CT No.46: Yes, of course we're still talking about anti-racism

You have power. You can take action to demonstrate that Black Lives Matter.

In lieu of an essay today, please watch this video by Patrice C. Washington. The whole thing. All 12 minutes of it.

And then you can:

Tips for white people who want to stand up against racism in the workplace

If you are white, here are some more things you can do:

  • Assume that if you are mostly surrounded by white people in your life and work, that maybe you have some anti-racism work to do. Know that you have participated in racism in the past.

  • Continue reading and donating and organizing (that whole list above is a good place to start).

  • Practice putting everything you’re learning into your own words. You don’t have to publish those words (like I said, I scrapped an entire essay today because Patrice C. Washington said everything I was going to say but more directly and more eloquently). But you do have to practice writing and/or speaking up.

  • Do your homework and show up with informed ideas. Your ideas don’t have to be perfect, but there are so many ideas already published of what to do to be anti-racist! So much of the prep work has been done by experts already. None of these ideas exist in a vacuum! Compare them to your own words and your own ideas.

  • Begin working toward anti-racism not just in your hiring but also in the assumptions of your product. Audit your product for any racist assumptions.

  • If you think something you write or post might be racist, ask for a review from someone you’ve previously considered “sensitive” or “easily offended.” (See below, though: don’t make your Black or NBPOC friends and coworkers do extra work on your behalf unless they indicate they want to help and you are compensating them.)

  • Assume that you can do something. Because you have always been able to do something about racism and you certainly can now.

  • If you are an older white person, please double down on all of the above. If you were offended by OK boomer. If you are unsure why this is happening right now. If you are wondering why people seem hostile to you all of a sudden, they may be remembering the racist things you’ve said in the past. Or in the present.

  • Talk with your white friends and colleagues who are already speaking out. If they’re speaking out, that means they’re ready to begin a conversation.

  • Be helpful and open. If you have to question why something you’ve done in the past may have been racist, let down your defenses and listen.

  • Do you see someone who is uncomfortable? Let the people who are uncomfortable know that this moment is not going to go away until major structural change occurs.

  • Be prepared to give up power in your personal and professional life. Be prepared for discomfort.

  • If you taking action on behalf of an entire business, be very specific in your anti-racist actions. Review your “diversity and inclusion” policies and be honest about whether they have made any difference in how your organization operates. What are you going to change and how are you going to hold yourself accountable? Create anti-racism KPIs just like all of your productivity or revenue KPIs.

Actions to avoid:

  • Do not keep posting normally as if nothing is happening. On any social media. I have unfollowed/disconnected with so many tone-deaf people on LinkedIn this week. If you’re in the U.S., now is not the time for business as usual. Probably won’t be next week, either. You must chill.

  • Do not ask your Black/NBPOC friends or coworkers to write/think for you, ever, especially not now. If they’ve published content designed to be shared, repost it. But don’t suddenly ask for feedback on your anti-racism efforts or unnecessary work that you’ve never asked for before. (If it’s always been their job to create content about anti-racism, that’s a slightly different situation, but please be respectful and pay them appropriately for their work with the consideration that now is a very difficult time to write about being Black, police brutality, racist media coverage, anything. If it’s hard for you, it’s multipliers harder for them.)

  • Do not reach out to an anti-racism organization with gobs of info on their website or contact a Black person who has been posting resources all week to just say “Hey I want to work with you. How can I help?” with literally no specifics.

  • If you are a reporter, editor or content creator: don’t suddenly ask for an interview from organizers you’ve never talked with before unless they have said they’re open to talking or giving interviews. And when you do ask, be respectful and deferential. You are not owed anything, especially if your media organization has a long history of racism.

  • Do not stop caring the second the crisis feeling is over. Only ongoing anti-racist work will make change.

  • Do not share this list unless you’ve read/shared the resources in the links section first. All I’m trying to do is take what I’ve learned and read over the past 7-8 years and 10 days and provide a template for how a white person can speak out in her everyday job/life.

If you want to brainstorm other ways media and communications companies can end racism so you can come to the table with informed ideas on ending white supremacy, reply to this email and I’ll be happy to connect you with more resources.

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