Hey Orgs, It’s Time to Get Real About Racial Equity

By CiKeithia Pugh

For Erin’s birthday I’m giving the gift of a blog post this week. Put your feet up and eat some cake, you deserve it my friend!

“Where’s the Prank?” meme

Let’s cut to the chase, lately I’ve had some moments where I think I must be on a soon to be canceled tv prank show. You know the ones where something wild is happening and everyone is in on the joke but you? The camera zooms in close to show the confusion on your face. Everyone is acting as if this is normal behavior and your brain is trying to process what is really happening. Finally, people break character and the hidden cameras come out. Surprise!

Well, that is how I would describe some recent experiences. The difference is I keep looking around for the cameras and someone to tell me this is all a joke, but it never happens. Orgs it’s time to get real about racial equity. At this point, you’ve read blogs, participated in workshops, and even purchased books to deepen your understanding so you are officially out of excuses… it is time to do the work.

Show me the money– Allocate dollars to put your commitments into action. As a reminder, if organizationally you are pointing to line items that cover translation, focus groups, and interpretation that’s access. Your money also needs to be spent in ways that address and undo systemic and historical racism in your organizations. Access is not Equity.

Be explicit and name racial equity- Be honest and say what you are doing and what you are not. I’ve seen my fair share of glossy posters, websites and position papers with race neutral language. If you are leading for racial equity, then name it. Not ready? Then wait for the community to call you out on it and you can explain your actions or lack thereof once confronted. Keep racial equity out of your mouth if it’s not happening.

Stop defaulting to BIPOC staff to be your unpaid racial equity consultants- BIPOC staff are not your consultants. Disproportionately we carry the weight of racial equity in organizations. We are expected to not only do the work and show results, but also teach our white colleagues at the same time. Racial equity is ALL our jobs.

Kill the Token Marketing Campaign- Stop putting BIPOC staff on your flyers, websites and parading us in front of crowds as evidence that racial equity is a value. Community knows we are underrepresented in the organization and most often hold no institutional/positional power to really make change. These are self-serving activities that are drain BIPOC staff and in some cases even cause harm. Remember we own our images not you.

No Superheroes Allowed– I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you view your work as “saving” BIPOC communities you have it all wrong. Save the cape for a future costume party. BIPOC communities will continue to do what we have always done in order to dismantle systemic racism. BIPOC communities are resilient.

What to do – It is time to put all of the training, reading, and learning into work. This isn’t a tv show with a script or even editing to find the best moments, it is real life and it is now. Get into the game and stop with the tv show pranks – you’ve got what it takes now do the real work.

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