Sheila M. Beckford
Co-Author and Co-Founder
E. Michelle Ledder
Co-Author and Co-Founder
In May 2019, Sheila M. Beckford and E. Michelle Ledder met for the first time in the aftermath of racialized terror. The circumstances were unusual but not unique. A prominent, mostly white social justice board of directors had gathered at a retreat center in Maryland – but not for the reasons one might first imagine. Earlier that year, one of its white directors had perpetrated a series of racist acts upon Black people who gathered at a national meeting to fight against the discrimination of another group. The board convened in May to address what had happened and to figure out what they needed to do to repair their reputation and “become anti-racist.”
Beckford, a Black woman and chair of the New York Black Caucus attending the national meeting, was one of the Black people who was targeted by the racist acts. She was there to name exactly what happened as one way to challenge the board to deal directly with what they had done. Ledder, a white woman who served a global non-profit as their Director of Equity and Anti-Racism, was brought in by the board to highlight the racism brought forward from Beckford’s and other Black leaders’ experiences. Beckford and Ledder named racism in straightforward ways – Beckford as a Black woman who was targeted by and has fought against racism her whole life, and Ledder as a white woman who was there to teach the white board members the specifics of the racism they enacted and a way toward becoming an anti-racist organization.
4REALS began from a one-time dialogue about racism between two strangers and a social justice board of directors. However, it quickly turned into an ongoing friendship and working partnership that highlights honest, insightful, incisive, and increasingly generative co-facilitated training and consulting about racism and anti-racism. An anti-racist intervention at a Maryland retreat center grew into Anti-Racism 4REALS training and consulting firm, a co-authored book (Anti-Racism 4REALS: Real Talk with Real Strategies in Real Time for Real Change), with future projects in the works. Anti-Racism 4REALS, centered in the 4REALS method, brings the proven thought leadership and agile skill set training for any organization to create, sustain, and protect an anti-racism culture for itself and its partnerships. Our goal is to provide the content (the WHAT), the pedagogy (the WHY), and the ACTION-NOW Learning Engagements (the HOW) to every person and group who is willing to believe that every single person can do anti-racism right now… if they choose to do so. Join us and let’s do Anti-Racism 4REALS together, for real.
Sheila M. Beckford
Sheila M. Beckford is a graduate of Drew Theological School, where she earned her MDiv. Her experiences with internalized racism at a young age, her mother's stories of injustice, and early exposure to anti-black and anti-racism films and readings helped develop a passion for anti-racism work.
She has served on various committees and organizations where she used her voice and influence to demand equity. She has also conceived and led anti-racism workshops and training sessions. Her life's commitment is liberation through anti-racist and anti-internalized-racism work.
E. Michelle Ledder
Most recently, Dr. E. Michelle Ledder worked for five years in a global, non-profit agency as their Director of Anti-Racism Education, helping them live into increasingly honorable forms of anti-racism, anti-oppression more broadly, and racial equity. In Oct 2021, Chalice Press released her co-authored book, “Anti-Racism 4REALS: Real Time with Real Strategies in Real Time for Real Change” and, with her co-author, has been busy introducing the 4REALS method to groups ready to do anti-racism work, right now. Having written and facilitated hundreds of workshops and learning activities, she has helped thousands of people – especially white people – do the work of anti-racism rather than just talk about it. Ledder is an Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and currently serves as an Assistant Minister at Metropolitan AME Church in Washington DC, where the Rev. William Lamar, IV is pastor. Michelle just recently completed her PhD at Emory University (2022). Her dissertation addresses how those of us who are white can do the work of anti-racism most honorably by highlighting practical tactics that reflect that we are the group who benefits from racism even while we work to dismantle it. She currently resides in Baltimore City with her dog, a pit/boxer mix, named Cashmere.
THE 4REALS METHOD
We live now in a time when the importance of anti-racism increasingly emerges as a critical area of training for organizations, schools, churches, businesses, and government. However, not all anti-racism trainings are created equal. Some focus on intercultural competency but fail to address racial inequities that lurk in policies and procedures. Some focus on diversity and increase representation across lines of racial difference but fail to honor the ideas, strategies, and personhood of BIPAL (Black, Indigenous, Pacific-Islander, Asian, Latino/x) people. What is needed is anti-racism groundwork at all levels of prior experience and at all levels of organizational structure that actually disrupts and interrupts racism. We, at Anti-Racism 4REALS, created the 4REALS method of Real Talk with Real Strategies in Real Time for Real Change, to do just that.
REAL Talk: places what is needed for discussions about racism and anti-racism in direct contact with how to say the uncomfortable things, how to do the uncomfortable things, and how to remain honorable and authentically human all the while
with REAL Strategies: prioritizes ACTION-NOW Learning Engagements to move everyone beyond just talking about racism to immediate anti-racism actions as soon as you leave the training session or click “leave meeting.” REAL STRATEGIES moves from learning and talking about anti-racism work to the actual work of racial equity and justice.
in REAL Time: incorporates role-plays and participatory learning in workshops so that people are more prepared to interrupt racism in real time. Anti-Racism 4REALS believes that anti-racism modeling happens even during training, interviews, or consulting. Thus, participants will witness and experience anti-racism strategies modeled by facilitators within the anti-racism content, presentation of content, participatory engagement of skill sets, and correction of racism in REAL TIME.
for REAL Change: crafts accountability templates and measures to ensure that tangible, meaningful, and powerful change for racial equity and justice replaces good intentions and workshops. REAL CHANGE provides ways to track, assess, and analyze successes and failures, and make on-the-go shifts that avoid the most common roadblocks and obstacles to anti-racism work.