The Price We Pay
I have spoken before about the monetarization of anti-racism work and right now the waters are ripe with organizations chomping at the bit and getting on board to do transformative work. Most of these organizations have been around for decades and NOW, NOW they see the value in doing the work? Better late than never I guess, but you can trust and believe, this new interest is tied to some federal funding. Follow the money.
The recurring theme is anti-racism is big business. Hey, I am not begrudging anyone their coin. What I would like is some honest conversations about who is currently and who continues to benefit from racism?
Ask yourself, how many anti-racism workshops does it take to transform an organization? Sounds like a joke right? Its not. If the answer is “it takes as long as it takes”, Houston we have a problem.
Organizations are not invested in continuity (buy in from leadership/staff), consistency (follow-up discussions or ongoing race-based caucusing), or dismantling (deconstructing hierarchical structures/pay distribution) racist systems. Not interested in transformative work. More interested in moving papers around, checking boxes and listening to long boring speeches that are data heavy with no substance.
Stuck is a comfortable place to sit. Sometimes when organizations play their cards right, they can stay stuck and still get consistent funding: they checked the right box.
So please, stop pissing on the shoes of Anti-racism work, half-ass-ing the “deep-dive” with defenses, push-back and out and out denial and start to actually do the work by asking:
How is your organization using anti-racism work as a weapon to keep oppressive systems in place? Take a good look around and answer that question honestly.
Now, the question becomes, what part do YOU play in your organizations anti-racism work?
Stuck is job security with unlimited funding as long as you check the appropriate box; anti-racism workshop. CHECK. Federal, state and local funding sources are not checking on how anti-racism policies are actually being implemented and followed within organizations. No one is checking; Why?
I have a thought that the gravitational pull towards mediocrity is strong and we have been conditioned as a society to follow without question. We complain, gossip, march, protest, get angry and destroy stuff. Yes we can do that. But dismantle a system that benefits some and not others, Oh Hell No!!!
What does it look like to hold our leadership body accountable on all levels? We don’t know, because if we held leadership accountable we would have to hold ourselves personally accountable to commit to racial equity. Oh Hell No!! (yes I love Girlfriends)
The revolving door of usual suspects getting paid the big bucks are most times not BIPOC. I mean the top names that are easily recognizable inside this work are not BIPOC.
The reality is the racism system will not be overthrown by the people who benefit. That’s just crazy thinking.
FYI: We will not be able to transform this system of racism using the same tools that built it. Which means ALL leadership and staff inside organizations that claim to be “anti-racist” have to invest and commit, not just the handful who make the most noise.
I am pretty open about what I believe will shift some things. And sometimes I want to say to the folks who are eager to be spoon fed antidotes as a voyeur, so they can check the box without actually engaging in transformative work, “please, stop pretending. You and I both know you don’t really want to address the roots of racism as it lives in YOU because by doing so, you would have to acknowledge how you benefit. Have to create a plan of action that dismantles a system that has been working as it was intended for centuries”.
I can’t say that because I have to pick and choose where and when I show up that direct, it is exhausting. Surviving gets old. At some point you want to level up, which will require a conversation way outside your comfort level.
Are you ready for this?
America has gotten comfortable with the knee-jerk reactions to racism. We know how to rally. We can put together a protest and I guarantee over half the folk participating, go home and check a box. I’m not mad at you, just saying be honest about your intentions and stay engaged long enough to transform and grow into your best selves.
Truth be told, some of us have yet to be our best selves.