Let me begin by saying that I am NOT an expert on anti-racism. I also don’t teach how to be anti-racist. I am learning about my racism and the ways that I perpetuate white supremacy. I am also committed to being an anti-racist business.
This commitment means that I declare my values and ensure my team and my clients are aligned with these values.
If you aren’t willing to be anti-racist and committed to equity and social justice, then we aren’t a good fit.
What I am learning about being anti-racist is that it is a daily intention and commitment to call out myself and others when I or they are intentionally or unintentionally perpetuating racism with their words or actions. It isn’t just about not being racist. It is about actively being anti-racist. It is standing up for social justice and not allowing racism to be ignored.
This is how racism is perpetuated by every system in our society. White people have allowed racism to persist by ignoring it and upholding it. We have hidden it from ourselves and pretended to be non-racist.
We have used our unearned privilege to get ahead, to live a “good” life, to survive, while Black and Brown people have had to work harder to access what we “white” people consider our natural rights. They have to work hard to be seen, to get jobs, to access healthcare, to feel safe on our roads, to access education, to keep their children safe, to get a fair trial, to build wealth and so much more.
The systems are rigged for white people to succeed and Black and brown people to struggle.
We have also used our white fragility to guard ourselves against our transgressions and the transgressions of our ancestors. By “not seeing color” we have swept racism under the rug.
I spent most of my life believing I was not racist.
I have always loved everyone of every color. I tried to treat people equally. I said that I saw humans, not races. I never identified my own race. If someone was blatantly racist, I called it out. I protected and shielded the victims of racism. These are all beliefs I had until I did the deeper work.
I have had struggle and trauma in my life, but I have utilized my privilege.
When I was young, I was often picked up by the cops. I snuck out of the house and every time I got picked up by the police, I wasn’t scared. I laughed with them and they would bring me home to my mother and tell her to keep more tabs on me. This is NOT the story for many Black teenagers. If you are Black, you are more likely to be harmed, killed or jailed by the police than you are to have a laugh with them.
When I go to the store, no one eyes me suspiciously or watches me to ensure I don’t steal something. I am treated respectfully. This is not the case for many Black and Brown people.
I have never had to sit my beautiful daughters down and tell them how to protect themselves if they get pulled over by the cops. I have never had to explain to them that people treat them differently because of the color of their skin. This is ALL privilege.
When I had my life burned down to the ground, I could rise from the ashes partly because I am white and my ancestors have had money and privilege their whole lives. I had family who could help me get back on my feet. I could get a job or work more easily because of my color.
Recognizing our privilege and the ways we deny racism is an important part of anti-racist work.
I believe we can’t truly embody anti-racism until we do the internal work. Otherwise, it becomes performative. We do the “right” things so we look good, not because we are invested in actively changing the world.
I started some of this work on my own, but I have been blessed to have women in my life who help me look deeper and admit what I have been too scared and ashamed to see.
Two books I highly recommend if you are looking to do more anti-racism work: White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad. In addition to non-fiction books on racism, I also recommend reading fiction that has its roots in Black and Brown communities. Storytelling is a powerful way to create empathy and understanding around what Black and Indigenous people of color (BIPOC) have experienced. It allows you to identify and feel how you have perpetuated racism.
If you are looking to become an anti-racist business, I highly recommend hiring someone. If like me you know that you need to be more embodied in this work, I would highly recommend Sunshine Kamaloni. She does the embodied work required to truly step into an anti-racist business.
So, how am I actively working towards being an anti-racist business?
This is changing all the time as I evolve and learn.
The first commitment I have to being an anti-racist business is to do the internal work so that I can recognize my own racism, the ways I support white supremacy, the privilege I use and the ways that I hide behind my whiteness. This is an ongoing process.
Right now I commit a certain portion of my week to reading, journaling, reflecting and getting more honest about the part I play in the bigger picture.
What else am I doing?
I have hired a Racial Equity Consultant and am actively working with her to change my business so that it is more inclusive, more diverse and more anti-racist.
I am open about being anti-racist and declare that in all my materials.
For every person I hire, I ensure they are also committed to being anti-racist and am actively working to have more diversity on my team.
I amplify Black voices and women of color on my podcast. I am continuing to look at ways to ensure I have diverse guests. I also dedicate a good portion of my content to social justice work.
I am continually exploring the line between inclusive representation and hijacking cultural language, images and expressions that cross over into digital blackface.
I am working to move 20% of my expenses into Black-owned businesses.
I am continuing to improve my messaging and my reach to build a more diverse and inclusive community of women that prioritizes safety and wellbeing.
I have a zero toleration policy for racism, sexism or discrimination in any of my groups.
This is where I am starting and it will evolve over time.
What I know now is that my anti-racist work is never done, internally or externally, as long as the systems in our world continue to perpetuate racism.
This is work I am fully committed to.