Is Your School Ready to Follow a Black Leader?

Ralinda Watts
4 min readOct 20, 2022

The Black@ movement on Instagram delivered an honest blow to the ills of systemic racism rampant within the independent school community and illuminated the scarcity of Black students and faculty. A specific call to action that demanded accountability was the alarming lack of representation of Black educators with decision-making power who held senior administrative leadership positions.

This long overdue critique, along with the simultaneous retiring and disappearing act of senior white leaders, ushered in a legion of position openings, making way for more racially diverse leadership. Specific to Black educators, the aftermath of the short-circuited racial reckoning of 2020 made it possible for new Black leadership to emerge in the form of head of school roles, division directors, and, in some cases, the elevation of the DEI director role, reimagined as the assistant head of school for community engagement and belonging.

However, along with this call for more Black leadership came the emergence of community pushback against newly hired or appointed Black leaders. However loud the call was for increased Black leadership, I do not believe that school communities successfully explored what it truly means to support Black leadership, including effectively preparing the entire school community of families, students, and faculty for the onboarding of Black leadership.

What I mean by preparation is the conscious action of doing the deep work of investigating and interrogating biases that are structurally operating within the life of your school. The inherent pushback that Black leaders will face is palpable, and PWI communities must address the impact of historical anti-Blackness and racism head-on.

Preparing the community includes ensuring that the majority of white students and faculty are open to receiving direction from and accepting the decision-making of Black leaders. To achieve this lofty goal, school communities must be willing to be led by the Black leaders who now occupy roles that have for decades been embodied by mostly middle-aged white males.

As Black leaders continue to ascend into new leadership positions, their journeys continue to be riddled with navigating the “niceties” of discrimination, racial microaggressions, and Black fatigue. Black Fatigue gives credence to the daily realities of Black people in the workplace. In the context of school leadership, Black fatigue is especially true within

Ralinda Watts

Author+Diversity Expert +Consultant+Creative +Podcaster at the intersection of Race, Identity, Culture, & Justice. Let’s be in conversation. #RalindaSpeaks