Tag Archives: Seattle

9 traits of the kind of leaders we need in this time and place

flower-108685_1280Hi everyone, this post may be a little more serious than usual. Last week, Seattle lost one of our community leaders, legendary activist Bob Santos. “Uncle Bob” was one of the Gang of Four, also known as the Four Amigos, a group of racially diverse friends who hung out, sang karaoke, and fought injustice. The other three Amigos were Bernie Whitebear, Roberto Maestas, and Larry Gossett. They realized that they, and their diverse ethnic communities, were much stronger together, a philosophy that carried them through countless successful sit-ins, rallies, and other forms of protests in their fights around gentrification, poverty, funding inequity, fishing rights, and other issues. The friendship between these men—who are Black, Native, Latino, and Asian—and their activism, made Seattle better and continue to inspire countless people, including me.

The Four Amigos are a significant inspiration for the founding of my organization, Rainier Valley Corps, which has a mission of ensuring the nonprofit sector has a strong bench of leaders of color. We are building the next generation of 100 Amigos and Amigas. If a Gang of Four diverse leaders bonded by deep friendship can do so much for a community, imagine how much a Gang of 100 social justice leaders can do. This vision is what guides RVC, along with the question, “What kind of leaders do we need in this time and place?”

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The inequitable distribution of hope

Photo by Valeria Koulikova

This weekend the kids at our Saturday English School (SES) program had turkey for the very first time. We told them it was chicken…really large chicken. They had just arrived to the US this year, this was their very first Thanksgiving celebration, and turkey is a weird meat that they were not going to touch. After they eat the turkey and like it, we then say, “Ha ha, you just ate turkey and you liked it!” That’s how VFA rolls, following the motto for the SES program: “Curiosity, Perseverance, Deception.”

Over 120 kids showed up, middle and high-schoolers from all over the world. The program, done in partnership with Seattle World School (SWS) serves over 15 languages. I stood near the door and scanned the room, inspired by the students, some of whom take two buses to get to our program each week.

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