This week we wrapped up a 30 Day Racial Equity Challenge at ERUUF. The purpose was to create a compassionate and supportive learning space where White people could lean into our sometimes deep discomfort as we begin to recognize and dismantle racism within ourselves and our institutions.
Over 100 participants and facilitators engaged in one daily learning activity every day for 30 days in July. We also met together on five Wednesday evenings for large group sharing and learning, and then in smaller breakout groups for more in-depth conversation.
We practiced what we’d been taught by our trainers and coaches from dRWorks—that we can’t just think racism away. Racism is woven into every law, every policy, and upholds every disparity in our culture. But to really get at this, first, we have to be able to recognize our emotions and the sensations within our body. As we listen to our bodies we begin to experience and understand how racism is actually part of everything that holds our culture together.
This 30 Day REI Challenge was intended as an introduction, and of course, racism isn’t “solved” or “fixed” even by taking even an advanced course. But we don’t have to wait, because racism is dismantled every time we acknowledge information from our whole self, and use it to make choices to break the silent, invisible (to White people) rules of our culture. And instead, choose to act in ways that are equitable and inclusive.
It sounds simple, and it is. It’s also exhausting, and at times it can be terrifying to “dismantle” the reality that holds up your whole world. There are good reasons why Indigenous cultures have shamans to guide people as they do exactly this. But we do this because we’re called by Life itself, by the power of love, by the force some call God, by the future our grandchildren will inherit, by ongoing force of history—by something bigger than we are that is inescapable.
The good news is that as we do this there’s no need to escape or flee. There’s no shame, no canceling, and no one has to get off the island. Instead, we just need to fully inhabit our whole life, our whole self, and acknowledge the full, whole selves and human rights of all the people around us.
There are some wonderful programs coming in the next few months at ERUUF and I hope you’ll check them out and find a way to participate. Or if you like direct action, you can phone bank with You Can Vote or find another way to support voting rights. Or work for the environment, or for equity in education, or on anti-poverty with the Poor Peoples Campaign—all these things are part of the work of dismantling racism. And if you weren’t able to do this in July we plan to offer the 30 Day REI Challenge in the future, so stay tuned for that as well.