Ever since May 25, 2020, I have been reading books, listening to podcasts, having discussions, reading the news, and praying about racial justice. The death of George Floyd was a shocking wake-up call for me, and yet here I am six months later, and I still do not know what to do to change the systemic racism in our country and in my community and in me.
I am a recovering racist and I wonder: What should I do?
So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo, is the book that I am currently reading, and last evening I decided to read the last chapter first. That chapter title is, “Talking is Great, but What Else Can I Do?” This morning as I continued to struggle to find a direction, words from the musical, My Fair Lady, popped onto the screen of my mind: “Oh words, words, words . . .I’m so sick of words . . . if you love me, show me.” Ijeoma also says, “Talk. Please talk and talk and talk some more. But also act. Act now, because people are dying now in this unjust system.”
So, what action can I (maybe you, too) do today? Following are actions suggested by three black voices:
- Ijeoma Oluo- So You Want to Talk About Race
- Faith & Prejudice – founded by Nona Jones
- Nicole Stamp – 18 Ways to Sustain the fight Against Racism
Give money to organizations working to advance racial equity in America.
Some suggestions of national organizations:
National Immigrant Justice Center
You could also reach out to people in your community to see what local organizations could use your financial support.
Support films and books created by people of color.
Anti-Racism Books for Kids from the New York Times
Just Mercy (book and movie), Bryan Stevenson
The Hate U Give (book and movie), Angie Thomas
The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett
The Mothers, Brit Bennett
Be your child’s or grandchild’s anti-racist role model.
As Nicole Stamp writes in her CNN article, “When you encounter racism in public interactions, at social gatherings or with family, set an example by speaking up. Your child will be empowered to follow your lead. Role-play responses with your children, such as, ‘That’s racist!’ ‘That’s unfair!’ or ‘Please treat everyone equally!’.” It’s important, Stamp writes, to “diversify the people your child admires” by providing access to a variety of professionals – healthcare providers and business leaders, for example. Stamp also ask us to seek out strong Black role models in our toys, literature and media. “Choose books and shows with joyful Black protagonists – characters who are not enslaved, not servants, who do not hate their own appearances, who are not portrayed as victims and who do not require ‘saving’ – characters whom your children would be proud to emulate,” she suggests. This is especially important during kids’ formative years, before they read about historical racism in school, so that they can, “directly see and experience people of all races as true equals and aspiration role models.”
As Ijeoma suggests, “It is easy to think that the problem of racial oppression in this country is just too big. How on earth can we be expected to dismantle a complex system that has been functioning for over four hundred years? My answer is: piece by piece.” Yes, let us do something.
What should I do? What should you do? (Really, I am asking you. I would greatly value your answers.) Please contact me and let me know your ideas.