Become an Agent of Change!
Updated: Feb 15, 2022
There is so much civility one can have when they feel they are born with a target on their back. When the implication is that a bounty is placed on your head before you, your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are born. From the disparities of those infected and mortality rate of those affected by COVID-19; to the decades-long inequities of the education system coming to a head through school inequities that were long present before the pandemic, my Black community is tired. We are tired of explaining racism. It is exhausting primarily because it is something that people of color, especially those of us who are Black, have been doing for most of our lives. For example, yes, when the pandemic began, everyone, regardless of race, nationality, gender, class, age, and every demographic that one could name, was in the same storm. However, like the other half of the adage states, we were not in the same boat.
For our non-people of color populations, non-Black populations, if you will, embracing an inclusive and anti-racist mindset involves more than reading books, attending forums and conferences, and writing blogs about it as I am doing here. Although these are reasonable means of making change and amplifying the lives of the Black community and various untapped populations, these are merely prerequisites of the active work involved. Embracing inclusivity consists of putting what you learn and what you write into practice. What we are talking about is getting your hands dirty and moving and changing the narrative into action.
To enact positive, sustainable anti-racist change, the work of social and racial justice - from all sides - must take place. I implore each of you who is tired of racial injustice, which results in home instability, food insecurity, education inequity, lack of positive quality of life to find an organization, or on your own to do something positive to move forward. We cannot remain where we are, and we certainly cannot continue with where we were. Become more active in something bigger than you, something bigger than all of us to enact change. One of the best things that you can do is speak up and speak out against racism. If you are engaged in a conversation with a group of friends or colleagues, and a person who is not Black, make an off-color remark about Black people say something like What you said is harmful, or We don't say things like that here or I'm sorry, what? That action, although small, is an anti-racist action. It is a type of disruptor-The forces that change or shake up our old ways of behaving, acting, and doing business; they interrupt the status quo; they force us into new ways of behaving. (Cornell University, Counteracting Unconcious Bias)
Another proactive, ongoing action you can take is to be an agent of advancement, an agent of change. Help to build homes for deserving families. Reach out and inquire about volunteer opportunities that promote acceptance and equality. Consider becoming a mentor to a child. Dig deeper and do so in a community outside of your comfort zone. Do something real about social and racial injustices by working to strengthen voting rights for all people. Some of the organizations and associations below are an excellent start to reinforce your purpose in doing the work of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Some are national, and some are local to respective states and municipalities:
American Civil Liberties Union
Local School Districts
You may notice that some of the groups listed above are centered around the Latinx, Asian, LGBTQ, Indigenous, and various communities. I also included organizations that surround Voting Rights, Farmers, Food, and Housing Justice. The action was deliberate to emphasize that an anti-racist mindset is intersectional. Professor Kimberle Crenshaw (UCLA) coined the term, which means overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression or discrimination. Many of us who are Black experience multiple systems of oppression. I will save the expanse of this in another post. For now, this is enough homework for those of you who honestly wish to work to eradicate racism or, at the very least, speak up and speak out against it. Remember that silence is violence.