There’s More Work to Do
“For the first 15 years of my work in sustainability, I basically ignored the role of race. I thought ‘Let others do that work. There’s plenty of good I can do without wading into that quagmire.’ As I’ve awakened since, I’ve felt guilt, shame, anger, and helplessness.”
That was my answer to “What is my relationship to White fragility?” a question posed to YES! staff at a Courageous Conversations racial equity training last year.
As my understanding of structural racism and commitment to ending it have grown over the years, I continue to experience guilt (“I’m not doing enough”) and helplessness (“Will it ever be enough?”). Because the more I uncover, the more work there is to do.
The changemaker in me wants to know, “What does success look like, and how will we know when we get there?” If I’m honest, the shadow of that question is, “When can I be done working on this?” I am then reminded, again, that the very fact that I can ask that question exposes the perniciousness of White privilege, because Black people in the United States don’t get to take a break from the torment of racism.
In the three months since our last issue, we’ve witnessed the killing of George Floyd by police and the violent suppression of protests, along with the disproportionate devastation of COVID-19 on communities of color. These events have shattered the delusion of many White people that we can live with racism as normal background noise to our otherwise well-intentioned lives.
Many have come to understand that we simply cannot create a more just, sustainable, and compassionate world until we are fully committed to the work of dismantling institutional racism. In other words, if we believe Black lives matter, we must act now to create a world where that is true.
This magazine issue is meant to give us—through the eyes of Black writers, artists, and photographers—a vision for that world. You can read about economic policies, policing and health initiatives, and reparations and healing that show how to value Black lives. Implementing these policies requires replacing the cultural scaffolding of norms and beliefs that uphold White supremacy as the status quo in our communities, organizations, and governments.
Culture change is a long-term process that requires transformation at every level, from individuals to governments. The only way to do it is to do it! We at YES! promise to be there for you with stories that inspire and inform your own commitment to a world where Black lives matter.
Thank you for all you do,