If you are committed to doing the work required to extend your anti-racism efforts, it’s a wonderful thing. And it is so important to start by looking within your own heart and mind.
After all we can’t be part of the work to heal racism in the world if we haven’t healed it within ourselves. But you don’t want to go it alone. Sharing what you’re up to with other people, and joining groups that are already doing this work to strengthen their numbers is a vital part of the work. We need anti-racism to spread beyond ourselves and to do that, we have to link up with other people.
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Extend Your Anti-Racism Efforts
We have such a huge opening right now to make some significant changes. But possibility is a door that only stays open so long. (This is a concept I learned from one of my former coaches, Lisa Sasevich.) You’ve got to stick something in that opening so that the door doesn’t swing shut next week or next month. And that something is some kind of structure that’s going to keep you accountable. It will keep you showing up, and help you add your single stream of energy to a larger river.
I have personally found it incredibly helpful to find people who are already doing the work and lend them your hands. It helps you not get stuck in wondering what to do next.
I have found this incredibly helpful and rewarding. The first issue that I got really activated around was reproductive rights. As states around the country were passing their heartbeat bills and abortion bans, I wanted to do something to help Rhode Island. I wanted to help the blue state get a law on the books that codified the protections of Roe V. Wade into law here in RI.
Enrich Your Life- Get Involved
I found an organization, The Womxn Project, that was leading an advocacy effort. They were hosting lobby days at the state house, having house parties to write postcards to legislators, stuff like that. All I had to do was show up and they basically told me what to do that would be helpful. I remember the first time I showed up at the state house to distribute postcards to lawmaker. I was not prepared for the raucous scene.
There was a huge line to get in to the statehouse. It was winter and the wind was blowing hard and it was freezing. And in that line were plenty of people from the other side holding their signs with pictures of dead babies. I was meeting a friend at the statehouse but we hadn’t met up yet and I really had to take some deep breaths to stay there and not go get back in my car and go home.
But over time, I got used to showing up at the statehouse. I’m so lucky to live 10 minutes away. Over time, I got to shake hands and talk with my lawmakers. I got comfortable with sharing close quarters with people who were passionately opposed to something I felt passionate about. I went from skulking around the edges to being in the mix and when the bill passed. (Something that had been introduced each year for the pat 20+ years and had never succeeded.) It was one of the most gratifying moments of my life. I will never forget it. And along the way, I met so many people who I now think of as my activist family. Getting involved won’t just benefit the cause, it will enrich your life, too.
Don’t Go It Alone- Find A Forum
You don’t have to dedicate your life to fighting racism in order to make a difference. But, if you want to have an impact, you can’t go it alone.
You need a forum to talk about things. There should be one that’s more intimate, probably with only white people. So that you can ask your dumb questions and talk about anything that’s causing you personal offenses. And you also need a group that’s dedicated to creating lasting change.
For the smaller forum, you could start an anti-racism book group. Or if you’re already in a book group, propose that you spend the next six months or year reading things that are going to broaden your thinking and inspire you to action. Or you can start a text string with like-minded friends. Take turns hosting gatherings at each other’s houses where you can have an open dialog about race, and what’s happening in your community. And brainstorm ways you can each support each other.
Find An Anti-Racism Organization
AS for organizations, there are SO MANY. A good place to start is The Racial Equity Resource Guide, which is created by WK Kellogg foundation. They let you search by state and by issue for an organization that’s doing work to create racial equity. Although this list is by no means comprehensive. (I live in Rhode Island and they have no organizations listed for us, although I know many exist.) So if you go there and don’t find something close to you, don’t assume there aren’t any.
You can also take it by issue
The American Civil Liberties Union
Criminal justice reform
Gun violence prevention
Raising the minimum wage
Supporting black candidates — everyone talks a bout how important it is to vote, and it IS, but the candidates you vote for need an awful lot of help in order to even make it to election day, much less win.
Every Major Issue Is Affected By Race
No One Person Can Work on Everything
Just pick what you care about and commit to doing what you can. You might surprise yourself how much wiggle room you have in your schedule. That being said, you making commitments you can’t keep or extending yourself to the point that you’re spread too thin doesn’t serve anybody. Have 100% trust in the fact that the right way for YOU to help exists. And it will enrich your life and the lives of others. Whatever level makes sense for you to get involved, the world needs you now, while the door is open.
Daily Tiny Assignment
Your tiny assignment for the day is to think through your options for extending your anti-racism efforts beyond yourself. Choose one that’s available and makes sense for right now. And take one step toward making it real. Choose a book and send an email out to friends to see who else wants to read it and meet to discuss it.
Google anti-racism organizations or go to racialequityresourceguide.org and find a group near you. And then sign up for their emails or reach out to them and tell them you’d like to help. If you know of a black candidate running for office in your area, reach out them on social media and tell them you want to help. Put something in place to prop that door open so that it doesn’t swing shut.
Calm The Eff Down
This is an intense time on multiple levels. If you’d like a little handholding and direction on doing the things that help you stay grounded (and not freaking out), I’ve got a gift for you — I compiled all the tips I covered in my 21 Day Calm the Eff Down challenge that I ran here on the podcast starting in late April into a mini ebook that you can download FOR FREE.