Active Bystander: informed-framework-for-action

In this fight for racial justice, you cannot do it alone. In the words of ⁦‪@RevDocBrenda⁩, “Reconciliation cannot be done in isolation; it must be done in community.”

Audubon Park, New Orleans, Louisiana, June 2019

Let’s start with a foundational grounding. First, please see my Listen First page and the Active Bystander portion of my Resources page.

So, to recap, step one = LISTEN. Step 2 = LISTEN. Step 3 = LISTEN.

Then, after that, LISTEN AGAIN.


So, I am grateful for a foundation to ground my actions below, as well as the further below suggestions/resources for taking action. The foundation I find is emerging – not yet complete. However, it is: informed by Black and other white and non-white voices; informed by past and living authors/speakers/friends/pastors/coworkers/podcasters/etc; and informed by both research and popular literature including peer-reviewed journal articles, poetry, newspaper, blogs, talks, videos, social media, and more.

Active Bystander: “An active bystander is someone who not only witnesses a situation, but takes steps to speak up or step in to keep a situation from escalating or to disrupt a problematic situation.” From Loyola University Chicago’s Safety Net Coalition.

I first came across the term Active Bystander in my reading of Rachel McKinnon in Myisha Cherry’s Unmuted book (a printing of her Unmuted Podcast which is “where philosophy and real world issues collide.”  Myisha Cherry is “a philosopher striving to provide value and thought” – she has an incredible background of experiences and education. 

Particularly, podcast episode 6: Rachel McKinnon on Ally Culture and Active Bystanders

Rachel McKinnon describes herself as an Academic, Athlete and Activist – a “professor of philosophy, and roster faculty in women’s and gender studies; world champion cyclist; public speaker and activities for transgender rights.”  She teaches us on her website that “these three aspects of my life are both distinct and highly interconnected.  My academic research informs my activism.  My athletic achievements inform my research and activism.  And my activism permeates my academic and athletic pursuits.”