We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.Writer, political activist and Holocaust survivor
Over the last 20 days, we have learned how inequities permeate our communities on individual, institutional and systemic levels. We are all impacted by the system of racism and inequity in our country and therefore all, but particularly those with power, are responsible for dismantling the structures that allow it to persist. Power refers to the ability of individuals or groups to exert influence and control over others based on their race, ethnicity or social status, which underscores how important it is for power to be ceded to dispossessed groups.
Today, as we wrap up the 2023 Equity Challenge, we need to bring the focus back to race. The United States operates from a racist foundation that systematically oppresses people who are not part of the dominant group (historically white, male, straight, land- owning, etc.). All work to maintain and protect the system of white supremacy. To work toward equity and justice across all forms of oppression (racism, sexism, ableism, religious persecution, heterosexism, ageism, anti-Semitism and more) we must center race because white supremacy benefits from and expects our silence.
With all this at our center, it’s important to remember that to truly work toward a more just and equitable world, it requires white people and others in power to engage in actionable steps to undo their personal behavior that maintains white supremacy. Anti-Racism Daily notes that “When we work, open a bank account, cast a ballot, form a family, shop — we are all engaging with inequitable, exclusionary or oppressive institutions. This doesn’t mean that every person is racist. Instead, racial inequities are so seamlessly embedded in and produced by our everyday lives that it’s become routine. Racism is the default.”
Being an ally is not an identity — it is an action. It is an active and consistent practice of using power and privilege to achieve equity, inclusion and justice while holding ourselves accountable to the needs of dispossessed people. Today’s challenge invites us to learn more about the work of antiracism and how we can become allies (and even better—accomplices) in the fight for equity and justice.