How loud are you willing to be? Not a checklist but some musings for assessing your own moves to advance equity & racial justice
by Natalie McCabe Zwerger
Natalie is the new Executive Director of RE-Center Race & Equity in Education. She is a white, Puerto Rican, cis-hetero, non-disabled woman with socioeconomic advantage.
It would be so easy to proceed through a checklist that would purport to assess our individual and collective commitments to unpacking power, privilege, and white supremacy and their influence on our daily lives. That would be far too self-satisfying particularly for those of us who sleep on pillows of privilege.
Just under the surface of checklists are the deeper questions we are afraid of asking ourselves and others. Like how we changed since the murder of George Floyd? How do we move differently? How do we work, live, and love differently? Is his murder and all the brave activism that followed our only barometer for change? What are the other pivotal markers in our lives where we have palpably seen, felt, recognized, and unpacked the way our identity influences our lives and those of others? How have we welcomed those moments to tip the scales away from the historically privileged to the historically excluded?
If the answers to these types of questions are authentic then the corollary inquiry is then how have our relationships changed? In positive and negative ways? How might those negative changes be reflective of the deeper commitment we are embodying to be more racially just? This is where the checklist really can’t serve you because it can’t help you understand the ways that you may need to sacrifice relationships with loved ones, where you can no longer live into your values. Sometimes it isn’t this extreme but sometimes it is.
Ijeoma Oluo so perfectly offers:
“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.”
With this in mind, how are you going to #RaiseTheVolume such that you are open to listening and speaking truth into your values even when it becomes painful? Even when it requires sacrifice and loss and rethinking relationships that you always imagined to be true, beautiful, and good? How loud are you willing to speak even when it’s not what you want to hear and might change your relationship with yourself?