It’s that time of year when we consider how to better ourselves. Maybe it’s deciding to eat healthier or get more exercise. Setting anti-racist resolutions is just as important for our well-being, say area diversity leaders.
“New Year’s resolutions are born out of a desire for continued improvement and hope of becoming a better version of ourselves,” says Mia Erickson, president of the Diversity Council Board of Directors and diversity, equity and inclusion programming facilitator. “As we look at ways to improve our health, happiness and position, consider the impact addressing our own bias could have on many aspects of our lives and society as a whole.”
Once we acknowledge our biases, we can examine those views and thoughts that don’t align with our values, says Erickson. Adopting anti-racist resolutions impacts not only our experience but also the experience of those around us.
Audrey Elegbede, assistant professor of medical education with the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science and curriculum and assessment manager with the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, challenges us: “If one is committed to anti-racist values and principles, I might ask what has stopped someone from beginning their anti-racism journey already?” she says. “Is there a perceived lack of time? Commitment? Confidence on where to start and what to do?”
We offer some ideas here, and there are more resources on the Rochester Women Magazine website. “Getting clear on this goal is important,” says Elegbede. “It will propel you forward and be critical to integrating anti-racism into one’s everyday life. The meaning and societal impact of anti-racism work is an incredible, empowering and fulfilling life commitment.”
This important work will shape our lives and people we touch by choosing care and support for each other over hurt and indifference, Erickson says. To be anti-racist is an action, not just a word. “It is to stand for the unheard, stand with each other in unity and solidarity and stand up against people and systems that reinforce a superiority that was created to make others feel inferior. We must change the narrative in order to see the humanity in every one of us.”
Here are some practical ideas:
Read and listen. There are dozens of books that teach about systemic racism and how to be anti-racist. Check out our Anti-Racism 101 articles in previous issues of Rochester Women Magazine. Attend local events hosted by the Rochester branch of the NAACP and the Diversity Council.
Stand up for BIPOC people. Pay attention to micro- and macro-aggressions that attack who people are based on their race. If you witness people using direct or indirect negative language toward BIPOC people, speak up.
Support BIPOC-owned businesses. There are numerous local BIPOC-owned businesses. Spend your money locally and support them.
Consider how to support BIPOC folks at work. Does your work teach about anti-racism and unconscious bias? Does your company value getting input from a diverse set of voices? Companies need to take an active role in educating about anti-racism and diversifying their staff. Take an active role in what your company is already doing, or talk to leadership about how to begin this work.
Protest. Injustices occur everyday and everywhere. Lend your presence and your voice to calling out the systemic mistreatment of BIPOC people by attending protests locally and statewide. Write to your elected leaders to demand change.
Perhaps most important of all, remember that anti-racism work is a marathon, not a sprint. Resolutions have a bad reputation as being quickly discarded once the excitement of theoretical planning has passed. Social justice work involves choosing action items and knowing that what you do has an impact.