Sunday, October 01, 2006

Tangible Goals to End-Racism

It takes time to make any kind of a dent in racism, considering that we must overcome all that has gone before.

Kalamazoo has set up a Summit to end racism in their community.

Hat tip to Susan Pizarro-Eckert at's Race Relations

A Summit on Racism--organized by the city in partnership with the YWCA--has held annual meetings to tackle racism. Areas of focus have included education, employment and housing. But while many such fledgling initiatives have failed and folded in other cities, Summit members have agreed on the answer: rather than meet to talk about racism and how abhorrent it is (and therefore, accomplishing little), they're taking a different approach. This new approach is reflected in the language they use--terms like "measurable progress," "specific goals," and "concrete action."

Residents recognize that it's a long, hard road on which they travel, but they firmly believe that hard work and an unflagging commitment to will change their community.

What Portland needs is a core group of people who are meeting regularly and putting the elimination of racism central. It is not just "processing." Processing is an important piece. But processing without action and real connection and action in the community is just fluff.

Portland does have this here and there. Actually. And the groups are moving forward and gaining momentum.

I think we need to see anti-racism as a primary goal / subject in every activist organization, in every school, in every business and company. It needs to be the topic at every Sunday School, Bible study, synagogue, or meditation circle.

And it needs to be the focus weekly for this whole year.

You see, it isn't just something we write a check and send it off to Africa for and then feel a little better about going about our day. The point isn't even to "feel bad" about yourself--because that usually produces more of the "bad" behavior.

And what is, exactly, the "bad" behavior?

What do you think?

Here's a little checklist.

You don't notice people with skin color other than the color pink. They just don't exist.

You do notice them and you clutch your bag a little tighter then feel guilty that you did so.

You have a funny feeling when a person of color comes in. It might be a rush to show you're a "good" white person. Quickly wanting to convey you're not racist.

When you try and say the words "white" or "black" as a description your throat kind of closes slightly and your lips get real tight but you quickly ignore that and move on to talking about something else.

You may become agitated if someone begins talking at length about racial issues. (More than one or two sentences containing the words racism, white people and black people.)

You insist you aren't really white because you're ... ad infinitum (raised poor, a woman, an artist, gay, etc.)

You have one friend of color but you don't really know anything about their heritage and you're sure that they don't have any issues with you regarding unconscious racism. Because of course, they haven't said anything about it to you!

You feel angry that anyone would suggest you have hurts which come out as unaware racism.

Sea Ganschow is a family facilitator for healing from the hurts of white racism and having the life and the world one wants in Portland, Oregon, USA.


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