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Role, Goal, Soul with Jesse Ross—An open story session and truths hosted by Let Go, Let Flow

jen-gilhoi
05.02.21
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Healing conversations in community are so needed right now. Chaz Sandifer and Dawn L. Johnson, co-founders of Let Go Let Flow (LGLF), have been hosting gatherings—mostly virtual—since July of 2020. They’re hosting leaders and those making safe space for critical dialogue and story sharing to advance social justice. They’re doing it with transparency, spirit and love.

On Wednesday, April 28th, at ModernWell, it was finally time to offer an in-person option to experience Let Go Let Flow. It was an incredible reminder of the power to feel energy in the room—emanating from all the humans who showed up as their best selves ready to hear hard truths and join in healing conversations.

True to the LGLF vibe, music set the tone for a relaxed welcome (no stuffy boardroom formalities here!) into The Well—ModernWell’s satellite meeting space next door to its main space. We elbow bumped, appreciated sweater swag (F*%k Racism), and smised (smiled with our eyes) behind our masks. Many of us experienced awkward moments in physical space thanks to the newness of coming out of our Covid cocoons.

Black, brown, white women and men gathered around the ModernWell table (as well as the joiners via Zoom), and we settled into listening. Chaz (pronounced Shay) and Dawn (a name she credits to her father’s wish to just keep it simple), led with the story behind Let Go Let Flow. It goes like this: Two Dope Women that organically came together through social impact, adversities, and their love for building community; and share their experiences through workshops, podcasts, and retreats.

As the in-person participants enjoyed their delicious individually packaged (covid-safe) vegetarian lunches catered by K’s Revolutionary Catering, Chaz turned it over to the event guest, Jesse Ross. Jesse is an entrepreneur, diversity and inclusion leader, executive coach and an international professional speaker. At Chaz’s prompt, Jesse spoke from the heart on what it’s like to be a Black man. Chaz and Dawn then shared their lived experiences as Black women. Those personal stories can be very vulnerable to share as well as hard for white folks to hold.

Whites want to empathize, step into it, “help.” We feel bad. But this conversation was about listening, holding those truths (thank you, Sonya Renee Taylor), and understanding white people will never have those same experiences, and then channeling that desire to “help” into action. That’s what we’re all interested in. That will move us forward.

Jesse also dropped some role, goal, soul wisdom on us. And as a husband, father of five, father figure for his nephew, and active member of the Northeast Minneapolis community, he has no shortage of roles. He encouraged us to think about our roles and all of their dimensions, find a way to show up and insert yourself. One early LGLF white ally chimed in to share a specific, very meaningful thing she’s done over the past months in accomplice mode—supporting a teacher who was being criticized for her anti-racist stance and sending a list of BIPOC literature to her child’s school and requesting they they add the titles to the mandatory reading list.

Jesse went on to share goals he’s had, one in particular upon the killing of George Floyd: to be there for his community; to gather people. This is exactly what he did by showing up for days after that tragic event at his church to barbecue, be in solidarity, and provide supplies and resources for the community. I can safely say all who were in the room are thinking about goals differently now.

And the soul component? Well that’s just a given in his world, and in Dawn and Chaz’s work. They ended our lunch hour together with a story about 5K Everyday Conversations and the group’s expansion into Northeast Minneapolis, which kicked off at 4:00am one chilly Minnesota morning. There’s nothing like Black, brown, and white women and men running the streets at this hour to truly know each other and the neighborhood, noted Jesse. Chaz did not let it go unnoticed that Jesse waited for them to finish the run and get back to their cars safely, “That feeling of protection, that’s not something that we as Black women get.” 

Ok. That all was Dope. And now we’re all a bit more enlightened. Let’s keep having the soulful, hard conversations and actively showing up. As Jesse noted, “That’s what you white women are really good at—showing up!”

 

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