The other day I came across all of these pieces within the span of two hours:
- What I Told My White Friend When He Asked Me for My Black Opinion on White Privilege – Lori Lakin Hutcherson
- To Every White ‘Ally’ Who Has Racist Friends – Zeba Blay
- A Recovering Racist – Marci Walton
I was pushed to write this post by two quotes from the last resource: “The time for passive head-nodding from white professionals is and has been over.” “I have quite literally been given a stage and a microphone when so often my colleagues and students of color are not afforded the same opportunity. I need to do something with this time today.”
Walton’s words served as a punch-in-the-gut reminder there is still so much work to do in the realm of social justice. I should also question what I’ve done lately. Being at the top of the privilege pyramid (heterosexual, Christian, white male), I am not on the receiving end of many discriminatory issues. I can be ignorant in recognizing all the benefits and eases afforded to me on a daily basis. My lens is not as sharply focused as it could be in identifying problematic language, behavior, thinking, or processes.
Instead of continuing a list of excuses and simply acknowledging I have personal work to do, I believe it’s important to take action. I should continue educating myself and those around me. In addition, also work to make the environments I inhabit more inclusive, just, and safe. Here are just a few ways to take action personally and professionally:
Face to face conversation
Might be the most uncomfortable, but could also prove the most powerful.
Social media interactions
Sharing articles, personal accounts, asking/answering questions.
Participate in conversations, activities and events sponsored by local organizations, national entities, or just a group of individuals looking to make a difference.
Physical/virtual space for emotional/educational support in personal/professional environments.
I try to be cognizant of my approach in acting. Recognizing my institution could do more to support underrepresented identities, I don’t blame or guilt offices for not doing enough. After all, I don’t know their circumstances or ideas they have already voiced or attempted. I voice my concern for faculty/staff/student populations, acknowledge it must be difficult to initiate such supportive resources, and ask how I might assist in supporting our community. With limited diversity and social justice training for employees, I acknowledge my support may not be needed, wanted, or appropriate. However, I still share we should be doing more and ask what I can to do help.
These are just a few small examples. You can think of applications for these in your own personal or professional life. You may even think of more to add to the list. I’m sure, like me, you understand we could be doing more.
My next step was writing this piece. It helps hold me accountable and reminds other people of the action we can and should be taking. With our actions – big and small – we continue working towards a more equitable and socially just environment. It’s not so important where or how we take action, as much as it is we just act.