2022-06-19 – Attributes of White Supremacy Culture: Power Hoarding

As we work to dismantle racism in our institution, we are continuing our exploration of the attributes of White Supremacy Culture. Today we will look at the last one; Power Hoarding.

Power in an institution is controlled both through formal structures and informal relationships.

Power hoarding can be seen if there is little perceived value in sharing power, if power is seen as a limited commodity with only so much to go around, and if people in power feel threatened or personally attacked if anyone suggests changes in how things are done.

When there is power hoarding those in power don’t recognize that they are hoarding power or that they feel threatened by suggested changes. They believe they have the best interests of the organization at heart and see those suggesting changes are ill-informed, emotional, or inexperienced. They attack those suggesting changes rather than look at the suggestions as an indication that something is wrong. 

The antidotes for this require changes to institutional practices for governance and decision-making:

  • Power sharing should be an explicitly stated value
  • Power sharing and development of others must be goals against which leaders are evaluated
  • Leaders must understand that change is inevitable and challenges to leadership are often healthy and productive
  • Leaders should never take challenges personally
  • Focus on mission and values, rather than staying in business for the sake of staying in business
  • Leaders must learn and practice the racial equity principle of “know yourself”. Act from a place of integrity rather than fear or anxiety about your importance