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Meet Anti-Racism Activist, Elizabeth Leiba
And learn her views on moving anti-racism and equity forward
You’re probably tired of hearing me talk about the awesomeness that is #BlackLinkedIn, and all the wonderful activists I’ve met in the last 18 months. Bear with me, though, because Elizabeth Leiba is pretty impressive. She knows shedloads about Black history and culture, and also actively promotes Black women in business. Her LinkedIn posts are always educational, and I’m glad she’s in my network. Please meet Liz.
Liz, What made you become an anti-racism activist?
My path as an anti-racism activist began primarily after the murder of George Floyd sent me into an emotional tailspin. I had avoided the video of him being killed on social media for weeks. I knew after all of the other trauma from hearing about Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, it was just another trauma that I was unprepared to add to my heightened level of emotional tension. But I happened to have the television on one day when I was with my son. I didn’t even have the sound turned up when the news came on and the video started to play. I remember being paralyzed with fear at the horror of what I had witnessed. In that moment I felt like I had to do something.
Over the next few weeks, I felt so much anxiety, and I just had to channel that energy somewhere. My voice became a way to create traction for change. I knew I had to do something.
What anti-racist cause are you most passionate about, and why?
The empowerment of Black women. Black women are typically the most marginalized in wages, hiring, promotions, business funding, healthcare outcomes. You name it, we have the highest rate of disparity. Yet, we have the highest proportional rate of graduation from college and advanced degrees. It’s something that really needs to change.
What form does your activism take?
I do a lot of advocacy work using LinkedIn. It just happened to be the platform I was the most active on last year and I wanted to use my voice in a meaningful and responsible way. I grew to almost 100,000 in that year and was named a LinkedIn Top Voice in Education. So that propelled me to launch my Black History & Culture Academy.
It’s an online learning platform with micro-learning courses on African history, African American history and DEI. I have around 50 courses currently in the program and recently added classes on Caribbean culture, Indigenous culture, and the LGBTQ Movement. I also provide courses on social media branding for those who might want to use social media to leverage their voices and business in the ways that I have. My goal is to add a dozen or so courses for K-12 in the next few months for parents who want to find ways to teach Black history to their children.
What response have you had?
The response has been largely positive. I get a lot of people who thank me for opening them up to information and ways of thinking they’ve never been exposed to. Of course, there will always be haters. There are people who think talking about racism is divisive. But I ignore them. Anyone who thinks racial equity and advocacy for it is divisive isn’t worth my time or effort. I’m here to educate people who need and want the knowledge, not people who are stuck in their ways and refuse to change.
In terms of anti-racism content, which are your top three articles or social media posts?
My favorite pieces of content have been articles in my LinkedIn newsletter or posts on the platform, where I focus on anti-racism through the lens of history and cultural awareness.
This article is about Black Queens and the legacy of strong Black women, who were leaders in pre-colonial Africa. In terms of anti-racism, I think it’s important to understand the fabrication of the archetypes and stereotypes related to Black women and how essential it is that we deconstruct them and reframe that harmful negative narrative.
This videos is one of my favorite because it’s from an anti-racism advocate who happens to be white. The catchphrase he uses “silence is compliance” echoes my constant refrain that we need those in the majority to speak up and be just as, if not more, vocal about anti-racism in order to move the needle for change.
This post is about America’s promise for potential and what we need to do as a country to move anti-racism and equity forward. The first step is admitting there is a problem that was not caused by the Black community and cannot be solved strictly within our communities. Change will come when those in the majority are willing to work actively to address inequity from that starting point.
Share one anti-racism article written by someone else that really made an impact on you.
This isn’t really an article that impacted me, but it’s a development in higher education that I think is awesome. As someone who has worked in higher education for almost 20 years and been a college professor for over a decade, I was happy to see Keene State College is offering a bachelor’s degree in anti-racist studies. It’s heartening to see potential for the next generation to learn about the importance of a holistic study of anti-racism practice because that’s how change will really take hold.
In relation to racism, what is your vision for the future?
That’s a great question. I have to admit, I’m actually less optimistic than I was a year ago. I’ve seen just how resistant people in the majority are. Many are either willfully ignorant or fail to acknowledge the seriousness of racism and how it affects Black folk in America. If anything, I think there has been more pushback and backlash against anti-racism in the last year. We see that in the campaign against CRT, for example. I’ve also seen just how hard it is to extricate racism systemically. Anti-racism is basically a lifestyle. You have eat, sleep, and breathe it. Until people are willing to do that, very little is going to change on a large scale.
Read more anti-racism writer interviews.
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2021. All Rights Reserved.