Wednesday, June 10, 2020

My Anti-Racism Plan for #ShutDownSTEM

Yes, another post about a hashtag. This one only came to my attention a few days ago. #ShutDownSTEM is a movement within academia, research and technical fields to take an inconvenient break from our regular work in order to spend time addressing institutional racism in our work places and our lives.

Yawn, you say--another diversity and inclusion session that makes white people feel like they're doing something without any actual positive effect on people of color. But in fact, that is the point of the day: making a plan for going forward, with the acknowledgment that becoming anti-racist is not a one-and-done deal but a constant, difficult, intensely personal process.

The reason I'm writing this here is for accountability. I'm finding it difficult to walk the line between speaking out as an ally and performative allyship, so what better place to publish my process and intentions other than a public-but-barely-read blog?!

My goal for the year, italics with updates of incremental progress.
  • Education
    • How To Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. Bought June 10, 2020
    • Join reading group to discuss above Joined June 8, 2020, Group starts June 11
    • Prioritize podcast listenings: Code Switch and The Breakdown by Shaun King
    • Read at least one more book: Women, Race and Class or White Fragility, and/or...
    • Sign up for at least one D&I class offered at work (even though they are never convenient for my schedule)
  • Teaching my kids
    • Read Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. This is a history of racism in the US, written by a well-known MG writer (Ghost), intended for educating kids. Purchased May 2020, next-in-queue of bedtime reading books with my kids (unless they pick it up themselves first)
    • Next: share with them the names and stories of Black people killed by racist actions as they happen, instead of the lump of stories I gave them to explain/motivate them to participate in in the current Black Lives Matters protests
  • Donations: 
    • I will increase the proportion of our family's donations to organizations fighting institutional racism to 5% of our income (while maintaining other donations so it will be a financial sacrifice although not even close to the income disparities in the US between white people and people of color.
    • Part of this will come from 14% of my 'personal' money (my husband and I give ourselves an allowance to spend on clothes, hobbies, personal outings, gifts, etc.,) as well. 
    • These are the organizations led by Black people that we support financially:
      • Color of Change: Organization led by people of color to increase Black political power
      • The Action PAC: Shaun King's organization that has been working on changing legislation concerning police brutality well before the current wave
      • The North Star Shaun King's media organization
      • Nami Thompson, Boulder Parenting in Diversity cofounder
    • Purchase (instead of borrowing) books by authors of color  
      May 2020: finished book II of N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth Triology
      June 2020: started reading with a daughter Tomi Adeyemi Children of Blood and Bone
      June 2020: purchased How to Be an Antiracist (see above)
  • Personal actions
    • Wear my Black Lives Matter shirt in uncomfortable situations
    • Finish a conversation with a friend of color who called me out on a statement in which I was lecturing her on 'American culture'. I said I would follow up, and never did. I need to bring it up and apologize for my statement, and thank her for having the courage to speak up and educate me.
    • Publish the blog I wrote about the above incident if I get her permission to do so
    • Write a letter to the elementary school principal about what seemed to be disproportionate punishments for Hispanic kids at the school. They happened before his time but I still need to make sure he's aware of the research about this
  • Accountability
    • Made a calendar event for June 10, 2021 to revist this plan, publish what I completed and failed to complete in this document, and make a new plan for next year.