It’s hard to find the words to express the sadness, anger, disappointment, and helplessness so many are experiencing at this moment as the black community continues to suffer from racism and injustice. It’s hard because we don’t want to say the wrong thing, because it hurts, and in many ways, because the moment has left us speechless. That silence is deafening.
Over the last few days, you may have been sitting with a feeling of helplessness, letting it fester a bit, feeling at a standstill and silenced. Not because we don’t have the ability to or know deep in our bones that it is essential to give voice and support social justice and progress, but because we haven’t known where to start, nor taken the time to figure it out. So much of what we talk about at our retreats and within our membership platform focuses on deep dives into the self and gaining awareness, connecting with our truth, to free us from our fears and limitations. We’ve been doing self work for years, taking deep dives into all of our uglies and loving it. Finding that true beauty, strength, and wellness go hand in hand with doing the work.
So, why in a moment of such tension and stark inequality might we be hesitant to dive deep and identify our own implicit biases, facilitate a conversation with a community we adore, and create a roadmap for progress that inspires hope? We haven’t carved out the time to take an implicit biases test through Project Implicit, though we’ve managed to binge a mini-series. We hesitate to initiate a dialogue with the Women’s Quest community, even though we know each of you to be compassionate, kind, thoughtful, open, self-aware, and we’ve been hosting discussions for months. We haven’t taken the time to create a roadmap of steps we can take to serve as an ally to humanity, even though we’ve spent hours mapping our future travel. The hesitation and lack of action is not due to a lack of desire; it’s a lack of prioritization and a fear of judgement. We haven’t initiated a dialogue because we’re fearful of how the community may react. We haven’t taken the time to create a roadmap because we have the privilege of being able to focus on other priorities at this moment.
Our “we haven’t taken the time” and hesitations end with this blog post and our “let’s get to work” begins. We pledge to dedicate two hours this week to self-educate on implicit biases and another two to identifying our own implicit biases and how we can reduce them by creating a roadmap of actionable steps to take this month and each month to encourage social justice and equality. We pledge to put aside our fear of how Questers will react and host an essential open discussion about implicit biases. We pledge to hold ourselves accountable to the steps we set forth for ourselves and honor our intention.
We invite each of you who is seeking a safe place to make a pledge of your own, to learn more about implicit biases, to discover your own biases, to understand how you can reduce them, and to create your own roadmap of action steps to take to:
Join an open discussion with the Women’s Quest community on Thursday June 4th at 5pm PST/6pm MDT/8pm EDT.
New York clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and meditative practitioner, Heather Luboff, will be opening and guiding the discussion with prompts for thoughtful small group discussion (3 to 4pax) in our Zoom breakout rooms. Her life’s work facilitating restorative justice & diversity inclusion workshops and experience creating alternative solutions to incarceration for court-involved youth makes her a luminary voice on how white people can serve as allies to communities of color.
We ask that each person bring a notebook, open mind, and willingness to participate. There will be two to three discussion prompts that include identifying our own biases and roadmapping the path forward, with steps we can commit to beyond this moment. We kindly ask that, prior to the session, participants take some time to explore the resources provided below that offer calls to action, links to donate, books to read, and anecdotes to share.
Let’s get real: the majority of our community is white women and though we may not all have experience with being the other, we are fully capable of educating ourselves and having a discussion about racism. Let’s get to work!
*Images sourced from creators of the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder
Suggested Resources to Begin/Further Your Deep Dive:
- Take the Biases Test with Project Implicit, a non-profit organization and international collaboration between researchers who are interested in implicit social cognition – thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control. The goal of the organization is to educate the public about hidden biases and to provide a “virtual laboratory” for collecting data on the Internet.
- Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, “I know my own mind. I am able to assess others in a fair and accurate way.” These self-perceptions are challenged by leading psychologists Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald as they explore the hidden biases we all carry from a lifetime of exposure to cultural attitudes about age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, social class, sexuality, disability status, and nationality.
- White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo PhD explicates the dynamics of White Fragility and how we might build our capacity in the on-going work towards racial justice.
- The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is a book by Michelle Alexander, a civil rights litigator and legal scholar.
- About Race, featuring key voices from the last few decades of anti-racist activism, About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge looks at the recent history that lead to the politics of today.
- Intersectionality Matters, the podcast that brings intersectionality to life.
- Code Switch: “Hosted by journalists of color, our podcast tackles the subject of race head-on. We explore how it impacts every part of society — from politics and pop culture to history, sports and everything in between.”
- Loveland Foundation is committed to showing up for communities of color in unique and powerful ways, with a particular focus on Black women and girls. Their resources and initiatives are collaborative and they prioritize opportunity, access, validation, and healing. “We are becoming the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
- Equal Justice Initiative works to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and racial inequality.
- Color Of Change designs campaigns powerful enough to end practices that unfairly hold Black people back, and champion solutions that move us all forward.
- 10 Actions White People Can Take to Support Social Justice in the Work Place, Forbes publication by Dana Brownlee
- Dear White Progressives, by Lauren Temple
- Teaching Tolerance provides free resources to educators—teachers, administrators, counselors and other practitioners—who work with children from kindergarten through high school and offers tools to explore racial, religious, gender, and ability tolerance.
“Eight Tactics to Identify and Reduce Your Implicit Biases”:
Quoted from the American Academy of Family Physicians
Introspection: Explore and identify your own prejudices by taking implicit association tests or through other means of self-analysis.
Mindfulness: Since you’re more likely to give in to your biases when you’re under pressure, practice ways to reduce stress and increase mindfulness, such as focused breathing.
Perspective-taking: Consider experiences from the point of view of the person being stereotyped. You can do this by reading or watching content that discusses those experiences or directly interacting with people from those groups.
Learn to slow down: Before interacting with people from certain groups, pause and reflect to reduce reflexive actions. Consider positive examples of people from that stereotyped group, such as public figures or personal friends.
Individuation: Evaluate people based on their personal characteristics rather than those affiliated with their group. This could include connecting over shared interests.
Check your messaging: As opposed to saying things like “we don’t see color,” use statements that welcome and embrace multiculturalism or other differences.
Institutionalize fairness: Support a culture of diversity and inclusion at the organizational level. This could include using an “equity lens” tool(multco.us) to identify your group’s blind spots or reviewing the images in your office to see if they further or undercut stereotypes.
Take two: Resisting implicit bias is lifelong work. You have to constantly restart the process and look for new ways to improve.