When Ali Muldrow said that she was celebrating Juneteenth this year with 100 acts of Black freedom, she asked the White folks in her life to celebrate with 100 acts of truth and reconciliation. Ali said, “Can you be honest enough about racism to address it and take responsibility for it? Because it’s not enough to just stop doing the wrong thing, it is time to start doing the right thing.”
As a White person, I will not celebrate Juneteenth without also committing to action. As a White person, on Juneteenth, I will take on the challenge of 100 acts of truth and reconciliation. I commit to addressing and taking responsibility for racism on Juneteenth and every day.
There is no instruction manual or checklist for this work. No one can tell us how it will look to address our own internalized racism and take responsibility for changing the systems of oppression we benefit from.
Do not ask for a list to be made for you. This is your work. However, I can offer you 100 questions that you can ask yourself as you create and commit to your 100 acts of truth and reconciliation.
If there is something on this list you don’t understand, google it. The act of researching is an act of learning. Take responsibility for your own re-education.
I commit to being radically and uncomfortably honest about my role in addressing racism and taking responsibility for it. Please join me.
100 questions for 100 acts of truth and reconciliation.
- Can you name a time recently when you had a negative bias towards a Black person?
- Have you practiced radical honesty in acknowledging negative biases and found ways to change them? What kind of time and energy have you invested in understanding the impact of negative biases?
- When have you gone along with the group just because it was easier? Can you connect times when you not standing up or disagreeing has created harm?
- Do you understand the difference between intent and impact and why impact matters more?
- When have you caused harm even when your intention was good?
- Can you be honest about a time when you responded to racism with ignorance?
- Can you be honest about a time when you responded to your own racism with defensiveness?
- Can you be honest about a time you excused a friend and their racism?
- Can you be honest about a time you turned away from racism in your workplace?
- Can you be honest about a time when you avoided an opportunity to stand up to racism?
- Can you be honest about a time when you questioned someone’s ability based on the color of their skin?
- Have you gone above and beyond to hire a professional who is Black?
- Have you examined how much money you invest in Black owned businesses?
- How do you determine how much is enough?
- Have you voted for a Black candidate? Have you contributed time, energy, and money to a Black candidate? What do you know about voter suppression and the history of the rights of Black people to vote?
- Have you talked to your friends or family about representation in politics?
- Have you ever had a teacher who was Black? Do you currently pay a teacher who is Black for any of your learning?
- Are you investing in Black women? What does that look like?
- Have you learned from Black leaders about their ask to defund/abolish the police?
- How are you impacted and influenced by the books, podcasts, essays, speeches, words of Black people? How have you changed by changing who you listen to?
- What is your experience being pulled over by the police? What do you understand about police brutality, the history of police, and the privatization of prisons?
- Can you openly talk about your internalized racism with someone you don’t know well?
- How does modeling authenticity become an act of reconciliation?
- How did your parents and family raise you to see racism, your whiteness, and the history of racism within your lineage? Are you willing to forgive your parents?
- Have you committed to taking responsibility to raise your children differently? How are you supporting the youth, listening to them, and learning from them?
- Can you be honest with your children about your own racism and the racism in your family?
- Do you notice and point out racism on TV? In commercials? In the media? How are you challenging that?
- Have you wondered why you are critical of hip hop? Have you examined Black freedom through music and art? How can you support and invest in it more?
- Can you accept that you can’t unlearn everything you’ve learned? What can you re-learn to be less racist?
- Can you be honest about how uncomfortable you are in vulnerable conversations about race? Are you willing to push yourself into growth mode?
- Can you be honest about the sacrifice that is required for change and transformation?
- Can you imagine what the world would look like without racism?
- What are you willing to sacrifice for justice? How will that sacrifice bring a positive impact to you and the world?
- Have you stopped short from digging deeper because it felt too hard? Or you were too tired? Did you allow yourself to rest or did you sit in toxic guilt, avoidance, denial?
- Can you love life and hate racism at the same time? How do you navigate the love of your life with the battle of internalized hate?
- Have you read any personal stories that share the brutality that slaves experienced? Have you read any juicy love stories written by a Black author?
- Have you looked at your own lineage to see how your family history contributed to racism?
- Have you asked your elders to tell you stories about their experience with racism?
- How have you challenged the education system to do better? Who are you advocating for when you support and challenge the school district and educational systems?
- How have you challenged your city, village, county officials to make policy change for Black Lives?
- Can you be honest about the excuses you’ve made for yourself?
- When have you acted as a white savior in your past? What about more recently? How do you respond to white saviorism when you see it?
- Can you be honest about the shame you have experienced as you have noticed your own racism? How do you plan to navigate shame when it comes up again?
- Have you practiced healing from your own past traumas? How do you experience racialized trauma?
- Are you willing to examine the ways the Black Lives Matter movement and environmentalism are linked? Can you support a Black-led environmentalist organization?
- Have you had an honest conversation with anyone about the racist practices in the recruiting, hiring, and interviewing process at any organization, institution, or business you are a part of or have access to? Where and how can you challenge that in your current life?
- Can you be honest about a time when you have thought you have known better about what the Black community needs? How do you reconcile the lie you were told that white is superior?
- Where have you built a community that has resulted in surrounding yourself with more homogeneity than diversity?
- Can you generously compensate Black people for things you usually feel entitled to?
- Can you be honest and name a time you felt entitled to the labor or service (physical, mental, or emotional) of Black people? Are you willing to examine the cost of emotional labor for Black people?
- Can you come up with a list of ways that the Black community is being exploited in your city? In this country?
- Can you come up with a list of ways to counter that exploitation with support and investment?
- How much have you donated to Black-led organizations? How much are you willing to donate on an annual basis? Is it a percentage of your income? Is it a dollar amount? Are you willing to add it as a line item and incorporate it in your financial planning?
- Have you explored the difference between mutual aid and charity?
- Where do you see racism show up in the farming, grocery, and food service industries?
- How do you counter the negative, racist stereotypes of teen moms, single Black moms?
- Can you be honest about your perception or the messages you’ve received about Black fathers?
- Are you willing to confront the connection between white supremacy and productivity and worthiness? What can you do to specifically counter that in your own life?
- Are you willing to practice self-love as an act of revolutionary change?
- Can you see how you not loving yourself impacts your ability to love others?
- How are you willing to learn from and celebrate your mistakes as a form of countering perfectionist culture?
- Can you be honest about your tendency to intellectualize instead of humanize?
- How are you holding yourself accountable to the Black Lives Matter movement?
- How are you holding others accountable to the movement?
- When was the last time someone held you accountable to help you see your blindspots to racism and how did you navigate that?
- Do you owe someone an apology? Are you willing to change your behavior for the apology you need to make or is it an empty apology? How can you commit to changing in collaboration with apologizing?
- Who are the people in your life that have modeled apologies well for you and how have you improved your ability to navigate conflict within your relationships?
- Can you be honest about a time you minimized someone’s experience because accepting it at face value made you uncomfortable with your own whiteness?
- When have you acted out of a need to feel better about your anti-racist work instead of slowing down to examine the complexity of your reactions?
- Where have you seen tokenism in your world?
- Were you raised to be colorblind? Do you understand why that term and ideology is harmful? What are you doing to address the desire that white people have to remain blind to their own racism and whiteness?
- Have you explored the history of your neighborhood and how it fits into the redlining of our cities?
- Are you willing to see the connection of generational wealth to real estate to racism?
- What do you know about banking while Black?
- How are you contributing to racialized capitalism?
- Can you be honest about the messages you have received and bought into about the exploitation of Black women, their bodies, racial fetishism, exoticism?
- How do you idolize and demonize Black people?
- What can you do to counter the idolization and demonization of Black people?
- Have you witnessed the school-to-prison pipeline up close and personal?
- What is one thing you can do today to acknowledge and support Black artists?
- In what ways are you impacted by the poison of racism as a white person?
- How has oppression held you back?
- Can you see a difference in your life experience with toxic guilt vs useful guilt?
- In what way are you willing to call yourself out as a means of acknowledging your own racist behaviors, modeling vulnerability and committing to change?
- What are you willing to risk by speaking and acting for racial justice and against racism?
- Will you choose your truth for racial justice over being polite?
- In what way will you use your voice to eliminate racism and what are you willing to put on the line?
- What will your children say about you when you are gone? Will it include your advocacy and activism for Black Lives?
- Have you hired Black people expecting to get cheap labor?
- Can you list areas in your life where you have the power to change or influence policies, rules, regulations, practices, and processes to make them anti-racist?
- What does it look like to make reparations?
- Where do you see racial disparities in the education system?
- When has your resistance to see racism made you deny it because seeing it would be too disruptive?
- When have you allowed yourself to see racism in a way that fully disrupted your life?
- How have you consumed, used, or stolen Black culture as your own?
- Are you willing to challenge your capacity to lean in and become a critical thinker and a more loving human being in an effort to eliminate racism?
- How much do you know about the history of the Great Migration? Black Wall Street? Mass incarceration as the new slavery?
- How have you examined your white fragility and built your racial resilience?
- Where has/does binary thinking create a barrier to your growth in your anti-racism work?
- What questions am I missing to practice truth and reconciliation as I take responsibility for racism and acknowledge it in me, around me, and in the systems, I partake in?
And the questions keep coming.
I’m aware that there is much that I don’t know and I wonder what I’m missing.
I wonder and I inquire.
I wonder and I learn.
I wonder and share.
That curiosity, when I allow myself to be honest with myself, encourages deeper exploration and the strongest desire to be more active in the revolution.