Enough of not enough

Carolyn Herfurth | Business Coach for Women Business Owners

Correcting a friend when she refers to a hotel employee as “Oriental” instead of Asian…

…snapping at a family member when they say something racist… or defending people of color when a card carrying Republican says, “but I work hard for my money”… is a start.

But it’s not enough.

The latest incidents in Minneapolis and Central Park have reminded me that I need to take a more proactive role in dismantling racism.

It’s not enough to claim to “not be racist.” I’ve learned I must be actively against racism (which is a social construct made up in the mid 1400s in Portugal.)

Which is why I’ve committed to being antiracist.

There’s a lot to unpack around how we got here — and ways I’m unwittingly playing a role in perpetuating racism.

I’m not here to teach or preach. There are others who are far more knowledgeable about the topic. But I do want to share what I’m listening to and the ways I’m taking action in my life and business.

So in no particular order, here are some of the resources that have answered some of the questions I have about racism and what I can do about it…

Listen to this Scene On Radio podcast series (14 episodes from Feb 15 – Aug 24, 2017) about what it means to be white and learn about the genesis of race. [Did you know we were ALL black at one time? That’s right. We have one common ancestor in Africa. And as people moved to other parts of the world, their skin lightened, depending on the climate and conditions of where they relocated.]

Read Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime and hear his perspective about looting.

Listen to Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” to understand how blacks have been shunned from the same privileges that whites take for granted.

Attend Trudi Lebron’s Show Up & Serve emergency workshop for white women.

Watch 13th to better understand how politicians have weaponized our legal system to keep blacks “enslaved.”

Watch When They See Us to understand how 5 innocent Black teens were convicted of a crime they didn’t commit.

Support a Black female business owner to overcome pandemic fueled challenges on Kiva. Or better yet, buy from and hire women of color.

Donate to Black Lives Matter, ACLU, NAACP, People’s Action, Innocence Project, Bailout Fund, Race Forward, We Love Lake Street (George Floyd’s murder and ensuing looting happened just a few miles from where I lived in Minneapolis).

Read Ibram X. Kendi’s How To Be An Antiracist and join in conversation about it to lift the fog off racist beliefs and actions.

Listen to Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon To White America by Michael Eric Dyson.

Learn how and why Emmett Till’s brutal murder served as the next phase for the Civil Rights movement. Bless his brave Mama.

Find out what Jim Crow laws were and how they were designed to marginalize African Americans.

Watch Birth of a Nation to understand how the U.S. used “entertainment” like this to demonize Blacks.

This is by no means an exhaustive list.

I started this journey late in life… after getting fired up about the white supremacy madness in Charlottesville 3 years ago. I’ve been afraid to talk publicly about it for fear of saying the wrong thing(s). But I’m willing to eff up if it saves one more life and puts an end to the inequality that people of color face every single day.

And I’ve detoured several times along the way. Scouring websites, speeches and social media to unpack all of this feels like chasing air… but it’s the work I need to do because ignorance and silence are not an acceptable excuse.

My commitments:

  1. I will continue to research and learn ways I’ve been unwittingly perpetuating racism and change my behaviors, systems and actions accordingly.
  2. I will donate 10% of sales to organizations that are on the front lines fighting for true racial equity.
  3. I will actively seek out BIPOC-owned businesses to support my business.
  4. I will check my defensiveness when I get fact-checked, Fragile White Woman-checked or called out for doing this wrong.
  5. I will not ask people of color to do the work for me. They’ve done plenty already. I’ll ask how I can support them, not how they can support me.

I imagine this list will evolve, but it’s my starting point.

One last thing I want to make very clear: I’m not here to teach you. I’m listening and learning from the people of color who have experienced racism, firsthand, their entire lives. I’m sure you’re doing the same.

But we can share resources. So I’d love to hear from you about the resources that are informing your actions and commitments because this needs to be an ongoing commitment… not a one and done until the next news cycle diverts our attention elsewhere.

I can no longer hope quietly for peace and true racial equity because it’s not enough. I must actively do my part to dismantle racism.

 

p.s. This statement from Ben & Jerry’s is a must read.

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Posted In: Mindset & Priorities