EARTH DAY, an annual event which began on April 22, 1970, will be celebrated next week. It is a day to celebrate the planet’s environment, and raise public awareness about pollution and climate change. We have been warned of climate change and the effects are now upon us with heat waves, fires, flooding, and droughts.
In protecting the earth, it is important for every person to examine their carbon footprint. What is a carbon footprint? Your carbon footprint is the total amount of CO2 and methane gas you release into the environment by consuming energy. Everyone can contribute to reducing climate change by reducing their carbon footprint and adopting a personal sustainability practice. You can practice sustainability and reduce your carbon footprint by eating less (or no) meat, driving less, eating locally grown food, and by reducing, reusing and recycling.
Lately I have been thinking about how similar this is to developing an anti-racism practice. Once you are aware that racism exists in the United States and throughout the world, then you will understand the importance of personal responsibility, protecting black lives and developing an anti-racism practice. It is not enough to acknowledge that racism exists, one must actively work to dismantle racism. Racism is woven into the fabric of our country, we are all living and operating within a deeply racist society.
To dismantle racism, it is important for every person to examine their “racism footprint.” What is a “racism footprint?” Your “racism footprint” is your conscious or unconscious, implicit, racial biases. Racial bias is a belief. Racism is what happens when that belief becomes an action.
*Here are 7 WAYS to Reduce Your “Racism Footprint”:
1. Identify your racial biases and prejudice if/when they arise.
2. Speak up when you hear racial slurs or remarks that indicate racial bias or prejudice.
3. Educate yourself about the history, life, and culture of people of color. Listen closely to the experiences of people of color.
4. As a parent, expose your children to diverse cultures and traditions. Provide opportunities for them to experience festivals and museums celebrating different groups of people.
5. Improve your workplace by promoting racial justice and equity. Actively recruit and hire a racially and ethnically diverse staff, board members, executives and managers. Talk to people of color and ask them what barriers they face at work.
6. In your school, recognize holidays and events relating to a variety of cultural and ethnic groups. Include anti-racism education in the curriculum.
7. Welcome your neighbors regardless of what they look like, with “safe zone” signs or by talking to them.
Commit to an anti-racism practice AND promote the importance so that more people are aware of the critical actions we need to take to dismantle racism.
Protecting our planet, black lives and dismantling racism are critical work for our world. Every person must do their part to create positive change and dismantle racism. However, it will also take a commitment from corporations and lawmakers to create lasting, sustainable change at the individual, institutional and community levels.
We can work together to build a mindful, healthy and inclusive society, that values diversity.