Updated: Dec 5, 2020
Photo by Tandem X Visuals on Unsplash
It all started with an online video showing the murder of a black man, George Floyd. For the first time, millions of white people saw what people of color experience every day – police misconduct and racial discrimination, and the deadly consequences that can result when misconduct and discrimination are combined. Because of this video, there are daily protests throughout the United States and all over the world about racial injustice. But, what can we do, individually, to help address this issue?
Searching for answers, I discovered The National Network to End Domestic Violence website, which teaches us, “8 Everyday Ways to Fight Racism“:
Learn to recognize and understand your own privilege.
One of the first steps to eliminating racial discrimination is learning to recognize and understand your own privilege. Racial privilege plays out across social, political, economic, and cultural environments.
Checking your privilege and using your privilege to dismantle systemic racism are two ways to begin this complex process.
Examine your own biases and consider where they may have originated.
Think about the messages you received about people who are different from you when you were growing up? What was the racial and/or ethnic make-up of your neighborhood, school, or religious community? Why do you think that was the case? These experiences produce and reinforce bias, stereotypes, and prejudice, which can lead to discrimination. Examining our own biases can help us work to ensure equality for all.
Validate the experiences and feelings of people of color.
Support the experiences of other people and engage in tough conversations about race and injustice. We cannot be afraid to discuss oppression and discrimination for fear of “getting it wrong.” Take action by learning about the ways that racism continues to affect our society. View documentaries, such as 13th, or reading books, such as Americanah or Hidden Figures.
Challenge the “colorblind” ideology.
It is a pervasive myth that we live in a “post-racial” society where people “don’t see color.” Perpetuating a “colorblind” ideology actually contributes to racism. It ignores a significant part of a person’s identity and dismisses the real injustices that many people face as a result of race. We must see color and order to work together for equity and equality.
Call out racist “jokes” or statements.
Let people know that racist comments or humor are not okay. If you are not comfortable or do not feel safe being confrontational, try to break down their thought process and ask questions. For example, “That joke doesn’t make sense to me, could you explain it?” Or “You may be kidding, but this is what it means when you say that type of thing.” Do not be afraid to engage in conversations with loved ones, coworkers, and friends.
Find out how your company or school works to expand opportunities for people of color.
Systemic racism means that there are barriers – including wealth disparities, criminal justice bias, and education and housing discrimination – that stack the deck against people of color in the workplace or at school. Their campaign, #BlackGirlsMatter, addresses the issues of overpoliced and under-protected Black girls within the education system.
Change will not happen overnight, but if we work together we can put an end to racism in all of its forms.