7 Ways to be Actively Anti-Racist (Part 2) – by Michelle O’Higgins

This is part 2 of ways that we can make anti-racist action a part of our everyday routines, looking much closer to home to see what changes can be made right here.

If you haven’t already, please check out part 1 here. For clarity and emphasis I have underlined key terminology in grey that might require further reading. These are words that are important we incorporate into our everyday vocabularies.  

4. Use Your Influence
Whether you’ve got 10 or 10k followers on Instagram, a Facebook page, mailing list or website – you’ve got an audience, and that makes you an influencer. So how can you promote black and minority businesses using your own platform or network?

Amplify Under-represented Voices

  • Shout out black and minority business owners and professionals.
  • Host takeovers by black artists / creators / speakers / performers on your page.
  • Host collaborative live streams.

Basically anything that hands over the mic. Allyship is about taking on a struggle as if it was your own, without making it about you.

Share Resources

  • Recommend books/films that educate on the topic
    Repost infographics and blog posts.
  • Share links to petitions.
  • Share links to charities that need donations.

And if you’re worried about this kind of online presence not being ‘on brand’ or that you’ll lose followers / customers because of it, ask yourself: what kind of brand did I have in the first place? Get up to date or get left behind.

5. Diversify Your Media

Equally, are the people you connect with online using their platform to make space for under-represented voices? Are there brands, accounts or individuals that you have noticed staying suspiciously quiet about BLM? And if that’s you, it’s time to up your game.

Surround yourself, both online and offline, by people who are engaged in conversations about race. Encourage your friends and family to get involved too.

  • When you’re on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn, are the majority of the faces you see white?
  • Make an effort to follow BIPOC content creators and then actively engage with their platforms.
  • Like their posts, buy their merch, watch their live streams and most importantly listen to the experiences of under-represented people.
  • An easy way to diversify your feed is by following hashtags. Just search #blm or #blacklives #blackartists #blackbusinesses and it’s all there.

6. Look Critically at Your Workplace or Business

Years of ‘hiring the best person for the job’ has left some of the most important work of diversifying the workplace yet to be done. This is a whole blog post in itself, so I would recommend further reading around the subject. But here are some immediate points of action:

  • Look around you. Who holds positions of authority? If there are BIPOC in your workplace, are they in junior or senior positions? Permanent or part-time?
  • Ask yourself, who as a business are we serving? If the answer to this question is a predominantly white audience, you can have as diverse a team as you like, as progressive a mission statement as you want, but at the end of the day you are still a business for white people and communities.
  • Ask yourself “am I okay with this?” If the answer is yes, go back to step 1. If the answer is no, there’s work to do. Make that change even if it involves an uncomfortable conversation or email (if you don’t know what to say, go back to step 1) to pressure on management. If you are the management, maybe an apology is due! Own up to the fact that you haven ’t done enough to make diversity more than a buzzword up until now.
  • Now commit to that change. If diversity and decolonisation is actually important to your business or workplace, put actual money, time and resources towards it. Don’t let this this become another token* gesture towards diversity.
  • Do it and don’t expect praise. White people aren’t the heroes of this story.

Whatever you do, don’t leave it up to the BIPOC to be the only voice of racial diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It is everyone’s responsibility.

*Tokenism is when businesses, brands or individuals diversify to virtue signal or simply to ‘look diverse’, but when you look a little bit closer you see that this was a one time thing and they have made no other effort to prioritise diversity. To avoid tokenism and virtue signalling in your own activism, make sure you have detached your ego from your efforts. Would you still do it even if no one knew you had done it?

7. Donate

Putting money into places that educate people on racism, empower and support ethic minority groups is one of the biggest you can do right now.
Here are some places that you could donate to:

  • Activist organisations
  • Scholarship programmes.
  • Community projects
  • Bail Funds for protesters
  • Victim memorial funds
  • Youth group organisations
  • Policy reform organisations
  • Police reform organisations
  • Black LGBTQ+ funds.

There are no shortage of places that need funds. So again, do your research to find the organisations that you align with and want to financially support. Partner up with these organisations, host events together, collaborate on fundraisers, invite them to do a live stream on your page, promote them, and donate out of your own pocket if you can. Put your money where your mouth is and commit to distributing your wealth and privilege.

To conclude

You might have read this and wondered, why should you listen to me? And in asking that you would be correct. As a white, middle class person myself, I am certainly not the one you should be listening to right now.

Up until a few months ago, I had barely questioned why all my professors were white, why talking about race had been taboo at the dinner table or why there were huge gaps in my school curriculum. When I realised how much catching up I had to do, I felt guilty that it had taken me this long.

But it’s necessary that we get over our guilt very quickly, because sitting on these feeling will not change anything. Only our actions will make change.

And although this article has been about anti-racism in everyday habits, that’s not to ignore the importance of our activism going to greater lengths. Emailing your mp’s, going to protests, writing to companies, educating others, hostings events are all ways to take our antiracist action further.

So to sum it up:  Learn. Process your feelings privately. Then do something about it.

And then do it again.

Continued from part 1

Michelle O’Higgins

Please feel free to send any questions, comments or critique by email.