Powerful Women Paying it Forward: raceAhead

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It’s time to talk about women and political power.

My colleague Emma Hinchcliffe has pulled off a political power move of her own in The 25 Most Powerful Women in Politics, flagging 25 extraordinary women in a world where more women than ever before are serving in Congress, and more women than ever are influencing events behind the scenes in extraordinary, and newly inclusive ways. 

She quotes Stephanie Cutter, a former adviser to the Obama White House, who says everything old is new again, but with an important twist. “The dirty little secret about Washington is that women have been running things behind the scenes for a long time, but now they’re getting credit for it.”

The list has some familiar names, of course. No list would be complete without Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris, and the ever “notorious” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

But looking through the list, I was heartened to see women, including some of the usual suspects, who are not just enjoying power, but are looking for ways to share it with others who are not yet in the room. 

Case in point is Stacey Abrams, who has poured the time afforded her after her narrow defeat in the Georgia governor’s race into her voting rights advocacy group, Fair Fight.

And, if you dig into the work that Laurene Powell Jobs is supporting at the Emerson Collective (alongside her deft investments in media), you’ll see work that increases the likelihood that marginalized people can fully participate in civil life. Same is true for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who deserves credit for doing the work while staying in the spotlight.

People from non-majority culture groups typically have two options when they find themselves with some real position power: Assimilate into the old guard or pave the way to welcome new voices. 

In a political (and business) world that is undergoing rapid and explosive change, sharing power is more than a tactic, it needs to be a mission. Our collective fate just may depend on it.

Click through and let us know what you think.

Ellen.McGirt@fortune.com
@ellmcgirt

On Point

‘Hustlers’ makes the case for women in charge Stacy L. Smith is the founder of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, and helped launch the 4 Percent Challenge with actor Tessa Thompson and Time’s Up. The challenge was simple: If you’re in the movie business, commit to hiring a female director in an effort to increase the number of women helming major motion pictures. (It’s hovered at 4% for years.) All of the talent and leadership behind the new hit “Hustlers,” from STX Entertainment were signatories to the pledge, including director Lorene Scafaria and stars Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez. This success “shows us clearly just how much having women call the shots can upend the storytelling landscape,” says Smith. This big fat “told ya so,” is rewarding reading. Enjoy.
Washington Post

Descendent of former enslavers sues after a newspaper reported that he is a descendent of former enslavers I picture it this way: Edward Dickinson Tayloe II poured a cup of coffee, opened the C-Ville Weekly, of Charlottesville, Va., and read this: “Tayloe, 76, comes from a First Family of Virginia that was one of the largest slave-owning dynasties in Virginia.” Turns out, the family had also “antagonized black people” for generations, according to a University of Virginia professor. Tayloe is now suing the paper, reporter, and professor for defamation and asking for $1 million in damages. It appears to be the first lawsuit of its kind.
Washington Post

Is data helping to make the case for socially responsible investing? Could very well be, argues my colleague Matt Heimer in this compelling analysis. There is a growing body of research that suggests that ESG investing strategies, that is, considering a company’s environmental impact, social impact, and governance as part of a decision to invest in their stock, can make you real money. But a new report from BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research seems to clinch the case. Click through for details, but the bottom line is that a portfolio oriented to ESG metrics would have outperformed the overall market by up to 3 percentage points a year for the past five years. And tools for measuring ESG behaviors are getting better. “Why would any investor not want to use this stuff?” Savita Subramanian, BAML’s head of U.S. equity and quantitative strategy, tells Fortune.
Fortune

The fictional case for reparations Ta-Nehisi Coates has published The Water Dancer, his long-awaited first novel. Set on a plantation in 19th century Virginia that lies along the Underground Railroad network, it’s Coates’s attempt to bring the lived experiences of enslaved people into sharp relief. It’s an attempt to destroy the myth-making around slavery and the Confederacy, he says in this new interview. The facts of slavery aren’t enough to make the case for any form of real justice. “Robert E. Lee is a historical figure, and there’s a mythological Robert E. Lee,” he says. “I felt that maybe there was an opportunity to do the exact same thing with black people who lived under the period of enslavement, that there were stories and myths that could be drawn out and written in a compelling and literary way.”
PBS

On Background

What a glorious time it is to be a historian Meet Kelly Lytle Hernández, a UCLA professor who’s known as a “rebel historian,” and newly minted MacArthur Fellow. Growing up in San Diego near the Mexican border, she was deeply affected by the many “disappearances”—Black youth into the prison system, Mexican immigrants through deportation. Now, as a historian and expert on mass incarceration, immigration, and race, she considers herself a disrupter. “It was growing up in that environment that forced me to want to understand what was happening to us and why it seemed legitimate,” she tells NPR’s All Things Considered. “And I wanted to disrupt that legitimacy.” Her research has led her to create something she calls the “rebel archive,” a set of records “that have been authored by the people who have fought policing and incarceration across centuries [including court records].” History now belongs to the rebels, not the winners. “[W]e’re talking about developing newly empowered communities, new winners, and so we’re beginning to rewrite our own stories.”
NPR

The sexist and ableist roots of the attacks on Greta Thunberg We could talk about this remarkable young woman all day, one who stands shoulder to shoulder with young activists who have been fighting for climate action for years. But one thing is clear: She brings out the very ugly in some very powerful people. “Autistic girls tend to face a lot of pressure not just to act like non-autistic people, but also to live up to the same gendered expectations many girls face,” Julia Bascom, executive director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, told Vox. “We always have to be smiling and compliant.” While Thunberg herself seems unfazed, the intersection of sexism and ableism is a profound one for others. “I’m not public about my diagnosis to ‘hide’ behind it, but because I know many ignorant people still see it as an ‘illness,’ or something negative,” Thunberg said in a tweet. “And believe me, my diagnosis has limited me before.”
Vox

Look at all these very good dogs Some 12 years ago, 47 dogs were rescued from a dog-fighting operation run by NFL star Michael Vick. Spare a moment to see how beautifully their stories were able to be turned around by some dedicated caregivers and a lot of love. Come to find out, their rehabilitation also changed the animal rescue and care community. The star of this story is the Best Friends Animal Society’s 3,700-acre animal rescue sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, a place that anyone can support and visit as a hands-on volunteer. It was one of the best spring break vacations my family ever had, and we can assure you the place is filled with very, very good and happy dogs. (And cats, and horses, and all sorts of other animals who are getting a second chance at life.)
Washington Post

Tamara El-Waylly helps write and produce raceAhead.

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Quote

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.”

—T.S. Eliot (born on this day in 1888).

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