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

Do Black Lives Matter to Westworld: On TV Fantasies of Racial Violence

LARBLOGO-1024x370For The Los Angeles Review of Books, I write about Westworld’s problematic depictions of violence against Black characters and the meaning of TV’s fantasies of racial violence:

I was so excited for Westworld before it premieredI was excited for the plot, sure to be brilliant because of the genius of its creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. I was excited to see not just one, but three black leads on a show that wasn’t about slavery or basketball. I was excited to watch the excellent black actors here work; they are brilliant. Science fiction and fantasy have long been known for representing stories of marginalization and oppression through allegory and code; I was excited for Westworld to explore these concepts with the talent involved.

But what has become clear over the course of the series — what has become especially clear after this third season — is that although there is diversity in Westworld, the diversity is still relegated to stereotypical, and often painful representations. One wonders which is more harmful: absence, or toxic representation?

Let me begin with this: every single black child on Westworld has been killed. Every single white child has survived to do violence and mayhem — humanized with point of view and background narrative despite committing the most ruthless violence.

To put this another way: all three of the main black characters on Westworld — Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright), Maeve Millay (Thandie Newton), Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) — have children who are killed. These deaths of their black children serve as foundational character moments and pivotal plot points for the show. It is safe to say these deaths becomes each character’s driving force and thus, violence against black children is one of the primary narrative engines of the series. General anti-black violence becomes another. And so, the same way women of all races critique the pornography of violence against the female body that is a driving force of so many cop and action dramas, I ask this: can we not get more imaginative than only imagining black pain as a catalyst in black life — than monetizing very real black pain for white entertainment and white profit?

Thanks to the editors at LAROB, who are amazing. Read the essay here.