Elimination of racism is a Win-Win
Today, we recognize the importance of “Eliminating Racial Discrimination.”
Eliminating racism has been an ongoing conversation throughout American history that cannot take place without equity in our laws and communities. The discriminative –social, economic and legal practices in America are rooted in ideological, institutional, interpersonal, and internalized practices. Consequently, when we as African Americans are surrounded by oppression, white washing, white supremacy, and misinformation, our lifestyle, personal growth and professional development suffers. Change requires that we identify, reflect, understand and challenge discrimination not only from a legal standpoint but also from a personal perspective. The on-going institutional practices, and the oppressive behaviors directly influence our individual actions and life decisions. In other words, our lived experiences are influenced by the environment in which we live. Therefore, to do away with racism, it is necessary to address how the effects of racism have touched our lives in general as individuals and collectively as a nation. This means, change must first take place within our minds, hearts and souls.
The Self-Awareness Key
Those committed to denouncing and replacing racism and white supremacy with equity and freedom must first understand how race has impacted our lives as a nation, a people, a community and as an individual. Self-awareness is the first step to eliminate racism in this nation. Conversations to rid America of racism are not new, those current discussions are both radical and inconclusive, but necessary for each of us to equally access the American dream. Until we understand the personal impact of racism historically and how those current lived experiences continue to manifest, race equity discussions will continue to fail. And although we are only responsible for our own actions, self-awareness of race as a social construct is the responsibility of all of us.
The untold parts of our nation’s history address the evolution of race through a cultural and political lens which helps us recognize how our own beliefs and perceptions of others have been shaped.
America Becomes Her Best Self
Our understanding of the ways racism has impacted our individual experiences helps us define how power and oppression has impacted our lives and the lives of those around us. Self-exploration and self-reflection are discovery tools helpful that clearly define racial issues and concerns. Additionally, self-awareness helps us express our thoughts and emotions in ways that encourage others to identify their own bias and oppressive behaviors.
Both professionally and personally, racism is often experienced in the form of microaggressions or implicit bias. These behaviors are tricky to identify and difficult to eradicate because the actions are not always obvious to the person who acts out the behavior or understood by those the behavior is acted against. Ultimately, self-awareness provides understanding of the historical implications (how others see you) and how racism has affected you personally (how you see yourself and others). Self-awareness makes recognizing historical and oppressive behaviors that are not always clear or understood easier to identify.
As an example, some Black people believe because of the color of their skin equal access to the American dream is not within their reach and therefore put minimal effort on achieving financial freedom. In fact, you might hear them say things like “I am afraid of being successful” or “success is too hard.” On the other hand, others believe Black people should not be considered for economic opportunities. They may believe things about Black people like “they are incapable of maintaining economic freedom” or “most don’t work hard enough.” In both cases, awareness of the historical ways misinformation based on race has discouraged economic freedom for some is a perfect reason for change in America.
Readily identifying the patterns and behaviors of your actions and those of others helps shape your narrative and eliminate or minimize microaggressions. Understanding the impact race has on our thoughts and perceptions when racist disputes and disagreements arise has the potential to become a conflict resolution tool helpful to eliminate racism.
We All Benefit
Such discussions are not only good for those who are discriminated against, they are also beneficial for thriving communities and businesses. One example that Nielsen reported, businesses should pay attention to how they treat Black Americans because they:
- Represent a huge customer base with a growing marketplace influence
- Have an increasing buying power growth rate of 114%, compared to an 89% for White Americans
- Are also about 54% younger than the rest of Americans with a median age of 32, compared to the median age of 38 for all other Americans
- Have both younger and older adults spending more time on smartphones and tablets than the total U.S. population
- Using video, audio and social networking apps more often and are more inclined to share their thoughts and concerns on social media
According to the Selig Center for Economic Growth, Black Americans had a buying power of $1.4 trillion in 2019, which was higher than Mexico’s GDP and is expected to grow to 1.8 trillion by 2024.
Companies that attract and cater to Black customers early have the potential to shape a lifetime of shopping patterns and behaviors. This requires businesses to understand the needs and concerns of their African American consumers. Black Americans as consumers should understand and focus on the benefits of self-awareness individually and collectively to combat oppression and discrimination. We must believe Self-Awareness allows us to reframe our words, thoughts and actions into Self-Empowerment outcomes with exponential return with awareness of who we are and our economic worth.
Please join the discussion by adding your comments and concerns.
For Further Reading: