“The imposition of inferiority, externally and internally, are the slave chains of today.” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Many Americans have embraced racial stereotypes or socially toxic beliefs taught in schools or their communities. Since many neighborhoods remain segregated in 2022, much of what different communities know of each other comes from television, film, news, and social media. This is, by and large, a fail. Today, a bevy of short courses and tips exists to engage a changing world where the past, present and future tussle for empower the public. Here are a few tips offered by mental health organizations and social equity firms, including Very Well Mind, that will help you remove the shackles of misinformation.
Use Values as a Bridge, Not a Bypass
Opening conversations with shared values helps to emphasize society’s role in affording a fair chance to everyone. But starting conversations here does not mean avoiding discussions of race. We suggest bridging from shared values to the roles of racial equity and inclusion in fulfilling those values for all. Doing so can move audiences into a frame of mind that is more solution-oriented and less mired in skepticism about the continued existence of discrimination or our ability to do anything about it.
Talk About the Systemic Obstacles to Equal Opportunity and Equal Justice
Often our culture views social problems through an individual lens – what did a person do to “deserve” his or her specific condition or circumstance? But we know that history, policies, culture, and many other factors beyond individual choices have gotten us to where we are today, reports Very Well Mind. When we’re hoping to show the existence of discrimination or racism by pointing out racially unequal conditions, it’s particularly important to tell a full story that links cause (history) and effect (outcome). Without this important link, some audiences can walk away believing that our health care, criminal justice, or educational systems work fine and therefore differing outcomes exist because non-White people are doing something wrong.
Recognize Your Own Prejudice
All of us are born with or grew into certain biases. If you think things like, “I’d never do anything racist,” you might want to check yourself. Research shows people who claim they’re never prejudiced are the most likely to be prejudiced.
Learn About Other People
Educate yourself about other races as well. Learn about the history of racism and discrimination and strive to learn more about what other people are experiencing today. Read books, watch documentaries, and attend cultural events to learn more about others’ experiences. Get your news from a variety of sources, including Black, Latino, Jewish, and student newspapers.
Lead by Example
Children are observant and complex thinkers. They look to people around them including parents, teachers, and other children, to make sense of who they are. They learn how people who look and don’t look like them are treated. Research shows children as young as two-years-old can articulate ideas about racial differences and develop judgments on what those differences mean. In short, watch you mouths and your behaviors because your children do and say what you (and those around you) do and say.