All last week I was reading posts, slack chats, articles about racism and then writing down thoughts. I considered posting an article, but I worried that I would say the wrong thing or that my voice wasn’t that important. I want to give credit to the person who really started me thinking about what to do – Gillian Harding, a fellow Chief member – by her passionate posts on our Chief Slack platform. Also, to the two people responsible for convincing me to sit down, write, and then publish. First, W. Kamau Bell was a guest on the Conan show recently, and he said just do something. That it might be wrong – it probably will be, but just try something. Liliana Petrova, another Chief member, said that there were so many destructive voices out there, that it is our responsibility to add to the constructive side.
In the end, I decided that the best thing to post is a simple list of what I am doing and planning to do. There is nothing earth-shattering on this list, but it’s a start. I’m open to suggestions of things to add. Ask me how I’m doing to hold me accountable.
- Admit I am part of the problem. Here goes. I am racist. I have racist thoughts. I commit racist acts. It doesn’t matter if I mean to or not. I am not doing anything to fix the problem.
- Continue to remind myself of #1.
- Follow people on social media that are calling attention to the problem and working on solutions.
- Read articles about things to do. See below for a few I found helpful.
- Actively expand my social circle and professional network to include more black people. Let me know if you want to be my friend. I’m not kidding. I’m not quite sure how to do this, but now that it’s on my list, I have to figure it out.
- Talk to my current circle of white people about what is happening and how we can help.
- Donate my time to help more black individuals professionally by helping to expand their network and coaching them based on things I have learned in the marketing, sales, and management space. This idea came from Kate Huyett, CMO of Bombas, and yet another Chief member, and I am following her lead. You can sign up for a 30-minute time slot here or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Find out more about what is happening in my neighborhood – things like what are the stats on police accountability, what are my elected officials doing to promote diversity and reduce racism, does my neighborhood improvement have any diversity initiatives. I don’t know if these are the right data points. I’m open to suggestions on other topics on which I should educate myself.
- Read more books about black culture and history. I started this a while ago, but now I am adding that I will find an action I can take from each one. You can find some of the ones that I found both beautiful and helpful in giving me a different perspective here.
- Revisit this list in a month to check my progress and add more items.
Articles I Found Helpful
Dear White People: Here Are 10 Actions You Can Take To Promote Racial Justice In The Workplace, Forbes
Becoming Trustworthy White Allies Yale University Reflections
9.6.20 Month 4. Starting the book Caste for a book discussion in a couple of weeks. Have heard great things about it. Also working on a plan to help with voting – putting together a happy hour to write letters letting people know they can vote by mail and looking into volunteering in PA on Election Day. Haven’t figured this part out yet, so let me know if you have organizations that are working to encourage voter turnout in PA.
8.12.20 Month 3. My book circle has been insightful, helpful and amazing! We hold our last meeting in two weeks and have agreed to continue to challenge and support each other as we continue our education and efforts. I was blown away and heart broken by the book Just Mercy and am researching how to get more involved through the EJI website. As one of our circle group members pointed out last night, making sure everyone votes and is counted is the most pressing need, so I am committing to that first, and then move to EJI. Still not enough, but this is my update.
7.5.20 It’s been almost a month, so here is my promised update. My focus has been mostly on education, which I believe was the right way to begin. Changing my mindset includes changing the things I see everyday, so I have added Instagram follows including @ckyourprivilege, @laylafsaad, @ibramxk, @violadavis, @kamalaharris, @naacp, @wkamaubell, @civilrightsorg, @colorofchange, @obamafoundation, and @privtoprog. Let me know if you have other favorites. I finished the book Me and White Supremacy and have organized two book circles, beginning tomorrow, to challenge me and other white women to learn and take action. I held a call with a job-seeker who found me through the Pay it Forward program and hope it was helpful for her. Next is working through this list that was recommended to me – lots of reading and and ideas for action. Be back next month with an update and more resources for those on a similar journey.
6.12.20 I’m currently reading and working through Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad and highly recommend it for the education and thought starters.