:00 AM

In my Midwest, Christian middle school I learned about manifest destiny and westward expansion. I was a wide-eyed youngster, listening to glorified stories of Lewis and Clark and the California Gold Rush. We spent weeks creating models of wagons traversing the Oregon Trail.

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Topics: leadership, learning, equity, racial equity, counter narratives, dominant narratives, systemic oppression, bootstraps, lens, dehumanization, individualism, meritocracy

What Do You Mean Brave Spaces? I Want Safety!

Posted by Deanna Rolffs on Apr 21, 2021 6:00:00 AM

“OK, now I feel like you are attacking me,” Katie said quietly, as she shrank into herself. MTV’s #whitepeople video illustrates Katie’s conviction that People of Color took scholarships that belonged to her. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and filmmaker, Jose Antonio Vargas, shared data illustrating the fact that white students receive a higher percentage of scholarships than students of color. Katie held an expectation of safety; agreement to her is safety and disagreement is an attack.

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Topics: learning, brave, power, White Supremacy Culture, privilege, safe, leading

Wait, Are You Saying I Have Power?

Posted by Deanna Rolffs on Apr 7, 2021 6:00:00 AM

What does power feel like, look like, sound like?

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Topics: leadership, learning, power, anti-racism, anti-oppression, marginalization, oppression, fragility

The False Allure of Technical (vs. Adaptive) Leadership

Posted by Deanna Rolffs on Mar 24, 2021 6:00:00 AM

The path isn’t a straight line; it’s a spiral. You continually come back to things you thought you understood and see deeper truths. - Barry H. Gillespie

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Topics: process consulting, leadership, journey, power, anti-racism, anti-white supremacy, technical problems, woman-owned business, business startup, privilege, anti-oppression, new consulting practice

Part 2 - Anti-White Supremacy: Mileposts and Calls to Action

Posted by Deanna Rolffs on Mar 10, 2021 6:00:00 AM

How do you react to messy things? Embrace? Eschew? Ignore? Make peace? Fight?

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Topics: leadership, learning, courage, brave, growth mindset, power, White Supremacy Culture, whiteness, love, anti-racism, anti-white supremacy, equity, inclusion, racial equity

Part 1 - Anti-White Supremacy: Who am I, as a white person, to be anti-racist?

Posted by Deanna Rolffs on Feb 24, 2021 6:00:00 AM

What does it mean for me as a white woman to be anti-racist? I'm learning  that these things are imperative: learn about the system of white supremacy, grow white consciousness and deeply understand power. Anti-racism is not a destination nor a way of being; it's a leadership and learning practice that is more relevant and necessary than ever. 

Everything I know about white supremacy I have learned from People of Color. Yet I see white supremacy culture evidenced more clearly every day in myself, my relationships, our institutions, and U.S. systems. Recently Sam Sanders, on NPR's It's Been a Minute, interviewed Claudia Rankine. Dr. Rankine shared that "Black people didn't create racist systems; it's up to white people to fix it."

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Topics: leadership, learning, courage, brave, power, White Supremacy Culture, whiteness, love, anti-racism, anti-white supremacy, diversity, equity, inclusion, racial equity

Perfectionism Pressure: It's Killing Your Soul

Posted by Deanna Rolffs on Feb 10, 2021 6:00:00 AM

I grew up frozen, in fear of the next arrow if I wasn’t perfect. I was enculturated to shrink from authentic feedback. Whispered trash-talking was a common response to any mistake. How can we proceed when perfection is expected?

I received my first consultant role at 26 years old. They were drawn to my non-traditional perspective: a social worker with organizational change background working with a diverse team serving thousands of K-12 educators, administrators, and superintendents. Soon after nervously facilitating a few groups, I learned through the grapevine that one administrator told my boss: “don’t you ever put her in front of my team.” They expected perfection, a specific pedigree.

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Topics: leadership, learning, courage, growth mindset, Brene Brown, power, joy, community, perfectionism, vulnerability, White Supremacy Culture, laughter

Deanna Rolffs
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