Welcome to 2018! I hope the year is starting out great. This time of year is ripe for exploring new ways of thinking and pushing boundaries on our practices. Here is a list of thirty things we should commit to not doing and doing. Why thirty? I just received a survey asking me to rank and choose leadership attributes from a list of thirty suggestions – fakequity. The attributes listed were mostly color blind too, double fakequity, so this is a list partially in jest.
In 2018 We Will Stop:
- Sending meaningless surveys that are mostly used to say “I engaged the community,” but really the outcome is pre-determined or you already know what you want to do.
- Developing survey questions without community input.
- Saying “But I translated it…” and believe translation is racial equity. Short answer translation and interpretation provides access to an already established process. Equity is deeper and harder and involves sharing power.
- Having book groups, staff meetings, community gatherings talking about equity with only people who look and sound like us. This includes poc groups who aren’t diverse in class status, perspectives/thought, etc.
- Believing diversity is racial equity, it isn’t. Diversity helps us reach racial equity, but having a diverse group isn’t synonymous with equity.
- Fighting petty fights that lead us no-where, including on social media. Dear trolls, Please leave the comforts of hiding behind the internet and go meet some real people. It is much harder to say mean things to someone who could (in theory and practice) punch you.
- Weaponizing data.
- We will stop believing solutions have to be an either/or, zero-sum, or mutually exclusive. Community-driven solutions are often more complex, rich, and will last longer than believing there is only one way of solving a problem.
- Stop believing Asians are Whites and have the same privileges as white people. Also, stop grouping and treating Asian data the same as Whites, while many Asians are performing well they haven’t transcendent racism to achieve those results.
- Stop ‘Gotcha’ politics. Playing ‘gotcha’ or tearing apart people isn’t nice. Instead, work to build relationships and use those relationships to push boundaries and thinking.
- Stop centering whiteness.
- Don’t ask a poc ‘to pick your brain.’
- Stop having woke-offs. No need to prove how woke or social justicey you are. We’re all smart on some things and idiots at other things. Let’s practice humility and be cool with learning from each others. While we’re at this, no need to play oppression wars. We’re all oppressed in some way. I really don’t need to hear how you felt you were denied something, you weren’t entitled to it, you’ll survive the disappointment and aggrievement.
In 2018 We Will:
- Focus on racial equity and racial justice. Focusing on the future and what it takes to get there requires a harder push than just focusing on petty fights. We need to shift narratives to what is working.
- Prioritize data, stories, and voices from marginalized communities of color.
- Disaggregate data and shift practices to acknowledge race groups are not monolithic (the same) in experiences. Within race groups migration stories, languages, and cultures are very different.
- Seek diversity of all sorts within communities of color: LGQBTIA, disabled, immigrants/refugee, non-English speakers, seniors and youth, poor, unhoused, etc. Practice intersectionality, focusing on those farthest from justice.
- Acknowledge the histories and the harm of colonialism and work to undo colonist tendencies. We will acknowledge we are on Native American land and listen to our Native American/Indigenous partners on what they need to achieve justice.
- We will acknowledge our individual privileges, and work to use our privileges to undo racism. If you are thinking, “Yo, I’m not rich I’m not privileged,” check-yo-self, you are reading a blog post in English. The privilege of literacy and access to the internet are two of many privileges you have.
- Focus on balancing power and actively working to redistribute power from those who have it to those who deserve more. If you need a crash course on power, start by just watching who is speaking and who makes decisions – probably not those most impacted by the decision.
- Build relationships with people who are different than us and invest in these relationships. But don’t get creepy with it, not every poc wants to be your friend.
- Invest in the relationships that bring us joy, different perspectives, and allow us to be our authentic selves.
- Build movements versus isolated actions. Individual actions are important, but remember the larger context and long-game of undoing racism.
- Be an ally and accomplice. Be willing to call bullshit and stand behind what you say. Don’t wait for others to do what you know needs to be done.
- Vote, and work to bring voting to pocs. Stop voter suppression and push for non-citizen voting.
- Focus on systemic change. Systems dictate results, decisions made by people that impact others is how a system functions – focusing here has the potential to impact many people.
- Use your spheres of influence. Start a conversation with someone who needs to be pushed to think about race and justice. Need some ideas start with the Fakequity chart. or play Fakequity BINGO.
- Read books that make you think differently about race. News articles have their place, but deeper longer forms of reading take us to different places. If you are like me and haven’t read an adult book in six months, children’s books are a great way to open up to something new. Go to your public library and browse the shelves to find a new book by a poc author. Need some suggestions go here.
- Be engaged and examine without defense.
By the way, if you screw up in the next few days, don’t worry Lunar New Year’s is around the corner and you can start fresh, but only after you go to the temple to ask for a blessing and forgiveness, humility a value to practice in 2018.
By Erin Okuno
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