For some reason, this time felt different.
Though we have been singing the same song for hundreds of years, now people are finally listening.
Let’s be honest. What is going on in the world today is not new.
It is not enough to “not be racist.” You must actively be anti-racist if we desire real and effective change.
So what can you actively start doing today to actually combat racism?
Start with learning the history. The first step is acknowledging that racism actually exists. As someone who has been told by a white patient they didn’t want to be seen by a black doctor and as someone who has been followed around in a store with more than enough money to purchase the allotted goods; I’m telling you racism exists and it is alive and well. Read about the history they don’t teach us in schools. Start with Medical Apartheid, How to be an Anti-Racist and White Fragility. Understand that racism is imbedded into every single system including housing, schools, bank loans and even the way patients are treated in the hospital system. It is real. Educate yourself. You pretending it does not exist, does not make it magically go away.
Recognize your implicit bias. Studies show that we develop biases at a very young age. Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our decisions and actions in an unconscious manner. These attitudes and stereotypes change based on race, ethnicity and appearance of a person.
Implicit bias can be dangerous. It is not intentional and most individuals are unaware that they exist. You may not even realize that you harbor certain thoughts but they begin to play out in your behaviors and the way you treat people. In my field of medicine, this can lead to treatment disparities and can perpetuate the cycle of health inequities. Recognize that we all have implicit biases and acknowledge how it plays a part in your everyday life.
Talk to your children. I have said it before and I will say it again. I am an OB-GYN. Delivering babies is what I do. Babies are not born with hate. Hate must be taught. So what are you teaching your children? How are you teaching your children empathy? Have you diversified your bookshelf? Have you diversified your circle of friends? Have you diversified your children’s circle of friends? How are you creating a racially inclusive environment beyond just books? All of this is important. Our innocent children will eventually grow up to be adults? What are you teaching them? Teach your children to be Allies so they don’t have to finally learn when they become adults.
Call out your friends and your family. This is of the utmost importance. If you see someone in your circle who is displaying behaviors of racism and you remain silent, then please tell me how are you an ally and how are you being actively anti-racist?I know it’s scary. You cannot allow fear to silence you. Your silence is literally killing us. If you notice a friend or family member who expresses racist words or actions then call them out. Let them know you will not stand for it. We have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. We have to become comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations.
Listen to your Black friends. When we say amplify melanated voices we mean it. Don’t diminish or invalidate our experiences because you haven’t experienced it yourself. Racism is real and our experiences are also very, very real. I do not think it’s fair to ask your black friends to educate you because you should take accountability and do the research yourself. I do believe it is important to actually listen to our stories, our fears our feelings and our emotions. Listen to our experiences and acknowledge what you can do to not perpetuate those negative experiences.
Be more than an Ally.