As we experience and witness the outrage, anger, and pain over the numerous instances of brutality by members of law enforcement towards the Black community here in the United States, practitioners of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEIB), myself included, have an important role to play in delivering critical education to people who are ready and eager to listen, learn, and take action.
It heartens me to see a truly diverse group of people protesting, marching, rallying, and fighting to end pernicious injustices that Black people have suffered for centuries. We’re seeing a cascade of support from private citizens to local government and larger, global industries. The proof of everyone’s support will be in the “pudding”, i.e. in the conscious actions we take. Without learning solutions to support the process of shining a light on the racism that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has said permeates the air we breathe, we will forever be blind to our own biases and to the racist policies that we must dismantle together.
I am also writing this post during the month of June, which marks Gay Pride—a month-long celebration of the LGBTQ movement that had its beginnings in violent protests and riots in response to police violence towards members of the LGBTQ community in New York City in 1969. The gay liberation movement evolved over a relatively short period of approximately 50 years, paving the way to greater freedoms, including the enjoyment of this month—a month of joyous celebration of our existence, our rights, and our place in society. I share all of this because I believe the LGBTQ community can use its privilege and its resources to support the uprooting and dismantling of the racism against Black people everywhere.
We must also continue to honor the memory and spirit of the Black LGBTQ individuals like Marsha P. Johnson, a Black Trans woman, and other LGBTQ-identified people of color that blazed the trail for the community and risked their lives for progress. On June 14th in New York City a rally and silent march of approximately 15,000 people moved through the streets of Brooklyn to demand justice for the numerous Black Trans people including and other Trans POC who’ve been murdered in recent memory and earlier in the history of the movement.
To my fellow LGBTQ family members and allies, I ask you: How can we channel the energy of Pride this month and beyond to support the antiracist agenda? Actions like these make our voices heard, but there are many other things we can do to see real change—like disrupting implicit bias in ourselves and others. It’s easy to feel helpless right now, but this is merely your brain’s way of telling you that you have yet to develop the tools to combat things like bias.
To start doing the work, it’s key to maintain a growth mindset and seek credible resources. I’d also like to provide a few strategies to help you check your own bias, bias within others, and biased policies and laws that extend into the larger society. It doesn’t matter who you are and what you do. If you’re human, these apply to you.
Tips for checking your personal biases, weeding out bias from your interactions with others, and building relationships across difference:
Watch our most recent webinar titled, “Am I Biased? Uncovering Implicit Bias in a Global Context” by following this link. Joel Brown of Pneumos delves into the science, history, and strategies to undo bias.
Take inventory of your trusted circle of friends. What kind of people are there? If you find that you have few to no Black confidantes, ask yourself why you don’t. This may be the sign of an implicit bias that has kept you from forging interpersonal relationships with a Black person.
Consider making concerted efforts to build relationships with people that are underrepresented in your trusted circle. Given the many uncertainties around how to build relationships across difference, it pays to have a pro-social orientation and desire to communicate with and listen to people from diverse backgrounds.
Practice suspending or withholding judgment of others and instead use curiosity to “fill in the blanks” of your knowledge base with real insight into the people you may not know well.
Listen actively and with empathy. This will lead you to insights to potentially adjust the way in which you build trust and friendship with diverse people.
Raise awareness for commonly held forms of bias, like perception and confirmation bias, which may unconsciously inform your own behaviors or reactions towards Black people and POC. You can learn about the dozens of common forms of bias by reading this article.
Understand common misconceptions and myths surrounding implicit bias by clicking here. These are important discussion points that you can bring to conversations around racism and its undoing.
Of course, bias also exists within policies and at the organizational, institutional and systemic levels. However, bias at these levels is maintained in part due to individuals who fail to see bias and fail to take action to reverse its impact. It takes strategic coordination and reform to undo these pervasive forms of bias, but it also takes self-reflection and grassroots work to check yourself.
Please share any other best practices you’ve learned to be effective in battling racism and bias in the workplace and beyond in the comments section below. You can also reach out to me at email@example.com if you have any questions or comments.