The Time to Lead is Now: NFJC Discussing Racial Inequities


To enact change in our society, it’s vital to understand systemic racism. The National Federation for Just Communities (NFJC) helped us to understand the role that racism and oppression plays in our society and provided the tools to help change it.

Racism is real and persists in our daily lives even if we may not feel it personally. Though it may feel uncomfortable, it’s important that we have conversations about racism with our peers and colleagues. Staying silent and not having these conversations only ensures that change will not happen which is unacceptable.

Understanding Systemic Racism

Discrimination is a part of our human nature. We naturally gravitate towards things we know we like and that make us feel comfortable. We each have the pizza place we always order from because we believe it’s better than any of the other ones. The discrimination against other pizza places makes our decision-making easier.

This instinct to discriminate becomes an issue when it’s turned towards humans. Though there are many forms of discrimination, race discrimination is often the one that is the most apparent. When discrimination and the prejudices that result from it inevitably influence our law making, we implement systems that make it impossible for those who are deemed “less” to benefit.

Affecting Change

Before we affect change, we must understand where it needs to come from. Real change needs to happen systemically as it is the systems in our society that oppress. Systemic change takes time and requires patience and continual reinforcement. But it is the only way we will see change.

This type of strategic change must be intentional, transparent, measurable, and continual. There are three areas to focus on when striving to create lasting change.


We all must understand the issues we’re struggling with before we try to change them. Seek out books, movies, podcasts, etc. to teach yourself more about the black experience. Strive to understand the parts of history that are often overlooked in traditional education so you can truly understand how long racism has influenced society and its decision making.

Have difficult conversations. Tell your black friends and colleagues you are there to listen to them if they would like to share how they encounter racism in their daily lives. Consider your past decisions and experiences. Were there instances where you could have acted differently to be more of an ally to others?

If you are a parent, have these conversations with your children. Seek out books and movies that highlight persons of color. Raise your child to be an ally that stands up for others. The NFJC is currently creating content that parents can use to help guide these conversations. You can learn more on their website.


As leaders, it is our responsibility to start these difficult conversations and encourage others to educate themselves. Provide access to information by encouraging your team to participate in trainings or sharing what you’ve learned from the various mediums and conversations you’ve sought out.


Finally, we must participate. We must actively show up and be present in the conversations about racism and the changes that need to be made. We need to demand change from ourselves, our organizations, and our government leaders.

And we must vote. Though it takes longer, voting for candidates that share our values and support this work is the best way to implement systemic change in our society.

Avoiding Roadblocks

Change is hard and there will be roadblocks along the way. People become overwhelmed by the amount of change that is necessary. It can be uncomfortable and scary to see that change may look different than one thought or affect them more than expected.

It’s hard and takes time, but it is doable. It’s important to remind yourself of what you can do: get involved in the cause, listen to and advocate for others, and VOTE.


NFJC Website

Leadership Buffalo Racial Literacy Training

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