Recent events have brought racism and other forms of discrimination to the top of our newsfeeds and the forefront of our attention. As a result, you may be wondering, “What can I do to fight discrimination and create a more socially just world?” It can feel overwhelming. After all, you’re just one person. But there are simple ways that even one person can support social justice and fight discrimination:
Examine Your Beliefs
What messages did you hear growing up about people of other colors or cultures? Was your neighborhood or school made up of people from many backgrounds, or was it predominantly one color? Did you have many or limited experiences with people of different heritages? The messages—spoken and unspoken—that we grow up with can have an impact on how we think about discrimination and social justice today. Instead of taking those thoughts for granted, examine your beliefs carefully. Do you have any underlying misconceptions or biases that need to be changed?
Learn about the history of others, their culture, heritage, and the issues facing them today. Doing so can help you to better understand why certain actions or expressions might be hurtful to others, and give you a great appreciation for their experiences.
Stand Up and Speak Out
As you learn to recognize discrimination and racism in your own culture, try to share what you’ve learned with others. In many cases, this simply means helping others to examine their own beliefs and thought processes about race and culture. Be respectful when doing this—it’s usually not helpful to call someone out as being “racist” or “prejudiced” as it leads them to be defensive instead of opening up a conversation. Instead, say something like, “I don’t understand that joke. Could you explain it to me?” Or, “You know, I recently heard the history of that expression and I’ve decided not to use it anymore.”
Get to Know Others
One of the most powerful things you can do to support social justice is to expand your circle and get to know people of other colors, backgrounds, and beliefs. Go out of your way to make friends with someone that perhaps you wouldn’t normally, or visit a part of town that has a different ethnic mix than your own neighborhood. Getting to know people as individuals helps you fight the “us-versus-them” mentality and promote unity.
Creating a more socially just society requires each individual to examine their beliefs and be open to getting to know others and learning from their experiences. As you do these things, you can fight discrimination, support social justice, and create a better world starting with your own community.
Want to learn more simple ways to fight racism? Here are some articles worth reading for ideas on what we can all do: