- An asymmetrical power relationship is entrenched when dominant responses to racial crisis are reactive and charity-oriented.
- Social media posting and making donations can alleviate short term crisis. But, these behaviors can fall into simply “helping” those affected by anti-Black racism, and does not address the root causes.
- How much of my personal power am I holding onto?
- Where are my growth areas for learning?
- What is challenging me to deepen my actions for justice?
- Dominant behaviors that “open a seat at the table” or “invite people to the dance” can increase representation and challenge homogeneity in a space.
- However, these actions need to also address issues of power in the space. For example, phrases such as “culture fit,” and “unprofessional,” can reveal an expectation for those harmed by anti-Black racism to do the work of shape-shifting to succeed/survive.
- How am I differentiating between impact versus intent?
- Could I be reproducing the idea that simply hiring or educating will solve the issue of racism?
- Could my actions be characterized as tokenistic or authentic?
- Dominant behaviors that fight oppression and domination look different for each person and their context.
- Dominant behaviors can be described as pro-actively making the existing system more fair with people, rather than for, or on people.
- How is power operating?
- Who talks, who listens, and who makes decisions?
- How can I more consistently practice reflection and action for justice?
- These dominant behaviors can be characterized as collectively creating new structures, as well as re-imagined ways of being and doing that serve everybody.
- Dominant behaviors that transform power, including shared ownership, participatory processes, and collective imagination lead to structural, rather than functional change.
- How am I working from people in our struggle for self-sufficiency?
- How might my fear of realizing a new world inhibit me from taking action?
- What would it mean release identities of domination?
The Responses to Racial Injustice Model recognizes that each context is different. Therefore, we may adopt all, or some of the response types depending on the need. The model challenges us to think about, and work to shift our dominant responses to achieve actual, systemic change.
- How might our current actions be maintaining functional change?
- How can we face our fear?
Crossing the threshold of justice is more complex than simply donating, hiring, or volunteering. Crossing the threshold involves challenging power through working for structural change. Working for structural change, especially change that dismantles and builds new structures of power, involves high personal cost.
As a result, it is best done with and from people. Collectively, we can name our fears, challenge our participation in power, and humanize our spaces.
Arthur Ashe: Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can