6 Steps Toward Eliminating Racism

Race to End Racism photo of group hugging

The purpose of YWCA Charleston’s Racial Equity & Inclusion Program is to help people understand the causes and impact of racism in hopes to create more positive outcomes for communities of color and to strengthen our community. We do this through programming ranging from Implicit Bias Trainings to our Annual Race to End Racism. This list shares what YOU can do to help eliminate racism and stand up for communities of color.

1. Learn the Vocabulary

To fully address racism, we must understand that it’s not just personal instances of meanness towards people of color.

Racism can be put on three levels: individual, institutional, or structural.

Individual level racism is characterized by personal prejudice, racial slurs, intergroup tension, and is often what people divert to when the word racism is used.

Institutional racism refers to discriminatory practices that occur within various societal institutions such as education, the work place, environment, criminal justice and more.

Structural racism refers to the complex way history, public policies, institutional practices and cultural representation interact to maintain racial hierarchy and inequitable outcomes.

Privilege is a special right, advantage or immunity granted to a particular person or group.

Having privilege allows us to disregard and ignore issues related to marginalize groups because we simply don’t have to think about them. We’ve listed a few instances of privilege.

  • “I am never asked to speak for all people in my race group.”

  • “I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own physical protection.”

  • “When I am told about our national heritage or about ‘civilization,’ I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.”

Microaggressions are everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights snubs, or insults whether intentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.

Microaggressions include phrases like:

  • Saying, “You’re so pretty for a Black Woman.”

  • Mispronouncing or not saying a cultural name because it is “too hard” to pronounce.

  • Asking a ‘foreign’ looking person, “Well, what are you?”

By understanding these definitions and examples, we can understand the importance of personally helping to eliminate racism and to understand that we are all a part of the solution.

2. Take the Harvard Implicit Associations Test

The Harvard Implicit Associations Test (IAT) for Race measures how strongly we associate different skin colors with positive or negative feelings. Participants are shown single pictures of African American or white facial features along with a words that convey a positive or negative connotation. The test will share with you a break-down of your neutral to strong bias for or against a certain group. Only taking around 10 to 15 minutes to complete, the Harvard IAT gives every participant a starting point.

Upon reviewing your results, take some time to reflect upon them. Whether the test finds you to be neutral or strongly biased, there are always things you can do to become a better ally and to unpack your bias.

3. Get acquainted with local organizations

In Charleston, we have excellent organizations that are committed to working against racism and improving the lives of people of color. As each organization fulfills this differently, there are many different ways to contribute. Please follow the links to learn more about these organizations.

4. Know the issues

Systemic racism impacts the lives of people of color daily. Did you know that African American students are twice as likely to be suspend or expelled nationally and locally? Or did you know that when employers compare equally qualified resumes, w