2020 is here, the start of a new decade. In the 2020 Fakequity pledge list, I’ve organized the list by how we live our lives: work, live, and play. My hope is you’ll take this start of the year and pledge to think and do things a little differently, after all, racial justice work is about a journey – we’re never done.
A few notes: Work doesn’t mean just paid work, it includes however you fill your day – volunteering, supporting family, etc. In a few places, I’ve suggested ways you can deepen your commitments – after all this work is about a journey and we can do better, reflect and learn more, and build and sustain relationships. If doing all 20 of these feels overwhelming, choose one or two from each category and concentrate on those for a while, then revisit the list and try a few others in a few weeks or months.
In 2020 I pledge to do the following:
- Learn about institutional racism and search for ways to undo it within your sphere of influence. Do you have control or the ability to add a topic to a staff meeting? Suggest a conversation about how race shows up in your work and look for ways to undo racism.
- When looking at data, think critically and analyze it for racial disparities. Ask questions such as is what are the historical racial influences that allowed the data to show up the way it does, look to see if disaggregated ethnic data is available, etc.
- If you are a white person, especially a white leader with formal or informal power, ask yourself where do you spend your work energy – is it investing in colleagues and organizations of color?
- Diversify your program, board, program material (e.g. books, videos, music, etc.) to incorporate more POC voices. Remember diversity isn’t equity, but it helps.
- Do a time or calendar audit of where and with whom you spend your work time. Who’s voices influence your work? Do they match the demographics of who’s farthest from justice?
- Identify places within your work where you can diversify and share decision making with communities of color.
- Evaluate how your organization unintentionally reinforces ableism. Such as do your job postings list physical requirements such as “must be able to stand, lift 20 lbs., drive, etc.” (these phrases screen out many qualified candidates and does your job really require them?), or does your event location have stairs (hint: list the ADA entrances on the invite or follow-up email), are events all oral with no microphone amplification (get a mic and require speakers to use it), etc. There are many ways we can re-imagine our work to be more welcoming and less ableist.
- Evaluate where you spend your money. Does it match your racial equity values? Check out the POC Business map 2.0 from our friends at Equity Matters and shift some of your purchasing power to these businesses. Instead of buying flowers at the big chain grocery store, stop by a florist of color, such as Flowers Just 4 U – the only Black-owned florist in the Pacific Northwest.
- Take out a piece of paper and make a list of influential people of color in your life. They can be historical such as Rosa Park, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, etc. From this list figure out who’s histories are missing and research them. Such as have you learned about Indigenous people who’s land you’re on, not just the Native Americans who we get a glimpse at in history class.
- If you have kids or are in proximity of kids, ask what they are learning in school. Influence their awareness by asking and sharing about how people of color have influenced whatever they are learning about. If you want to take it a step further, inquire with their teachers, the PTA, administration, to see how you can influence or start some racial equity work at the school. It can start small such sharing POC authored titles or using your influence to ask how relationships are formed with communities of color within and outside of the school. If you want to go deeper find a school with a high concentration of students of color and become a tutor or mentor – make this a multi-year commitment, we don’t need charity tours.
- Stop using gendered language – “you guys,” “boys and girls,” “Ladies and Gentlemen,” “brothers and sisters,” etc. I admit I do this all the time. I catch myself saying “you guys,” when I call for my kids, only one of which considers themselves a ‘guy.’ Now that I’m aware of it, I am working to change my phrasing. Along with being aware of gendered language, ask people what pronouns they use and commit to using them.
- Stop and think before saying something. We’ve all done it, said something and then thought, “Oophh, that didn’t come out right.” Practice pausing and listening before speaking or hitting send on that email where you want to unleash. Remember a lot of this work and being in a community isn’t about you and your feelings, it is about thinking about others.
- Name your race and think about how your race and your ethnicity have shaped you. Race is the broader categories – African American/Black, Asian, Latinx, Native American/Indigenous, Pacific Islander, White. Ethnic groups are the smaller sub-categories under race, such as my race is Asian, my ethnicities are Japanese and Okinawan. How do you know you are from your race group? What stories were you told and continue to tell yourself and others related to your race?
- Put important religious holidays and cultural dates on your calendar. Be sure to avoid scheduling meetings on these days. As an example, don’t schedule events that revolve around food during Ramadan. Instead of using the federal holiday of Columbus day, write in Indigenous People’s Day. [Edit: Here is the 2020 listof Culturally Important Dates.]
- Voting is how we define our values in public policy. Vote. Research the candidates, ask them hard questions about how they support Black and Indigenous people especially. Question their voting records. Donate time and money to candidates of color, even if the candidates don’t win their running changes the race.
- Traveling soon? Read a book about the place you’re going by a local author. Recently in a book-based Facebook group someone said they were traveling to Hawaii and wanted to read a book about the islands before visiting. I’m from Hawaii so this intrigued me, what books would people suggest? Many of the books listed were titles I’ve seen before (albeit haven’t read). Most were by white men who visited, researched, and then wrote about Hawaii – not the way I want people to learn about the Hawaii I grew up in. I suggested a few local authors and my friend who is an English teacher in Hawaii texted me a few more suggestions. By digging deeper, we can get a more authentic experience. If you’re not traveling soon (high-five, less climate impact), take a moment to learn more about your hometown from a POC perspective.
- Visit a POC museum, cultural center, festival, etc. Many have free days, such as first Thursdays in Seattle, Smithsonian Free Museum Day, or some library systems have loaner museum passes with advance sign up. Festivals are often free, but keep in mind these aren’t the places to do deep learning.
- Pick a POC owned restaurant or café and visit it. If you’re unsure what to order, ask the staff what they recommend to sample more authentic cuisine. If eating out is beyond your budget, location, or time research POC foods, perhaps shift one grocery shopping trip to an ethnic grocery store (investing in POC businesses) to find the ingredients to make a new dish or drink. Be careful not to appropriate someone else’s food, learning is one thing Columbuisng and appropriation isn’t cool.
- Watch two videos and/or read two books from a different language, preferably a non-white/European language. Most of our lives are English-centric, broadening our world to understand non-English perspectives is one way to work towards understanding others. TED Talks, Netflix Korean dramas, audiobooks, cookbooks, and children’s books all count.
- Practice Squad Care. The concept of Squad Care is from African American writer Melissa Harris Perry: “Squad care reminds us there is no shame in reaching for each other and insists the imperative rests not with the individual, but with the community.” Take care of one another in 2020. Check in on each other, build genuine relationships, be a friend, and just be. (h/t Heidi for introducing us to the Squad Care article.)
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