We facilitated a network focused on improving early childhood education and care. The initial focus was to build leadership capacity and facilitate strategy development with stakeholders across a state to design a more holistic statewide structure for decision-making related to early childhood.
Initially, examining structural racism was not an explicit consideration. The IISC team raised the issue and guided the System Design Team into an awareness of the many ways that race and racism affect early childhood education and care. They have embraced the question and built racial equity into their strategy and ongoing learning.
To engage and build power, we:
- Explicitly explore power, exploring what it is, how it’s constructed, what it’s based on, and how to build it.
- Design ways to build “power with,” rather than exercising “power over.”
- Map backwards from racialized outcomes to institutional policies, practices, structures, culture, and discretionary decision-making that contribute to them.
- Explore interlocking systems of oppression (e.g., racism, sexism, etc.) and facilitate discovery of individuals’ own advantages and disadvantages in the current arrangements.
- Link systems analysis to unconscious bias, making these invisible structures visible.
- Strengthen interpersonal communication skills and support communications across power differentials.