I’m a Reluctant Activist
I am deeply troubled by what’s going on in today’s world, particularly the systemic racism we see played out again and again across our nation. As a white American woman, I recognize I must take an active role in helping to dismantle oppressive structures with the goal of an equitable, safe and just society for all.
No longer can I stand quietly as a witness. I must actively commit to the solution. Otherwise I am part of the problem. I need to step up now.
But here’s the problem: I have never considered myself an activist. Not that I don’t care passionately about issues. It’s just that crowds make me anxious, so I’ve never joined protests, marches or even parades. I avoid confrontation and conflict if I can. It stresses me out! Plus, I am one of the “elderly,” one of the high-risk populations in the COVID crisis.
Can I still make a difference without the crowds or confrontation?
Absolutely I can. I know I’ll stumble, make verbal gaffs, and most likely offend some. Here are seven small beginning steps I am taking to make a difference and become more active without taking undue (Covid-19) risk now.
1. Understand vocabulary, history, and terms used. What do they mean? Why are they so important?
I started with the basics….. White Privilege. Black Lives Matter. BIPOC. Voter Suppression. Juneteenth. Karen (Hint: Amy Cooper is one). Rosa Parks. Malcolm X. Dorothy Height. Bootstrap Myth. Exceptionalism. Ally. Institutional Racism….look them up they are important to understand. These are just the beginning for me.
2. Learn, read and watch documentaries and movies by black voices, authors, and directors.
I am reading, watching and learning! We need to be educated and learn. I found many excellent curated lists and resources and now have my list. Seek, ask and learn. (I also learned….my California education was severely lacking and biased.)
3. Listen to the voices of today’s Black generation and leaders.
I easily identified over 15 key voices of color and am now reading their work, follow them on Twitter and blogs, and listen to their viewpoint and experiences. Here are just a few voices…..* Karine Jean-Pierre * Yamiche Alcindar * Ijeoma Oluo * Alicia Keys * Ibram X. Kendi * Luvvie Ajayi Jones * Trevor Noah *
4. Get the facts. Check sources. Rely on original, respected and validated data sources.
I evaluate data about disparate rates of police actions, the justice system and incarceration of Blacks; learning through data the impact of Covid-19 infections and deaths on the Black community; and other community disparities.
I use credible original source materials and don’t rely on Facebook or most news outlets. They have their biases. Before you retweet, forward, or quote data, be sure you have your facts right. Misinformation spreads faster than Covid!
5. Proactively Support Black-Owned Businesses and Non-Profits.
I identified black community non-profits and have set up small recurring donations.
I am buying products from Black Etsy Creatives. I’m exploring and ordering takeout now from local Black and Minority-owned restaurants. Find, buy from, and support black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs—now and over time.
6. Civic Engagement.
Serve on jury duty when called. Don’t try to “get out of it”. Our judicial system relies on thoughtful jurors.
Research and understand the background, experience, positions, and voting records of the local election candidates (judges, supervisors, town councils, school boards, etc.). Support local candidates.
Write op-ed pieces and letters to the editor on issues you are informed and passionate about.
Continue to VOTE in every election.
7. Say something/do something when confronted with a racist comment or assumption.
I’ve learned that silence and inaction have become a breeding ground for the systemic, cultural and institutional racism in this country today. We all need to educate, inform and most importantly change hearts and minds, through our words and our actions.
This is the most difficult for me, as I usually turn away from confrontation. As I learn and understand, my voice is getting stronger and my positions clarified. Not from a place of anger, rather a calm place where I try to understand and educate those who don’t understand that we are all human with the emotional needs of love, respect and compassion.
We all deserve equal treatment, opportunities and rights.
For more information, about ways to make a difference in the world, I urge you to check out World-Changer, one of 9 ways we can find purpose and joy in our life.