Updated: May 12, 2021
Note: The following blog was written by Dr. Bramlett in December of 2020. In this sixth month period articles and op-eds seemed to center on antiracism for White people. Here Dr. Bramlett focuses on Folks of Color.
In the past few months, so many white folks have declared themselves and their institutions anti-racists.
There is some good work being done out there and still, much of the conversation is white-centered. While white folks are learning about white fragility, white privilege, and white supremacy and BIPoC have been living this for their whole lives, what is our role in this moment/movement of professed anti-racism? I started making a list-- what would you
Get to know your family history. This is a great time to take on a genealogy project. Perhaps you want to interview relatives who know different pieces of your family story than you know, maybe you build a family tree and connect with long-lost relatives online, or you could do a DNA test to learn where your people originated.
Re-learn the history you were taught in school. What do you know about the treatment of people who share your racial/ethnic group? How did people who share your racial/ethnic group treat others? Take the significant national and world events in white-centered history books and to learn about what your people were doing at that time. Read BIPoC historians' accounts of historical events.
Examine your own socialization and internalized oppression. Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum describes racism as a cultural smog. We all breathe it in and we have to exhale at some point. What messages did you get about people in other racial or ethnic groups when you were growing up. What messages do you still carry with you today?
Practice intersectional anti-oppression work. It is not possible to be anti-racist and homophobic or classist or ableist. Consider the other areas of identity where you either have privilege or are seeking privilege and unpack how that privilege hinders that full participation of others who do not have it.
Support BIPOC colleagues, invest in their success. When they don’t have the microphone, lend yours. Invite them into spaces where they are not present. Check in with folks and be willing to lend an ear. Be a peer mentor. Give somebody a jolt of positivity when they need it the most.
Speak up and challenge racism. Every. Single. Time. And especially when the children are watching. They not only look to us for safety and protection; they also look to us as role models for how to navigate predominantly white spaces.
Engage in radical self-care. Speak your truth and give yourself permission to take breaks, pass the baton, stay home, put on your own oxygen mask first, turn on some Nina Simone and bake cookies, DANCE. Do whatever you need to do to stay healthy. Just like the Lorde said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
Stephanie Bramlett, Ph.D. she/her(s)
Director of Equity and Inclusion at Phillips Exeter Academy
Republished with the gracious and generous permission of Dr. Bramlett.