Don’t diminish others’ experiences by comparing your own hardships or struggles. Ears open, mouth shut, mind on healing.
When Talking, Ask Questions
If engaged on the topic of racism, ask open ended questions. Admit you might not know everything. Repeat what you’ve heard, and ask if you’re getting it right.
What does it mean to be white? What allowances, opportunities and assumptions do you get automatically that you may not have previously recognized?
Remember It’s Not About You
Don’t express your own lack of racism when the topic comes up. It’s not extraordinary; it’s mandatory.
You’re not “respecting” that old uncle by avoiding or ignoring him. If necessary, learn how to engage without escalating.
With intention, include diverse peoples in your work, your play, your discussions, your acknowledgements, your spaces.
Other people are not your encyclopedia. People of color or of other backgrounds than you aren’t here to further your understanding. Find appropriate times and ask permission to “interview” people.
Witness Out Loud
If you hear racist remarks or see discrimination in action, speak up. Let everyone else know you heard and are not OK with it, and learn to do so in productive, defusing ways.
No Medal for You
Don’t expect congratulations or rewards for doing the right thing. It’s not other people’s job to approve or certify your edification.
Well, unless that self is racist. Find opportunities to further the cause that fit your personality and interests. Incorporate it into the life you already lead.
This article originally appeared in Q magazine. Pick up your copy around town, and read the full issue below.