How You Can Be a Leader on Anti-Racism


Today’s big idea is that if you haven’t already, it’s time to start sharing the things you’ve learned about anti-racism and the results of the inner work you’ve done with the people in your circle of influence. (And if you want to re-start or begin that inner work, remember, head back to episode 207 and listen to that and the next four episodes.) This doesn’t have to be a big deal, like some kind of lecture. 

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Here’s an example

Now that we are all fully vaccinated, I recently visited a family member. While we were together, they relayed a story about a white friend who had asked one of their black friends to explain something this white person didn’t feel woke enough to understand. To my family member this was a reasonable thing to do, they weren’t questioning it in any way.

And I just said, you know, black people have to be oppressed by white supremacy every day of their lives. They don’t also need to do the work of educating white people about it, too. They do enough. White people created white supremacy, we can’t ask the folks who are oppressed by our creation to also do the work of explaining it to us. Besides, we’ve got the internet now, we can do our own research on anti-racism efforts. I could see my family  member’s wheels turning. Like, hmmm, hadn’t thought of that.

Believe me I have been devoted to the idea of not rocking the boat for decades, particularly within my own family where I am the only member of my generation and so have often felt like I did not have a partner in resistance if I did make waves. 

But consider this:

Accountability is a love language, which is a quote by Maryam Hasnaa, who is a practitioner of energy medicine whom you can follow on Instagram @vibrationalmedicine. The vast majority of people want to be better. That impetus may be hidden deep down inside, but you have to trust that it is there.

When someone you love says something that’s just not cool it can be very tempting to just say nothing, and not ruffle any feathers. But you can do it with love. If it’s one of your elders, think of it like showing them an easier way to do something on their phone–they really appreciate the information when it makes them feel more skillful. Just remember you don’t have to school anyone, and you certainly don’t want shame them because there’s stuff you still don’t know and will get wrong and hopefully someone you love will bring it to your attention in a way that isn’t belittling. 

Inside our families and close friend groups is where we often have the most sway

Doing a little bit of appropriate anti-racism awareness raising is a great way for you to display leadership. You can do that either implicitly, by sharing your views and modeling the way, or explicitly, by educating and offering feedback. 

Also, listen, I get that family dynamics can be such that those closest to you are perhaps the least likely to value your opinions. They may dismiss you as the crazy woke one.That’s ok. If the thought of speaking up makes you feel legitimately unsafe, I respect that. Just know that humans often have to take in a new piece of information multiple times before they incorporate it into their thinking or act on it.

Maybe if they pooh pooh it when it comes out of your mouth, or make it seem like you’re the one in the wrong, they will be more likely to let it in when they hear it from a friend or read it in an article. You will help expose them and familiarize them to anti-racist ideas. And education and awareness is such an important part of the process of dismantling systems of oppression that have been hiding in plain sight for generations (especially if you and your family members are white). 

Daily Tiny Assignment

Your tiny assignment is to swallow hard and speak up the next time someone close to you says something that twangs wrong on your inner anti-racism meter. Don’t make it personal, just share some information, and know that even if nothing more seems to come of it, you are planting seeds that can take root and bloom in the future. 

Also, a great resource for how to have the conversations is The Opt In, a podcast by Aurora and Kelly, Afro-Latina and white besties who make anti-racism very approachable and loving for all folks of all races. They also have a great Instagram account that I follow @theoptin. Check them out!

And come back tomorrow, when I’m interview racial justice master teacher Dr. Amanda Kemp about using mindfulness as an anti-racism tool.


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