This past week has been filled with learning, self-reflection, and to be honest, deep regret over my past inaction. I’ve always considered myself non-racist. I have also always considered that to be “enough.” I didn’t think I had work to do because I, myself, am not racist. I was convinced that my tears over these senseless injustices made me a good person. When I became a mother, I thought my child would automatically be non-racist too (and up until now, I thought that was where my work as a parent ended).
Was, being the operative word.
Things are changing in our home and how we show up to the world as individuals. I believe our country needs swift and dramatic change; reshaping the next generation is imperative. Last week was an endless cycle: sharing on social media, reading, watching, listening, and bookmarking for later. It was intellectually overwhelming. I wanted to organize everything in one spot for both myself and for anyone interested. I am working through this sheet – not to simply check the boxes, but to foster a deeper internal shift. This is not a journey with a start and an end. It will evolve over time and it will be a lifelong fight. This list also isn’t to say, ‘hey, look what I’m doing, look how great I am!’ This is an acknowledgment that I have wildly failed. Maybe you’re feeling like I am, and you want a starting point, too. This is meant to suggest how you could take action, so you can create your own personal action plan, that resonates with you. It is by no means exhaustive:
Following new people on social media
I did a scan of all of the people I follow on Instagram and wow it was white. I am aware that a disproportionate number of my real-life friends are white, but on the internet too? Where it’s so easy to create diversity? This made even more sense as I started reading more: a huge percentage of who I follow are Registered Dietitians and other women in the wellness space. I learned recently that only 2.6% of RDs are black. As an RD hopeful, I want to start listening to non-white voices in the space. Why? Because the purpose of me becoming an RD will be to help people. If I am only educated and aware of the specific issues that plague one type of person, one race, how can I help a diverse group of people?
To be clear, I am not suggesting blindly following a bunch of black individuals. I am choosing individuals whose voices I respect, who challenge me, and offer a unique perspective. I realized that many of the people I was following don’t check those boxes for me (not because they’re white, but simply because I followed them for shallow reasons in the first place). I am doing an overhaul on my social media, and diversification will be part of that. Here are a few of the people I have either followed for a while or am newly following, and loving:
+ @ohhappydani (you can thank her for the artwork above that’s been circulating)
Sharing resources from black voices
When I share on Instagram, I am making an effort to share the words of black influencers. They have been fighting this fight, most white people just showed up. If my white friend shares a quote to their Instagram, I’m taking the time to go to the original author’s page and share it from their profile. All races need to show up and work right now, but not in a way that talks over the voices of black men and women.
Personal Action and Attitude
Don’t play the victim
I know I will stumble through this new fight. I will share the wrong resources, I will say the wrong things; it’s inevitable. If I get called out or corrected, I will not play victim. I will not have the attitude “well I guess nothing I do is good enough.” I will humbly get back up and continue this fight.
Volunteering my time
I’m reaching out to black-owned restaurants who may need food photography, and volunteering my time. I’m hoping this can help owners better advertise their businesses, particularly in a time when delivery is becoming the new norm (and solid product photography means more business). At first, I thought “I don’t have any skills that could help right now.” And sure, food photography isn’t saving anyone’s life, but it’s something that could make a small difference and it’s what I am equipped to do. Get creative with how you can help, I promise there is something you can offer. Here are the businesses in LA I’m starting with (Know someone who needs help? Let me know).
+ NAACP’s mission is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.
+ Campaign Zero’s purpose is to identify solutions, provide research + data to organizers and policymakers, advocate to end police violence.
+ Community Voter’s Project’s mission is to get every eligible citizen registered to vote. The result? More Americans have their say when it comes to policies that affect them — and our leaders listen.
+ Equal Justice Initiative’s mission is to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, challenge racial and economic injustice, and protect the basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.
+ Obama Foundation’s goal is to build a Presidential Center that will revitalize the South Side of Chicago, unite a new generation of leaders to move us forward, and work together to change history once more.
+ National Police Accountability Project’s mission is to end police misconduct, including misconduct perpetrated by jail and prison personnel, which continues to be one of the most serious violations of civil rights in the United States.
+ The Louisville Community Bail Fund exists to not only bail out folks, but provide post-release support to get them from jail, fed, and to a situation of safety. LCBF also maintains a focus on preventative measures for those targeted by law enforcement and threatened with incarceration.
+ Black Lives Matter’s mission is to end state-sanctioned violence, liberate Black people, and end white supremacy forever.
+ Breonna Taylor – These donations will go towards Breonna’s family to cover legal costs fighting for justice in her murder.
+ George Floyd – To donate to George Floyd’s family in their time of crisis.
Sign petitions that matter to you
+ 13th (Netflix) – This was eyeopening with regards to our prison system. The US has 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prisoners. The film explores the “intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States.”
+ Explained: The Racial Wealth Gap (Netflix) – This was quick and educational. It helped me understand how modern-day individuals are still impacted economically by Slavery.
+ Becoming (Netflix) – This documentary is specifically about Michelle Obama but touches throughout on how race impacts our country. This is a good one to watch with children.
+ Let It Fall (Netflix) – Discusses the rising tension between L.A.’s black community and police leading up to the Rodney King riots.
+ Teach Us All (Netflix): Discusses modern segregation in US schools and how leaders are working to change that.
Books (for adults)
+ White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
+ How to Be an Antiracist
+ So You Want to Talk about Race
+ Freedom Is A Constant Struggle
+ I Am Not Your Negro
+ Men We Reaped
+ The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race
+ Let it Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters
+ The ABCs of Diversity: Helping Kids (and Ourselves!) Embrace Our Differences
+ Here is a longer list of resources like podcasts, articles, and books
Books (for children) I recently read that children can internalize racial bias between the ages of 2 and 4, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics article. Our children need to hear us talk about race earlier than we may think:
+ Dream Big, Little One
+ The Colors of Us
+ I am Enough
+ M Is For Melanin
+ Parkers Look Up: An Extraordinary Moment
+ Why Am I Me
+ Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History
+ The Day You Begin
+ Antiracist Baby
+ Let’s Talk about Race
Other things I will Actively Do As a Parent
+ Fill in the blanks on history lessons: We will not stand for school history brushing over racial injustices, they will be fully discussed in our home.
+ Being conscientious when purchasing toys. I had exactly zero black dolls growing up. In fact, many of my dolls were tall, skinny, blonde barbies (not exactly a look I could ever aspire to, even being white). If my daughter asks for dolls, they will represent ever color and body shape out there.
+ Choosing a diverse school. I don’t know where Noa will attend school yet. My hope is that I can choose a place with diversity in the students and the staff (especially leadership). If her school lacks diversity, I will actively push for leadership diversity and seek out playgroups, sports, and other activities with a diverse body of participants.
+ Volunteering. We have vowed to make volunteering a large part of Noa’s upbringing and we will choose causes that impact a diverse group of individuals.
This is simply a start. Please add your own resources (or thoughts) below.