White Roles in Advancing Racial Justice: Re-Post from City Club

August 3, 2016 · by pcriadmin · Featured, PCRI

On Friday, July 29, The City Club of Portland’s Friday Forum focused on “White Role(s) in Advancing Social Justice.” Moderated by Karol Collymore, Public Affairs Director for the Oregon Department of Education, the panel included Serilda Summers-McGee, Director of Human Resources for the Oregon Department of Education, Ann Curry-Stevens, Associate Professor Department of Social Work at Portland State University, Rekah Strong, Chief of Operations and Equity at United Way of the Columbia Willamette and Megan Irwin, Early Learning System Director at the Oregon Department of Education. Watch the recording here:

Following the panel, Rekah Strong posted her list of “what can I do” suggestions online and has volunteered to let us re-post them here:

  1. Stop doing racist stuff (Pretty simplistic, she adds).
  2. Stop leaving the burden of figuring it out on people of color, we’re tired. Use typical problem solving skills and apply them to coming up with solutions like we do in other spaces that require critical thought.
  3. Know true history and how it impacts public policy today. Disparities are a good indicator of flawed policy.
  4. Don’t marginalize or dismiss individuals’ expression that racism is occuring. Try to understand.
  5. Be aware of micro aggressions; understand how bike lanes highlight gentrification and the resentment that displaced communities feel (5b: Understand the visceral response of a black man responding to your sniffing dog; it correlates to dogs being used historically to brutally attack them).
  6. Stop living on cruise control when thinking about racism, and be actively aware of its existence
  7. Be aware of implicit bias’ stop locking your car doors in front of your children in “certain” parts of town. Stop clutching your bag tighter or crossing the street when black individuals walk behind you.
  8. Build authentic relationships with black people, if you been invited to their home or discussed racism with them, they are not your friend.
  9. Recognize the importance of local elections and their impact on policy change … before we elect or support judges, prosecuting attorneys, mayors, sheiffs, police chiefs, local politicians (superintendents) we need to ask them: “what is your policy agenda regarding negative impact on black communities.”
  10. Finally, stop being silent, silence is a action, use your voice. I was awe struck at the number of voices that fell silent as black men and women are being killed unlawfully: silence from organizations, silence on social media.

For context, the City Club of Portland framed the Friday Forum panel this way:

Acts of violence have plagued our nation over the past few weeks. We are still mourning the loss of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by the hands of police as we mourn for the fallen officers who served in the Dallas and Baton Rouge Police Departments. In the midst of the racial and political turmoil that is continuing to bubble to the surface, the common question from white allies and others in the struggle for racial justice is, “what can I do to effect a change in racial equality in my community?” Join us as we discuss personal and professional solutions on White people’s role(s) in advancing racial justice.

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