As most white people that I know, I have spent much of the last 6(ish) months attempting to learn more about anti-black racism, systemic racism, anti-racism, and racial injustice in general. I think it is critical that I point out that my being able to learn about racism, and not experience it, is an extreme privilege.
This month, I had the opportunity to participate in a few events centered around Black Heritage Month. One that I found incredibly impactful was the anti-racism workshop by Selam Debs, an anti-racism coach, consultant, and trainer based out of Waterloo. I will be sharing a few things I learned in the workshop, but I think the best way to learn what I learned, or many other incredible lessons, is to engage with her content. You can find her website here. Under the “free anti-racism guide” is a free PDF helping to introduce the anti-racism movement. I highly recommend checking it out.
Now, I wanted to share a couple of my personal takeaways from the workshop that I had never heard worded like this. There are 3 words I had regularly used, that I have started to completely rethink.
I had never thought about it before, but Selam put it perfectly. These words make White the “norm,” which assumes that anything other than white is ‘diverse’. White is centered in the word diversity, and we need to stop white from being the ‘default’.
We are not giving BIPOC individuals the opportunity to be included. It is not a privilege to be included in this society. People of colour do not want to be included in a racist society with systems set to hold them back. “Inclusion” is not what we are after – we are after an entirely re-thought society, and intense changes to current systems.
We use the word minority to describe people of colour, but this assumes that white people are the majority, which we simply are not. Once again, this is a word that centers whiteness and holds it above all other colours. White is not the majority, so people of colour are not the minority.
There were many other incredible lessons and take-aways from Selam Debs’ workshop, I highly recommend attending one of her online “Anti-Racism Workshops” whenever you have the chance.
Here’s to learning, growing, and making real changes in our lives, and the systems we are a part of.