What’s been incredibly helpful for me is to remove the concept of “good” from my vocabulary in regards to anti-racism work. For too long, many White people have thought of themselves as “good people” who couldn’t possibly be racist. The truth is White people can be both good and racist. We can be good and still do harm. And as you navigate being anti-racist, you will do harm. Not intentionally. You don’t know what you don’t know. You can only start where you are. And you are always right on time while also being incredibly late to the conversation. Both truths exist.
As you take action, as you use your voice, as you leverage your platform - you’ll receive feedback for how you can do better. Our work, as White people, is to take pause, listen, integrate the wisdom that is being offered, go deeper into understanding the intricate layers that were involved in causing harm in the first place.
When you make a mistake and cause harm, it is essential you take pause and listen. Learn where you went wrong and how you can do better. Be mindful of getting defensive. Own the impact your actions created because no matter how pure your intentions were, our intentions can often come from a White-centered view not clearly seeing the harmful impact they may have for Black, Brown, and other People of Color.
You causing unintentional harm can certainly feel like you’re not a good person, you can do better, and no matter what you do - you aren’t doing it right. It’s easy to personalize corrections and feedback when it isn’t about you. It’s about the action. It’s easy to feel like you’re failing and getting it wrong. One of the best things I’ve offered myself is instead of thinking in black and white terms of “right/wrong” or “good/bad” - think in terms of “less/more”.
- This can be less harmful.
- This can be more inclusive.
- I could have been less centering.
- I could have been more unequivocal.
Learning to depersonalize feedback is critical to your ability to stay engaged in anti-racism work. Learning to hold space for shame when it pops up, which it will, is part of your inner work to stay engaged.
Your comfort will be challenged repeatedly. It’s essential you learn to process your feelings in spaces that are designed for you. Otherwise, this can lead to centering/prioritizing your feelings over the feelings of people of color who have been harmed, which takes the focus off of the harm and the person harmed & instead on reassuring you you’re still a good person, you still belong, people are still willing to be in community with you, etc.
If shame is present for you when you receive feedback, stay curious. It’s so incredibly easy for us to assume someone is shaming us when more times than not, the shame we feel is from our own unknowing and the harm we unintentionally caused.
With that said, when racial tensions are higher than usual - where there’s more death, more violence, more racially motivated murder and aggressions - the world will be an intense place. People will be angry, heated, hurt, sad, outraged, and fed up.
The tendency of White people can be to disengage when racial conversations aren’t happening with the respect, compassion, and softness one prefers. This can lead to tone policing and disengaging. I implore you to stay observant in times like these. I recommend watching this video on White Fragility to understand this more deeply.
- How can you hold space for the righteous anger that is present in the world?
- How can you see the sacredness is that rage?
- How can you put yourself in the shoes of people who have been fighting this fight for decades and seeing only small,
slow steps of change typically off the backs of those who have lost their lives senselessly?
As a White person, your role isn’t to silence the rage. It’s to understand the root of it to begin with.
As a Spiritual White person, your tendency can be to seek love, light, peace, & unity. It’s well meaning, but also bypassing. Love, light, peace, & unity are comforting when the world is in pain.
It’s your work to stay present to the pain that is happening in the world around us because from that pain, we find purpose. From that purpose, we create change. From that change, we become part of the solution to create more love, light, peace, & unity. The true kind. The kind that exists for us all.
To be an anti-racist member of this community, there is work to do in the midst of racial tension and work to do outside of it. It’s often easier to take action in the midst of crisis because there will be pressure to speak out. This is important. The real work, however, is what you choose to do when the tension dies down. Anti-racism work is lifelong work that we must prioritize and make it our personal responsibility.
There’s the call to use your voice and also take a seat and listen.
There’s the call to take ownership of your internalized racism and also not center your feelings.
There’s the call to lean in and do the work and what you’re currently doing is not enough.
There’s the call to speak out imperfectly and also the backlash of shame, call out culture, and perceived judgement & attack when you get it wrong.
There’s the pressure to say something before you’re ready and also be authentic & not performative.
There’s the call to seek peaceful interaction and discord and also not tone police racial conversations or bypass righteous anger.
In this day and age, I know performative allyship can be just as harmful as racist beliefs, ideas, and policies. I think it’s always helpful to know more about someone’s process and what motivated them to take an unequivocal stand. I also want to be a voice that normalizes what it’s like to wake up to White Privilege and why being anti-racist is in no-way an overnight process. The following is my journey with striving to be anti-racist as well as resources that have either been recommended to me or have personally supported me on my path.
I was born and raised in the American South - a culture that has deep ties to slavery, racism, White Supremacy, and other systems of oppression. I went to a mainly white church and had a mostly homogenous upbringing as a middle class American. I talk about this awareness on Ep. 14 of Wild & Holy Radio.
For most of my life, racial slurs and microaggressions were commonplace. Racism was something that was spoken about as if it were over. When marginalized people would raise their voices, it would often be met with the sentiment that “things have come so far” as if the progress that had been made should be sufficient. It wasn’t. It’s not.
2016 was the year I woke up to White Privilege & White Supremacy and since then, I have been actively engaged in understanding my complicity and dismantling my own internalized racism.
I want you to know that if you too are waking up to White Privilege & White Supremacy, this is going to be an emotional experience laced with shame, grief, guilt, remorse, anguish, disgust, rage, and heartbreak. I want to encourage you to transmute those feelings into action because this is how we, as White people, can be part of the change.
I also want to normalize the desire to get it right and not do more harm. Spiritual teachings will tell you to take pause and take action when you feel aligned or safe to do so. I want to create more urgency than that. People’s lives depend on your swift action, which means you’re going to have to get comfortable with taking imperfect steps. This is how we learn.
With that said, I know the initiation to anti-racism work holds a lot of conflicting messages.
Learning to navigate these dichotomies can be incredibly confusing. It’s hard to know where to start and how to be a supportive ally.
I talk about how to stay engaged as a White Woman and take a stand for anti-racism below (published June 1, 2020):
Anti-Racism Resources for White People compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker & Alyssa Klein in May 2020, especially the Seeing White Series on the Scene on Radio podcast.
TED Talks to help you understand racism in America.
Black Coaches Directory created by Simone Grace Seol.
You're Waking Up to White Privilege, Now What? - a podcast series hosted by two White women, Thais Sky & Lindsey Rae sharing their mistakes and process of waking up to white privilege.
BUT, along with all of the ways you can engage in being anti-racist - the way this work truly shows up is by listening and following Black and Non-Black People of Color - not because of their skin tone, but because of their brilliance. This should go without saying, but I know many of my White friends who wake up to white supremacy start to notice that their network lacks diversity. The first question is “how do I change this?” The next question is “how do I change this without tokenizing?”
Make an intentional effort to find Black & NBPOC owned businesses. Seek out businesses and experts who are Black & Non-Black People of Color. Learn about their brilliance. Listen to what they have to say; their wisdom, their skillset, their craft, their perspective, their gifts, their talents, their magic.
Use your platform to elevate their work. Refer work to them. Be a person who supports their business & their dreams.
The work of being an anti-racist must carry a deep urgency for change while recognizing that deep change takes time.
Again, I’m so glad you’re here and that you’ve intentionally chosen to be a member of this community!
Downloading The Black Wallet app to find local Black Businesses wherever you are. Support them. Invest in their dreams.
Supporting bail funds in times of protests. Many people are detained without access to funds to post bail. Fund your local area to help support protestors.
Supporting Together Rising, founded by Glennon Doyle. This organization is always supporting boots on the ground initiatives to send funds where they're needed most.
Donating funds to your local organizations who are supporting anti-racism efforts in your area.
Donating to Campaign Zero that focuses on creating 8 shifts to police departments and how they de-escalate conflict.
Rachel Elizabeth Cargle for her wisdom on intersectional feminism
Desiree Adaway for her perspective on building anti-racist workplaces
Ericka Hines for her work in organizational leadership & diversity
Trudi Lebón for infusing diversity, equity, and inclusion into your business and the way you coach
Louisa "Weeze" Doran for the space she holds to dismantle internalized racism
Myisha T. Hill for her work on helping White women understand their privilege
Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, the founder of Therapy for Black Girls & resident psychologist for Oprah Magazine
Erica Courdae for the intimate 1:1 space she holds as you deepen into imperfect allyship
Austin Channing Brown for the conversations she leads around race on her show, The Next Question
Andréa Ranae Johnson for leveraging coaching as activism
Kachelle Kelly for her work in her course, "A New Journey for Non-Blacks: Becoming Anti-Racist & Effective Allies for the Black Community"
Tarana Burke for her work in activism and creating equitable change
Ibram X. Kendi for his work on educating youth and adults on anti-racism
Ta-Nehisi Coates for his award winning journalism and writing on White Supremacy
Resmaa Menakem for his somatic approach to healing racialized trauma in his book, My Grandmother's Hands
This is not an exhaustive list by any means. The work for each of us is to find our own way of being anti-racist. I am always here for conversation, feedback, and resources.
Staying engaged in my own personal work to dismantle internalized systems of oppression through reading books on anti-racism, taking workshops, hiring anti-racist educators, infusing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives into my business, and making it my business to be a voice of change.
Having safe spaces to process my emotions when I do unintentional harm.
Not only following anti-racism educators, but also intentionally seeking out diversity in my network for Black & NBPOC experts whose work I can support.
Amplify the voices and experiences of Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other People of Color.
Using my platform to speak out about injustices and be unequivocal on what I believe and stand for/against.
Being part of an anti-racist community means you are willing to be open to how to be a better anti-racist ally.