The intersection of power, leadership, and multicultural inclusion into such a flexible dynamic is intriguing, not because it is generally overlooked by those in power who prefer to label multiculturalism as Minority, but because it may be the first time I have seen it considered seriously on such a scale. This puts some power into the hands of those most negatively affected by policy and allows them to take part in effecting change. In particular the APA multicultural guidelines call for activism by psychologists to effect change and achieve equality for all peoples affected by treatment of the so-called majority in various settings. Since I view objectivity, except in exceptional cases, generally impossible, it is refreshing to see activism and change agents at the professional level.
At the heart of the APA Multicultural guidelines is acknowledgement that the ethnic and cultural makeups of the United States population are changing and have been changing for several years. Living in Texas and California for a time, I realized that the so-called white majority was no longer a majority in either state. This was acknowledged by the census a few years ago, but while I was living in Texas, a local community radio station that was supposed to reflect the diversity of Austin did not and fought to keep control of the station and the board even while professing to be diverse and liberal. An attempt to create a diversity committee was not successful. In hindsight, I wonder if some aspects of community psychology would be beneficial?
In light of the psychopolitical aspect of power that I may not have been aware of before now (though certain aspects of it permeate my understanding of propaganda), I understand why certain organizational bodies are keen to retain control of information dissemination and decisions of power. The role that power plays in wellness could well be not just an evolutionary process but a revolutionary act if employed within a context of guiding and teaching, within multicultural sensitive norms, people how to care for themselves, how to eat to live and how to treat food as medicine rather than just an act of oral pleasure alone. Prillitensky requires “‘well-enough’ social and political conditions, free of economic exploitation and human rights abuses to experience quality of life.” (p. 124). Prilitensky confronts the political head without mentioning an ideal psychopolitical system. However, his description of well enough is uniquely anarchist based on a small scale societies-communities of mutual respect and equality of exchange. Intentional communities are based on anarchist principles in part, and it is something I plan to explore here and in the UK. Within the context of our studies at Tanner some of the questions we ask could possibly center on empowerment and personal control of health and community rights.
Reading the first chapters of Transformational Leadership gives me pause to wonder why some organizations that I have worked for insist on a top down approach, including the stratified non-profit I worked for. The standard procedure there was to go through my supervisor who went through another supervisor who went to a caseworker to determine the status of a client when the simplest distance between two points was talking directly to the caseworker. I still find that puzzling and inefficient and I find this book overdue and refreshing.
I am involved as faculty in an organization called IndividualEvolution.org whose goal is to evolve evolutionarily to evolve on a personal level from one person to another and thereby affect the bureaucracies to evolve as well. I see transformational leadership as a step in this process. I can espouse that change is the basic tenet of nature and existence and I do believe that nothing really remains static, even those that resist change by insisting that they are incapable of change (in spite of the biological process that occurs over several months where are cells are replaced in every part of your body but a few). However, at the organizational level, if things are not working, if technology has been updated and the organization has not, if there are social shifts, change becomes necessary. The maxim, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” may be apt here to point out that if things are working efficiently and evolutionary, there is nothing that needs to be addressed, but if the organizational processes are barely functioning and getting by, that is hardly, “ain’t broke.”
Prilleltensky, I. (2008). The Role of Power in Wellness, Oppression, and Liberation: The Promise of Psychopolitical Validity. Journal of Community Psychology, Volume 6, No. 2, 116-136.
Hacker, S., & Roberts, T. (2004). Transformational Leadership: Creating Organizations of Meaning. Milwaukee: ASQ Quality Press.
American Psychological Association, Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists. 2002.