Written by PRSA Oregon Diversity & Inclusion Committee
The tragic death of George Floyd has energized the Black Lives Matter movement across this nation and the world. White people are being forced to listen and see examples of systemic racism in the mainstream media, on public opinion platforms and in their neighborhoods for the first time in decades. Compound the deep racial tensions with a pandemic that is infecting Black people and people of color disproportionately right now, and we as public relations professionals have a high-stakes level of complexity to communicate as we guide our organizations and businesses.
Having go-to resources to access quickly are key to our daily tactics and long-term objectives. PRSA Oregon’s Diversity and Inclusion committee offers members tools they can count on to be timely and relevant. Here are a few examples:
Here’s a podcast series by Kimberle Crenshaw, an American civil rights advocate, who explores equity issues that are occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a May 12 episode, she and her guests examine the central role that ideological whiteness plays in the U.S. response to COVID-19. Meanwhile, in a May 19 podcast, guests discuss vote suppression, state violence, vigilantism and fatal public health experiments in the state of Georgia.
Why is it so hard for people from the dominant group to talk about racism? There are social barriers. There is fear. It’s an uncomfortable topic. Talking about race and racism risks being called a racist. These are just some of the reasons white people don’t talk about race. Here’s a Washington Post news story and tips to start this conversation in a time that is demanding white people to pay attention and take action.
Dr. Robin DiAngelo is a lecturer, author and 20-year trainer on racial and social justice issues. She frequently lectures about White Fragility — defensive moves that the dominant group makes when confronted with race. Fear, guilt and anger are some of the behaviors that often shut down conversations, making it impossible for dialogues across racial groups, while protecting the white status quo.
Here’s a full list of anti-racist resources from movies, podcasts, books and videos to kid’s books and organizations to follow on social media.