Saturday, February 7, 2015

Equitable Behaviors for White People, from Francis E. Kendall

Behavior 1: "Talk Straight," tell the truth, maintain humility, and don't withhold information so that what you're saying will sound prettier.

Behavior 2: "Demonstrate Respect" while being caring and concerned about the person with whom you are talking. Humility is necessary here as well. Remember that you are no better a person than the one to whom you are speaking, regardless of your position or the unearned privileges you hold based on your identities.

Behavior 3: "Create Transparency" by telling the truth in a way that people are able to verify and by speaking openly.

Behavior 4: "Right Wrongs" by making mistakes whole and doing what you can to correct them and going farther. It's based on the principles of humility, integrity, and restitution. In order to to act in this way, one has to let go of ego and respond to people in ways that signal to them that they are being treated respectfully and taken seriously.

Behavior 5: "Show Loyalty" had two elements. First, give credit to others for things they have done rather than taking all the credit yourself. Second, be consistent in what you say about others. Little breaks trust more quickly than saying one thing in public and another in private, such as acting respectfully to a woman in front of her and then telling sexist jokes in the locker room. It would take a long time to repair that betrayal.

Behavior 6: "Deliver Results", by doing what you say you are going to do when you say you will do it. Period. That, of course, means that you don't promise what you can deliver.

Behavior 7: "Get Better" by continuing to learn, working toward understanding white supremacy and your part in it. Lifelong work on ally behaviors is essential, particularly across lines of privilege. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it and keep learning. Covey suggests developing feedback systems and taking action on any feedback you get.

Behavior 8: "Confront Reality"-- the good, the bad, and the ugly; especially the bad and the ugly." When white people say there is no racism, that we are in a "post-racial" society, that our goal is to be "color-blind", that other people might be racist but "I don't have a racist bone in my body" and on and on, people of color know that this white person is either lying (consciously or unconsciously) or living on another planet. If you don't know how to talk about racism, go to Chapter 9 "Talking About Whiteness and Being White." There are suggestions for how to begin.

Behavior 9: "Clarify Expectations" before you begin conversations across differences. You can't assume you're saying that same things about expectations even if you're using the same words, so ask clarifying questions. Often what you say is not what I hear and so on. Because we have such different realities, due to the privileges we have or don't have, it's very important to listen, remembering how much we have to learn. See Chapter 8, "Talking about Race: What If They Call Me a Racist?" for specific suggestions about engaging in conversations across differences and difficult issues.

Behavior 10: "Practice Accountability" by, most importantly, doing what you said you would do in the ways you said you value. If you said you would get everyone's input for the report  you're writing, get it and put it in.

Behavior 11: "Listen First" before expecting to be listened to. Listen in a way that communicates your integrity and humility.

Behavior 12: "Keep Commitments"-- that is the most important thing to do to build trust, and breaking them is the quickest way to wipe out any trust that has been built. Don't promise something of yourself that you don't expect to or can't do or be. Keep a firm view reality as you make a commitment, particularly in relationship building.

Behavior 13: "Extend Trust" initially to all of the people with whom you work, not just to friends or those who are like you. The hope is that others will take your cue and behave respectfully and generously as well.

from Understanding White Privilege by Frances E. Kendall, published by Routledge, New York and London, 2013