Published: March 27, 2024

Pink flowers

Talking about racism at a historically white institution can feel tricky. But CU Boulder has a team of bright and passionate students to help others navigate this complex issue through workshops, advocacy and other resources. The Peers Educating and Empowering Peers (PEEPs) program supports the Center for Inclusion and Social Change's (CISC) mission by promoting the core concepts of intersectional identity development, diversity education, equity, and social justice. 

When considering what it means to interrupt racism, you may think about observing overt acts where a person of color faces a dangerous or violent situation. While these situations do occur, you are more likely to witness daily microaggressions and systemic structures where you can influence change. You have a vital role in creating a more equitable and just environment on campus and in the community.  

Self-reflection and education 

Interrupting racism is a journey that starts with you and your desire to explore your bias and invest in education and awareness. Acknowledging how stereotypes and dominant culture may have influenced your thoughts and beliefs can help you gain self-awareness. You can also identify areas where you need to educate yourself on issues. This journey is not about feeling shame. It is about growing and empowering yourself to disrupt racism. 

CISC offers workshops to support student growth in topics like racism. The Implicit Bias workshop provides a place to start with understanding the difference between implicit and explicit bias, while the Interrupting Racism workshop explores the differences between anti-racism and non-racism. These workshops can assist you in building the tools you need to create a safe dialogue around racism and empower you to do the internal work and self-reflection necessary to combat racism. 

Learn to listen 

If you do not identify as part of a community that is targeted by racism, it is imperative to let others speak, listen to understand and amplify the voices of your impacted peers. 

Remember, it is OK to feel uncomfortable when learning and growing. You can continue to show up and engage through education, relationships, events, workshops and daily interactions. You can play a part in acknowledging racism when you witness it. For example, if you witness a microaggression, you can check in with others and ask if they want to talk about the experience or if they want you to act. Prioritize listening to help you avoid deciding for someone else how to support them. 

Working together to combat racism 

It takes us all working together to make positive change. You can work to become an accomplice to interrupt racism. Allyship is a term often used when talking about partnering to support individuals and communities who face discrimination and racism. However, this term has taken on a different meaning, and some see it as performative. Accomplice is an alternative word that means to work with others in a commitment to do the work daily in solidarity with communities of color. This can mean challenging and dismantling systemic biases by using your voice and influence to amplify the stories, experiences and opportunities of those facing discrimination. 

Having shared and mutually understood language is essential for engaging in conversations about race and can improve clarity. Each person’s understanding and knowledge about the topic may differ. Remember that people may have perspectives you’ve never experienced before, and you may have perspectives they’ve never heard. It’s important to take turns sharing thoughts and feelings. 

When discussing issues regarding race and racism, try to maintain a mindset that the conversation is not a debate or an argument to win. Instead, aim to understand varying perspectives and ask questions for clarity.   

Together, with individuals taking personal responsibility and initiative to learn and grow, CU Boulder can continue to move forward as a community focused on diversity and inclusion. 

Resources 

Diversity, equity and inclusion are top priorities for the CU Boulder community. Whether a student, faculty or staff member, you can promote and support initiatives to make everyone feel welcome, seen and supported.