How to Stay Accountable on Your Racial Justice Journey
For those of us on the lifelong journey of the work required for a more racially just world, how can we stay accountable to the learning, unlearning, reflection and critical thinking required to move the work forward collectively and responsibly?
Awareness of our society as racially (and racist-ly) constructed requires consistent unlearning of the ways we’ve been taught history and culture – white as the norm and status quo against which all else is measured.
Seek out reputable learning opportunities – lectures, discussion groups, films, etc. Find resources in the way you like to learn – books, podcasts, art, documentaries, etc. Look for sources that are authored or created by those who have lived the experience; seek these out without putting marginalized communities on the spot for your learning. Find ways to learn that are appropriate and responsible – where you are curious and respectful and engaged, not a consumer of another’s experience. Below are a few options of different mediums:
- Minnesota Sacred Sites tour (walking history tour)
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo (book)
- Scene On Radio – “Seeing White” Podcast – John Biewen (podcast)
- Intersectionality, Explained (video)
- Confronting White Supremacy in the Workplace (article)
Share the Journey
The work of racial justice is mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. Some of this work is meant to be done alone – processing, grieving, understanding and grappling. But, it is helpful to work with others on your journey. Seek out a friend who can work with you on an interactive workbook, or watch some TED Talks with you, or commit to having a conversation once a week about learning and accountability. For those who occupy dominant culture identities (such as whiteness), be intentional about your engagement – processing about whiteness is often something to do with other white folks.
There is No Arrival
Remember that there is no arrival point. There is always more to learn. This is an ongoing journey for our whole lives, which is both difficult and really exciting. We will continue to make mistakes, learn, unlearn and move forward. Thinking you have “arrived” as an ally – that you know all there is to know and ways to be – is dangerous. Be grateful for where you and all you have learned thus far. Reflect on mistakes, reflect on growth and set qualitative goals – how will it feel a year from now when I have grown in an area of cultural understanding? In understanding myself? What might that look like?
Thinking you have “arrived” as an ally is dangerous.
Our work for racial justice (and to be accountable and persistent in its pursuit) will build stronger relationships and a more true, more just world.