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Racism: Response & Responsibility

You may have heard the phrase, “it’s not my fault, but it’s my responsibility.” In a day and a time when it is easy to pass blame around, it is easier to let that stop with you by taking responsibility for your part in a situation. That is, until it is not easy.

For the purpose of this post, I will not attempt to unpack racism in such a truncated format. It wouldn’t be fair. It wouldn’t do it justice. If there is anything that the topic of racism in America deserves, it is justice.

However, I want to address the commonly asked question that often follows highly publicized acts of racism, particularly those caught on camera: “what can I do?”

As people, we are taught that a response is an excitation of impulse caused by a change or event (mind), the physical reaction to a specific stimulus or situation (body). While, by definition, responsibility is a duty to deal with something, “the opportunity or ability to act independently and make decisions.”

At its core, racism exists first as a belief, a thought. Those thoughts inform feelings of fear, anger, insecurity, distrust, and those feelings directly influence action. Every action is rooted in a belief or a thought.

Whether or not you believe racism exists based on your own set of experiences, or whether you are surprised by how prevalent it may appear in isolated incidents, know this: your experiences often happen in a vacuum, but your existence does not.

A response to racism is our shared responsibility and is proactive in nature. Contrary to a reaction, which is simply a response incited by a preceding event or situation, we have an obligation to actively cultivate spaces that encourage diversity, inclusion, and equity. Take the opportunity to act independently and make decisions that will help prevent the next hashtag followed by a black man’s name. We cannot continue to wait for the next event to infer our reaction. By being responsive, we can drive forward the actions necessary to pull racism at its root: in our hearts and minds first.


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