Todd Bristow is an MCNY MBA student, class of 2020,who has held leadership positions in the nonprofit sector. The library was fortunate to have his attendance at our last conversation event, “The Anti-Racist Reading List – Then and Now.” Todd brought his leadership experience with The United Methodist Church to bear powerfully on the discussion of racism and how to take it on in our MCNY community. So, we asked him to write a guest piece for the Library Newsletter with an eye to continuing and deepening the conversation.
“Dismantling Racism”: A Plan
By Todd Bristow, MBA MCNY
During my time of service on the leadership team of the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church several years ago, we were challenged by both the laity and clergy of over 350 churches in the North Texas area to come up with a strategy to address racism within our local churches across district lines as well as counties.
We undertook a coordinated effort that included securing the consulting firm Crossroads, known for their work in the collaborative reconstruction of antiracist systems. With the expert guidance of Crossroads, the leaders were able to join in listening sessions and workshops created to build strong bonds with one another and to tackle the tough work of “dismantling racism.” We were also able to eradicate policies that fostered systemic racism through the structure of the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church.
The results included cross-cultural appointments of clergy members, joint men’s, and women’s programs between churches that have large numbers of black and or white membership. We have extended to one-on-one mentoring partnerships among local churches and Big Brothers Big Sisters. In fact, because of the work facilitated by the Crossroads consulting firm, many of us are still exceptionally good friends and supporters of one another without bias or fear of the ‘unknown.’ We were able to deal with our fears and significant issues between and across racial lines.
Crossroads provided a book for us to read together and organized break-out discussion sessions and strategic planning to deal with the three phases of racism. These phases or levels are: 1- personal one-to-one racism; 2- Commerce / consumer / housing racism; and, 3- Institutional policy / employment / government and healthcare-related racism. Once we were able to identify what level or levels the –ism was coming from, we were able to think critically and address the issue(s) as leaders of a collective church body of 1.2 million people.
May I encourage the MCNY leadership as well as anyone who is in a leadership / HR role within their company or agency to secure the very able and powerful team of facilitators from Crossroads? Their website supplies key information on their trainings and philosophy.
My life and the lives of those who served with me during that time have been changed for the better after going through the process.