“It is not your responsibility to finish the work of perfecting the world, but you are not free to desist from it either.” Rabbi Tarfon, Pirke Avot 2:21
Several years ago I took part in a racial equity training program and like many progressive white people was consumed with guilt and anxiety. What could I do to contribute to racial equity – and to what the Jewish tradition calls tikkun olam (repairing the world)?
I was struck by one of the lessons of the training – that white people often serve as gatekeepers. And I realized that indeed I was a gatekeeper – as an editor, I made decisions every day about whose voice got heard, whose image was shown, who got paid for editorial work.
I began to examine my role as a gatekeeper, and to make efforts to open that gate wider and to intentionally recruit BIPOC to come through it. Being aware of the power that I wield has helped me be a better editor, and improved my publication as well.
I would not claim to have a perfect record, and I know that have failed on many occasions to live up to my goal. And of course it is just a beginning.
So I share this not because I believe that I have finished the work, but because I believe it is something that I and my fellow white editors, writers, photographers, videographers, graphic designers, publishers – content providers of various kinds — can do right now to begin it.
Sally Hicks, board member
Associated Church Press