Prescribed Actions

Advertise your privilege
Practice acknowledging your privilege out loud as you notice it. When you you tell the story of how you talked your way out of that parking ticket, acknowledge that your race might have played a part. Did some complement your “resourcefulness”? Try saying thanks and mention that you are literally “full of resources” because you are privileged enough to have access to them.

Amplify the voices of people of color (PoC)
At your next meeting, take note of whether the PoC in the room speak up and whether their voices are really heard. Is there a way for you to draw attention to and support what they said? Or, try spending a week linking ONLY to content by PoC on your social media.

De-colonize your healing
Have you adopted or engaged with any healing or other practices that are culturally specific without understanding the basis for those practices? (For instance: yoga, acupuncture, capoiera.) Find out some basic information about where these practices come from and how they fit into their originating culture. A simple Wikipedia search is a good place to start, but try digging a little deeper.

Diversify your entertainment
Expose yourself to at least one cultural/artistic experience that wouldn’t normally be your first choice, either because it’s unfamiliar or you’re not sure you would like it. Never read work by a Latino author? Look some up! Going out to a museum? Try MoCADA instead of MoMA. Ask a friend who’s a person of color (PoC) to recommend a PoC comedian to look up on YouTube (or try Chris Rock, Aziz Ansari, and Louis CK on race).

Diversify your media
Do a quick check of your podcasts, blogs, news channels, magazines, newspapers and radio for racial diversity. Mostly white? Try looking up sources like TheRoot, ColorLines, BlackGirlDangerous, This Week in Blackness, Melissa Harris-Perry, Arabist.net, Incite Community News, Huffington Post Latino Voices.

Do a head count
For the next week, notice the race of each person you encounter in a position of power over you, and each person you hold some kind of power over. How often does the skin color of the people in each category match yours? Try doing a head count at the next decision-making meeting you attend. Who is in the room? Who gets to speak? Who gets heard?

Draw your scaffolding
Draw a circle with a success you have achieved in the middle. Then draw all the supports that that helped you get there. Include factors that are:

    Good fortune (being in the right place at the right time, being born a certain skin color or gender expression, being born in this country, etc)
    Financial (help paying for education, family or other financial safety net, etc)
    Emotional (the expectation that you would and could achieve this success, etc)
    Societal (general assumption of your good intentions, unquestioned acceptance of your expertise, etc)
    Access-based (access to a network of colleagues, access to critical tools or equipment, etc)

Find your growing edge
For the next month, try to notice your “growing edge” - the place where discomfort might cause you to retreat from awareness and rob you of the opportunity to learn and heal from Internalized Racial Superiority. Your growing edge often signals its presence through a feeling of discomfort or defensiveness. In that moment, can you manage to pause, take a deep breath, remind yourself that you are not actually in danger, and re-engage in the conversation or situation?

Have a white conversation
Have a conversation with another white person about what it means to be white. Start by sharing an experience you’ve had with a friend, and tell them how it made you feel about being white. Ask them how it makes them feel. Good experiences to share might include:

    Your reaction to this experience, an article on our resource list, or a news item
    A moment when you were aware of your whiteness
    A cultural event that responds to race in the USA

We are raised to see whiteness as invisible, so this might feel strange at first. Challenge yourself to sit with the discomfort and muddle through.

Join an all-white space
No, we’re not talking about the KKK. People of color have tremendous, powerful work of their own to do - they’re not available to help us heal from Internalized Racial Superiority. Talking to other white people is the best way to heal. Check out this project’s website for some suggested meetups.

Learn about your neighborhood
The place you live didn’t always look like it does now. Who was there before you? What kind of cultural norms used to rule the streets? Ask someone who’s lived there for decades about the history of the place you call home, and hold that knowledge with you as you walk around. Does it change how you see the places and people around you? Try sharing those stories with other white residents.

Make eye contact
This week, make yourself available for eye contact and greeting in your neighborhood, especially with older people and people of color. You don’t have to accost anyone, but be available to acknowledge the existence of the people you pass on the street. If you’re worried about personal safety, you can modify this task to apply only to people of your own gender.

Offer some space
For the next week, practice making a little more space around yourself. Step aside to let others pass through a door before you, leave a little extra space next to you on the sidewalk, don’t jump in front of someone who’s approaching a checkout line at the same time as you. Reflect on how that feels.

Practice awareness in a crowd
For the next week, make note of the needs of others around you in the crowd, especially those of people with less apparent privilege than you. What does it feel like if you DON’T hurry past that person in front of you? What do you notice about them, and about yourself? What if you DON’T dive for that first open seat on the train? Notice who else will have a chance to sit down.

Push back against gentrification
Are you a gentrifier? New York City real estate is a beast, and where we live is a complex choice. Find out which businesses in your neighborhood have been around the longest, and patronize them as much as possible. Find out when your local public school is having its fundraising carnival, and check it out. Try attending a Community Board meeting focused on permits and liquor licenses to learn more about how new businesses are interacting with old ones.

Say one thing
We all have those people in our lives that say inappropriate things that we choose to ignore. Maybe we do it because they’re family, or because they’re our boss. Next time you hear them say something problematic, ask them a question (if it doesn’t directly threaten your home or job). “How did you come to think that” or “What makes you feel that way” is a good way to start. Respond with your own experience, “Huh, that’s interesting. I see it differently…” Approach this conversation with understanding and compassion, and in a way that invites them to talk with you more instead of shutting them down.

Slow down
Are you rushing through your day with a mile-long task list that funnels all your focus? Can you make space for at least one spontaneous connection with another person per day? What if you said hello to your neighbor AND asked them a question rather than your usual hurried greeting?

Take a seat
Notice where you sit on public transit. If there are lots of open seats on the train, experiment with choosing to sit next to a young man of color. Do you tend to avoid sitting near other people, or always try for a spot by the door? Try mixing it up, sitting in the middle, or letting go of the most spacious spot available for a smaller one that still fits you. Notice someone standing up who is older, or who looks like they’ve been on their feet all day? Offer your seat.

When did you become white?
Did your family come over on the Mayflower? If not, your family didn’t start out as white in this country. Irish people weren’t considered white until the mid-1800s. Italians and Jews became white even later. Try Googling, “When did ____ become white?”