Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Support for Black Leadership

BOND: Now, the whole basis of this program — this is kind of a follow-up to the last — the whole basis of what we’re doing here today is the focus on black leadership. Is there a danger of divisiveness when you think about leadership in this racial way?

PINN: I’m not sure I understand the question.

BOND: There’re people who would say, you know, "Why are you focusing on black leadership, what about just leadership?" And I’m guessing there must be some people who say, "Why’re you focusing on minority women? Why aren’t you focusing exclusively on all women? Why are the concerns of minority women of interest or important or different in any way?" I mean —

PINN: It’s just such a given to me and I guess that’s the difficulty. To me, there are differences, so how can I express this? Well, we know that. In fact, I guess one of the basic principles I point out is that if we’re looking at studying women — why? It’s because we know that women are not exactly like men and we’ve known since early early years, not as scientists but as kids, that there’re differences between men and women and then if you applied that in terms of the scientific endeavor, it is learning how those differences may affect health, well-being, survival, longevity, diseases, and health. But just as we can’t assume that all women are the same as all men, we should not assume that all women are the same. And therefore it’s important regardless of one’s perspective or one’s heritage in a scientific endeavor to learn what are those differences among different populations and why do they exist? And, to me, that’s the fundamental concept for research to be as important as I think it is in overcoming health disparities.

Are there biological differences or are there societal factors that contribute to the high immortality for breast cancer for black women than for white women? Does it have something to do with the tumors we develop or does it have something to do with society and our lack of access to health care or how we’re treated in the health care system? So it’s all intertwined, some of it biological and some of it societal. I don’t think you can really always separate those factors and they are of importance. So, to me, it’s important that we understand these differences and where perhaps my own experiences from my own community or from my own life can help inform some of the directions in which we need to go or some of the scientific inquiries that need to be raised. I would like to think that that’s a valuable asset rather than a negative to this whole enterprise.