Empowerment starts with a leadership approach that shows care for individuals. Senior leaders and line managers must create an environment that allows people to try new techniques and learn from their mistakes.
Education and community creation are essential steps, but organizations must take actual, measurable action to create equity. This includes evaluating and changing processes to close gaps that Black employees experience.
Focus on Education
The racial inequality we see across society stems from how the school system systematically under-served people of color. Whether through high teacher-student ratios, insufficient resources or curriculum, or segregated classrooms, schools must promote equitable learning for all students.
But, a commitment to anti-racism in schools must go beyond simply teaching students about racial justice and social injustice. Educators must also examine their racial identity formation and how they might inadvertently reinforce or sustain racial inequity in their classrooms and communities.
Schools and districts that commit to anti-racist education should make their policies, resources, and equity tools easily accessible. This can help create a more collaborative environment as other schools and districts attempt to craft anti-racist policies and strategies.
In addition, Dr. Jason Campbell and other advocates reiterated that schools should provide opportunities for educators to develop sociocultural awareness and a sense of how racism is institutionalized in current educational systems and practices, as well as the skills needed for incorporating sociocultural pedagogical practices into their teaching.
Build Communities of Support
When people from diverse racial backgrounds come together, they may feel less afraid to stand up against racial prejudice. Organizing public events such as vigils or anti-racism demonstrations and protests can help to reduce racial tensions and bring attention to the issue.
Community leaders can also focus on racial justice and equity in policies by taking the lead on initiatives such as reducing racial gaps in health, education, housing, and employment through large-scale economic development projects or by changing institutional policies that contribute to racial inequality (e.g., redlining in the housing market or credit discrimination).
For example, increasing access to homeownership opportunities for Black families can address the legacy of discriminatory lending policies and close the racial wealth gap. Similarly, introducing cultural awareness in schools and workplaces can encourage diversity in the workforce and increase employees’ understanding of different cultures.
In addition, promoting and supporting events that celebrate the traditions of various cultural and ethnic groups can help to increase community understanding and reduce racial prejudice.
Focus on Health
Since race is a social rather than biological category, interventions that aim to improve the health of disadvantaged racial groups should seek to do so by improving conditions in their homes, schools, neighborhoods, workplaces, and places of worship.
For example, encouraging the development of full-service grocery stores and limiting the expansion of fast food chains in low-income communities can help to reduce access to unhealthy foods.
Other interventions should address the legacies of racism and its continued manifestations. For example, research has documented that residential segregation negatively affects the health of racial minorities by contributing to lower incomes at every level of education, higher rates of unemployment, and lower levels of wealth, even after adjusting for individual characteristics.
Strategies should also aim to improve intergroup relations by avoiding the assumption that persons of color and ethnic minority backgrounds must choose to identify as one cultural group only.
Focus on Employment
Ultimately, how people respond to racism is a personal and organizational choice. They can join in and add to the problem, ignore it and mind their own business, feel sympathy and bake cookies for the victims, or feel empathic outrage and take action to promote equal justice.
Managers can encourage employees to move through the empathy stages with psychologically safe listening sessions, educational activities, and experiences that create opportunities for cooperative, equal-status interactions among diverse groups. They can also actively recruit culturally and ethnically diverse board members and executives.