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Anti-Racism Action Steps

Amidst heightened public consciousness of systemic and institutionalized racism, many members of our community are seeking ways to learn, listen, and act. In response to this opportunity for learning and sustained awareness, the Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee (DISC) and the Caring Communities (CC) have partnered to suggest weekly Action Steps for Anti-Racism that will be shared with the department weekly. Each week, we challenge our faculty, staff, and trainees to engage with a reading, podcast, or documentary, or take an action or set of actions that is recommended by our team. Individuals can follow Action Steps on their own or within an accountability group of colleagues and peers. Additionally, we encourage teams or services within the department to select one or more activities each month to complete and discuss at a monthly meeting.

Week 1: Action - Vote

This week, we will engage in ACTION.

  • A key part of effecting change is electing leaders to government who will advance equity and social change in our society. Take action this week by registering to vote, if you're not already registered, and encourage family, friends, and colleagues to do so as well. You can check your registration status, register, request an absentee ballot, get voting reminders and polling locations, etc. at vote.org
  • Another opportunity to facilitate voting registration, especially for our clients/patients, is the following, which provides a badge with a QR code that when scanned by a phone camera takes the individual to a webpage for voter registration. The badges are available for free by accessing the website: https://vot-er.org/healthy-democracy-kit/

Week 2: Read and Reflect

This week, we will engage in READING & REFLECTION.

  • A key part of effecting change is educating ourselves about racial inequality and biases, including ways that white individuals benefit from privilege associated with the color of their skin. However, many people are not taught to recognize ways that this privilege manifests in society; it may be invisible to them until they learn where to look. This is problematic because until privilege can be recognized and acknowledged, it cannot be lessened or ended. 
  • This brief but powerful text likens white privilege to an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, which can be utilized without the holder's awareness. It lists 26 specific and everyday effects of white privilege that people of color cannot count on. By building our awareness and ability to see injustice in society, we can more effectively bring about needed changes: http://www.nymbp.org/uploads/2/6/6/0/26609299/whiteprivilege.pdf
  • After reading, pause to reflect: Which examples resonated for you? With this lens, what examples can you more clearly see in your everyday life? 

Week 3: Join with Other Academics and Form Accountability Groups

This week, we will engage in JOINING WITH OTHER ACADEMICS & FORMING ACCOUNTABILITY GROUPS.

  • Recently, Academics4BlackLives hosted a week-long professional development initiative that focused on academics honoring the toll of racial trauma on Black people, resisting anti-Blackness in the culture, and facilitating accountability and collective action. The curriculum included videos and texts sharing experiences and perspectives, self-reflection exercises, and participation in accountability groups. 
  • The Accountability Group structure is a wonderful model to follow for those seeking committed and supported learning opportunities. Forming such groups with academic colleagues enables reflection, discussion, and action within our academic environments. This week, individuals are encouraged to form an Accountability Group with colleagues. Groups can choose their own content (e.g., The Racial Healing Handbook) or draw from lists of content available at www.academics4blacklives.com and other sources.
  • You can also request to join an Academics for Black Survival and Wellness discussion group here: 
    https://www.academics4blacklives.com/group/academics-for-black-group/discussion and sign up for the Listserve at https://www.academics4blacklives.com/ to be made aware of future opportunities to connect and learn with other academics across institution. The site also includes anti-racist resources, action steps, and materials to guide accountability groups.

Week 4: Read and Reflect on Biases in Academic Medicine
and Academic Psychology 

As mental health professionals, it is important for us to recognize that racial inequalities have played a large role in the history of our professions. This week, we encourage you to read and reflect on the history of how inequalities have shaped medicine and psychology, specifically in academic settings, and how as academics we can take important strides forward in eliminating widespread racism. Three readings are posted below. We encourage you to read, reflect, and think of ways these biases still shape our educational processes and the care we provide and consider how we this awareness can empower us to take action.

Week 5: - Learn - Read and Reflect on the Concept of Implicit Bias and Microaggression 

Understanding the concept of implicit bias is central in addressing the racism pervasive in our society. This week, we invite you to read and reflect on the meaning of implicit bias and how it manifests, e.g., in the form of microaggressions, on various levels from the personal to the structural. Please access the following resource, which comprises part of a comprehensive training on equity and access for diverse youth funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences in partnership with several universities: https://ready.web.unc.edu/section-1-foundations/module-4-implicit-bias-microaggressions/

  1. Begin by reading “Introduction” for an explanation of the process of unconscious thinking and how implicit bias develops as such.
  2. Then, watch one or both of the two short videos that follows which further depict and elaborate on the concept of implicit bias.
  3. Jump next to “Microaggressions” and read to learn about how implicit bias may manifest and cause hurt, even if unintentionally.
  4. Lastly, hop to “But Wait!” at the end, click each “FAQ”, and read the short answers provided to close out this week’s action step.

Feel free to share or discuss this resource with friends, family, and colleagues, particularly those who may not be as familiar with the concepts. Understanding them is a crucial starting point for beginning to effect substantive positive change in the realm of racial justice and equity.

Understanding the concept of implicit bias is central in addressing the racism pervasive in our society. Last week, we invited you to read about implicit biases and ways in which it may manifest. This week, we ask you to identify your own implicit biases. We all have implicit biases whether or not we are aware of them. The first step in working to undo these biases is to learn which ones we have, and work to consciously recognize them.

Before you get started, it may be helpful to recall what you learned last week about implicit biases. Feel free to revisit the webpage: https://ready.web.unc.edu/section-1-foundations/module-4-implicit-bias-microaggressions/

Week 6 - Learn to Recognize Your Own Implicit Bias

Then, take Harvard’s implicit association test to identify your own biases:

https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

Once you have identified your own implicit biases on the test, work to recognize and challenge these in your day-to-day routine. We will discuss more ways to identify and act on these in part 3 next week.

Feel free to share or discuss this resource with friends, family, and colleagues, particularly those who may not be as familiar with the concepts. Understanding them is a crucial starting point for beginning to effect substantive positive change in the realm of racial justice and equity.

Week 7: Identify and Act

Understanding the concept of implicit bias is central in addressing the racism pervasive in our society. Over the last 2 weeks, we invited you to read about implicit biases and take the implicit association test to learn about your own biases. You may review these materials below.

If you’d like to read more about implicit biases, feel free to revisit the webpage: https://ready.web.unc.edu/section-1-foundations/module-4-implicit-bias-microaggressions/

If you’d like to revisit the Harvard implicit biases test, you can do so here https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

The next step is to identify moments when these biases are present in our day to day lives, and work to ensure that they do not harm others. This step is the hardest to implement, but also the most important in making concrete changes.  

  1. Think of times you see others whose implicit bias is affecting their work day to day. If possible, speak up about this directly or mention it to a trusted colleague, chief resident, mentor, faculty member, or close friend who you trust.
  2. Think of a time an implicit bias affected your actions. Consider how this bias may have negatively affected someone involved in this situation. Have a discussion with someone close to you –a friend, family member, your accountability group, or a colleague you trust – about the bias (es) and its impact.
  3. Look for biases that affect your actions day to day. If you notice one, stop and correct yourself (out loud or silently to yourself).
    • Focus on these moments as learning opportunities – not times for argument or guilt. Notice how and why these comments are offensive, and make note to be mindful of these biased words going forward. Guilt is very common when we take note of these moments. Remember that unconscious biases are just that – unconscious, and that learning to recognize them is the best way to undo them.

Feel free to share or discuss this resource with friends, family, and colleagues, particularly those who may not be as familiar with the concepts. Understanding them is a crucial starting point for beginning to effect substantive positive change in the realm of racial justice and equity.

Week 8: Learn - Facts About Racism in the Legal System

In order to contextualize the anger and frustration that has been expressed in wake of the most recent unjust killings of Black men and women, we need a broader understanding of institutionalized racism in the US. For the next few weeks, we will learn about the racist systems that result in mass incarceration of Black individuals, and how this has impacted racial disparities on a societal scale.

This week, we’ll start by reviewing the facts about racial disparities that exist within the legal system. For a 5 minute read, check out some preliminary statistics at this link: https://www.sentencingproject.org/criminal-justice-facts/

Then, if you have 90 minutes, you can get an entire history of racism and mass incarceration by watching the critically acclaimed documentary 13th, which is available for free on YouTube.

Trailer (3 minutes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6IXQbXPO3I

Full length film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krfcq5pF8u8

Week 9: Watch & Reflect

“CRIMINAL JUSTICE, EMPHASIS ON THE JUSTICE”

Last week we were introduced to the racial disparities that exist in our prisons and, if you were able to watch the documentary 13th, the history of racist policing in the US. This week, we’ll start to consider how these anti-Black practices can start in childhood and unjustly influence the trajectory of Black individuals’ lives.

When you have 15 minutes, we encourage you to watch the following TED Talk that illustrates the ways in which the criminal “justice” system sets Black children up for failure: 

https://www.ted.com/talks/alice_goffman_how_we_re_priming_some_kids_for_college_and_others_for_prison?language=en

After viewing the talk, consider reflecting on the following points:

  • In what ways do white privilege and wealth favor individuals in the legal system? For example:
    • Not being a target of racial profiling
    • Not having a large police presence in the neighborhood
    • Being able to afford bail and/or hire a good lawyer
  • Should we expect children and teenagers to never make a mistake?
    • Do I expect that out of a wealthy/White child or teenager?
    • Is it fair to have even higher expectations for children or teenagers who are dealing with poverty, racism, etc.?
  • If this were myself or my child, what resources or alternative solutions would I want available?
WEEK 10: Learn & Contribute 

DISMANLTING RACISM IN THE LEGAL SYSTEM

Last week we learned about the school-to-prison pipeline and how systems that begin in childhood can unjustly influence the trajectory of Black individuals’ lives. This week, we will identify ways to get involved in addressing these injustices moving forward.

The easiest way to address these racial injustices is by learning about and contributing to preexisting programs that:

  1. Invest in Black communities and youth:

            - In Atlanta/Georgia: Cool Girls

- Nationally: Black Girls Code

  1. Reduce the industrialization of police departments, jails, and prisons

- In Atlanta/Georgia: Close the Jail ATL—Communities Over Cages

- Nationally: Movement for Black Lives—Defund the Police

  1. Provide council and services for under-resourced and underrepresented individuals in the legal system

- In Atlanta/Georgia: Southern Center for Human Rights

- Nationally: Equal Justice Initiative

  1. Advocate for policies that will dismantle the systems that contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline

- In Atlanta/Georgia: Gwinnett StoPP

- Nationally: Fair Fight

These are only a few examples but a great place to get started. For more programs, check out: http://psychiatry.emory.edu/faculty/diversity.and.inclusion.subcommittee/racial.justice.resources.html

WEEK 11: Reflect on the Book

“Everyday UBUNTU: Living better together, the African Way”

Mungi Ngomane

(Human rights activist and granddaughter of Peace Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu) 

“Ubuntu” is a South African word that does not have a translation in English. It is a philosophy of life, a way to express that each person is inextricably connected with the humanity of others. It encapsulates the believe in a universal human bond. The literal translation means: “I am only because you are. We are one”. 

As we reflect on the past weeks of activism to take steps towards change in our department, the health systems and programs within which we are embedded, the larger university community, the Atlanta community, and our country, we selected this book because it reminds us that we are in this together and we support each other. Therein lies our strength to change the world.

The quotes in this book summarize the principles we have been sharing for the past few weeks: 

Ubuntu teaches us …that absolutely everyone on this earth is of equal value because our humanity is what matters the most,” and that “Everyone deserves to be treated with humanity.” 

“Ubuntu encourages us to drop our judgements and embrace compassion and understanding.”

And it shows the path to achieve change:

“If you want to go quickly, go alone.

If you want to go far, go together” (African proverb)

“Strength lies in Unity.” 

We recommend you pick up this book – which seems to be written for these times and is full of ancestral wisdom and hope in the humanity in each of us – as we all connect to our responsibility towards our communities. By embracing the “Ubuntu” philosophy we hope to overcome division and become “stronger together in a world where we build bridges to connect.”

If you only have 5 minutes, we recommend you read the written Q&A interview with the author, Mungi Mgomane, and additional African proverbs and quotes, such as “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.” 

We leave you with this final quote:

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears” - Nelson Mandela