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  • Writer's pictureCoCreative

White Supremacy Culture and Systems Change, with Dr. Tema Okun

20 years ago, Tema Okun wrote the article, "White Supremacy Culture Characteristics," an article deeply informed by her relationships with many genius teachers and colleagues.

We are grateful to Tema Okun, Karen Proctor, Diane Johnson, our colleagues Marta Ceroni from the Academy for Systems Change and Luis Alejandro Tapia from Illuminate for joining us in our inquiry to learn more about white supremacy culture, discuss how it's shifted in the last 20 years, and explore implications for our work in complex systems change.

Download the slide deck we used in this session and review the collective wisdom and resources shared during the session. We also invite you to visit Tema's new website and share her updated article, White Supremacy Culture - Still Here.

Because of the generosity of the registrants for this session, we raised $5000 to support and amplify the work of EarthSeed Land Collective.


Tema Okun has spent over 30 years working with and for organizations, schools, and community-based institutions as a trainer, facilitator, and coach focused on issues of racial justice and equity. Dr. Okun currently works with the Teach.Equity.Now. collaborative which houses the Teaching for Equity Fellows Program currently offered at Duke University in Durham, NC, and Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC. The program works with faculty seeking to develop stronger skills both teaching about race and racism and across lines of race, class, and gender. She also facilitates, consults, coaches, and consults with leaders and organizations nationwide.

Tema is a member of the Bhumisphara Sangha under the leadership of Lama Rod Owens. She is an artist, a poet, and a writer. She lives in Hillsborough NC where she is fortunate to reside among beloved community. Her current project is deepening her ability to love her neighbor as herself. She is finding the instruction easy and the follow through challenging, given how we live in a culture that is afraid to help us do either or both.

Karen Proctor is a nationally recognized leader in social innovation, Karen advises CEOs, corporate, non-profit and philanthropic executives on how to best galvanize people, resources and organizations to design creative solutions for lasting social change. She has served as the chief social responsibility officer and strategist for global corporations and as president of a family foundation. Her work in service of more than 300 organizations has honed her expertise in strategic planning and acting, initiative design, cross-sector collaboration and stakeholder management. Karen is known for her thought-leadership and passion for producing transformational outcomes. She is a Babson College senior social innovation fellow and is on faculty at the School of Visual Arts MFA Design for Social Innovation program.

Dr. Diane Johnson is CEO and Founder of Mmapeu Management Consulting, a national​ ​organizational and leadership transformation firm committed to aligning mission, vision and​ ​values for social enterprises, philanthropic institutions, the social sector, purpose-driven​ ​businesses, B Corps, tech companies and market leaders. She is deeply committed to creating​ ​dynamic, sustainable and equitable models of market and community benefits. She currently​ ​​serves as Vice President of the Conscious Capitalism Bay Area Chapter. Since 1992, Diane​ ​has consulted, facilitated and trained on strategic development; cultural capacity, diversity,​ ​inclusion and equity; organizational development, institutional capacity building, leadership​ ​development, collaboration and community engagement, program design, program evaluation​ ​and leadership development for more than 11,150 organizations and leaders.​ ​Clients have included the Kresge Foundation, the San Francisco Department of Public Health,​ ​the Social Venture Network, SOCAP, Opportunity Collaboration, Habitat for Humanity​ ​International, NeighborWorks America and HUD, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Episcopal​ ​Impact Fund and the C.S. Mott Foundation. She has been fortunate enough to work in South​ ​Africa, Mexico, Zambia and Zimbawbwe. Diane received her doctorate in Interdisciplinary​ ​Studies (sociology, organizational behavior, management and non-profit studies) from Tufts​ ​​University. Her dissertation focused on cross-sectoral leadership and collaboration between the​ ​business, government, social and community sectors. She holds a Masters in Nonprofit​ ​Management from the New School and her undergraduate degree in Communications with a​ ​marketing minor is from The University of Pennsylvania – The Annenberg School of​ ​Communications and The Wharton School. Dr. Johnson is also an ordained minister in the​ ​progressive Christian denomination of the United Church of Christ, focusing on the intersection​ ​of spirituality, social change and equity. She received her Masters in Divinity from the Pacific​ ​School of Religion at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA.

The Academy for Systems Change is a nonprofit organization focused on advancing the field of awareness-based systemic change in order to accelerate ecological, social, and economic well-being. We are a network of individuals, organizations, and other networks focused on cultivating thriving systems in education, marine ecosystems, business, sustainable communities, finance, and more. We work with leaders across multiple domains and ecosystems, recognizing the interconnectedness between them and the applicability of capacity building tools and frameworks across all.



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