Learning and Unlearning: My Experience In an Anti-Racism Accountability Group

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women discussing racismFor the past five months, I’ve participated in an anti-racism accountability group every Monday night. Yes, it is what it sounds like…a group of white people who get together on Zoom and talk about racism. So how did I get involved? A friend of mine had put a message out on her social media pages asking if there would be anyone interested in joining a group to hold each other accountable as we make our way through anti-racism work, and I quickly agreed. 

George Floyd’s death sparked a social justice movement that was long overdue. People are finally speaking out against racism and police brutality, addressing white privilege and systemic issues, and having difficult conversations with friends and family. For many, it’s the first time they’ve been vocal about these topics. I am one of these people. When I decide to do something, I usually go 100% into it and this undertaking was no different. I ordered all the books, listened to all the podcasts, and attended all the virtual events I could find. I was ready to combat any racist Facebook troll I came up against and I was prepared to unfriend those who disagreed with the movement.

When the accountability group started I was a little nervous because I didn’t know anyone else in the group. The woman who started the group was my friend through Instagram, so we had never met in person. [Some advice for you: get yourself some Instagram friends…you won’t regret it.] That first Monday rolled around and I asked myself, “Am I really about to meet with a group of people I didn’t know and talk about racism?” In life, we have to get out of our comfort zones and sit in uncomfortable spaces. This is exactly where the learning happens. So I embraced it. Once we began meeting, I learned quickly that these were my people. We’re all so different, but we all have the same goals: learn to be better human beings and fight racism in our communities. We were all at different points on our journey. Like me, some people were just starting out, while others had been doing this work for years. New people continue to join the group, and some don’t know where to start. No matter what, we all meet each other without judgment and come ready to talk. We each give an update on what we’re doing, and bring up things we’re struggling with. Sometimes we meet for 20 minutes, and sometimes we find ourselves having to cut the conversation short after an hour goes by. Over time, we’ve become very close and the group has had a real, positive impact on my life.

“In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist” -Angela Davis

For me, this group has become much more than a place to talk about racism. I’m not only held accountable for doing the work, but I’ve learned so much about myself in the process. I’ve learned to pause and listen to others. I understand that I’m going to make mistakes, and that’s OK. I’ve made new friends (yes, you can do this as an adult!), and most importantly, I’ve learned that although I am making progress, I don’t have all the answers. I’m not going to save the world.

The work of anti-racism is constant. I’m in it for the long haul and I’m committed to doing what it takes. This work is more than reading books and posting a black square on Instagram. It is continuous learning, unlearning, and changing the way I think. I have to hold myself accountable when I make a mistake, recognize my own faults, and be prepared to call out the people around me.

I want to challenge you to reflect on your own life. How are YOU being actively anti-racist? If you are struggling with what this means or you can’t think of anything, you might want to dig in a little deeper. This work is necessary and so very important. If you need help, maybe you could join or start your own accountability group! 

Here are some good places to start:

Books:
Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Podcasts:
NPR’s Code Switch
Pod Save The People
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Blair is a wife to Rodney and mommy to Kyus (2016). She grew up in Red Wing and has lived in Rochester for 15 years. Blair works full-time at the Mayo Clinic as a Psychometrist (she tests people’s thinking). She finds mental health and psychology extremely interesting and loves learning about wellness. In her spare time Blair likes to do all things relaxing. This includes, but is not limited to: napping, going for walks, taking baths, and watching reality television. On the weekends you can find her thrift shopping, and attending fun events around town with her family of 3. Blair loves to make people laugh with her sarcastic and blunt personality, and she doesn’t take life too seriously.