Over the weekend I read about the white nationalist gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia. I saw the pictures of the hatred and the violence. I saw photos of Heather Heyer, who was killed for protesting white nationalism. What will it take for us to finally dismantle systemic racism in this country? What will it take for us to create a country that celebrates diversity in all its forms? What will it take for those of us who are white to stand up to white supremacy?
When I contemplate racism in America, I often become overwhelmed and paralyzed by the complexity of this issue. Today I decided that I'm not going to take this anymore. I'm going to DO SOMETHING about it. Marlon James rightly points out that "we too often mistake discussing diversity with doing anything constructive about it. This might be something we picked up from academia, the idea that discussing an issue is somehow on par with solving it, or at least beginning the process. A panel on diversity is like a panel on world peace. It should be seeking a time when we no longer need such panels. ... the false sense of accomplishment in simply having [a panel] is deceiving us into thinking that something was tried." I'm sick of talking and talking and talking about racism and injustice as if that's going to help.
If you'd like to take action with me, start by reading Pollen's "Confronting White Supremacy in the Workplace". Choose to support businesses and organizations owned by, operated by, or working for people of color. Donate to nonprofits that are working to dismantle racism and heal those affected by it. Ask if your workplace will match your donation or set up a staff volunteer event. Join a protest or demonstration. Care for your loved ones who may be experiencing trauma as a result of these events. Volunteer your time, energy, resources, and assistance. Speak up when you hear a racist joke or comment. Advocate for diversity in your workplace and speak with those who make hiring decisions about the importance of a diverse workforce. Engage in local, state, and national politics to advocate for policies that remedy systemic injustice.
As a therapy practice, Kori and I are committed to providing a safe and nurturing space that recognizes the effects of systemic racism and social injustice. We will affirm and validate your experiences and assist you in deciding what action to take, if any, and how to heal.
We have a lot of work to do, and if each of us does one small thing it can add up to significant change. If you have ideas about how to dismantle systemic racism, please share them here or with your community.
Alexa Tennyson, MA, LAMFT