Things You Can Do Individually and Organizationally This Year
to Advance Equity and Help Heal Southern California
"When you do nothing you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better." -- Maya Angelou
With racial, ethnic, religious, and political divisiveness rising across America, organizations across the country, prompted by an effort by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, are observing a National Day of Racial Healing on Tuesday, January 16. The goal is to spur efforts to heal the wounds created by racial and other biases and to build an equitable and just society in which all people thrive.
The timing couldn’t be more important. The L.A. County Commission on Human Relations has found that people are targeted in hate crimes based on their race or ethnicity more than any other factor, and that white supremacist hate crimes rose by 67% from 2015-16 in LA County alone. Furthermore, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism and the Southern Poverty Law Center report that high numbers of hate acts and hate group activity continue to plague our region.
The National Day of Racial Healing, which follows the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, is an opportunity to broaden and deepen our personal and joint commitments, and begin our own journeys toward promoting racial equity and healing the wounds that divide us.
We are proud to announce our support for this effort and invite you to participate in whatever ways you choose—both on the day itself and in the days and months to follow. Below are two lists of things you--as an individual and as an organization--can do over the next year to advance equity and help heal our region. We hope you’ll take the time to learn about our region’s racial histories, engage in dialogues around race and discrimination, confront your own biases, and challenge your organization to be a leader in the fight for equity.
10 Things You Can Do This Year to Advance Equity and Help Heal Southern California (PDF)
1. Learn about the land you stand on. We all live on land that was once home to Native Peoples. Find out more.
2. Explore how race and racism have shaped Southern California specifically. Consider reading The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson, Fire This Time: The Watts Uprising and the 1960s by Gerald Horne, The Changs Next Door to the Díazes: Remapping Race in Suburban California by Wendy Cheng, Mendez v. Westminster: School Desegregation and Mexican-American Rights by Philippa Strum, Southland by Nina Revoyr, and Twilight: Los Angeles ,1992 by Anna Deavere Smith. You can also attend a performance of the upcoming production of Allegiance at the East-West Players to learn more about the incarceration of Japanese-Americans in California during World War II.
3. Visit a local museum to explore the diversity around us. Check out lectures and exhibits at the Museum of Tolerance, Chinese American Museum, Japanese American National Museum featuring hapa.me, California African American Museum featuring Gary Simmons: Fade to Black, Annenberg Space for Photography, Skirball Cultural Center, La Plaza de Cultura y Artes; the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, and the Dream Resource Center, among others.
4. Be a tourist in your own community: visit some lesser known sites of local civil rights history with the alternative guidebook, A People's Guide to Los Angeles by Laura Pulido. You can also visit the Harada House in Riverside County.
5. Watch a film or read a book about the impacts of racism and discrimination in our country and our modern world. Consider recent movies and documentaries like LA 92, Mudbound, I Am Not Your Negro, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Get Out, Marshall, Beatriz at Dinner, and Battle of the Sexes, and older ones like Selma, Hidden Figures, Loving, 13th, Defamation, Dreamer, A Better Life, He Named Me Malala, Breathin: The Eddy Zheng Story, The Case Against 8, and Zootopia (to spark discussion with children). Try reading Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde, The New Jim Crow: Mass, Incarceration In The Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander, Between The World And Me by Ta Nehisi Coates, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario, Trustbuilding by Rob Corcoran, and Things U Give by Angie Thomas (for young adults). You can find more recommended films, books and other resources here. For a podcast, try Code Switch: Race and Identity, Remixed.
6. Sign-up to be at one of EMBRACE LA’s 100 Dinners on Race to take place in April. You’ll dine with people of different racial, ethnic, or religious backgrounds and engage in an honest, open, and meaningful conversation around race and racism in order to challenge and change inequities.
7. Recognize your own biases – we all have them! Try taking the Harvard Implicit Bias Test. Once you know your biases, you'll be better equipped to resist stereotyping.
8. Start a thought provoking conversation or share inspiring resources through your social media posts with questions like “What does racial healing look like to you?” or “How can you foster racial equity?”. Post a statement, image, meme, or short video addressing why racial equity and healing is important to you. Use the hashtags #TRHT (Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation), and #NDORH. Visit kNOwHATEoc.com to engage in Orange County’s social media campaign.
9. Think about the diversity within your neighborhood, workplace, local school, house of worship, etc., and initiate conversations about where and why there might be a lack of inclusion. At home, consider how you might talk with your kids about race and tap into resources from the RACE Project.
10. Imagine what a healed Southern California community would look like and commit personally to work for racial healing and equity; volunteer with or support organizations that focus on healing and equity. The W. K. Kellogg Foundation’s Racial Equity Resource Guide is a good place to look for resources.
Bonus (#11): Our region is fortunate to have many groups committed to equity, justice and reconciliation. Share other racial equity resources and opportunities for community activism and healing with us here so we can share them with others.
5 Things Your Organization/Company/Agency Can Do This Year to Advance Equity and Help Heal Southern California (PDF)
1. Revisit your organizational values—and revise if necessary—to include racial equity. This can help align your organizational culture, goals, and strategies to advance equity.
2. Invest in strengthening your staff’s understanding of race equity and inclusion principles. Offer professional development and racial equity training opportunities. Check out the helpful Racial Equity Tools website for ideas and take this self-assessment.
3. Examine your organization’s internal and external policies and procedures for unintended biases that may perpetuate inequity and discrimination. Specifically, look at:
a. Internal: Change hiring and promotion practices to mitigate unintended biases and
disrupt practices that have disadvantaged people of color, women, and individuals
from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, such as:
i. Adopt a policy that allows for “education requirements OR equivalent
experience” instead of strict education requirements
ii. Follow the new California laws that prohibit employers from asking job
(1) Previous salaries
(2) Criminal records (until a conditional job offer has been extended)
b. External: Ensure that your communications and business strategies reflect an inclusive
message and intentional efforts to serve everyone equitably. For example:
i. Review your website and other communications—and revise if necessary—so
the visual images and messages reflect the full range of your potential
customers and stakeholders.
ii. Review practices to remedy any unintended or structural bias and ensure that
you are offering equitable access to your services.
4. Strengthen the capacity of your organization to address racism and discrimination by collaborating with other organizations that work explicitly on improving outcomes for communities of color. The TRHT-LA website will have suggestions in the coming months.
5. Regularly assess your organization’s racial equity efforts. Make sure to adopt distinct metrics for diversity, cultural competency, and inclusion, each of which contribute to the larger equity outcomes. Examples of actions your organization can consider include:
a. Racial Equity: Identify systemic and institutional barriers to race-equitable outcomes by
conducting equity impact assessments and organizational self-assessments.
b. Diversity: Increase racial/ethnic diversity on your board and among staff, especially
c. Cultural Competency: Provide training that assists board members and employees to
work across cultural lines and make decisions that are culturally appropriate and
d. Inclusion: Adopt practices that actively encourage and value engagement by all groups
Thank you for taking the time to consider how you—together with other Southern Californians and so many allies nationwide—can help bring healing and equity to our communities.