8 Tips to Avoid Perpetuating Covert Racism Through Communications

October 03, 2017

The United States’ long, complicated history with racism puts race on the front lines of public discourse in this country. While Americans tend to focus on overt forms of white supremacy, such as violent crimes and racial slurs, covert racism often goes unchecked.

Covert racism is a form of racial discrimination concealed in the fabric of our society and discriminates in often unnoticeable, passive ways.

As a progressive communications pro, you want to ensure that what you produce works to dismantle racism, not contribute to it.

Here are 8 tips to combat covert racism!

  1. Recognize and understand racial privilege

Acknowledging racial privilege means recognizing how privilege has helped white Americans move through life differently. Privilege does not mean that life has been easy or that white Americans have not worked hard. However, it does mean that their racial identity has shielded them from racism and other struggles that communities of color experience every day.

  1. Educate yourself

Learn about the history and culture of people of color. Learn about their experiences, their wants and their needs. Learn about the history of racism and the current institutions that uphold it. Understanding the experiences of people of color will help you find ways to combat racism.

  1. Amplify the voices and experiences of people of color

Use communications to give credit to people of color for their hard work in the struggle toward racial equality. Uplift the organizing, writing and work of people of color at every opportunity.

  1. Develop interpersonal relationships that help maintain accountability

Everyone needs a circle of accountability. It is important to have interpersonal relationships with people of color to receive feedback about your antiracist efforts. This circle of accountability helps ensure your actions are not contributing to oppression.

  1. Be a responsive listener

Listen and understand the experiences of people of color. Respond to the feedback from people most affected by racism. Be prepared to examine your own actions and change them if necessary.

  1. Step up and address racism when you witness it

Call out overt and covert racism when you see it whether it’s from family, friends, coworkers or strangers. Challenge the people around you when they contribute to racist rhetoric and systems.

  1. Get involved

Action is key! Find an organization and issue about which you are passionate.. Then use your specific strengths and skills to help.

  1. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

Race can be an uncomfortable conversation. However, as communicators, our job is to foster conversations, including difficult ones. If you aren’t comfortable talking about race at work, around the dinner table and in your everyday life, how can you foster that important conversation with others? Get outside your comfort zone.

How is your organization confronting racism? We’d love to hear from you. Contact us at info@thehatchergroup.com and follow us on Twitter & Facebook.