Many of us have expanded our reading on race and diversity this year, and made a strong effort to learn how to be an ally to a number of different minority groups. It is important to realize that this work is not over after you’ve closed the book or shut off the podcast; our learnings are only valuable if we take them with us into our everyday lives. By being more aware of how we engage with others who may not look, think or act like us, we can work towards a better understanding of how to bridge gaps, bringing us all closer to a more inclusive society. Ready to take another step? Here’s a 3-step self-evaluation, plus a few recommendations of what to do next.
Look at Where You’ve Been
Actively reassess your past. Think of the people who taught you, inspired you and shaped the way you viewed the world. Why do you have your current opinions? Where did you learn them? Who or what built your perceptions?
- Take 15 minutes to journal your thoughts about where you came from, what your background is, and what you experienced while growing up. Use this foundation to help you understand how your past has informed your present views.
- Learn about (and quiz yourself on) unconscious bias and ways to combat it. We recommend reading Biased by Jennifer L Eberhardt and listening to this podcast episode on NPR’s Ted Radio Hour by Yassmin Abdel-Magied.
- Have conversations with family, friends or colleagues about your individual biases and differences. It can be helpful to identify where shared experiences might have led to similarities in thinking (particularly among family members) and to address those biases with someone who is close to you.
Look at Where You Are
Think about your friend groups. The more people you experience, the more you learn about yourself and the world. If you’re only experiencing one type of person (not only race or ethnicity, but also economic background, political beliefs and religions), that becomes “the norm.” It’s easy to say you should diversify your community — but where does one start?
- The internet is a logical place to grow your circle, as you won’t be limited to geography. Think about interests you have already — if you love reading, join an online book club that focuses on diversity or if you’re a food fan, join a Facebook cooking group that celebrates a specific culture and engage with the people there.
- Experience the world outside of your comfort zone and expose yourself to various types of people. Travel to a neighborhood you’ve never been to or shop at a different grocery store — even your day-to-day errands can become opportunities.
It is well documented that entertainment, such as TV, books and movies, shape our perceptions. What are you watching right now? Are you consuming media from different parts of the world? Is it created by people who look and talk like you?
- Watch a TV show or movie that centers on a culture different from your own. Here are the top foreign movies and TV shows on Netflix.
- Read articles from across the globe to learn about current events that don’t make your local front page (BBC News World, Associated Press International News, Reuters World News are just a few places to start).
- Diversify your bookshelf by making sure that you are actively including BIPOC authors, female authors, LGBTQIA authors and international authors. Love a bucket list item? This 200-book list was made for you.
Look at Where You Are Going
The goal of looking at your past and present is to affect your future. Create an action plan to ensure that the steps you’re taking toward inclusivity really stick.
- Make a commitment to yourself and set up periodic check-ins to remind yourself of the importance of inclusivity. If needed, repeat the first step (look at where you have been) and remember that unlearning bias is an ongoing process that we need to be actively engaged in.
- Encourage accountability by inviting other people to join your journey towards inclusivity. Start a book club with your colleagues or schedule a weekly movie night with your friends.
- Journal about the kind of world you want to see in the upcoming years. Think about how your choice to seek inclusivity is going to positively impact your current and future relationships.
Illustrations by Kayla Moffatt