The Four A's on Anti-Racism
These four-A's were tailored with the White community in mind in relationship to recent and historical disparities experienced by Blacks (aka, African Americans) in America. I have been approached both formally (In Focus, KSNT, NPR), and informally by friends, neighbors, and church members from the White community I share life with. Eventually the conversation moved to the question, "How should White people address the issues of race and racism in such a volatile and sensitive climate in light of the brutal killings of Mr. George Floyd and similar national headline events?" In every case, they were well-meaning White people who were distraught, outraged, and hurting for and with Black America, yet felt inadequate, unqualified, or afraid of say the wrong thing; subsequently running the risking of further damage.
As an African American male, I cannot speak for all Black people but I can speak through the authentic voice of a Black man and his experience in light of the question above. My advice to White American is simply this: To begin with, listen to what we are saying to you instead of deciding on what you think we need to hear from you. From that frame of reference, consider the following four-A's on Anti-Racism:
Awareness: Silent mindfulness that a phenomenon exist.
Take the time to notice what is happening around you without explaining it away to some other cause. We often will find what we are looking for, yet cannot see what we choose to remain blind to. Open your eyes; the world around you is full of multiple, blatant, manifestations of racial disparities toward Black Americans.
Acknowledgment: Public declaration (to the targeted population) of your awareness.
Say what you see. Take personal responsibility and courage to voice your disdain of such to first the African American community (as the opportunity presents itself) and to the general populous; especially to your own kind, White America. This step takes a lot of courage and you may incur some social/emotional cost from family, friends, and neighbors; perhaps even from some Blacks who are not in the mood to appreciate you. Say it.
Analysis: Now go deeper.
Read the inclusive history that goes beyond your learned and lived limited experiences. We live in bubbles; reach beyond your bubble and embrace the reality that exist on the other side; our Black world. Look at the data; the distortional statistical disparities in health, education, employment, life expectancy, etc. It's there. Embrace what you see. Allow yourself to rethink both the historical and present-day ramifications of the unfavorable sustaining world that we (Blacks) live in.
Action: Make it personal. The rest is up to you.
Commit to actions to alleviate or eradicate the impact of racism upon the population on which it is imposed -- in this case, African Americans. There are a host of mediums and actions you do this through: personal and public advocacy; support groups, policy making, political affiliations, grass root movements; public forums, deliberative dialogues; social media; formal education, etc.
Whatever you do, do it for the greater, inclusive good. Do it because people matter; so in this case let Black People Matter. Try it; I think WE will like it!
Dr. Lorenza Lockett
Assistant Professor in Social Work
Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work