I’ve received a multitude of emails, texts and PMs of support and for those, I am forever grateful. Thank you. I have also had a lot of friends, peers and colleagues reach out asking me what they can do to help and honestly not knowing where to begin.
I spent most of the last few days compiling this list for them and for anyone who wants guidance on where to turn to make a real difference. Topics range from becoming an ally, economic empowerment, White privilege to understanding the workplace experience for black/underrepresented people and a few others.
If you know me (especially as a diversity practitioner), you know I appreciate that people learn differently and so I like to provide options. My list contains audiobooks, podcasts, animations, TEDTalks, articles, and documentaries. It’s meant as a learning journey to be consumed over time, shared and discussed. Many of the resources I included are appropriate for teens (use your judgment) and I included a section on speaking with kids of all ages about race and racism.
Allies – please know that no action is too small, and that it’s ok that you are starting from YOUR beginning. No one is expecting you to become an expert in systemic racism, the black experience or social justice overnight. I (and I hope we, meaning black people) are willing to meet you where you are – especially if you are doing the work to educate yourself, identifying the action/s that are meaningful to you and taking action! This is a marathon and not a sprint. But make no mistake, we need you urgently to join our cause because we are literally dying without you.
My Black Family – this is also for us. While I know we are suffering, angry, exhausted and maybe even scared, we need to use those feelings to strategically drive our actions. To welcome allies, accept their starting point, push them to learn more and do more and embrace them as warriors in our fight. We will not win without them.
Unless we work together, we will not cure America (or our world) of its sickness of racism. Please join me in taking #ActionforEquality. You can also continue to connect with like-minded people by logging into LinkedIn and searching for and joining our #ActionforEquality group. I will also continue to share stories and resources through the group and welcome all members to do the same.
Thank you. We need you. #WeMatter
Elizabeth A. Morrison
Become an Ally
An ally is someone who is not a member of an underrepresented group but who takes action to support that group. It’s up to people who hold positions of privilege to be active allies to those with less access and to take responsibility for making changes that will help others be successful.
- Check-in on black friends, family, and co-workers. Listen with empathy and without judgment letting them know you are there for them. Every individual has their own unique experiences that create their reaction. Striving to listen to the pain, thoughts, and needs of others while refraining from sharing your opinions is of utmost importance.
- Use your privilege to speak up when you see or hear bias, racism, or unfairness. If this is during a police incident, record the interaction if possible and stand firm in being present as a witness.
- Stop talking about colorblindness. It’s not a thing and wildly insulting. Black people (really all people) want to be seen for who they are and what they bring to the table – this includes their ethnic characteristics, intelligence, wit, and other aspects of their identity, culture, and background.
- Realize that children are also impacted by tragedy and unrest and looking to adults and parents for answers and stability. Educate yourself and prepare for these conversations (see tips below), so you are in an emotionally stable place when having these conversations.
- It’s ok to ask questions, but please do the work first and strive to authentically educate yourself (tips below).
- Accept that you are going to make mistakes but please keep showing up. We recognize you are not perfect and will be learning. We need you to be steadfast in your efforts and persistence.
- If you want to understand how recent events led to our current social justice crisis (from Coronavirus to George Floyd), listen to Trevor Noah who does a great job pulling together the pieces.
- If you want to act specifically to combat justice, here are 75 actions white (and really any people) people can take.
- If you want an approach to learning with a structured action plan, get the audiobook Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor.
- If you want to know what Obama suggests you do, visit his Foundation’s Anguish & Action page.
Understand the Black American Experience
Know that it is your responsibility to educate yourself and not that of your black friends, family and peers. Google is your friend. There are a multitude of resources, books and documentaries that will help you understand America’s history of systemic racism, bigotry and bias.
- Watch: Brown eyes and blue eyes Racism experiment Children Session (Jane Elliott)
- Listen: 1619 (Podcast or Audiobook)
- Watch: Hidden Colors (5 part docuseries)
- Watch: Jim Crow of the North
- Watch: Greenwood (fictional adaptation based on the Tulsa Race Massacre)
- Google: “emotional labor” and “African American” and read the first three articles
- Read: posts from your personal black friends and community members on social media
- Watch: Color Brave or Color Blind (TedTalk)
- Watch: The Cost of Code Switching
- Read: Code Switch: Race in Your Face an NPR series on current race
- Watch: 13th (A documentary on racial inequality in criminal justice)
Understand White Privilege
Experiencing hardships doesn’t mean you don’t have privilege. If you are white, your life is not hard because of your skin color. You may have had hardships due to another dimension of identity; however, if you are white, you have been afforded opportunities in this society purely due to the color of your skin.
- Read: White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
- Watch: Life of Privilege Explained in a $100 Race
- Read: White Fragility (book)
- Read: White Debt (article)
Talk to Your Kids About Race & Racism
Depending on their age, kids today have as much access to media and social media as their parents. If we are distressed by what we see, what must our children think? Not to mention many are still reeling from the impacts of COVID-19.
Over 50% of white parents never speak to their kids about race. Black parents start early with “the talk” and every time an incident of racism or racial injustice hits the news, they seek ways to swallow their grief and fear to have “the talk” yet again. Most experts suggest addressing race with your children beginning as early as 3 when they begin to notice a difference. These conversations, regardless of age, are an important opportunity for white parent allies to educate their children about allyship and shaping their perceptions of diversity.
- Read: George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. What do we tell our children?
- Watch: How to talk to kids about race (animation)
- Watch: Why we need to Talk to Children about Race and Difference (TEDTalk)
- Read: How to Teach Your Kids to Fight Hate: An Age-by-Age Guide
- Read: ‘Raising White Kids’ Author On How White Parents Can Talk About Race
- Listen: How to Talk to White Kids about Race & Racism (Podcast)
- Read & Listen: Having ‘The Talk’: Expert Guidance On Preparing Kids For Police Interactions
- Watch: This Powerful Video Shows How Black Parents Have to Talk to Their Kids About Police
- Read: After Arbery shooting, black parents are rethinking ‘the talk’ with sons to explain white vigilantes
Understand the Workplace Experience
On a daily basis, we spend 8 to 10 of our waking hours at work or working versus 3 to 4 hours at home or with our loved ones. Why is this important? Because of the time spent focused on work, our employment experience has a disproportionate impact on our human experience, mental health and overall happiness.
- Read: The Truth About Unconscious Bias in the Workplace
- Read: To be a Young Black Man Working in an Office Full of White People
- Read: The Psychic Stress of Being the Only Black Woman at Work
- Read: Being Black—but Not Too Black—in the Workplace
- Read: How To Identify And Mitigate Unconscious Bias In The Workplace
- Read: Social Class in the Workplace: Exploring Multilevel Code-switching
- Read: Dear white HR Ladies, We Need to Talk: How a Homogenous Profession has shaped workplaces and what we need to do about it
Learn About Social Justice Organizations and Donate
These organizations are dedicated to addressing inequality in our social justice system and mainstream media coverage and advocating for equality and fairness for black and underrepresented Americans.
- George Floyd: Go Fund Me
- National Bail Out
- The NAACP
- Equal Justice Initiative
- Color of Change
- The Marshall Project
Support Black Businesses & Banks
Did you know that in 2016, a dollar circulated in the Asian American community for over 30 days, in the Jewish community for 20 days, in the white community for 17 days, but in the black community for only 6 hours? Economic power is power. Diversifying your spending habits and seeking out Black businesses to support is a vital part of establishing equality.
- Visit: WeBuyBlack, The Black Walletand Official Black Wall Street
- Open an account: One United Bank
- Read: 38 Black Owned Banks And Credit Unions: Putting Your Money Where It Counts
- Read: Black-Owned Businesses You Can Support Today
- Search: Find & Support Black-Owned Businesses With These Apps & Websites