This is part two of “To my white friends and colleagues.” There is lots of regret going around regarding peeling back rampant, systemic racism.
Which is good. And bad.
It’s good because we are finally waking up to people of color’s horrible realities due to racism. It’s bad if regret only stays there and doesn’t move to taking action.
Last week I wrote the first part of this post: To my white friends. I talked about What do you carry (11 cabbages & a grudge against your father for never coming back?).
We’re carrying around a lot of stuff. Including misplaced beliefs that race is part of culture. Race isn’t part of culture because race is a physical characteristic.
BUT how we respond to race is definitely framed by our culture.
And culture is learned which means we can unlearn damaging lessons about race absorbed over the years.
Here are four ways to unlearn racism:
1. Enhance your perspective, your worldview
I was listening to “The Frankenstein Factor: Inventors Who Regret Their Inventions,” an Under the Influence, CBC Podcast recently and was intrigued to learn that the Wright Brothers used to have a bicycle shop where loud arguing could frequently be heard. Turns out the brothers were arguing the opposite opinion of what they believed. Considering how inventive they were, this is good advice.
Expand and enhance your perspective and worldview by turning things upside down and inside out. Look at things from all angles, even and especially the ones you don’t agree with.
2. Be aware of the invisible lenses we all wear
We all wear invisible lenses that affect what we consider ‘normal, natural, and true’… and what we believe is awkward, foreign, unusual, or unimportant. The easiest example of these invisible lenses that frame our world is physical space. Have a person stand “too far” from you while speaking, or get “too close” and you immediately know what your normal is.
Check out how I was aware of my lenses and reframed an awful situation; An unusual Happy Valentine’s Day gift for you based on a true story with a twist and then practice doing it yourself.
3. Increase your mental flexibility, self-awareness, and open-mindedness
Unlearn, relearn, and get creative about it. Use examples like this one, for increasing your ability to be mentally flexible and affect social change; How to get people to stop peeing on your walls…
4. Learning is hard
Lean in and know this is hard. But if we’re motivated, that helps pave the way. Here’s a small example of the role of motivation: Tipsy fridges that tip learning over the top
There you have it. Some grist for going against the grain of systemic racism. Enhance your perspective/ your worldview, be aware of the invisible lenses you wear, increase your mental flexibility so you can affect social change, and know it’s gonna be hard.
And practice practice practice. Stand up. Have those hard, cringy conversations. And we can and will find our way through this. We must. It will take soul-baring work and broken hearts, but together we will rise. Together.
Now go on and learn, laugh and lead.
- Educate yourself with these scaffolded anti-racist resources
- Be aware of the invisible lenses we all wear. Here’s an example; An unusual Happy Valentine’s Day gift for you based on a true story with a twist
- Increase your mental flexibility, self-awareness, and open-mindedness; How to get people to stop peeing on your walls…
- Learning is hard but being motivated helps: Tipsy fridges that tip learning over the top
- Take the implicit bias test on racism
- The struggle is real folks. But with some time and practice and hard work, we’ll get there.
- Share the resources above with a friend and/or colleague.
- Support incredible work of Abhi Ahluwalia and his excellent Unlearn site, Lama Rod Owen and others
- And next time you hear a racist comment, stand up, take a stand, and take action.