Day 9. Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge

Week 2. Day 2. Interpersonal racism: How can we effectively call people in and productively intervene in racist behavior?

For starters, check out this amazing checklist below. I think it is great for seeing how well you do at respecting all humans.

What have I done to call people in? As a homeschool parent, I started with myself and my kids. We used our faith teachings and basic moral compass to talk about respecting human life and the inherent dignity that all humans possess. The idea here was to avoid the need for others to call my children and myself in.

When calling non-family people in, I have a few thoughts as an educator. Calling people in is fine, but the situation needs to match the person. The learning style needs to match the teaching style. We might all wish for grand gestures to work, but grand gestures really don’t work most of the time. With a shy white person with low self esteem, I would think that either a very large group where they might be lost in the crowd or a very very small and close encounter might work well. With a curious white person, any situation might be OK.

I taught religious education to fourth graders. I substitute taught at a mostly white private school. I am comfortable asking people questions about racist behavior. I think most white people just never consider racism. They are usually ignorant or cannot even conceive of being a minority (empathy), want to avoid thinking about uncomfortable things that might cause change.

This is a high alert thing for me when it comes to non-white children and white adults. Children aren’t going to process or verbalize in a way that an adult may not, making reports of racism to an adult (and we teach kids to tell an adult about offenses) may yield unsatisfactory results. I have witnessed white family members deny their non-white nieces and nephews of empathy. It’s happened to me, too. Excuses got thrown around. Instead of, “Oh, that person just didn’t understand, they’re being stupid, forget about them,” it would have been nice to hear a prefacing empathetic phrase like, “I am so sorry. I believe you. How hurtful. We’ll have to excuse their ignorance. Let’s think of some phrases to say if that happens again.”

Why does this happen? I believe it happens because people do not like pain and discomfort and change, even things that make them better people — food choices, etc. Read this excellent source: