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5 Ways to Help Combat Racism as an Ally
By Tom Becker, Executive VP of Recruiting and Delivery
My experience with observing systemic racism began when my family moved to the United States from Naples, Italy when I was a kid. That was when I first witnessed the subtle and not so subtle aspects of racism. This is not to say that racism is made in the U.S.A. Racism is, and has been, a people issue. But it is important to note that systemic racism exists, and to outsiders can be identified. It is of course improving, but we still have work to do.
As an adult, one of the more frustrating things to hear people say is, “I don’t understand why racism is still talked about” or “what’s the big deal.” Some even go on to say that merely discussing or bringing up the topic is racist. This is what prompted me to create a list of things non-people of color can do to accelerate meaningful change:
1. Understand that you really do not understand
It is said, “Don’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Its purpose is to remind us that we cannot know what it is like to live in someone else’s reality.
2. Speak out!
Be the person to speak out when you see or hear something that is racist, even borderline racist. That goes for friends and family too. This can be challenging, and should be done with respect to ensure it is heard and impactful.
3. Be comfortable with being UNCOMFORTABLE
Talk to others about race in your close circles. The issue of systematic racism will further improve when more non-people of color discuss the issue. This can be uncomfortable at first, but becomes more comfortable the more it is done.
4. Take the time to learn about “privilege”
Lean about our history of systematic racism in the USA. This requires you to really understand the topic and how it still has impacts today. Some view this idea as very controversial, but upon further inspection, you will come to realize that there is “privilege” in all aspects of society.
5. Increase your self-awareness
Self-awareness is more about what you do not know. Reflect on your thoughts if you find yourself saying things like, “I do not understand why it’s so important,” or “we do not have racism anymore,” or “I don’t see color,” or “I just treat everyone the same.” While this view could be well-intended, is an uninformed view, because it does not acknowledge the centuries of systemic racism leading up to current times.
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