Anti-Racism and the Teamwork of Empowerment

I’m not an expert on anti-racism, let me make that clear. Have I unwittingly contributed to structural racism? Much to my dismay, I have to say that yes, I absolutely have. It’s not something I’m proud of and it’s entirely possible that I may fall far from perfect in the future. But what I can decide in this moment is to make an effort to do better moving forward. I think that’s all that is being asked of any of us. 

What I do consider myself an expert on, is helping clients get through the traumatic experience of having been disempowered in some way. It’s no secret that life entails any degree of suffering for anyone at any given time. But for those who experience oppression it just adds an extra layer to the struggle and for some that’s a 400-year-old layer that’s much too heavy to be lifted alone. As has been pointed out time and again, racism is about power. And while so many of us have been given the message that you should simply pull yourself up by your bootstraps and move on, we also have to acknowledge that it’s impossible to pull yourself up if you’re literally being pinned to the ground. All of us are being called on at this moment to help lift the burden. That’s what anti-racism is, at least to me.

You don’t have to do it alone, you don’t even have to be a star player. You just contribute to the greater cause. That’s it. And there are so many ways to do that. No need to protest if that’s not your thing. You can contribute from the comfort of your own home. You decide what role to play in whatever way is right for you. 

And what do you gain by taking action? You gain a team, for one. There’s intersectionality – for any of the issues that you currently struggle with, I can pretty much guarantee that there are people on the anti-racism team who are struggling with the same thing and who may be equally likely to show up in support of your cause. Sure, there’s an element of trust to that, there are no guarantees. And it’s also true that you may not entirely agree with or even like every single person on the team. Aren’t all teams like that? But there is a sense of confidence and pride to be gained by knowing that you are using what power you do have, to help empower those most in need. 

As for resources on how to engage, I’ll leave that to the experts: Scaffolded Anti-Racist Resources and White Friends & Anti-Racism.

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Copyright 2020 ©  Rachel Braun, All rights reserved.
Rachel Braun, ATR-BC, LPC  Art Therapist Philadelphia, PA
Specializing in anxiety, depression and eating disorders.