“Overcoming Obstacles to Create Community” is an initiative of the Women’s Voices’ Racial Justice Committee. Each month, we’ll provide timely, concrete ideas and suggestions you can include in your daily lives.
August – Be Aware of and Work to Eliminate Systemic Racism
America has been awash in institutional and systemic racism for so many decades that most of us aren’t even aware of it. We were brought up and educated in it so that we think it is “normal.” The most important thing we can do this month—and every month—is notice. Pay attention. And be aware that systems and institutions are created by people. People can change when their hearts and minds are open. Systems will change when people change. Here are some things to work on this month:
- Learn how the white supremacist culture works in housing, education, policing, the criminal justice system, business, transportation, banking, real estate, etc. Look at who benefits, and who loses.
- Talk with others about the ways that institutional and systemic racism is operating in our community. For example, St. Louis has high Black unemployment rates, segregated housing and bias in our courts. Support organizations that are trying to change those systems.
- Begin to look at local, state and national issues through a racial equity lens.
- Work for and vote for the candidates who speak out against hate and support systemic changes to promote racial equality.
- Heed the words of St. Louis Black activist Jamala Rogers, who wrote in a July 2020 column in the St. Louis American: “Knocking down Confederate statues or making changes to Aunt Jemima on the pancake box are symbols of white supremacy. Let’s not get the strategy twisted. Dealing with those symbolic reminders of oppression are important, but they don’t change the real power dynamics in this country….While communities are united in the moment around the need for some kind of police reform, let us center ourselves on a few key guiding principles. We should not support any reforms that consolidate state or corporate power. We should not lend resources or support any policy that harms Black lives. And we should work toward a genuine re-alignment of political and economic power.”