Oct 07, 2020 Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Here are some key first steps White people can take to work effectively toward change, says Paul Kivel, an activist and author of "Uprooting Racism: How White People can Work for Racial Justice." Educate yourself. This step is often overlooked but is crucial in understanding issues of race. Turn to books, articles, movies and other resources to deepen your understanding of systemic racism. Listen to what people of color, including members of Black Lives Matter, Showing Up for Racial Justice and immigrant and Native American communities, are saying. But do not just rely on people of color to do your education for you, Kivel says. "People of color are organizing for their lives and defending their communities and they've often been forced to do a lot of emotional work for White people," he says. "This is a time for us to not put that burden on them. Start conversations. Initiate discussions about racism with your partner, family members, friends, children and coworkers. Share how you feel, what makes you upset and invite others to give their take. Together, try to pinpoint how racism plays out in your communities and what you can do about it. And if you witness someone saying or doing something racist, speak up. "Silence is a form of complicity," Kivel says. "It's colluding with the status quo, pretending that nothing is really wrong." The more awareness we help bring to an issue, he says, the "more we understand that we're very much in the middle of this system of oppression, not on the outskirts looking in." Get involved in your community. Take action by showing up to city council and school board meetings, addressing policies in your workplace or working with groups to address gentrification and housing segregation by lobbying officials to create more affordable housing and put in renters' protections. Fighting structural racism benefits everyone, Kivel says. "I think very often, as White people, we think that we need to save people of color or do this to help them," Kivel says. "We need to understand that this is about our mutual interests, that our society is being torn apart by racism and that we all have a stake in building the communities that we want to live in."