By Erin, with thanks to Carrie B.
This week I decided we needed a little parody. I went to Catholic school for ten years although I’m not Catholic. Of the many values and lessons I learned from the nuns and the masses where I didn’t fall asleep is the value of stating what we don’t want to be juxtaposed with literalism. I was joking with Carrie that the Ten Commandments weren’t written by educators since it is deficit-based (i.e. what not to do) versus asset-based and stating what to do. In my list I’ll do a little of both. Carrie and I also debated the merits of Charlton Heston in the 1956 Ten Commandments movie vs. remakes. I say the original was so epic it stands – technicolor all the way! That said I just watched Black Panther on Netflix and that was dope, take that movie Moses.
Here are Ten Commandments of Fakequity
1. Don’t covet whiteness. Whiteness is a faux archetype that upholds only itself. Do not worship racist statues and memes, allow them to come down.
2. Remember equity is not equal. Equity means we give to those who need more and we don’t take what we don’t need. Equity means fairness; what is fair doesn’t always look like fairness to everyone. Equity means people have what they need to be whole which means some people who don’t as much don’t get as much, that is fairness.
3. Don’t covet white racial equity trainers. They have their place, but the real stuff and the real learning comes from hearing from Black and Brown people (including Asians) who are farthest from justice. Listening and learning from people most impacted by racism is important to undoing racism.
4. Thou shall not use DNA test to claim a racial identity. DNA results don’t replicate the lived experiences of culture, language, discrimination, racism, and privilege. Blood quantum and the one-drop rule have been weaponized against Native Americans and Black/African Americans for generations. Don’t make it a fashionable thing to want to claim DNA ancestry without understanding the racialized history and experiences of people of color – latching on and being a parasite doesn’t help.
5. Thou shalt not murder Native Americans, Black and Brown people, disabled people, LGQTBIA people, and really anyone. We will pay attention to and work to end the murdering and missing of Indigenous womxn and state-sponsored violence (police shootings) against Black and Brown people. Also, don’t kill indigenous plants and animals in the name of tourism or sport – protect the orcas and environment which is important to many Indigenous people and really everyone. In asset-based language — preserve and protect people of color and the environment we rely upon.
6. Thou shall not just take. Thou shall contribute to the collective racial justice work by listening, building authentic relationships, using privileges to support others, and disrupting racism. Do your part calling out racism and injustice. This includes doing it in everyday settings, tell someone to stop if they are saying a racist joke. Ask probing questions if something doesn’t sit right. Use your personal privilege (we all have some) to help undo racism.
7. Do not take anti-racism work in vain by turning it into a word game. Don’t use ‘equity sounding’ words without understanding them – subjugation, intersectionality, justice, equity, disenfranchisement, fragility, etc. as buzzwords or without understanding what they really mean. Definitely don’t use the words if you can’t practice them as well – such as don’t say intersectionality if you’re not ready to step aside and practice allowing someone farthest from justice receiving what they need. As an example, I am a person of color and have experienced racism and I have many privileges including being cis-gender, Asian, and English speaking. There are many times I need to step back or forward to allow others who are farther from justice to have what they need to be whole.
8. Do not center yourself in racial equity conversations. Yes, it is about personal experiences especially for people of color, but it is also about recognizing the systems of oppression that allow injustice to continue. For people of color, share your stories and experiences and work to create room for other stories and reflections from other people of justice, especially those farthest from justice (hint: this is where to practice intersectionality).
9. Honor the elders and those who work tirelessly to fight injustice. Give to people of color led and embedded (i.e. decision making is held by those most impacted, not just diverse leadership) nonprofits. For every cause (e.g. homelessness, education, health care, etc.) there is a poc org working on the topic, often with a more racially embedded and just perspective. Take a gift to the elders and sit and have a conversation with them. And finally honor yourself for your learning, not too much though cause we all have more to learn.
10. Thou shall work for racial justice.
One of the reasons I decided to use the Ten Commandments versus a different text for this post is in the US so much of our society is based on the white dominant Christian based norms. There are places in the US where the Ten Commandments are displayed on government grounds even though another seminal text, the US Bill of Rights – First 10 Amendments to the US Constitution declares a separation of church and state. While we often try to highlight and promote authors of color and non-dominant viewpoints on this blog there are times when we use the tools of the dominant to make a point and undo the master’s house (riffing off of Audre Lorde, and I apologize to her memory since I am using her phrase very differently).
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