Racism is a Public Health Issue
While I’ve been listening to and learning from Black voices more since joining Instagram a few years ago, I admit that it rarely translated into consistent action. Despite my education in public health—which illuminated the correlations between privilege, race, and health outcomes—it took a much deeper dive into the nuances of white fragility, white body supremacy, and racialized trauma to see how I’ve been unwittingly contributing to the epidemic of racism in this country. Not being racist did not make me antiracist. And I’m learning there is a big difference.
So I’ll be diving deep with more intentionality from now on, because antiracism work is not something to binge on now and abandon later. It’s a healthy lifestyle that we must adopt for the duration. When we choose this lifestyle with our words, our thoughts, and our actions, we invest in the systems that support Black lives and divest in the systems that uphold racism. And we must choose this lifestyle again and again and again.
In January of this year, I wrote a piece for The Brick Magazine titled Our Collective Health. As I look back on it now, I’m inspired to keep going in the directions I suggested, AND I’m aware of a critical sentiment I fail to mention in the article. I talk about privilege, but what I don’t explicitly say is this: racism is a public health issue. I’m realizing that an antiracist lifestyle must be an integral part of my work if I am to fulfill my aim of catalyzing revolutionary healing for all women. If it’s not clear for you why this is true, then those resources I offer above are even more critical to access and learn from.
What Will You Do?
I’m learning alongside you what it means to be actively antiracist, and I’m making mistakes that I must correct as I go. And, I’ll keep going, because that is how we become better and do better as co-conspirators. We must make the internal shifts that support our external actions; performance activism doesn’t cut it. We (white men and women) must go deep and shift our long-held, often unconscious, beliefs and narratives that uphold white body supremacy. This is good for public and personal health.
So, pick one thing to read or do each day, each week, each month. Practice growing in your self-awareness so you can see your beliefs, biases, and patterns more clearly. Find out where there is need and check in with yourself about where your skills, resources, and passion align with those needs. Go there. As with healing, there is no right way. You don’t have to do it all. But we all must do something.