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7 Characteristics Of Liberated Black Leadership

A large group of Black people, smiling and waving on a beach.

Photo by Inatimi Nathus.

How many times have you heard someone reference “the characteristics of white supremacy”? Internalized racism and internalized white supremacy are real and what is on the other side of that is a community of love and resistance. At Rockwood, we would add that in order to reach that community of love, we as leaders must embody the characteristics of Liberated Black Leadership – de-centering the rejection of “whiteness”.

These characteristics are intuitive, and while there’s no officially defined list, I tapped into the wisdom of my body and my own ancestors to come up with 7 characteristics of Liberatory Black Leadership I feel to be true:

  1. Centering Anti-Racism & Pro-Blackness.

    Enough said. ✊🏿✊🏾✊🏽✊🏼

  2. Unapologetically Taking Up Space.

    What do we have as Black leaders if not a spacious and ever-expanding opportunity to dream? Who we are and the work we do is built on bursting through the barriers that western society would have us believe exist for us. Liberatory Black Leadership is showing up with an unapologetic understanding that systemic barriers do not restrain us, or our cultural expansiveness.

  3. Leading from Abundance.

    Capitalism built upon the pillars of white supremacy would have us believe that our value and worth as leaders can only be measured by our material productivity and wealth. As Black leaders, we are constantly living into values that lead us from productivity to rest, from wealth to impact, and self-worth to self-love.

  4. Being Seen (and felt) Fully.

    We understand that sometimes as leaders, we can be breaking glass ceilings by way of representation alone. What’s beyond that is being seen as our whole selves (flawed, powerful, sarcastic, loving) and dispelling the story of needing to be “better than” any other counterpart. In Liberated Black Leadership, we return to what it means to be felt as fully human in partnership for a better future together.

  5. Prioritizing Rest.

    I know you all know at least one Black leader in your life who lets out a long – and loud! – sigh every time they sit down. That is the release through which we do all the things! Black leaders have a deep practice of release & rest. With each exhalation, we are cultivating the space we need to better adapt to ever changing environments (such as that absolutely-wild-but-true press statement that’s going to impact your travel plans next month).

  6. Cultural Celebration.

    This is about going a few steps further than “accepting” that other-ed colleague. Liberatory Black leadership rejects tokenism and celebrates cultural differences – especially within polylithic communities – and centers the authentic expression of one’s self.

  7. Leading for Legacy.

    Liberated Black leaders are our ancestors’ wildest dreams attained, and we lead trusting that we have a movement of Black liberated leaders at our backs and the support and love of our communities that we in turn invest into the next generation of leaders. Who is part of the legacy you will leave behind?

I invite you into a somatic practice of your own as a practice of locating your felt sense of liberated Black Leadership. What are some of the qualities you noticed in your own body? How else does liberatory Black leadership show up in you? Let us know in the comments, below!

Liberation, boundless joy, and space to just BE
at the HeArt Of Black Leadership

Applications are now open for the next session of the HeArt Of Black Leadership, November 6 – 10!


This post was inspired by Rockwood’s Fellowship for Prenatal-to-Three Leaders curriculum, designed by JK Nelson, Yeshi Heumann, Ally Tufenkjian, and Melanie Anne Winston.

One Comment

  • Callum Hancock says:

    I learned so much from the first one, and I am looking forward to the next one and the transformation that will come from all the learning that I and others will receive from this leadership program.