13 Jun 2020

5 Steps to Begin Your Anti-Racism Journey

Finish what you startedI never thought that I was a racist. Before this global awakening I thought that the word racist was a label for those spouting racial slurs and committing racially charged violence and discrimination. However, the more I am listening and learning, the more I am becoming painfully aware of my implicit bias and also how quiet I’ve been about racism and the #blacklivesmatter movement. Read on to how I’ve started anti-racism work and how you can begin your anti-racism journey.

Before beginning my anit-racism journey

Quite honestly, whenever I read the words “white supremacy” I would quickly keep scrolling thinking that it didn’t apply to me because I was a good person. Only recently have I learned that that’s exactly a huge part of the problem. White supremacy doesn’t necessarily equal radical racist. What I’ve recently learned is that simply put it means white people have privilege, whether they asked for it or not, that the benefit from every day that is not equally given to Black people. I was completely ignorant to this distinction.

The reason I feel that my eyes are finally opening is because I didn’t know where to look for so long or even that I should be looking. I didn’t think I was part of the problem so I did not make an effort to educate myself.  I’m also not someone who watches the news often, I’m not on Twitter, I don’t read newspapers – that feels horrible to write, but it’s the truth.  I realize now that I COULD ignore those outlets BECAUSE of my white privilege.

I am learning SO much, so much that I should have learned long before, but I am here now and I’m fully committed to begin my anti-racism journey.

The past few weeks have been heavy for all of us. As overwhelmed and exhausted as I feel from the current state of our world, it can’t remotely compare to the people that deal with the hatred of racism on a daily basis. And it is not their job to teach us or listen to us or tell us what to do, it is our job to do the work and support the cause. We must be allies. It’s not enough to not be a racist; we must actively be anti-racist and spark radical change.

How to begin your anti-racism journey

Real transformation will only happen if we attack the issue from multiple sides. I’ve compiled this list for those of you that are like me, new to the movement and actively trying to learn and do as much as we can. These are a few of the actions that I have taken SO FAR. This is just the beginning. We have a lot of work to do, but we have to start somewhere and maybe you’ll find your somewhere in the below suggestions. Read these 5 steps to begin your anti-racism journey:

listen & learn:

Many of us are new to the concept of anti-racism and with anything new, it is important that we learn about it. Our new knowledge will give us the confidence to have difficult conversations with family, friends, co-workers, really anyone who is still blind to racism and their part in it. It will also help inform our voting decisions and what we say about these decisions on our social media platforms. Most importantly, in my opinion, it will prepare us for educating our children and the next generation.

I’m a voracious reader, so I immediately gravitated towards the book Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad. The book is designed as a 28-day journaling challenge, but I devoured the content in three days because I felt so behind. I won’t sugarcoat this (and neither does Layla); some of it is really difficult to read. You’ll feel defensive at least once per page, but I encourage you to see it through. You’ll learn terms like white silence, white fragility, and so many more. And when you hear these terms, it’ll dawn on you how you never thought you were a racist, but clearly it was inside you somewhere.

I found this post with 16 Black-owned bookstores if you’d like to get your copy from one of them 🙂

Up next for me is So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. I haven’t started yet, but I’m committed to keep going on this work!

I’m also going to listen to the podcast, “Unlocking Us with Brené Brown”, specifically the episodes with Austin Channing Brown on I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness as well as with Ibram X. Kendi on How to be an Antiracist. Both of these episodes are based on the books that should also go on our reading lists!

I’ve also just recently watched When They See Us on Netflix, which dives deep into the Central Park 5, five young boys falsely accused of a crime against a white woman. It’s disturbing and upsetting, but that’s the point, we have to face the uncomfortable to really see the truth on our anti-racism journey.

Donate:

We cannot all be activists or civil rights attorneys, but we have to do what we can to support them! Another way to begin your anti-racism journey is by donating, our money can support initiatives as big as policy change to as small as grassroots awareness campaigns, both equally important. This is why I gravitated toward this campaign via Crooked Media on Instagram.  The reason I liked this option is because it takes whatever amount you choose to give and splits that money among some or all of the organizations below. I chose to split my money among each one because they are all doing essential work. Each of these groups helps to spread awareness, change policy, and promote voter rights. I’ve included links to each organization below as well as a brief snippet of their mission statement to help with your research!

 

  • Black Lives Matter Global Network: “Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by state and vigilantes.”
  • National Bail Out: “National Bail Out is a Black-led and Black-centred collective of abolitionist organizers, lawyers and activists building a community-based movement to support our folks and end systems of pre-trial detention and ultimately mass incarceration.”
  • Know Your Rights Camp: The mission of Know Your Rights Camp “is to advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, mass-mobilization and the creation of new systems that elevate the next generation of change leaders.”
  • Black Voters Matter Fund: The Black Voters Matter Fund strives to increase voter registration and turnout to build power. They also advocate for policies to expand voting rights/access, including expanded early voting, resisting voter ID, re-entry restoration of rights and strengthening the Voting Rights Act.  And advocate for policies that intersect with race, gender, economic, and other aspects of equity.
  • BYP100: Founded in 2013, BYP100 (Black Youth Project 100) is a member-based organization of Black youth activists creating justice and freedom for all Black people.
  • NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund: “The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.is America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfils the promise of equality for all Americans.”
  • The National Police Accountability Project: “NPAP was created as a non-profit to protect the human and civil rights of individuals in their encounters with law enforcement and detention facility personnel.”
  • Colour of Change Education Fund: “As a national online force driven by 1.7 million members, the Colour of Change Education Fund moves decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America.”
  • Unicorn Riot: “Unicorn Riot is a decentralized, educational 501(c)(3) non-profit media organization of artists and journalists. Our work is dedicated to exposing root causes of dynamic social and environmental issues through amplifying stories and exploring sustainable alternatives in today’s globalized world.”
  • Advancement Project: “Advancement Project is a next generation, multi-racial civil rights organization. Rooted in the great human rights struggles for equality and justice, we exist to fulfil America’s promise of a caring, inclusive and just democracy. We use innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change.”
  • Higher Heights for America: “Higher Heights is the only national organization providing Black women with a political home exclusively dedicated to harnessing their power to expand Black women’s elected representation and voting participation, and advance progressive policies.”
  • Fair Fight Action: “Fair Fight PAC has initiated programs to support voter protection programs at state parties around the country and is engaging in partnerships to support and elect pro voting rights, progressive leaders.”

use your platform:

This is the one that I have been absolutely terrible about doing. I shied away from addressing any political issue, particularly including racism, because it seems to bring about such divisiveness and anger. I just cannot keep silent any longer and I must apologize for my past silence and apathy. 

Whether you have thousands of followers or hundreds, someone will be impacted by what you post. This is how I found everything I’m sharing with you! Because people farther along on their anti-racism journey shared valuable resources and I trusted them and took their advice. It’s truly a ripple effect. Let people know you began your anti-racism journey and it just might inspire them to do the same!

diversify:

Diversify your feedI had noticed months ago before beginning my anti-racism journey that my social media circles were pretty much all white, not at all because I purposefully made it this way, but I also made no effort to seek out BIPOC accounts. I immediately jumped into action, particularly on Blackout Tuesday, to follow more BIPOC accounts. This doesn’t mean you just follow anyone, follow the people you relate to and whose content you admire. That will facilitate a deeper connection and you’ll be less likely to keep scrolling. Some of my new faves on Insta:

Tabitha Brown

Courtney Quinn

Tanesha Awasthi

Tiffany Moon

Tunde Oyeneyin

Ruthie Ridley

Keep going:

To quote Tabitha Brown, “Finish what you started”. Her brief and encouraging IGTV is the inspiration you need when the going gets tough, and it will.

Continue to have tough conversations, continue confronting yourself and others, continue donating and learning, continue amplifying melanated voices – this work won’t be complete for generations and we need to keep the momentum going. Together we can make great change!

As you begin your anti-racism journey, please remember to take breaks and rests. This is extremely emotional material. It is upsetting and draining and in order to give it the most attention, we will occasionally need to pause and regroup. That’s okay! Just don’t forget to keep going.

If there are any resources that you’ve found helpful PLEASE let me know in the comments! I have so much to learn on this lifelong anti-racism journey. Any and all suggestions are welcome 🙂

Xx, Ashley

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1 Comments

  1. Merely wanna state that this is very helpful , Thanks for taking your time to write this. Catharine Ernie Kliman

    Posted on 2.1.21 · Reply to comment

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