Last week I posted an article “Being a True Transformational Leader means doing your own Anti-Racism work” you can read it HERE.
I want to share the message again, and take it a step further in the hopes that it will be helpful:
If you are white, and want to be in-integrity calling yourself a transformational leader, coach, teacher or guide, it is important to:
1. Look at the biases & racist ideas that live deep inside of you.
Even if you believe all people are & should be equal, you have been brought up within our culture’s systemic racism, and therefore you carry some unconscious racist ideas inside of you.
Yes, this is painful & possibly shameful to acknowledge.
The first time I really acknowledged the systemic racism inside of me was in 2016, and because I think of myself as “a good person”, it was absolutely excruciatingly painful.
But it must be done.
If you avoid your shame & don’t look at your biases head-on, you will continue to sleepwalk without seeing them….and inadvertently cause harm to black people and people of color.
2. Continue to acknowledge the impact of your privilege & root out the internalized racism inside of you. It’s not a once and done.
Looking at your deeper biases and how you take your privileges is not something that can be done only once. If done only once, the learning and the corrections don’t stick. True learning and transformation happen when you commit consistently and persistently. The moment you think you’re done is the moment you become complacent. I know that my own anti-racism journey will never be done.
As Andrea Ranae (@andrearanaej) says: “Anti-racism is not an identity or a checklist; it’s a practice.”
3. Speak out against racial injustice, even if it means losing community members, clients or relationships.
Yes, you will lose some followers, community members, possibly even clients if you speak out, but as a leader you must. Because leading happens by example, and if you don’t speak out against injustice, if you don’t let people know where you stand…what kind of example is that?
A few years back, when we added an Intro Anti-bias & Inclusivity Training to the Sacred Depths Practitioner Training, some people opted out. My thought was, “Good riddance!”
Now this is where it gets harder: When you speak out, there are going to be some people who challenge you and push back with biased sentiments, many of whom believe that they are “well meaning”.
I can tell you from my own experience that at first, it might feel scary to respond firmly to these people. I have held back in calling people out for fear of hurting them. This was a big mistake because I was prioritizing the pain of a well-meaning biased person over the pain and safety of people of color.
Being a leader means being willing to call people out when they are sharing harmful ideas. You can do this respectfully, without shaming, and through opening a dialogue…but it must be done.
4. Be willing to get it wrong and to get called out.
It can feel scary to speak up because you don’t want to get it wrong, and you don’t want to be publicly (or privately, maybe) called out. First thing to know is that you WILL get it wrong sometimes (again, that’s because of how entrenched we are in our privilege and in systemic racism).
I have been publicly called out more than once for mistakes I’ve made in trying to speak out against racism. It has sent me into fight or flight and shame and made me feel like I never wanted to speak out again. But, I’ve learned through the years that that’s the wrong reaction to being called out.
Instead, the more aligned, helpful & anti-racist response is to LISTEN. To hear how your well-meaning intentions actually had a harmful impact. To acknowledge the mistake without centering yourself, and to pledge to do better.
In the end, I am GRATEFUL for the times I’ve been called out. It has helped me do better & be better.
5. Follow and listen to black people and people of color
I’ve shared some of my personal experiences in this letter not to center myself, but in the hopes that it will compel you to learn more & take more action.
But let me clear: The people who you want to listen to when it comes to Anti-Racism are black people and people of color. I have learned everything I’ve shared here from women of color. They are the thought leaders you should be following when it comes to anti-racism and equity. You will learn so much, you will be better for it, but more importantly: you will be doing your part to help the lives of black people and people of color. (And please follow & buy from people of color who are thought leaders in ALL areas, not just anti-racism!).
Here are resources for how to get educated on anti-racism: bit.ly/ANTIRACISMRESOURCES
Let’s continue to do better and be better.
Let’s support each other during this moment of great pain, and hopefully great change.