Paul C. Gorski, founder of the Equity Literacy Initiative (equityliteracy.org) recently shared these tips on his Facebook page:
According to activists of color I interviewed for a study on burnout in racial justice activists, white activists must prepare themselves better before attempting to engage in racial justice movements and organizations or they risk slowing movement progress and contributing to the burnout of activists of color. This preparation should include:
(1) doing deeper self-work, examining their privilege, their fragility, and the gaps in their understandings of structural racism more thoroughly before carrying them into racial justice movements;
(2) being willing to defer to activists of color and movement leaders of color, especially in cases in which the lived experience of being targeted by racism is central to the cultivation of movement strategies and goals (which is virtually all cases);
(3) prioritizing movement goals over their own needs for validation from activists of color and recognition;
(4) policing one another around concerns related to credit- and spotlight-grabbing behaviors (such as coopting the ideas of activists of color) so that activists of color do not need to expend energy doing so; and
(5) stepping up and making themselves vulnerable to the cause rather than behaving as though simply being present at meetings and awareness-raising opportunities is “activism,” remembering that activists of color are vulnerable by virtue of being activists of color.
Watch for an article soon in which Noura Erakat and Paul explore all of this in more detail and then a future article at some point more generally about the impact of white activists on activists of color.