Following the unjust murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others, there was a shift in human consciousness. Going through life with rose-tinted glasses about our society was a big no-no. This awakening forced people to climb out of their ‘I’m not racist’ comfortable hermit shells, and open their eyes that they have to be actively anti-racist.
In my social media bubble, as a diversity and inclusion consultant, I’m surrounded by news, resources and comments about the #BlackLivesMatter movement. I know that this isn’t the reality for the majority of people. Social media timelines, news broadcasts and catch-ups with friends are rapidly returning to ‘normal’, where tackling racism is no longer the common goal or main discussion point.
As individuals, what can we do to ensure this is a movement and not a moment in time? Here are some thoughts that are a good first step in your journey to be actively anti-racist.
Whilst your social feeds and conversations go back to normal, try not to fall in line. Keep signing and sharing petitions, post resources and useful advice on allyship to all your friends. Speak up and make noise wherever you are. Put signs up in your windows, your shared hallways and WhatsApp groups.
Learn, and then learn some more
Did you order some books to help you with your anti-racism journey? Good. Are you actually reading them? Do it. If you’re struggling to focus on the books, then invest in audio-books and podcasts. Watch YouTube videos and Ted Talks. Commit to learning every day, week and month. Set yourself up for success and put goals in place. Change doesn’t happen overnight.
Spend your money - wisely
Buy from Black-owned businesses. Post about your purchase on social media and encourage your friends to spend with Black businesses too. Research about these brands and check they are also investing in Black people and businesses.
Check your network
Hmmm - who’s in your network? Is it like looking into a mirror? Does everyone look like you? See, affinity bias is real. This is where we like, and have a preference towards people just like ourselves. Whether that’s in appearance, where they went to college/university, where they grew up, how they talk. Get yourself out of this echo chamber.
Yes - our society is built on racism
If you lack representation in your organisation, it’s not only about shifting your unconscious biases but reflecting on how your business was built in the first place. Does the essence of your business allow for different perspectives, and is it open to being challenged? It’s not about slotting people into the business, but recognising how the business keeps certain people out. Break out of the norms and use COVID-19 as the catalyst for fundamental change in your business from the ground up.
Interrogate your thinking
These are just some of the steps you can take to maintain the conversation and move the agenda forward on anti-racism. Whilst as one individual person it can feel like we’re having very little impact, the more people we influence and encourage, the more collective change there can be. We have to do our part, no matter how uncomfortable we feel (especially as non-Black people). It’s about unlearning the stereotypes and unconscious biases that have been socially conditioned into our minds from the news, media and generations before us. Get inquisitive about your mindset, and interrogate your thinking.