On Being Anti-Racist and Resilient

Integrity. It is embedded into the practice of resilience because one cannot be fully resilient so long as behaviors are incongruent with professed values. That is why it is not enough for me to merely be passively “not racist,” but actively anti-racist in the life that I lead and the business that I run. My integrity means actively living my values out loud. There is no neutral ground in the face of racism.

To my friends, colleagues, and clients who are white, understanding what white privilege is is the first step to dismantling it. Many white folks (myself included, at first), think “but I am not racist, so why am I the problem? What am I suppose to do?” While it might be true that we don’t engage in *overt* racism, doesn’t mean that we haven’t benefited from the privilege of being white. That means we engage in racism. Whew…I know that feels uncomfortable. Let’s get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Here’s the good news: we can do something about it! Here are three things to get started:

  1. See it. Begin seeing white privilege and racism around us and within us. This isn’t something we see immediately or something we only see once and “get it.” It continues to be uncovered for me time and time again in new ways. Do the homework needed to understand. Here are some great resources here and here. We cannot expect POC to do the heavy lifting or emotional labor of the learning we need to do. This is OUR work.
  2. Call it out. When you see white privilege, name it. Don’t let it slip by. Author Austin Channing Brown wrote in her book, I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, “Our only chance at dismantling racial injustice is being more curious about its origins than we are worried about our comfort.” The  article, Six Steps to Speak Up, details how to prepare, identify behavior, set boundaries, and more.
  3. Amplify the voices and follow the leadership of people of color in the work of social justice, in the workplace, in your places of worship, and in your communities. Minda Harts, in her book The Memo, writes to allies (who she refers to as “support partners”), “Being an ally means you are actively helping groups of people that are underrepresented…You have the power to modify the way the table looks…Being inclusive is not some hard code to crack; the remedy is simple–be intentional!”

To my friends, colleagues, and clients who are people of color, I am working to amplify your voices and following your leadership. I am listening with an open heart to ways in which “resilience” looks, feels, and needs to be different for you. I am continually learning (or should I say, unlearning) my own internal biases and racism. I know that workplace resilience cannot be cultivated without honest conversations of systemic racism, inclusion, equity, and diversity. It is hard, uncomfortable, necessary, and meaningful work. I define resilience as the ability to bounce forward from our crisis. Anti-racism work is the work of resilience. It is the only way forward.

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