Relating back to our January Inspire! Event, where the topic was on Racism, we look at what we can do to combat it.
So let’s get very concrete. Let’s make this personal. I am part of the problem and so are you. So what can you do personally yourself starting now to make a difference?
1. Know yourself. Do your own cultural review. Unpack your own invisible knapsack around race, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, disability, and prison record. Use your self-awareness to monitor the things you do and say and to challenge the unconscious biases that jump into your head when you least expect them to.
2. Move beyond guilt and shame. Once you identify your own biases, don’t let them define you. Admit that you don’t like some people. You don’t have to like everyone. There will be people with privilege and people without that you don’t like. That’s okay. Admit that you haven’t always been your best self. You have done things to perpetuate social injustice. You are part of a system that perpetuates social injustice. Accept it, own it and then move beyond it.
3. Challenge others lovingly. When people do and say things that are offensive, insensitive or stupid, pick the time and the place to be politely confrontational. Ask why – what makes you say that? Relate to their experience and then share your own. Don’t make winning your objective. Instead, recognize that we are all in one way or another the victim of our upbringing. Some of us have a luckier start than others. Learn the history of the injustices that confront us. Know what you’re up against.
4. Get involve in existing efforts. Figure out who is doing the work and join them. There is strength in numbers. Show up ready to work. Or just show up. Pick your level of engagement and then honor it. Look for opportunities – where can you leverage your knowledge, your position, your relationships. You are all leaders in our community, you all have leverage you can bring to this..
5. Don’t believe it’s up to you to solve the whole problem. Believe it’s up to you to help create space where change is possible. Be realistic. Avoid feeling negative, hopeless and defeated. And avoid feeling optimistically complacent. Remember that no other people has ever faced the kind of situation we are living in today – which means no one has the perfect answer. We are human – so there will never be a perfect answer. Embrace trial and error. Embrace perfect imperfection. You don’t need to fix it the whole problem, but you do need to do something.
Who to Follow on Facebook/Twitter:
* = Most thought-provoking
-Desiree Lynn Adaway* -LEDA (Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance)
-Ida Bae Wells* -Any Black Lives Matter (Chicago, Lansing, Grand Rapids…)
-PRFC-GR (Partners for a Racism-Free Community- Grand Rapids)
-Kim Crayton - Crystal Marie Fleming
-Dr. Joy DeGruy - Melinda D. Anderson*
-Dr. Adrienne Keene - The Root*
-Ibram X. Kendi* -Shay Steward Bouley*
-Bree Newsome Bass* - Alfred Tatum*
-Ebony Elizabeth* - Marc Lamont Hill
-Tim Wise* - Van Jones
-Paul Gorski - Clint Smith*
-Shaun King -Dr. Debbie Reese*
-Amy L. Masko
Of course, we also recommend Extended Grace.