How is your 2021? A friend shared seven days in and it feels like a bad hangover from 2020.
I started thinking about this post before the violence in the US Capitol earlier this week. While many people are still processing the events, I hope this post indirectly helps us move forward.
This year I decided to give the Fakequity 2021 pledge a theme – Reset. It felt like as we closed out 2020, 2021 would be a time to reset our lives and relationships. For me the forced upon changes from COVID brought about a lot of resetting: reassess and rethink how we do meetings, reset relationships that pivoted to virtual, reset how I spend my time. This year I hope we can reset and be more intentional with how we think, behave, and act regarding race. The violence in Washington DC this week shows as a nation we need to reset how we live if we want to be in a racially just nation. It also shows the status quo and not acting cannot be the norm any longer.
This is meant to be a starter list of things to consider and act on. They aren’t meant to have to be done all at once, pick a few to try and see how it works out. My friend Kristin reminded me that neural pathways are like freeways, they are designed to keep us on a certain path. Anything we do to change them takes time to recode and rebuild – doable but it takes time and conscious effort. Choose a few, reset your ways, then build upon that with a few more pledges. Bring others along with you for some of them, for others you may need to reflect before you’re ready to talk and act – it is your journey to shape and set.
- Reset the expectations we have for each other about race: Are you expecting too little of coworkers, friends, and family?
- Reset the expectations we have for each other about race: Are we expecting too much of others, especially POCs who may have a different lived experience then us? Are you expecting more work produced from POCs but allowing white people a pass? Are you expecting POCs, especially Black and Brown people to take on emotional labor or explaining race with no compensation or relationship in place (extracting expertise)?
- Reset our relationships within meetings – Meetings are a place where people gather to problem solve and work through differences. What is it about meetings that make some easier to be in and some challenging? As we move through 2021, let’s reset meeting norms to focus on the needs of POC, especially for people who are often marginalized in meetings – Black, Indigenous, immigrants, people who are not fluent in the dominant language spoken, and people with disabilities. Reset how you facilitate your meeting to create more space for POCs.
- Performance vs Substance – Reset your expectations of organizations and others around their words and actions, especially in social media posts. Statements condemning violence, racism, etc. are so 2015 and no longer enough — show us your actions, be explicit in how you will get to the root of racism. Reset your expectations to make changes, not just empty words. If you can’t do that then stay still and learn before going for performative actions.
- Accountability – Reset who you are accountable to and why – think about this through a racialized lens – what POCs are you accountable to? What Communities of Color are you accountable to? Reset who you hold accountable and make that known to them – white people think about this within your white circles.
- Reset relationships within your work, volunteer, and other professional circles – Are the organizations you’re spending your time with undoing institutional racism?
- Reset your expectations of joy — Are you in spaces that allow for the celebration of Black and Indigenous people? I’m not just talking just during Black History Month, or the one-off events, but everyday can POCs authentically celebrate each other?
- Work to understand disability justice and how ableism manifest. What actions can you take within your work, volunteer, and personal relationships to be an ally or supporter of people with disabilities? What resets do you have to make to be in more just relationships with people with disabilities?
- Reset your expectation to always do things and be helpful, especially to people of color. We don’t always need your help. Reset your need to be centered, be helpful, be the leader. Sometimes the best help is to be still and listen and to reset your own behaviors.
- White people — Reset your expectations around learning from people of color. I was once in a meeting where race-based breakout groups were used. Some of the white people were visibly disappointed to have to leave and not ‘learn’ from the POCs. We’re not here to perform for you – you can learn about race from other white people.
- 2020 was the year of staying in one place, in 2021 can we deepen our connections to home and place. Pledge to deepen our understanding of what place means to Indigenous people and communities of color.
- Pledge to visit a new place within your community and understand its racialized history – parks, school building, etc. Every place has some tie to race, even within “white communities” understand how it became understood to be seen that way. When we do this, we reset our understanding and connections to place.
Language and Media
- Reset norms of understanding the news – Do you follow POC voices in the news media? With the internet age of media it is easier now than a decade ago to find and follow Black, Indigenous, and POC voices in the media. Find trusted POC voices and support their journalism. The terrorist events at the US Capitol this week show how important it is to find accurate and diverse media to understand what happened more fully.
- Stop using the word equity if you don’t mean racial equity. If you mean another form of equity be explicit. If you mean equality, say equal. Pledge to learn the difference between equality and equity.
- Reset language norms to be clear and concise and mindful with your language. If you mean Black people say it. If you mean racial equity, use those words.
- Reset your expectations around racist language – Racist language is overt and covert. Do you allow covert racist language to go in the sake of “keeping the peace?” Do you challenge your own thinking about white normative language and we expect others to conform to it?
- Think about your reading, media/TV, podcast, social media list – What are you missing – youth voices, Black and Brown voices, immigrant, body positive, authored by people with disabilities?
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