A few weeks ago, we held an in-depth Torch Talk hosted by Julie Kratz about understanding racism and learning how to be an ally.
As the country begins to have more conversations about race and how to confront racism, it is essential that we all have our own conversations with our own families and work places. The first step in being an ally is understanding racism, privilege, how these things still greatly impact our society, and how we can stand up against them. Julie Kratz unpacked these complicated topics in her Torch Talk, and facilitated a strong discussion. Here are some highlights from her presentation.
Julie pointed out at the beginning of her presentation that we all play a role in this movement. We are all involved, and need to keep educating ourselves. Most people have some degree of privilege, and some degree of racial bias, and it is essential that we understand what that means.
Racism is a spectrum. Most people have good intentions, but some people make mistakes along the way. “We’re not saying there’s bad people and good people. There are a lot of people in this murky middle trying to figure this out,” Julie explained.
Lots of people get immediately defensive when they hear the term “white privilege.” But white privilege does not mean your life is not hard, it means your life is not made harder because of your race. Many people have some degree of privilege (white privilege, male privilege, privilege of having parents who went to college, privilege of not living in poverty, etc), it doesn’t mean you have a “free pass.” The important thing is that you realize and reflect on your privilege, and then watch your behavior.
As Julie described, “All these things that people of color have to think about proactively, I’ve never had that conversation. Nobody’s ever had to have that conversation with me. I have privilege.”
Some people claim that we are in a post-racist era. This is not true. There are still countless examples of systems that work against people of color and support white communities. Here are some examples that you can Google for more information:
These are unhelpful behaviors that support racism. People of color experience comments and assumptions that are based in racial bias constantly throughout their lives, and many white people do not even realize they are committing a micro-aggression. Many of these behaviors come from a place of good intentions, but they do support racism and therefore need to be addressed.
In the US, typically “white” characteristics (hair, interests, way of speaking) are considered the standard, and anyone who doesn’t conform to these characteristics is seen as an outsider. This is especially true in all professional fields that lack diversity, like corporate workplaces, academia, and more.
Continue educating yourself! Here are some tips:
Let’s continue to have conversations about race and social justice, and continue learning and educating ourselves!