As an Asian-American who grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I’ve had my fair share of microaggressions (and unfortunately, still experience them as an adult in New Orleans). It’s off-putting when I’m going about my business, enjoying life and then hearing:
- “What are you?” [a human? A mom? American?] “No, what ARE you?”
- “Your English is so good! No accent at all. How is that possible?” [Heard in New Orleans in 2017]
There are too many times to count where my appearance can lead to snap judgements or inappropriate comments. Even though I’ve experienced racism firsthand, the issue at hand is about Black lives. With the current (much-needed) uproar as people protest the injustice against Black lives, it’s time to do more than be neutral. As the historian Howard Zinn tells us, “To be neutral, to be passive in a situation is to collaborate with whatever is going on.” I’ve known this statement in my gut to be true, I’ve taught these words to my children, but when I reflected on what I’ve done to become anti-racist, I haven’t done nearly enough (great resource here as well).
As a goal-setting consultant, I wanted to set tangible goals the same way that I’ve pushed my clients to set SMAART goals in their mission-driven organizations. It was important for me to set these goals both professionally and personally as a way to hold myself accountable:
Professional growth: Empower for Good’s pro-bono consulting and coaching.
- Recently, I had a client tell me that my strategy work as their consultant and partner had huge impacts on their charter school, which serves predominantly underserved communities of color. That really stuck with me and inspired my first SMART goal to provide pro-bono support to two local nonprofits organizations that are led by Black leaders and serve local, Black communities. I’m thrilled to partner with two amazing organizations: the Historic Faubourg Treme Association (HFTA) and Knowing your Destiny (KYD). I found these organizations by leveraging my networks: I met the leaders of HFTA on a anti-Nyx Facebook page and was connected to KYD through the amazing nonprofit incubator, Propeller. If you are interested in providing this type of work, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can brainstorm together!
- Educating my kids – books and discussions: The week after George Floyd’s death, I went on full Tiger Mom mode to make sure my kids became anti-racist. In one week, I read amazing books (such as Henry’s Freedom Box and Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice) to teach my kids about slavery, segregation and racism. I admit, for my 6-year old daughter, it was too much in a short amount of time. We are here for the marathon and not a sprint and so I’ve created my second goal to read at least 1 book (focused on anti-racism) each week to my kids and foster a discussion about why the book’s lessons are important.
- Educating my kids – protests: A couple of weeks ago, I saw an older white couple standing in my neighborhood holding up Black Lives Matters signs. It struck me as so simple and profound – as Americans, we don’t need to wait for formal protests to voice our opinions. I took my kids with a couple of other families to protest for racial equity in early June and we’ve had 3 protests since then with groups up to 25 (while wearing masks and socially distanced!). It is so exciting to see kids get excited about changing the future. These protests have taught our kids the importance of standing up for others, the meaning of solidarity and why it’s important. My third goal is to organize our kid friendly protests at least twice a month. (New Orleans friends, send a text to 81010 with the message @kidprot if you’d like to join us!)
- Petition and Donations – It can be overwhelming to know how to help; my friend shared this helpful link with me which makes it super easy to learn and get involved. This resource inspired my fourth goal is to sign at least 1 petition and donate at least once a month.
By setting clear goals, I can bring myself one step closer to becoming anti-racist. Racism is an ugly, complex, multifaceted beast that branches beyond race (to gender, culture, sexual preference/orientation, etc.) and we need many hands on deck to make real change. As I mentioned before, we are here for the marathon and not the sprint, so I’ll be evaluating and re-setting my goals on a quarterly basis.
Friends, thank you for your inspiration and please hold me accountable to my goals. I’d love to hear your goals and please continue to share your resources!