How can we move toward becoming anti-racist? Listen. Learn. Take Action.

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How can we move toward becoming anti-racist? Listen. Learn. Take Action.

Categories: Blog

Blackboard with the word racism being erasedPeople and organizations are asking, “How can we move toward becoming anti-racist?”  The Equity Institute of YWCA Evanston/North Shore offers three steps: 1. Listen. 2. Learn. 3. Take action.

  1. Listen to the voices of the people in your community or those whom you serve, the people who have been on the margins of your municipality, business, house of worship, school or community organization. Listen deeply to what they share, especially when their experiences are different from yours. Listen to the pain, disenfranchisement, and disconnection some may express, due to the racial or other discrimination or dismissal they have historically felt.  Listen without judgment, and without becoming defensive.
  2. Learn the full history of the community you serve, so you are not repeating the same harms that have been made in the past. Learn how to use an equity lens as you set goals, make decisions, determine budgets, write work plans, etc. (If your organization doesn’t know what “using an equity lens” means, hire some experts to teach you.) Learn that, sometimes, slower is better, if it means you’re being accountable to all those who you aim to serve or represent.  Learn to say, with humility, “I was wrong” or “We were wrong”, followed by what you will do differently moving forward.
  3. Take action to change policies and procedures that have made it more difficult for some to access services, full employment, promotion opportunities, or seats at the decision-making tables because of race.  Take action to elevate the voices and suggestions of those who have been kept on the margins in any way.  Take action to build organizations where decisions are made in transparent ways for the good of the whole, rather than for expediency or the good of the few. Take action to hold yourself and/or your organization accountable to those formerly marginalized. Take action to make adjustments when what you have done isn’t producing the necessary transformation.

The work being done by our Equity Institute encompasses the four levels of racism (individual, interpersonal, organizational and systemic/structural). We know that becoming educated about racism is important, but it is not enough.  Transforming organizations and systems must be the goal; any steps taken that do not lead to that goal are missteps.

At YWCA, we are listening, we are learning, we are taking action. Together we can transform our society. Please join us.