“Although social change cannot occur overnight, we must work for it as though it were a possibility in the morning.” Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr

As people across our country rise to speak out against racial injustice, we must also look inward, for change begins within ourselves. We had the pleasure of meeting Theresa Chaklos, a woman of Hispanic heritage, at a meeting of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps recently. Theresa has provided recommended readings and social behaviors for people interested in furthering their introspection and self-education as a means by which to root out systemic racism and injustice. Theresa has graciously granted her permission to share the following with you:

I am listing here a few books that I have read and I believe would be helpful for whoever wishes to learn more about race.  As a way of trying to help any conversations people may want to have to try to bridge the racial divide, I offer the following:

  • Treat people of color with dignity and respect;
  • Open yourself to their friendship the same way you would a white person;
  • Be careful asking questions like: “what is it like being black/brown/asian/multi-racial.”  Such questions put the person on the spot and sometimes is a guise of asking them to re-live traumas or bad experiences they have had.  If they wish to tell you, they will in time;
  • Be careful making comments like: “you sound so smart” / “you don’t look black/brown” / “your hair is so pretty” / “you are such a success, how did you do it.”  These types of comments are what is characterized as micro-aggressions, which only serve to further alienate the person and can be considered nice ways of making derogatory remarks.
  • In thinking about how to combat racism or become anti-racist, look at your own life, business, and social network.  How many people of color are within your inner circle?  How many are leaders in your business?  How many are truly your friends where you include them in your coffee/tea time or lunches and dinners? What efforts are you making to welcome a person of color into your network as an equal?
  • Remember, people of color are people just like you.  They have feelings, they care about their children and their society.  They want many of the same things you do.  They are not much different from you, they just look different.

Recommended reading: