I want to begin by acknowledging that I am a White woman writing about racism and that there is a problem with White people coming into spaces predominantly occupied by people of color and pretending to have all of the solutions. I am acknowledging the plea that many Black people have made for no more white saviors, and strive to center the voices of Black people in this movement.
However, I believe it’s important that White people do the work of helping educate our White friends and colleagues. This blog post is my way of sharing some things I’ve learned from the trainings, workshops, friends, conversations, books, information, and protests that I participated in, read and processed on my imperfect journey of seeking to understand, empathize and take actions to contribute to an antiracist world.
This time presents extreme challenges and burdens for members of Black communities across this nation, who face violence and loss due to a culture built on systemic practices of racial inequality and social injustice. Many have been profoundly and personally impacted by the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others, and by the violence against peaceful protestors in cities across the country. Additionally, many members of Black communities are experiencing a disproportionate loss of loved ones as a result of COVID-19, a clear consequence of health disparities and other systemic barriers. Racism is a pandemic within a pandemic.
We live in a society built on structures and systems that perpetuate racism. A major challenge with dismantling racism is that it is a collective narrative that is embedded deep within our laws, businesses, non profits, communities, and unspoken collective messages. It is often normalized, and not fully acknowledged. Racism is prevalent at both a systems level and individual level. For many of us, we may not even be conscious of our racist tendencies or biases, and are perpetuating racism without fully being aware of it. As individuals, we have the capacity to confront the racial biases that exist within us, and actively work to dismantle racist structures and systems.
How do we stop racism from thriving?
Make the invisible visible. Racism thrives when it is left invisible, and not addressed. When you see it in yourself, others, systems, or institutions- acknowledge it. Shine light on it and raise your consciousness around it. Below are a few steps you can take to actively address racism and make it visible.
Challenge the narrative
Power dynamics have been around since the beginning of humanity. Those who are in power have influence and control over others, organizations and systems. Racism in America is a power dynamic that tells a false story that light skin is superior to dark skin. This collective story does not come from truth, but the result of these long-held beliefs has led to a system that provides advantages to White people at the expense of Black people.Racism comes from an egoic place of fear. I challenge you to challenge yourself and this narrative. The truth is, no human is greater than or less than another.
Commit to practicing antiracism
Ibram X. Kendi emphasises the importance of being an antiracist in his book How to Be an Antiracist, and encourages us to “consistently identify and describe” racism, and then work to “dismantle it.” Kendi explains that the opposite of being racist is not “being not racist.” The opposite of racist is “antiracist.” A person, idea, action or policy is either racist (views different races as inherently unequal and contributes to racism) or it is anti racist (views all races as inherently equal and seeks to dismantle racism).
Educate yourself and take trainings
Seek books, thought leaders, videos, podcasts, and information that help you better understand racism. This topic is complex and requires both educating yourself and taking action. Pursue further education through racial equity training programs. Seek out training programs that have been evaluated and show evidence that they have reduced racism within organizations.
Join a community and conversation
Connect with others who can engage in meaningful dialogue around racism. Seek others who are willing and able to have these conversations. This can be your current friend group, colleagues, community, or through racial equity training programs. Know that these conversations can be difficult, and have them anyway.
Create new thought patterns and strive to make new choices
As you gain more awareness, gain more tools in your tool belt, and get more comfortable with this type of dialogue, you will become more aware of how racism exists and thrives in society today. With this awareness, you can begin to do the work of dismantling white supremacist structures and help create an environment where all individuals are welcome. If you are in a position of power, you can embrace the power of leadership to create a more equitable and inclusive environment for your employees, amplify the voices of people of color, step aside to help others come into their own power. If you are a hiring manager, you can re-evaluate your hiring practices to mitigate implicit biases and add accountability measures to ensure a fair and equitable hiring process is followed. If you are a healthcare worker, go out of your way to educate yourself on how racial disparities impact health outcomes for your patients, and engage in conversations with your colleagues and employer on how to provide more equitable healthcare. And as an individual, you can march in a protest to promote racial equity.
Everyone on this planet is capable of being antiracist. No matter where you are now, you can take steps each day to practice antiracism.
Stay tuned for future posts on conscious living by subscribing to the Find Clarity Coaching blog.