Anyone who has benefited from this system (spoiler alert, that’s everyone who’s not a person of color) needs to be doing the work to dismantle internal and systemic bias, not just overt and blatant racism.
This is truly a “for us or against us” issue. Retreating into a familiar position of life as usual, relying on your very ability to not deal with anything uncomfortable to shield you from the daily reality of others lives, is rubbing a “too bad for you” attitude in the faces of those who can’t turn away, who live on the receiving end of racism.
This is systemic. This is serious. And it takes listening to and learning from the very people who have been oppressed, whose voices have been suppressed, to learn to do better. Being actively anti-racist means acknowledging my own complicity and places I’ve benefited, at the expense of others.
Don’t come to me to learn how to do this. I'll always be a student of anti-racism, because I can never speak or teach from the position of someone who has always known injustice from racism. But you can come to me to find out where I'm learning, and to learn alongside me. The rest of this post is a list of what I'm learning and working on right now. You can work on these too.
Don’t come here for a performance, either. I’m not going to tell you stories about what a good job I'm doing or wave my receipts around to show what a good person I am. I’m doing public anti-racism work on my platform and I’m doing private anti-racism work to change my inherent biases and habits, and I’m sharing some of that here so that you, if you’ve also benefited from this system, have a lead to follow to help take it apart.
Here is some of what I'm doing, and what you fellow white people can do to:
Steps Every White Person Should Take With Me
Here’s how I do it, since my income is inconsistent:
- I use an envelope-based budgeting app. Every time I get paid, I take a percentage off the top and set it aside for donations. (Taxes get set aside right away too- this made a HUGE change in managing my cash flow and having regular donation money available) That percentage is up to you, but the financial experts I’ve read usually say 5%.
- I have regular donations set up through large non-profits like the ACLU, SPLC, Black Lives Matter, and Planned Parenthood. I also have regular donations to several Patreon accounts set up (direct to educators, and some artists).
- Then, at the end of the month, I might have more money in my Donations envelope than the regular donation amounts that come out automatically. This extra I donate to other causes I can’t always give to, like National Bail Out or the Philadelphia Bail Fund.
- As my income increases, I can either bring more of these causes into my automatic giving or increase the automatic amounts I already give. They’re pretty small right now, but I have big dreams.
Read. Watch speakers on their own sites, on YouTube, on TedTalks, on streaming sites in documentaries. Listen to podcasts, follow educators on social media.
And pay educators for their work. Maybe that’s a regular donation, or a quick Venmo when you’ve taken in something they shared. Maybe you pay for a training, or a coach. Buy their books, definitely don’t pirate them.
Actively change the social media algorithm that follows you around by seeking out others in your professional communities that you didn’t know about, since those algorithms reinforce our biases. Reach out, and develop new relationships in your industry.
There are SO. MANY. resources and lists of resources out there. Here is just one of those, by Waste Free Marie.
I've invested in books and group learning experiences in anti-racism practices for both personal and professional development. I've found new social justice, herbal, and movement accounts online, and I'm making a commitment to not simply follow them but to reach out, interact, and learn from more of these teachers.
Elevate Black voices
How can you share your platform (the people who see you online, at work, at home, anywhere really) with the voices, experience, teaching and wisdom that have been ignored, excluded, and suppressed in your communities?
Here's one specific example shared by my business coach:
Are you asked to speak or participate in events because you’re an expert at something? Ask who else is invited, and if all the experts look like you, turn them down and specifically suggest Black or other POC experts who would also be good fits, but weren't invited.
I am committed to learning from and sharing the words of new teachers who are not only not white, but are not working in the traditional Western/European Herbalism model I am already familiar with. I'm doing this on my social media and in my in person classes.
Audit your own team- this means everyone you pay money to, including all those monthly subscriptions and fees. As a business owner I have a bunch of these, from my email system and my web hosting to my online meeting software and even that budgeting app I mentioned before. One by one, check out their boards and employees. How many Black, POC, and for that matter women are in major roles? Let this guide where you spend your money.
I have added this step to my weekly CEO Date, and will work my way through all my vendors and subscriptions in the coming weeks.
Additional Steps I Can Take Myself
I will seek out education by Black and POC herbalists and healers, and encourage my community to share in those opportunities.
I will work on a method of providing my personal Foot to Forehead Fix program to Black and POC students at reduced rates- perhaps through sliding scales or scholarships or another means.
I am also offering my Chronic Stress Recovery online program for free to BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people right now