Dax-Devlon Ross: Writing my piece was important for me, because I have struggled as a consultant over the last couple of years with organizations who are really stuck with topographic like, superficial shift, and using Black people as a means by which to communicate to every, and signal something. And I’m just, I see the exhaustion, the pain, the way in which even, in particular, horizontal violence and horizontal harm really shows up relative to Black leaders in organizations—that they have been hired under the auspices of leading this organization but actually having to do a lot more than that.
And [I] wanted to maybe assert that there was some other means by which we could address these challenges beyond naming white dominant culture. I feel like there’s a stuckness sometimes that happens in only naming that, because it becomes naming what we don’t want, and [we] aren’t spending enough time around naming what we do want. And that’s hard to do that, because it requires courage. But it also requires some rootedness in history and understanding that we brought a lot to this country. We’ve actually taught this country—like, I always think about—this country has an obsession with liberty, but we actually brought a lot of the ideas around freedom. And so when we’re talking about freedom as a concept, I often find that most people in scholarship don’t actually draw upon Black thinking for anything. I bring [W. E. B.] Du Bois into some of my work with some of my clients. They’ve never met Du Bois! I’m like, how do you not, how can you have never even interacted with Du Bois? How do you not interact with these thinkers? It’s because they don’t really perceive us as having intellectual contributions. So I just really wanted folks to understand that the call-in isn’t just to bring new Black bodies into the space and Brown bodies into the space, but to bring in the actual ideas that we’ve always been contributing. And so they hear what I’m trying to present, and they assume, in a very narrow way, that in some ways it doesn’t include them. I’m like, actually, we’ve always included y’all. That’s all we ever do. We have always been inclusive. This whole notion that we’re narrow and only think about Black people, that’s just a lie.