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Paul Slack

Founder and Principal Consultant

paul@theequitycypher.com

"I'm living proof that knowledge is power"

Erykah Badu - The Healer

My Story

The Equity Cypher was founded in 2023 by me, Paul Slack, a long time DEI practitioner, after being led to consider how to expand my impact to reach a greater network of schools and organizations. This led to the creation of the Equity Cypher.

 

For the past 10 years, I have worked primarily in independent schools, building meaningful relationships with students, faculty, and communities to promote equity and inclusion. I believe in the power of  authentic relationships and experiential learning to drive change. I believe in that because I have seen it work. I've been there when a student has found the words to vocalize that they had been longing for someone who could explain to the school why certain classes were necessary and certain books were harmful. I've been there when a  teacher finally understood why their normative-language had distanced  students in their classroom. I've been there when a school learned the power of representative artwork on their community's feelings of belonging. Not only have I been there, I've led this work as an on campus DEI practitioner at several schools as well as a hired consultant.

My passion for equity comes from my family's history of justice work. I grew up with a pastor for a father which means that countless movie nights were interrupted by late night calls he received from church members in need. I watched him never complain about being needed, instead he considered it good fortune to be someone's support system. He was able, so he went. I soon realized this was how he went about justice work - where he was able, he went. And my father was able a whole lot. As a kid I mainly watched him in perpetual motion, always interested in where he was going and how he always found himself to be the one person everyone needed. As I got older that curiosity became more animating and I was eager to learn about where my father was going and what types of things he was doing while he was gone. Luckily, one of my dad's superpowers is that he teaches by experience. So my capacity for equity work was built in the countless hours I spent watching my dad work as an equity practitioner. I went to protests with him, I watched him advise the governor, I sat in school board meetings. But my passion for this work was forged at the dinner table when him and my mom and my brother and I would sit and talk about the impact of equity and violence of inequity. Dreams of what the world might look without racism, sexism, homophobia, etc were passed like my mother's restaurant quality food. 

And speaking of my mother, don't get it twisted, my mom has put in over 30 years in corporate America as a Black woman. Close your eyes and try to imagine the things she's heard and seen and been told. Surviving that world as a Black woman and escaping with dignity in tact and the self respect and the courage to fight against the status quo in support of underrepresented communities is nothing short of a miracle. To do all that and find the time to be the most qualified consultant for me in learning how to manage failure, disappointment, success and frustration on the job... well that's motherhood. 

A lot of people cite what they had to overcome to be successful, my story is who all I had to drag me when my feet got tired. I am buoyed by my mother, my father, my brother, my wife, my family and my friends in this work. I am never alone because to be alone in this work is to be perpetually on the verge of abandon and no one can work that way. No one can work and feel as if the days where things suck, and some days things will suck, that there is no end in sight. That is why we have support systems that surround you in a... cypher if you will. A cypher of love and support. That is why this work is personal to me and why I am so confident in my ability to stand in the cypher with you.

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