Why Racial Equality Matters
Events like the death of George Floyd among many (equally important and tragic) others have left America coloured in shades of Racism. That makes one thing clear- Despite the long-standing efforts of advocates and movements, there is a real need to create meaningful action toward Racial Justice and Racial Equality.
Deena Hayes-Greene from Racial Equality Institute talks about a problem that hinders America’s journey toward Racial Freedom.
The real challenge today, she says, “is trying to understand race and racism, its origins and how it's operable in the world and in our systems”.
Racial inequality is systematic and structural in nature. That means that it is deeply rooted in our history and contemporary culture. The problem exists everywhere- In America’s wealth distribution system, healthcare, marketplaces, workplaces, schools, and more.
The fact that there is a real problem at hand, is established. There is a rising wave of conversation around it too. This brings us to a very important factor for driving action toward Racial Equality-
Like other causes, Racial Equality will need support to make progress, and to be normalised.
Why now: A demographic case
In just the last couple of decades, America witnessed a dramatic demographic shift.
In 2012, the majority of babies born across the country were Black, Asian, Latino, multiracial or other race/ethnicity other than non-Hispanic White. By 2020, there will be almost a majority of youths under 18 that are of colour.
In February 2020, United States Censor Bureau made a few interesting projections:
- The non-Hispanic White population is projected to shrink over the coming decades, from 199 million in 2020 to 179 million people in 2060— even as the U.S. population continues to grow. Their decline is driven by falling birth rates and rising number of deaths over time. In comparison, the White population, regardless of Hispanic origin, is projected to grow from 253 million to 275 million over the same period.
- The population of people who are two or more races is projected to be the fastest growing racial or ethnic group over the next several decades, followed by Asians and Hispanics. The causes of their growth are different, however.
For Hispanics and people who are two or more races, high growth rates are largely the result of high rates of natural increase, given the relatively young age structure of these populations. For Asians, the driving force behind their growth is high net international migration.
As of the United States Census Bureau 2019 report, this is a dramatic shift for an America that was 80% White as recently as the 1980s. For the first time, nonwhites and Hispanics were a majority of people under age 16 in 2019. In just 30 years, approx. 40% of America’s population is nonwhite or Hispanic.
The case of Racial Equality: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
With a country that’s changing its demographic blueprint at such a fast pace, it becomes important to reflect over the cultural changes that happen along with it. To ensure that America as a cultural capital is ready for such changes, we need to think about how to turn this dialogue and intention into action. Conversations around Racial Equality are more complex today than ever. But when we break it down, it boils down to three main factors:
People differ. They have characteristics that make one individual or a group different from one another. To look at racial equality as a Black-White duality, is a narrow viewpoint. The need is to embrace a definition that reflects a broader diversity within the spectrum. Factors like gender, disability, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, appearance, religion, and the multiple identities they associate with are closely tied to race and sometimes affect the lives of people in more ways than they notice.
Tackling the cause of racial equity requires understanding the root cause of why this disparity exists. A society is ‘equitable’ when there is fair treatment, opportunity, and advancement for all people. This is achieved most effectively when a country’s policies and institutions support such equal participation. That is when the change can seep to the root of the cause.
How normal is the cause of Racial Equality in our daily lives tied very closely to inclusion? It could mean creating environments in which anyone can feel welcomed, respected, and supported to participate in the ways they wish to. An inclusive racial environment will be able to embrace differences and offer respect in words and action for all people. This is why recognizing unconscious or ‘implicit biases’ becomes an important step towards addressing racial inclusion around us.
How you can contribute to Racial Equality
Stay connected to supporters
Racial equality is rooted in the lived and felt experience of its supporters. Staying connected with advocates through engagements that foster Racial Equality is a great way to contribute to the voice of the movement. Support local groups, people, and organizations that talk about difficult issues. In a world where popular opinion is shaped through social media, supporting people and sharing stories go a long way.
Normalise it in your daily interactions
Big changes have small starts. Sometimes, conditioning of the past can lack an outlook on racial equality. This is felt by people in workplaces, schools, a club, supermarkets, etc. Issues of racial equality can be complex and controversial and contain some ‘uncomfortable truths’. Because you care, try and observe if you espouse some of those norms unknowingly. This can be as simple as using a different synonym for a word that might be offensive to someone in your social groups or having conversations with people about their experience. Absorbing different perceptions and reflecting them back in your social circles is a great way to foster inclusion around you.
Virtually Volunteer for a cause close to your heart
Doing good, is easy when you care. And because you do, you have already come to the other side. Being an important part of the movement for Racial Equality is not a ‘the-chosen-one’ kind of an affair. You can create significant meaning in people’s lives just by virtually volunteering, devoting a couple of hours a week, to working from home.