I want to be extremely specific in helping white people address their persistent itch to improve conditions for our black children. The traditional methods of doing a little community service work to uplift the downtrodden, has not been effective. There are still those who fail to see children who do not look like their children as human children. If this approach had worked, we would not be having this conversation.
I want white folks to use their position as a partner, parent, daughter, son, neighbor, employee, members of our communities, families, or circle of friends to lead other white folk folks, to focus on themselves and their unconscious bias. Help them move from humane to human. When planning and thinking of health care for your children, often majority-culture children are the focus. Plan and think of minority-culture children in a human way rather than simply a humane way.
Here are some examples of activities that are more sustainable and helpful than just donating money or a few hours of volunteer work per week. I want you to lead. Yes… lead.
- Please trust that the precious few can accomplish all things needed. There will be plenty of time to include family and financial and resource supports when your foundation and vision is clear.
- Consult. Yes, pay a local diversity and inclusion expert. They exist and have spent many years working to develop knowledge of others in communities and the private sector. You can interview professionals who are often found on faculty at your local university. Talk to them about how you want to be supported in developing a sustainable plan to positively affect unconscious bias in the health care system in your community.
- You will need the usual suspects on your team. Scout out like-minded people from the legal, accounting, medical and mental health, and education fields, and clergy from all religious communities. Oh yeah—do not forget the lowest level politician possible.
- Become embedded in your local public health systems, but refrain from becoming leaders in low-income communities or board members in local hospitals. Instead, support the existing leadership to do more. Actively call out bias and help that one local system make a systemic change. Done in enough communities, it will create a groundswell that will affect the national system.
- Recognize that you are qualified to hold leadership positions in your community and lead your peers to a position of support for communities of color.
Even though you may feel you know what is best for others, please stick to what is best for your community.
The “front line” is made up of the people in neighborhood clinics and small hospitals who care for people of color daily. They are the nurses, doctors, technicians, social workers, counselors, clergy, administrators, custodial staff, nutritionist, dieticians, the numerous volunteers and more. Most are qualified, licensed, highly educated health care professionals who have chosen to work with people who have limited access to quality health care. They have chosen to work in an environment with limited resources, challenging accessibility, and often in a community that offers limited personal safety. You are not and will not be the front line, even if you push your way to a more visible position. If you find that you are now in charge, you just lost your true power and the true front line’s respect. If this does happen, be humbled and consider an appropriate replacement. Step down and get back to your true area of strength.
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