It is not enough to say that you are not racist. Doing your work means a constant vigilance and correction of your own racist beliefs and actions. Doing your work means being actively anti-racist—being brave enough to interrupt racism as it unfolds around you or within you. Doing your work means not asking Black and Brown people to teach you how to be better. It means doing your research. It means reading and listening.

If you grew up in the United States—even if you did not—, you were likely socialized to generalize groups of people and to internalize a set of assumptions about their worth and humanity. Challenging your assumptions means you take the time to reflect and evaluate your world view and perceptions of people unlike you. If you are a non-Black person, it means that you check in with yourself when you roll up your windows when you drive through a historically Black neighborhood.

Challenging your assumptions is hard work. It requires a true reckoning with everything you were taught and everyone who influenced you. At Headwaters, we see our Giving Project participants do this hard work all the time. There is pain in delving into one’s family history, in seeing how one’s ancestors stole land, displaced communities, and owned other human beings. For non-Black people of color, it can be painful to realize all the ways that we benefit from the vilification of Black people throughout history. But there is also freedom in owning one’s privilege and figuring out how to leverage one’s power for racial justice. What we see in our Giving Project participants is not just a transformation in the individual—we witness the transformation of entire networks of people.

Read the full article about doing your work to fight racism by Maria De La Cruz at Headwaters Foundation for Justice.