20 Questions for Organizations Beginning Anti-Racist Work

Drawing upon my lifelong experience of being the only Black woman, or one of two Black women in elite white spaces, here are 20 questions to to make this process safer for Black folks in your organization: Downloadable PDF here: 20 Questions for Anti Racist Work 2 Page Version. Hope Wabuke

20 Questions For Organizations Starting Anti-Racist Work:

by: Hope Wabuke

  1. Are you centering the Black voices in your organization? Are you listening, rather than ignoring or speaking over these voices?
  1. How are you personally and institutionally creating a space where the Black and people of color in your organization feel safe from harm from racism and microaggressions?
  1. Are you expecting the Black and people of color in your organization to do all the diversity work alone? How are you supporting their efforts?
  1. Do you tell the Black people in your organization that they are lying when speak about the racism and microaggressions they detail experiencing in your organization?
  1. Do you engage in meaningful anti-racist reflection and meaningful anti-racist action in your organization?
  1. Are you mindful of diversity and inclusion in all decisions in your organization?
  1. Do you think as a collective? Or do you delegate a token nothing diversity statement to the token Black or person of color who is part of your organization?
  1. How is your organization investing ideologically and financially in diversity & inclusion?
  1. Do you empower leadership and voice from the Black people in your organization? Or do you only like them to be silent token symbols and get angry when they speak?
  1. Can you resist the temptation to have all anti-racist action revolve around “donating?” (But if you are donating, donate money or else the specific thing that is requested by the donation recipient, rather than what you think is needed).
  1. Can you engage with Blackness with equality, communication, and support, rather than white savior charity?
  1. Can you respond intentionally? Do you get defensive and retreat into white tears or speak over the Black people in your group?
  1. How can you invest in a critical mass of Black and people of color representation so that this immense weight of representation does not fall on one, or even two, or even five members of your organization?
  1. How can you commit to a greater diverse demographic in your organization? How will you eradicate your unconscious bias so that you hire Black employees and employees of color BECAUSE they are the best candidates rather than passing them over because you think that Black candidates cannot be as good as the white candidates for some reason you invent?
  1. Are you interrogating your privilege? Are you paying attention to how internalized your white supremacy is? Do you notice that you ignore when the Black woman in your organization speaks but applaud when one of the white men in your organization says the same exact thing 10 minutes later, for example?
  1. Do you read and educate yourself on how to be proactively anti-racist and create safe inclusive spaces so you can create that for your Black and people of color board members and/or employees? How are you being accountable?
  1. Do you admit that institutional racism and bias exist in your organization as part of the inherent nature of institutional racism?
  1. Do you implement regular diversity and sensitivity training from a reputable outside consultant as a norm in your organization?
  1. Do you acknowledge the difference between people of color and Black? Do you acknowledge the presence of anti-Black people of color, and the damage anti-Black people of color do without the presence of Black people of color?
  1. Will you make an action plan that means something and is not just hollow lip service & commit to follow through?

 

@HopeWabuke 

**if these questions are useful to you, please consider donating to one of these two causes:

1. The Fundraiser for the Family of James Scurlock, a 22 year old Black youth shot by Jake Gardner, a white Omaha, NE man with ties to white supremacy and homophobia. I wrote a little about this here.

2. The Color of Change National Bail Out Fund: This program helps incarcerated Black mothers return home to their children. Many women who are in prison are there because of self-defense from domestic abuse and other violence. From their website: “At least 80 percent of women caged behind bars are mothers who have only been accused of minor offenses but not found guilty. The reason they are still in jail and separated from their families is because they are too poor to afford bail.”

#BlackLivesMatter

The lovely Geosi interviewed me for his book blog here.

Interview with 2015 Brunel University African Poetry Prize Shortlisted Writer

Photo: Hope Wabuke

Brief Biography:

Born in exile to Ugandan refugees, Hope Wabuke is now a writer based in Southern California. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The North American Review, Kalyani Magazine, Fjords Literary Journal, Potluck Magazine, Ruminate Magazine, Salamander Journal, Literary Mama, Weave Magazine, Cease Cows, Split This Rock and Joint Literary. Her essays and criticism have been featured in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Salon, Gawker, The Root, Ms. Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine, The Feminist Wire, Ozy, The Hairpin and The Daily Beast. Hope reviews books for the Kirkus Reviews and has won fellowships from The New York Times, Voices of Our Nations Foundation (VONA), and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund for Women Writers. She holds degrees from Northwestern University and New York University. Hope is currently the media director for the Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction. Follow her on Twitter @HopeWabuke.

Geosi Gyasi: Could we start with your poem, “Leviticus”? How did you come to write it? 

Hope Wabuke: When I became pregnant with my baby boy, I began to think a lot about my personal and cultural history. I thought a lot about my parents, my grandparents–what it must have been like to be live through genocide, trying to keep your family safe. I began to remember things–some I think I had been told, some I don’t think I could possibly have known. When I talked to my mother, afterward, she said she hadn’t told them to me. Nor, of course, had my father. It was all very interesting to me, very pressing to understand. Scientists have proven that, when women are pregnant, the baby’s cells migrate into the mother’s blood, body and brain, and vice versa of course, permanently changing our bodies and psychology. So my mother’s experiences and unsaid memories were held inside me; my son’s as well. Mine inside him. It was then that I began to write the poems that form my current poetry manuscript, The Body Family, of which “Leviticus” is one. These poems explore my family’s escape from Idi Amin’s Ugandan genocide and the aftermath of healing in America. In it, I reclaim my womanhood, culture, and spirituality from a legacy of violence.

Read the rest of the interview here.