DEI Racial Equity Principle of the Week: Principle #9
For the next several weeks we will be sharing 1 of 10 Racial Equity Principles created through the work of several grassroots organizations, most notably the Dismantling Racism Works collaborative, and curated by Tema Okun. Each Racial Equity Principle includes a definition and description of how applying that principle may look in our daily lives. We encourage you to reflect on the description of each principle, how much you can relate to or see value in it, and to what extent you may want to apply any of the approaches suggested in your daily lives, inside and outside of the Kent School.
Racial Equity Principle #9: Take Risks and Learn from Mistakes
This culture often teaches us that to make a mistake is to be a mistake. Maurice Mitchell, one of the leaders of Black Lives Matter, makes the point (and he is talking to and about white people here) that his liberation and that of other Black and Brown people has nothing to do with our anxiety. He notes that we will inevitably make mistakes and our anxiety about making mistakes does not serve us or the movement. Failure to take risks because we are afraid of failure or our own vulnerability does not serve us or others. Denying that we made a mistake also does not serve us or others. Failure to learn from our mistakes is the only real mistake we can make.
That said, this principle also acknowledges that BIPOC people and communities take risks every day; to live in a white supremacy culture is a risk. This is another both/and situation, where the invitation is to notice and evaluate the risk that is being taken and to take risks thoughtfully with consideration of the consequences. Often the risks white people take have dire consequences for BIPOC people and communities if those risks are taken as individualistic attempts to "fix" or "save" or "set straight." Often white people fail to take any risk in fear of doing it "wrong" or suffering consequences that we can more than afford. Often BIPOC people and communities are expected to take risks and deal with the fallout while white people and communities commiserate or express horror or sadness at the consequences. So this principle is meant to invite us to challenge the white supremacy conditioning that comes from any internalized sense that we have a right to be comfortable or a fear of conflict or perfectionism or one right way thinking. It is beyond time for those of us who are white to collectively speak out and up in service to racial justice.