SPRINGFIELD, Mo — In a special meeting with local Black leaders, city leaders, the police chief, and more, one common theme was “educating yourself.”
How does one educate themselves on the topics of modern or systemic racism? It’s not impossible, it just takes compassion and willingness to understand.
For the last 20+ years, Dr. Leslie Anderson at Missouri State University has devoted her career to educating people on diversity and inclusion. She says step one: be open minded.
“That is to adopt what is sometimes called cultural humility. The recognition that we can’t know what someone else’s experiences are. If we want to learn, we have to adopt a curious and humble attitude toward what someone else’s experiences are and how they might have affected them,” says Dr. Anderson.
Anderson also say it is important to understand and be willing to discuss what systemic racism really means. It can come in the form of economics, voter suppression, and the makeup of government.
“When those topics come up, White people in particularly sometimes will get defensive, or sometimes not want to talk about it, or change the subject or say it’s not happening. How it is embedded in our policy and practice. Who is expected to be somewhere, who is not expected to be somewhere. Who is in leadership positions, and more importantly who is not, and what messages are sent by that,” Dr. Anderson says.
For decades, Cheryl Clay has been at the forefront of the fight for change as the current secretary/former President of the Springfield NAACP. She says she and her children have all endured some type of racism, even if it’s something that non-people of color don’t realize it.
“What’s sad is that it’s so deeply ingrained in our society, people don’t even realize what they’re doing,” Clay says
She says systemic racism can even start young.
“Their records are being flagged as a troublemaker in Kindergarten. That follows them all the way through their educational career,” Clay says.
Clay says the tools are out there to self-educate – like the book “White Fragility”, or MSU’s Diversity and Inclusion Resources. Clay says at some point, people have a personal responsibility to educate themselves.
“Personally, and I am speaking for myself, I am through educating white people on why I feel hurt and angry in this current climate. I am done. Take it upon yourself to try and figure it out,” Clay says.
Dr. Anderson provides a list of resources to go off of if you want to start that process of understanding and becoming more aware of what minorities face.
The following links all contain compilations of articles, videos, books, training courses, essays, mental health resources, or podcasts that can help with this process.