People of Color around the world have been facing the harsh repercussions of racism—and, more recently, systemic racism—for centuries. Minorities groups are often treated as criminals, terrorists, and outcasts due solely to the color of their skin or religious affiliation rather than their individual character.
An impressive uprising has been witnessed in the last few months to protest active and silent racism across the country as well as the entire world. Although this uprising was triggered by years of the tragic mistreatment of People of Color, those who are fighting for the right to be heard and to be equal have recently made some amazing breakthroughs in the systems whereby they have been oppressed for so long. Police systems in America are being reformed and defunded, and more and more people are recognizing the real threat and existence of racism.
To continue these important steps toward helping all People of Color achieve equality and unconditional freedom, check out these simple steps you can follow to support the People of Color in your community.
Systemic racism is a construct that poses disadvantages to African Americans and complicates their ability to participate in society and the economy. Systemic racism is rooted in police systems, housing insecurity, the racial wealth gap, employment, education, incarceration rates, and healthcare. One example of systemic racism in America is that People of Color who live in impoverished neighborhoods have much greater difficulty getting loans because those areas are considered risky to invest in. This issue, known as “redlining,” began in the 20th century and is still ongoing today.
Despite the heaps of evidence witnessed in the last few decades alone, many people deny that systemic racism and white privilege exist. And many people believe discussing these issues only speaks them into existence when they need not be considered actual issues. Unfortunately, systemic racism and white privilege are both very active in the world we live in today. An example of white privilege is a white person being able to walk into a store and not be automatically targeted as a “suspicious” customer. Another example is a white person getting pulled over by a cop for speeding and not being asked to step out of the car for other unknown reasons. When a Person of Color walks into a store or gets pulled over for speeding (or any other reason), they are often racially profiled to a hurtful and even dangerous extent.
The second step to helping People of Color achieve equality and freedom is to become an ally, or a person who is not part of an underrepresented group but takes action to support that group. Being an ally means standing up for these individuals whenever necessary, which includes standing up to family, friends, and others who make racist, stereotypical, or unjustified remarks about People of Color—including those individuals who deny racism and white privilege exist.
This is going to take some courage and some serious determination, as standing up to people you live with or grew up with can be uncomfortable and intimidating. Nevertheless, it is imperative that we do so to fight for unconditional equality for all People of Color.
Another important step is to educate yourself. If you feel unconvinced about the difficulty associated with the minority experience in America, then you likely don’t have a full understanding of the hardships People of Color have had to endure in order to achieve what little freedoms they have in the past few centuries. In order to be an effective and valuable ally to your community, you should be able to support your cause with historical facts and statistics whose legitimacy and weight cannot be disputed by others who are skeptical.
Racial minorities in America include Native Americans, African Americans, Latin and Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islander Americans. All these groups are underrepresented in media and in positions of influence, which is why it’s so important that the majority groups—namely white allies—supplement these individuals’ voices with solid knowledge and conviction at every possible opportunity.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to support the People of Color in your community is to ditch the major retailers and support small business owners. Many immigrants come to America with the dream of running their own successful business, and major chains like Amazon, Walmart, Target, McDonalds, and Kroger threaten the success of those smaller businesses due to their widespread popularity, low prices, and ease of access. One thing we tend to forget is that low prices often equate with poorly paid People of Color working under inhumane conditions in impoverished countries!
Stop giving your business to billionaires who pay their employees extremely low wages, and start supporting local retailers, restaurants, farmer’s markets, and specialty shops owned by People of Color in your community. We can Google “minority-owned businesses near me” just as quickly as we can navigate to Amazon!
One common mistake that people who are not of color make when approaching the issues of racism and oppression is the assumption that all people of all colors process and progress at the same pace. The issue here is that white allies will never endure the hardships that People of Color endure purely due to the color of their skin, and so white allies shouldn’t assume that all People of Color can move forward at any standard pace.
It’s important that we recognize that, especially during times of high-volume police brutality and injustice, People of Color are most emotionally affected, and they must be allowed as much as time as necessary to process their feelings and fears. Minority groups deal with thoughts like “that could’ve been me or my father who was shot and killed by police for just walking down the street in broad daylight,” which is a feeling white allies will never understand.
So, instead of injecting your own opinions about what everyone “needs to do” to move forward as a community, make it known that you’re available to listen to whatever feelings, needs, and fears the People of Color you know and care about are experiencing.
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