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Ask Dr. J: Subject - Facebook Wars 12/20

Dr. Rogers,

I was at the recent meeting that you hosted for my company on Race and Equity. First, I want to thank you very much for your time, courage and knowledge you presented at this meeting. This matter is something that I've tried doing my own research on in the past few months in depth, however what you presented yesterday was much more impactful than anything I have been able to find on my own. 

There was a lot on my mind during the entire presentation, and it makes it hard to formulate exactly what I want to say. I've found myself asking the same question, "What can I do?" in order to help our community move forward with the issue regarding racial inequality. I found myself getting in small FB "wars" with people that don't share the same beliefs with me on how our system needs to change. Which leads me to feeling defeated, knowing I can't change people's minds. 

I'd love to hear more from you, as to what someone like me, a 27-year-old white woman, can do to assist this issue more. Also, if there is any other articles or informative information that you have/would be able to pass along (books, etc.) I would love to learn more. 

Have a great weekend and thank you for your time!

S.J.

Syracuse, NY

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Dear S.J.,

Thank you for reaching out to me because it forced me to think further about how to address the questions that come up as a result of participating in sessions that challenge thinking about race and racism. You see this is what should happen as a result of businesses engaging in this work. It forces us as community members to ask questions and continue the dialogue. Because this work is a journey…it requires a personal and professional commitment! I will try to respond to you with some tactics. I imagine that there have been few times and places in your life that has asked you to understand, grapple with, and acknowledge race and racism as we are today. So, acknowledging and dealing with the discomfort and other emotions is a real place to start, and explore further. The goal is to not stop here. I encourage you to keep reflecting on and questioning the things that have happened in our history to stifle the conditions of Black Americans.

Turn “what can I do” into “what do I need to learn.”

This is part of your personal development work and educating yourself is the first critical step. It is only through getting informed can you begin to step up and do something more. Knowing racial injustice is one thing. The Black community has been vocal about it for decades. However, addressing it and changing this is going to take folks like yourself learning and understanding more. You can read about Black History, take a class, and equip yourself with the history and knowledge that is often left out of schooling experiences.

As you engage on social media and elsewhere, focus on the work that is going to impact the systems and structures that are affecting historically marginalized people. What we do know is that leveraging your position or status to broaden access to opportunities is among the most critical next steps.

As a 27-year-old white woman, you asked me what you can do.

I encourage you to understand your power and your privilege. Take the time to learn and explore the ways privilege is operating around you and in your life. It will take time and require proactive engagement. In the meantime, keep finding spaces to engage in conversations to build awareness.

 

Sincerely,

Dr. Juhanna Rogers

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