Letter to the editor – . Join the 21-day Racial Equity Challenge

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If nothing else, 2020 has caused us to think differently, feel differently, hear differently, and see differently.

Across the nation, African Americans are feeling the brunt of COVID-19 more deeply than others. At the same time, there is a growing awareness that, 400 years after being brought forcibly to this land, black Americans are still being subjected to brutality, oppression and even murder. And thanks to smartphone technology, the world now sees clearly what it’s like to watch George Floyd die or to see “Central Park Karen” and others like her make false statements that lead to black men being falsely arrested or even killed.

One might think that these are separate issues. But if you’re a person of color, all three are relatable. How so, you might ask. Because black Americans are adversely impacted by systemic racism in everything from wealth accumulation to healthcare, insurance, law enforcement, career progression and so much more. The fact is, 2020 has put a bright spotlight on the lingering disparities that people of color in the United States must contend with every day.

The truth is, too many have grown accustomed to the racism that rests just below the surface of American life. The result is an illusion: we believe our country has become less racist because racism is not as brazen as it once was. “Things are better. We’re on the right track,” we tell ourselves. Then one day that illusion is shattered by a smartphone video and suddenly the ugly face of racism is unavoidable. Yet these videos offer a strangely familiar experience: the moral comfort of being able to blame someone else for our nation’s racial struggles.

For many, the temptation is to turn away, to avoid the messiness, the ownership, and even any awareness of systemic racism, and to move deeper into our own lives. For others, the issue seems abstract, overwhelming, and unmanageable at the personal level. “What can I do to address systemic racism? It’s not my job.”

But what we do reveals what we believe. If addressing systemic racism in Delaware it’s not your job, then whose job is it exactly? But there’s good news: if you’re ready to do your part to end systemic racism in Delaware, you’re not alone.

The Delaware Racial Equity and Social Justice Collaborative, with the help of United Way of Delaware and YWCA Delaware, is offering every Delawarean the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge (The Challenge). The Challenge is your chance to build more effective social justice habits, particularly those dealing with issues of race, power, privilege, and leadership, by joining thousands of other Delawareans in a 21-day journey of self-discovery that you can complete online, wherever and whenever you’re comfortable. You can also form a group at work, within your family, or among friends and neighbors, and take the Challenge as a team.

Registered participants are prompted with a daily e-mail challenge — such as reading an article, listening to a podcast, or watching a video–and are then encouraged to reflect on that content and to relate the situation to their own lives. Participants discover how racial inequity and social injustice impact our community. The goal is to build new understandings and new connections and in so doing, to begin dismantling systemic racism in Delaware.

Emails begin going out to registered participants on Monday, August 17, and continue (Monday – Friday) through Monday, September 14 (you can catch up if you miss a day or two). A 21 Day Racial Equity Challenge private Facebook group gives participants a place to discuss the content and engage with others taking the Challenge. And all participants will be invited to a final virtual Challenge summary event.

2020 has caused us to think differently, feel differently, hear differently, and see differently. Take your first step to seeing things differently by registering for the Challenge here: https://deracialequitychallenge.org. – Dana M. Harris

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