Mary Pender Greene
Cofounder, Anti-Racist Alliance
OUR GREATEST MOMENT
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my career is the value of networking, and the sense of community. We are at our greatest moment when we work together and help each other. People need people. A united and organized front is powerful and absolutely necessary.
I feel helping and mentoring others is my job. It is how I give back. It is my life. There was a time when I thought racism involved merely individual mean-spirited actions. Through my work with the Anti-Racist Alliance of New York, I have realized the structural and institutional nature of racism. I give back to the African-American community by educating and facilitating an understanding of structural racism. In collaboration with other organizations, the Anti-Racist Alliance hosts “Undoing Racism” workshops on a regular basis.
FACING THE CHALLENGE
The greatest challenge facing the African-American community today may be the focus on individualism and the resulting loss of a sense of community and collectivism. Trauma, including historical trauma, is another challenge. To make a difference in our African-American communities, we need to understand the impact of historical trauma on the African-American community, face the reality of it, and develop strategies to address these issues. Of course, as we at the Anti-Racist Alliance believe, organizing is the first step. “Let the healing begin.”
WHAT INSPIRES ME
There are many people who inspire me. I have relationships with many people, so it is not just one person, but many. As a matter of fact, I am writing a book about building relationships. I have people who I consider a “virtual personal board of directors.” They are like a “professional posse,” and each individual has their own specific talent. They have helped me achieve ongoing progress in my career of helping others. I am particularly inspired by the leadership of the Anti-Racist Alliance and The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. Both the members and leadership of these organizations motivate me to continue the struggle for equality and social justice.
MY LEADERSHIP STYLE
I am always willing to listen and help people “over hear” themselves and believe in themselves. Mentoring others and making connections through people. “I’m a good connector.”
My greatest strength is my ability to network and build relationships, which provides me with a wide variety of resources. In order to develop effective strategies for addressing structural racism, relationships and resources are a key factor. My work with the Anti-Racist Alliance depends on appropriate resources to continue our work of organizing communities to combat racism in our field and across society.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED
I am at my best as part of a collective, such as the Anti-Racist Alliance. For me the whole is naturally greater than the sum of the individual parts. I believe in the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” That is an organizational strategy.
BEST CAREER ADVICE
My advice is never practice alone. Organizing is essential. You always need others to bring out the best in yourself. Nothing is ever new, as someone has always come before you. Our ancestry is proof that we stand on the shoulders of others. Lastly, always “pay it forward” by helping others. Never give up and realize your strengths. Learn to love yourself and others. The struggle continues. Be a part of the struggle.
MY ALMA MATER
New York University School of Social Work, Master of Science in Social Work (1974)
New York University, Bachelors of Science in Pre-Social Work (1972)
WHAT I’M READING
Racial Identity Caucusing: A Strategy for Building Anti-Racist Collectives from Crossroads