“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist.” ~ Angela Davis
Once I heard these words and truly understood their meaning, my life changed. My world flipped upside down: I was part of the racist problem in our country. I let racism persevere by not taking actions to fight it in the past.
Angela Davis is right. It’s not enough. We have to actively fight racism, not just say, “I’m not a racist!” (that’s not helping any Black person.) If we don’t fight, we’re saying we don’t care enough about Black lives to stand up for them and fight to end racism.
Needless to say, this week was a reckoning for me, becoming aware of my own contribution (and those close around me) to the oppression of Black people. I became aware of my own inaction, my own lack of awareness, and I had to really look at how my white privilege has formed my life and the lives of everyone around me. I unlearned A LOT. And learned about concepts like microaggressions and implicit biases.
Fully understanding white privilege and systemic racism (this video helped a lot) was the turning point for me, which I learned a couple days into the #AmplifyMelanatedVoices muted week on Instagram, an effort put together by Jessica Wilson and Alishia McCullough to mute our feeds from our own content (not create or share any of our own content,) and instead, share the content of Black voices and creators,.
The creators of this brief movement encouraged everyone who took part to then, at the end of the muted week, look back and see how your world changed, your perspectives, your views, and your understanding of your place and the BIPOC person’s place in this world.
And frankly, this was a much needed week. One of my largest takeaways of this is how unimportant my feed was – both my own feed and many of the accounts I was following. Even as I type this, I’m aware that I’m starting this post all about me, further supporting this white centric framework. But, this is, after all, a place you come because you trust my opinion and I feel a moral obligation to explain myself so that perhaps you can learn from all of this too.
At the end of the day, Black voices have not been heard, respected, or empowered for centuries. Enough is enough, and while I haven’t been there for my Black community in the past the way I should have been, I am here now.
I truly took this muted week (June 1-7) to educate myself, listen to Black voices, and unlearn centuries of racist principles that I didn’t even realize were engrained in me, my friends, and loved ones. Over the past week, I had extremely uncomfortable and difficult conversations with those closest to me.
And I will continue to have those conversations, no matter how hard they are, because no degree of discomfort compares to what the Black community lives with. Aside from having those conversations, there are ways I plan on helping the Black community and fighting racism moving forward, on, and most importantly, off the screen.
- Continue to educate myself. Now that I’m following anti-racist activists and voices, my feed is more purposeful, informative, and no longer will I turn a blind eye. Accounts such as Black Visions Collective, Check Your Privilege, Layla Saad and Rachel Cargle are helping me understand how Black people have been and are oppressed and how to end it. This is a great list of resources to start with. I’ve always subscribed to many newsletters and added several podcast episodes to my playlist to listen to on runs, while cooking, and anytime I have the time to consume content, I want it to be intentional and purposeful.
- Watch movies and shows that address and inform on racism. So far, I’ve watched Just Mercy and The 13th, and just from those two films, I’ve learned so much and felt so much. I’m looking forward to continuing this and replacing some of the mindless shows I watch to “escape,” because the BIPOC community doesn’t have the privilege to escape.
- Donate. The first thing I did was donate. What I’ve learned is that this system has favored white people and allowed us to thrive and flourish. How could we not donate to fight racism, when we’ve benefited off a system that oppresses Black people? While I’ve already donated to several organizations, I have setup recurring donation payments to the NAACP, The Loveland Foundation, and Black Girls Code, organizations dedicated to fighting racial injustice and empowering the Black community. This way, I know no matter what, I’m making a difference, even during tough times in my life when I haven’t prioritized this fight.
- Support Black business owners. During the muted week, I discovered so many amazing Black owned brands, such as The Jungalow and Home by Be. Moving forward, I want to actively find Black owned brands to support, knowing that purchasing their products and subscribing to their mailing lists makes a big difference.
- Follow and subscribe to anti-racist and social equality organizations to find new ways to help and get involved. It can feel overwhelming, “Where do I start, where do I put my energies?” and I think the way to combat this is by subscribing to the organizations and foundations dedicated to fighting racism to literally have ways to fight racism delivered to your Inbox or in your feed. This will be a constant reminder for me.
- Follow Fridays. One of the best ways I can support Black creators in my space is by featuring their work. Therefore, every Friday, I’m going to start a “Follow Friday” feature, where I share one of the creators that has inspired me recently from the BIPOC community. Tune in!
- Calendar reminders to keep my anti-racist actions in check. It seems silly, but you all know I’m big into time blocking and calendar building. I wouldn’t remember anything if I didn’t have it my calendar. At the end of each month, I’ve set recurring reminders with a simple note, “What have you done to fight racism this month?” I want to reflect each month and grow, learn, and continue to help my Black community.
- VOTE. Not just in the Presidential elections, but local elections. Exercise my right to vote! Change needs to happen at the governmental level, and we have the power to do that. I’ve set up reminds in my calendar with important voting dates. Check Rock the Vote – a very helpful resource!
Most importantly, I will raise anti-racist children. Perhaps the biggest contribution to this fight against racism and racial inequality is to raise my children to be conscious of racism, know it’s unacceptable, and above all else, appreciate, understand, and celebrate people’s differences (physically, mentally, and culturally.)
I’ve purchased more inclusive books, books that speak about equality, and we’ve been having conversations about loving all different skin colors and appreciating people from different backgrounds. Luckily, we live in Jersey City, the nation’s most ethnically diverse city, and Luca has a diverse group of friends.
When he’s a bit older, I want to involve him in serving the Black community and taking actions alongside me.
At the end of the day, parents lead by example. Toddlers especially learn by example. Just like modeling good eating habits, we should be modeling anti-racism. And that’s exactly what I plan to do, and I’m glad to have Luca and Roma to keep me accountable to be a better ally moving forward.