We need to talk about this. We should have been talking about this a long time ago.
BUT can 2020 be the time for change? I sure want it to be. Don’t you?
It seems the whole world has a deep history of racism and oppression, and while some progress has been made, it is evident that both explicit and implicit racism still exist.
Angela Davis said “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist”.
SO. What can I do? What can we do?
Start by looking within. Take a moment to do this. Deconstruct implicit biases. Look at your preconceived notions about race. Work on educating yourself in steps that you can take towards being an active advocate against racism.
It seems individuals around the world are ready to engage: in conversation, in protest, in advocacy, in revolution.
However, when it comes to tackling the issue of racial equity, we need to be informed of the fundamental issues related to it.
“Creating purposeful dialogue on race helps to be better equipped in fighting injustices.”
YES! Systematic change is necessary
- BUT ALSO: Educated conversations can be the first steps to making that change
Respect AND Reflect
These are some of the steps I’m trying to put into practice.
1. ALWAYS approach the conversation with respect.
Respect boundaries as I understand some of my friends don’t want to have the conversation or may not be in the space to have the conversation. Therefore, it is vital to approach the topic of race with respect but also respect for others. We must respect the centuries of pain and oppression. Respect for multiple perspectives and narratives: those that have been lifted up and those that have been pushed to the background.
Race, racism, and the racial inequity are topics of discussion that can become a heated or negative space very quickly. “Coming from a respectful place that is open and willing to listen and learn goes a long way to diffuse potential dischord before it arises, and preserve space for meaningful dialogue.”
2. Start as if a blank page.
This doesn’t mean personal experiences aren’t valid, it simply acknowledges that personal experience can’t possibly give the complete view of such complex issues. It is best to enter the conversation educated, yes, but don’t assume you know more or you know better.
The history of racism extends far beyond individuals; it encompasses years and years of both individual and community experience. It is important to recognise and acknowledge the validity and reality of other experiences. By doing so, we can hope to have conversations that are open and willing to listen and learn.
3. What is my motivation?
When having a conversation about race, it is important to be aware of why you want to have the conversation in the first place. Bayard Love asks:
“Why are you engaging in this conversation about race? If it’s just curiosity, a pet project, a desire to ‘fit in’ or not look silly, or to feel less guilty, you might want to reconsider. If you are ready to be part of change, and you want to understand racism better so that you can be a part of that change, then come on!”
Why did all those people post those black squares for then never to talk about race again?? This shouldn’t be a trend.
4. I don’t know everything, and that’s okay.
On our way to new knowledge, we have to reside from a place of comfort and embrace the discomfort of not having all the answers. We don’t know what we don’t know. As we acknowledge this, it is important to understand that a willingness to be educated and informed is what will help us grow.
5. Research and educate yourself.
Developing a strong understanding of race requires a combination of individual and group learning.
We can all accomplish a lot on our own through offline and online resources. Articles, white papers, books, academic studies, webinars, and video series are out there just waiting to be discovered.
Those conversations can be tough, but there is no growth without stretching.
The effort should go beyond personal conversations; this dialogue is only the starting point in the effort to become educated and understanding of the complex topic of race.
6. Use those ears. Listen. Be open to questions.
The simple proverb “listen to understand, and then speak to be understood” rings true.
Genuine listening takes patience and effort. Spending the least amount of time listening necessary to come up with a solution or response doesn’t work in addressing racial inequity.
It is important to seek out answers to questions that you don’t know, and be willing to be educated on topics that you are uninformed about.
Asking questions shows a willingness to learn and to understand. Those who remain ignorant because they fear questions damage this dialogue.” By asking questions, you are making a conscious effort to better yourself.
Reset and Reboot
7. Commit yourself to change.
One easy way to start internalising this practice is by identifying whatever race-based bias you might implicitly hold. We all have implicit bias – what will make a difference is acknowledging these biases and working to deconstruct them.
“Any change is hard. Accountability is key. I think taking a journey of discovery can be much more powerful if you find someone to ‘journey’ with you. Read the same things; discuss them; keep the momentum going.”
Change doesn’t come easily, and active work must be done in order to make a positive impact.
I am trying in my everyday encounters to make those small changes. Now imagine if everyone could do this????
9. Recognise WE HAVE Bias and Privilege
I HAVE PRIVILEGE! Yes! So, put your privilege in context.
What is it? – Privilege, loosely defined, is any unmerited or unearned advantage. In that sense, we all have experienced privilege.
Part of the privilege associated with whiteness is the luxury of not having to consider one’s own race let alone the disadvantages faced by many people of color.
The acknowledgement of privilege should invoke a willingness to listen, to be educated, and to understand how you can use this privilege for the betterment of others.
10. Get comfortable with your story.
Understanding who you are, your own values and morals, and goals and aspirations will help you to better formulate the next steps in building racial equality.
My hope is that we all become better equipped to talk about racism and come together to make a positive difference in our communities.
I have hope.
Taking action in your own life is my starting point. If you are reading this and want a chat please do reach out.
It is important to understand the differences that the concept of race brings. Rather than eliminating any notion of these diversities, it is important to acknowledge them. Each person brings a different story, a different experience, and a perspective to the table.
By having these meaningful conversations on race, we can hope that this dialogue will act as the first step towards change and equality for our future.
References pulled from: Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Book by Reni Eddo-Lodge (what a fantastic read)