Awareness, Action and Accountability

Image created by Louise Swander

I don’t have much to say beyond what has already been said in the wake of the tragic deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. This is a time for we white people to listen closely. There are many black voices that have been trying to reach us for decades. To the extent we can use our white privilege and platforms to fan and fuel their voices, we must.

Some core components of coaching relative to our work we need to do now are:

1) Raising our own Awareness

2) Committing to Action

3) Creating Accountability

Excellent resources are being shared across a variety of platforms to raise our awareness of the enduring inequity black people experience and what will be required of us to participate effectively to a more anti-racist culture.  For anyone still searching or honing in, here are four that I’ve really appreciated in my own recent learning:

Ibram X. Kendi; How to be an Anti-racist

Robin DiAngelo; White Fragility (see the ‘get informed’ section)

In terms of committing to action, I am very grateful to Corrine Shutack for creating this list of 75 things white people can do. I am using it to help me get clear and specific about what to commit to moving forward.  Financial contributions are certainly meaningful and are one tangible and immediate action we can take. When considering what to commit to it may be helpful to think locally. For example, to ask questions about the policing policies and procedures of your nearest law enforcement agency. Or join in developing strategies to hold your own company to account in the hiring, retention and promotion of black people. (Important to remember that black voices must be the leading voices of such an effort.)

Which brings us to accountability. In this, we are failing. The COVID-19 mortality rate is 2.4 times higher for black people than whites. Black people are 2.5 times more likely to die at the hands of police officers. They are 5 times more likely to be arrested for the same drug offense a white person commits and are incarcerated at least 5 times the rate of whites. In our accountability to uphold an equal experience of rights, freedoms and access, we have an incredible amount of work to do.

Accountability starts at an individual level. What can we each do to ensure that when the news cycle moves on to the next story, our commitment to take some action doesn’t falter? Write down your commitment to make it more real to you. Consider carefully how much time you have or will make for whatever it is you wish to do. Adjust your commitment to make it realistic. Tell someone what you plan to do. Ask them to check in regularly on your follow through. If possible, join a group whose work you admire. The social pull and pressure of groups helps enable individual accountability. White people must do better holding each other accountable in working towards anti-racism. If anyone would like a thought partner in committing to action and accountability please reach out. I am one of many figuring out how to do more and how to do better. We will likely be more effective if we do it together.

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