One Anti-Racist Action You Can Take Today: Learn and Practice the Tasks of the Privileged by Dr. Ken Hardy

One Anti-Racist Action You Can Take Today: Learn and Practice the Tasks of the Privileged by Dr. Ken Hardy

By Guimel DeCarvalho
Wayside’s Director of People and Culture and Chief Diversity Officer

Prior to engaging in a conversation about race, read, learn, and practice the Tasks of the Privileged by Dr. Ken Hardy. These tasks can serve as good “group rules” in a conversation about race and prevent microaggressions in the process of having that conversation.

The Tasks of Privileged (for White People to Take On): 

Draw distinction between intention and consequences. 

  • When we’re in a privileged position, we talk about intentionality but people in a subjugated position talk about consequences.
  • The more people of color talk about consequences, the more white people clarify their intentions > broken conversation!
  • For example: Person of color says: “When you walked by me and didn’t speak to me [at work], it felt racist.” White person turns and says “that wasn’t my intention.” The conversation stops at this point.
  • Person of color is saying how white person impacted them and white person wants to reassure of purity of their intentions, being totally oblivious of the fact that you can have pure intentions that render impure consequences.
  • Therefore in conversations about race, people of color almost never get to talk about consequences in a way that is heard and responded to by white people because the conversation breaks down (this will happen in any relationship where there is a power differential).
  • If white people want to have a conversation, they have to adhere to consequences.

Resist privempathy (empathy of the privilege – a word Dr. Hardy made up) – a tool of white people (and cis-men).

  • Privempathy refers to when the person in a privileged position uses empathy in the position discussed that ultimately culminates in them hijacking the conversation.
  • Privempathy seems generous/empathic but the conversation moves away from the person of color (or subjugated person) as a result of the privileged person sharing their own story.
  • This often also puts the person of color in the position of having to teach the privileged person.

Avoid equalization of suffering. 

  • Our inclination is to shy away from talking about race. Dr. Hardy gives an example of the white person who grew up poor but if they’re talking about race, and the white person’s poor self ends up in the conversation we’re ignoring their white self and race.

Develop thick skin (those with the most privilege seem to be the most fragile).

  • People of color work really hard to keep white people comfortable.

The Tasks of the Subjugated (for People of Color to Take On): 

Overcome obsession of taking [emotionally] care of white people. 

Allow your soul to thrive! 

Reclaim your voice.

  • Marginalized voice often gets put on mute (to survive as you grow up).

Find ways to regulate rage. 

  • You’ve taken care of white people and swallowed your feelings for so long, you have built up rage inside. Find a way to process and redirect it.

Watch Dr. Hardy talk about the Tasks of the Privileged here:

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