I’ll start this post by stating unequivocally that Black Lives Matter.
The Second Lunch is a food blog, my personal musings, and most of the time my list of weekly Good Things – Good Things are my weekly reminder to notice the good and opportunity in a world of chaos.
If you are reading this, and you are tired of reading “political stuff” – or you don’t understand why this is here – I’d ask you NOT to click away. I hope that you consider at least skimming this and choosing to do ONE thing to make change in your own community this week.
We have an opportunity to focus and ACT right now on vitally important work: dismantling systemic racism.
This includes reacting not just during times of crisis, but acting proactively during all times. This is challenging work. I can do better. You can do better. We can do better.
One thing that I make a practice of during all difficult times: at each moment of crisis, seize the opportunity not to react hesitantly but to set up a system for yourself that keeps the momentum in the long term. That makes action a continuous part of your life.
Here’s a list of things you can do today – with an eye to making every single day forward an opportunity to act.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed about doing this kind of work, and shutdown in response. We must resist this feeling. We must take a step. Any step, even a small one. The importance isn’t about just the individual act, but it’s what we can collectively do to be anti-racist. It’s about pushing past the discomfort and acting. It’s about actively talking about race.
It helps me to think of racial justice work in the framework of repeatable action. In order to do this work we must both ask ourselves important questions, have hard conversations, and act. We must build ourselves a lifelong framework to structure good deeds and actions.
These questions will likely be uncomfortable. They are often uncomfortable to me. As a non-Black person right now it is our obligation to push past that and get to work.
:: Choose to educate yourself daily.
- Make anti-racism reading regular reading. Make yourself a reading list, request a range from the library, buy some now. There are lots of great books to start with. (White Fragility may be a good starting point if you haven’t read it yet; lots of people are reading it right now, and it’s a good place to open discussion with friends who have not started this work.) I’m currently re-listening to the 1619 Project podcast from the NYTimes for a discussion group.
- Find a wide range of regular news sources that represent diversity of thought. Does your regular news include Black and brown voices and publications? Just a few: Boston-based Basic Black is a long standing excellent TV news source – and has phenomenal interviews. Theroot.com has consistently good blog content. Callie Crossley is a fellow Wellesley alum whose work I follow.
- Read books and watch tv and films written by BIPOC. Actively seek these out, in your genre of choice. YA, Fantasy, Romance, sitcoms, you name it – there is opportunity to expand your thinking and viewpoint.
- Read books with your children about race. EmbraceRace has a great list here.
:: Identify opportunity to make change in your own workplace.
- Right now we are working to support our Black teachers directly during this time, but our work here needs to be at every stage, now, and the future.
- We’ve NOT been quick enough to reach out to our own community – we need to continue to speak out and work regularly on this work. “We aren’t particularly active on social” is not a good enough reason NOT to step up during times of crisis.
- At my company, Inclusion is one of our core values. We take it into account daily in who we serve, our teachers and our students, the partnerships that we seek. We are committed to diversity in hiring. In how we go about choosing our vendors. In our partnerships. We are committed to working with BIPOC businesses and SaaS vendors, and with those who share this value.
- We are committed to donating our time, volunteering, and financial resources to causes that matter to us, our teachers, our students, and our community.
- This is the opportunity to take our work several steps further: we are making anti-racism explicitly a part of the work that we do. I’ll be writing and sharing more publicly about this work in the coming weeks and months.
:: Focus and Invest in the Community.
- Actively donate time and money to support local BIPOC businesses. For Boston folks, here are 60+ Black owned restaurants to support right now. On that note, Lots of roundups happening right now – grab and bookmark for your next gift, retail therapy, or holiday purchase.
- Yearly or quarterly review of your giving (volunteering or financial support) This is a practice that I try to build upon yearly: reviewing the global, national, and local causes that support BIPOC members of the community, or are specifically anti-racist.
- Community Infrastructure – working to dismantle systems of oppression – and focus on rebuilding community resources. Vote. Get active in the neighborhood. Ask questions of your officials and leaders: where is the funding going in our community? Who is benefitting from funding? Who is NOT? This has a robust list of actions that can be taken for racial justice in your community. Even a small step here helps: sign up for your Mayor’s newsletter. Engage.
:: Make it personal: take a look at your personal communities and be prepared to ask questions and act directly – this is often the easiest way to help conceptualize our complicity – taking a good hard look at our own communities, asking hard questions, having difficult conversations, and doing the work.
For me that’s my (largely old, predominantly white) educational institutions that I’m active with – Exeter and Wellesley. It’s the food world. My fitness, running, and yoga communities – all of which have deep work to do.
Some of the questions I am asking myself:
- What can I do to actively support BIPOC members of each of my personal communities? How do I promote the work of my BIPOC colleagues, peers, and friends?
- How can I make sure that the narrative and stories about our community are truly representative of all members of our community? How do I make sure that I’m focused on and amplifying these voices? (WellesleyUnderground is a great example!)
- How can I support the work of anti-racism and inclusion efforts in the admissions efforts of my educational institutions? How can I work to promote diverse leadership in all levels of the institution? The alumni boards? The board of trustees?
- For groups that I’m actively in leadership: how can I actively ensure that our boards are diverse, our events are welcoming, and our work is inclusive? (This includes specific attention to diversity and intersectionality at every stage: leadership, planning of events, considering cost, location, and programming.)
Critical self-assessment: We can not do this work without shining the spotlight directly on ourselves. How do I perpetuate racism within my communities? Where am I complicit? (See below.)
:: Make it *really personal*: we are all racist. It is important to take regular opportunities to reflect upon ways that we as individuals are racist. It’s not IF, it’s when. I do this. It’s hard. It’s important. I’m not good enough at it, but I’m putting in the work, and ask you to as well.
Questions I ask myself:
- When have I been complicit with a racist system or institution?
- When have I remained silent when I should have spoken up?
- When have I centered the narrative around myself?
- How can I support my Black friends to take back and reclaim time for themselves to practice self care?
For this particular moment: When can I do the work to educate others on why Black Lives Matter is important – and the work of anti-racism is so desperately important – so that a Black woman does not have to be doing it for me?
If you can not answer these self critical questions, or you believe they don’t apply to you: I urge you to dig deeper. Use the opportunity to educate yourself on examples of each of these – it helps to read anti-racism literature with an eye to your own participation in racism. It’s just as important to identify the small ways that we participate and perpetuate racism as identifying overt acts. (In many ways, it’s MORE important.)
Collect resources and provide them to your own communities. Do not assume that because YOU have knowledge on a topic that your neighbors and friends do. Talk with your friends. Talk with your family members. Have the hard conversations.
Choose One Thing to do NOW. More important than resources: bias towards action. If you find a list of things to ACT on – ACT. It will feel overwhelming. Choose ONE thing. This is a principle that can be applied to pretty much anything in your life – fitness, food, career, and yes, dismantling systemic racism.
Please join me in doing the work, and reach out if you’d like support and accountability in doing this together.