The conversation about race in America is becoming more visible and more important each day. The killing of unarmed Black people by police has brought racial issues to the forefront. If you’re not a person of color, it’s on you to listen and learn about race and racism for yourself.
Burdening people of color with teaching you about the abuses of systemic racism is itself a product of racial biases. There are tons of resources online to get you started with unlearning these so you can work toward a practice of antiracism.
What is implicit bias?
Everyone carries judgments about others. Often, we’re not even aware of them. We might associate Black men with gangs and guns or Muslims with terrorism. These biases can affect everything from everyday interactions to hiring practices to political ideologies. It’s crucial you learn where your implicit biases are so you can address them.
To begin learning your biases, take Harvard’s Project Implicit tests online. They include tests of biases toward or against people of:
- a certain race, such as African American, Asian American, and Native American
- different sexualities and genders
- different religions
- different body sizes
Learn your privileges
Privilege always exists within systems of oppression. There’s an in-group and an out-group. Privilege doesn’t mean you’re rich and affluent, or that you knowingly benefit from a system. It just means you haven’t been discriminated against based on your race, age, sexuality, size, or religion.
This can be hard for people from the majority group to even see the ways they’ve been privileged in America. Learning your privileges involves questioning your experiences and long-held beliefs about how the world works. Start by reading Peggy McIntosh’s article “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.”
Interrogate your habits
Do you only follow white creators on social media? Do you mainly seek out movies and television shows that feature a mostly white cast? Is your music library full of artists of diverse races, age groups, and gender expressions? If not, question why that might be.
Part of becoming antiracist means making yourself uncomfortable by branching out the media you consume. Try putting yourself into the shoes of people with different lived experiences.
Have difficult conversations
With the holidays approaching, you might be thinking about the kinds of charged political and racial conversations your family could bring up over the dinner table. Instead of shying away from them, you should be prepared to counter any racist narratives people launch into. As a white person, reaching out to family members can make a huge difference in shifting the national conversation.
Expand your reading list
In the wake of the protests in the summer of 2020, books by Black and marginalized writers exploded onto bestseller lists. Reading is a way of being proactive about your own education. Authors you might look into are Ibram X. Kendi, Joseph Barndt, Crystal Fleming, Ijeoma Oluo, and Robin DiAngelo.
If you’re feeling powerless about the oppressive racial system in America, consider volunteering. Look in your area for nonprofits dedicated to helping communities of color and lower-income areas.
Organizations all over the country are dedicated to growing community gardens in food deserts, addressing homelessness, and striving for Black excellence in education. This is a good way to make sure you’re interacting with groups outside your immediate friends and family.
Can counseling help?
Unlearning racial biases is a lifelong task. But it doesn’t have to be an impossible one. We should all strive to treat people with care, respect, and dignity while also acknowledging the differences in our experiences. Therapy can help you learn to be more introspective and notice your biases and knee-jerk reactions.
To find out more about how to work toward being antiracist and unlearning your racial bias, please reach out to us.