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The High Price of Hate: You Can’t Have My Son or My Soul!

family leadership Mar 24, 2021

“We do not inherit the world from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” - African Proverb.

For a parent, losing your child to hate is by far the worst nightmare imaginable. We were spared this pain and used the experience to spark a flame for helping people address issues of oppression in the schools, workplaces, and now communities of families. The prices that operationalized hate costs organizations, companies, and families have always been high and are steadily rising. Whether in lawsuits, recruiting, training, or retraining employees, mental anguish, shortened lifespans, epigenetic trauma, or broken families, the high price of hate continues to impact us all.

We began on a journey to address the very seeds of systemic racism that we know exist in corporations, organizations, and institutions all around us after almost losing our oldest son to racialized hate in a former sundown community. Thankfully he is doing fantastic as a college student-athlete and homeowner, but the experience was traumatizing for our entire family. Being an educational family, we knew that racism also originates and permeates in homes across America. What started over 15 years ago as instructional equity consulting organization has quickly risen to become a leader in facilitating interracial conversations about race using the development of historical racial literacy as a tool to address and understand mental models around race. Working in school districts, cities, police departments, companies, small businesses, and non-profit organizations across America and beyond, we know that developing a shared understanding of the history of race relations helps remove shame and blame to allow us to move forward together.  

While surviving a global pandemic at home with four children and one back and forth from college, we developed a renewed appreciation for what it takes to raise a child to lead their own family. Our three older kids were still learning so much that it would have been much easier to teach when they were younger if we had only had a framework. The 5 Pillars of Family Leadership are the backbone of our family, and during the quarantine, we were able to focus on our family and one another like never before. Building on our parental success, we decided to be an intentionally antiracist family and to develop our racialized historical literacy with our children and one another. Our family, like yours, is far from perfect, but as parents, we are so very proud of the moral, ethical, and deliberately anti-racist lens each of them possesses. As we shared this with other families, we were inspired to develop our work into courses and retreats for people, groups, families, and communities to learn how to be intentionally anti-racist in their personal, organizational, and family leadership. Now, we share them with families and leaders worldwide who have developed them into leadership legacies of their own.

Building on over 20 years as a professional trainer, leader, and educational practitioner for equity-driven antiracist corporate and individual leadership, combating systemic oppression from within, a common theme continues to arise. Many people do not know how to discuss controversial topics like race effectively and covertly fear people of color and shame their understanding of racial histories. There is also a general lack of understanding of what equity and anti-racism mean and looks like in practice. As our clients proceed through developing their knowledge, it is an absolute pleasure to witness their level of comfort with discussing issues of race increase almost overnight!

Now, we have the honor of doing this work every day as a family, and life couldn’t be better. We all have the power to reduce the harm associated with paying the high price of hate. It took almost losing my son to realize what my experiences had been showing me all along, that anti-racist leadership is the key, and it is critical for everyone. There is no room for any of us to be on the sidelines to address these issues, and they don’t have to cause more harm along the way. We can do this work safely together.

We are who we are raised to be. We can either be accidental racists or intentional anti-racists. We make a choice every day, and it is our Leadership Legacy!

I’m in this with you, 

Dr. Shelley

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