As a Racial Equity Consultant, some of the most common questions raised by clients include “What does it look like to promote racial equity as an organization? What should our organization or group expect to experience if we are going to be intentional about this work? What should we anticipate?”
These are good questions, and what they suggest is that individuals and groups deciding to commit to this challenging, sometimes overwhelming but necessary and urgent work is that there are real anxieties associated with doing so. For many clients, there is a feeling that having as much clarity as possible about what might lie ahead as an organization or group seeking to deepen its investment in racial equity might somehow ease any hesitations they might have in moving forward – even when they understand that no matter what the challenges, this work is absolutely necessary if racist systems are to be disrupted in the interest of equitable, fair and just life outcomes for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous & People of Color.)
There are no easy, comforting answers to these questions, so I am always transparent in communicating the greatest challenges we face in addressing/confronting racism, and thus the urgent nature of this work given that BIPOC continue to be harmed, traumatized and disproportionately disadvantaged as a consequence of the historical and current reality of racially unjust systems and institutions:
- The reality of our racially unjust systems conflicts with individuals’ desires to invest in narratives falsely characterizing our society as one of equal opportunity.
- The reality that many people try to explain racism away by suggesting that the issues have nothing to do with race but instead are primarily socioeconomic in nature – even when the socioeconomic status is the same for BIPOC as it is for Whites and data tells us that race is the only factor informing racial inequity/injustice.
- Because the reality of racism can be difficult to accept, many people try to avoid the issues instead of working to address them.
- Because racism is structural in nature, the challenges to eliminate racist systems is an overwhelming proposition and thus that which many of us feel helpless in confronting.
- Whites are often unwilling to acknowledge their privilege (advantages of being White) which makes it difficult for them to fully participate in antiracist work/ processes meant to promote racial equity.
- Many people falsely believe that we live in a fair, just and equitable society; therefore, racial inequities are the result of individual failures.
- Many people falsely believe that BIPOC are the source of their own suffering and that their struggle for access to vital resources and opportunity are the consequences of their own lack of initiative or interest in improving their lives.
- Many people falsely believe that BIPOC do not desire to realize more favorable outcomes for themselves or their communities.
- Many people falsely believe that BIPOC are inferior to Whites and therefore incapable of realizing the same life outcomes.
- Many people believe that Whites work harder than BIPOC to achieve their socioeconomic goals and/or are more invested in realizing their goals, which is why life outcomes for Whites are better than those for BIPOC.
- BIPOC do not trust the intentions of Whites given the history and ongoing reality of racial bias manifested in systems meant to over-advantage Whites and preserve White privilege and undermine the cultural traditions, value systems, perspectives and experiences of BIPOC.
It’s important to be aware of the reality of the challenges associated with doing this work and perhaps be even more inspired and committed to doing so because such challenges exist. Consider the risks of perpetuating the status quo and build your capacity to confront these challenges by building an organization-wide community of support for your initiatives and workforce in order to ensure that your efforts are sustainable and ensure that all participating stakeholders (internal and external to your organization) develop the resilience and commitment needed to inspire just outcomes for BIPOC.
Contact Carmen from Project 986 at (301) 447-0270 for more information or schedule a free DEI consultation today.