Leader Spotlight: Deborah Oxnem

Deborah Oxnem has been working in customer service for over thirty years, focusing on client management for the past twelve. Currently the strategic accounts director for her company, she relies on direct and honest communication as the backbone of client relationships. Deborah is passionate about building successful partnerships in business and life for the mutual benefit and success of all parties. 

MAOL students complete an action research project to address a current leadership issue. For her project, Deborah used the scholarly personal narrative method to explore white privilege and systemic racism.

Revealing My Whiteness Through Meeting Systemic Racism
I changed the topic of my Action Research Project two weeks before my first class for the project. It was August 2017, and I had watched news coverage of the Unite the Right Rally and the violent acts that followed. I could no longer think about work-life balance as a main focus of my project and was compelled to focus on why this level of racist act was still happening in 2017. I used my action research project to reveal my whiteness by meeting systemic racism. 

I employed a Scholarly Personal Narrative method to explore whiteness and white privilege, a subject that was of serious interest to me from a developmental perspective. As the sole participant, I engaged critical race and whiteness theory literature and journaled my reactions and reflections to the material. The method and the materials led me through deep reflection of my own personal experiences to an understanding of the systemic nature of racism. 

I learned that racism is far too complicated of an issue to be resolved in my lifetime and it is bigger than any one person to solve. Education and exposure to critical race theory is a way to break through the barriers of one’s own experiences that may have led to a lack of awareness of the systemic nature of racism.  I experienced a breakthrough in my racial awareness and plan to continue my journey by learning how to be an ally.