Monday, April 28, 2008

Salsa en la Vida

Santana’s Grammy-winning album, Supernatural, is playing in the background, and a clearly fabulous woman is personally greeting everyone. I’m about to experience Salsa, Spirit, and Soul: Leadership in a Multicultural Age, and author Juana Bordas is already entertaining the crowd. I think she just did a salsa move . . . okay, yep, she’s full-on salsa dancing! This isn’t surprising, since Bordas views salsa (the condiment, at least) as a perfect metaphor for diversity. “Just as no two individuals are alike, every batch of salsa is unico,” she explains at today's Thought Leader session.

Bordas is the president of Mestiza Leadership International, a company that focuses on leadership, diversity and organizational change. Communities of color—in particular, black, Latino and American Indian—are redefining leadership styles in a multicultural age, Bordas says. She outlines the leadership principles—born out of historical exclusion and the need to have political influence—that can be distilled from these communities’ cultural values, such as learning from the past, developing a spirit of generosity (“mi casa es su casa”) and working together for the common good.

Bordas points to cities like Denver, which is well on its way to becoming a dynamic arts and culture hub, as an example of the transformative power of multicultural leadership. Denver has a rich history of diverse leadership, including the first Hispanic mayor to be voted into office in a non-Hispanic majority city.

Now Bordas is walking over to the CD player—we're going to salsa dance as a group, of course! But before we get to risk embarrassment, Bordas leaves us with this call: Honor your heritage, be yourself and share your story with others. It is through these practices that we can ultimately fulfill our destiny of an equal society. Then it's time to dance, with Bordas counting out the beats: quick, quick, pause; quick, quick, pause.

1 comment:

saracovla said...

Next best thing to being there. sigh.