Like many folks lately, I have been reading about the very real issues of racial and ethnic inequality, systemic racism, and white privilege. The reading has sharpened my ability to see the many examples all around me. People who have been living with these injustices for generations could fairly say ‘duh, where have you been?’ For those of us who have come late to the table, we now are recognizing the immensity of racial and ethnic injustices and our role in perpetuating them. No doubt about it, the raw reality of racism is very visible in our country in these scary times.
I believe everyone must decide what they will do to address racism in themselves, in their communities, and their governments. White people carry a big responsibility as we have knowingly and unknowingly benefited from systemic racism. Confronting those advantages risks losing some of them.
For me personally, it seems important to talk with others and to practice listening. I am learning a lot by being part of the Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Team at Borderlands. I am trying to probe my own racism and to call out racism when I see it in myself or others.
I agree with those who say it is not the responsibility of people of color to educate white folks about the impacts of racism. It is important for people to talk within their own racial and ethnic groups to organize, strategize, and support each other to make meaningful change. I also hope that we can talk together and work together across racial and ethnic groups to address the disparities that cripple our nation and harm so many people. People of different races and cultures, working together, have a chance to make the profound changes in behaviors, customs, practices, and laws that we need.
In that spirit, I encourage everyone reading this piece to consider how you can contribute to defeating racism. Make a plan. The PRT Editorial Group has agreed to encourage and publish constructive letters or opeds that address this subject, particularly those suggesting actions. Addressing centuries of injustice will take time, but if we do not start now, when will we? Starting a local conversation seems a worthy next step.