Where to start?

“Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens.” – Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

I began my journey as an anti-racist in earnest when George Floyd’s murder in May of 2020 fueled worldwide protests against police brutality. His death, along with the unjust killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor in succession, sparked fury in me. I had always been a vocal advocate for racial justice, but it wasn’t enough. It was past time to do more.

In the beginning, I didn’t know how to make a tangible difference. I wanted to run this marathon at a sprinting pace as an amateur runner—an impossible goal for anyone. When I talked with colleagues, friends, and family about my efforts, more often than not I summarized what I was doing as “I’m just trying anything…and I don’t know.”

In recent months, I’ve taken time to reflect, to organize all my “anythings.” This shed light on my fumblings. I noticed patterns in the actions that I’d taken (and continue to take) in my anti-racist work. I hope that what I’ve learned might be of use to you.


One thing I knew for certain was that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. So, I asked questions. Each time I was rattled by anger or have felt helpless, I focused that energy on getting curious. As I asked questions, I learned, and what I learned led me to more questions. I found answers in articles, books, opinions, videos, professional training, classes, and conversation with other allies. I made sure to always check that I was learning from trusted, vetted sources.


Using curiosity as a catalyst, I began connecting with others passionate about this cause in three of my communities: My colleagues at work (I work at a research lab in addition to running my Suzuki studio), Suzuki teacher communities, and my neighbors. In each community I asked these questions:

  • What resources are already available to everyone in these communities? 

  • Who are the DEI (diversity/equity/inclusion) experts here?

  • Who are the leaders and influencers?

  • What policies are already in place to protect Black, Indigenous, and people of color members?

  • What policies to protect BIPOC members seem to be missing? Why? Should they be created? How could I help?

  • What can I learn from existing resources, experts, and policies already in each community?

I tailored additional questions to each community. For example:

Work: Is there training in equitable hiring practices? What explicit policies do we have in our employee handbook? What are our core values and how do we communicate them? What can our team of researchers do within our projects? Can we design our research tools with DEI in mind, and how? What more can we do to support public school teachers and students to include them in research opportunities?

Suzuki: Where are ally teachers who are also activists in anti-racism work? Where are conversations on anti-racism happening and how do I participate? What is the general sentiment/feedback from SAA members about anti-racism? What activism is already happening? Where do we need improvements at the SAA organizational level? How can I do better for my students and studio families? What are other teachers doing? What can I do to increase my knowledge, so I can be a more effective teacher for my students?

Neighbors: What is happening locally? What are politicians saying? What policies are they working on? Who are the local election candidates and what are their views on social reform? Which organizations have been fighting this fight before I started?


I also threw money at this problem. To learn where to make the most impact, I sought answers to questions like these:

  • While I’m learning, who can I pay for some of this knowledge? Where are the allies who are active in the fight for racial and social justice?

  • Which organizations are already doing anti-racism work? Do they accept financial support? 

  • How can I ‘vote with my dollars’ in a capitalist system? Am I giving my consumer dollars to companies that are actively working on equity and diversity initiatives? Conversely, am I patronizing businesses that have the ability to support these initiatives, but do not have them?


“Anything you think of doing, however insignificant, should be done immediately. Spur yourself on and carry it through without becoming discouraged. If this becomes an ingrained habit, things you thought were impossible will become possible, and closed doors will open, as you will discover in many ways.” – Dr. Shinichi Suzuki


The brute force approach I started with was unsustainable over time. However, because I cast huge nets to see what I would discover, focused work emerged, and I was able to recognize and implement concrete steps. Taking the time to reflect on these actions led me to question and learn more, and the whole cycle would repeat:

My meta-lessons were: 

  • Everything starts with the desire to know more. Learn how to ask thorny questions in specific social contexts so they are heard, even if I don’t expect an answer. Know that some feathers might get ruffled.

  • Regularly reflect—zoom out to review and summarize. This technique lets me hold myself accountable, assess where I am in my education, and adjust course if necessary before I return to discrete tasks. 

  • Active work takes resources—usually time or money. If I noticed myself avoiding finding answers because I was too busy or concerned about finances, I re-evaluated my priorities and made changes. I found that I could reprioritize what I was doing with my time, adjust my budget, or rescope my task. I kept in mind that choosing not to act was allowing myself to return to the status quo and to enjoy my privileged position to not act. I pay attention to these moments and recognize my privileges when I make my choices.


A critical component in navigating anti-racism work is to have clarity on who I am, how I represent, and my personal responsibilities in this fight for justice. Here’s my summary of where I am today:

  • I am Asian American. I am white adjacent. In the state of Massachusetts, particularly in the greater Boston area, I enjoy the same privileges and freedoms as that of my white women friends. While I can empathize with BIPOC populations at some level – particularly given the recent wave of anti-Asian violence – I recognize that I will never experience systemic racism in the same way as my Black and Brown friends and neighbors. 

  • I understand that I am not an expert and I will forever be learning.  

  • I will continue to question my intentions, evaluate my potential impact before acting, and review my actions so that I can improve. I am not here to be the savior of others. I am here to contribute my voice toward justice.

  • It is my duty to say “I messed up” when I do, and I understand that I will. When I make mistakes, I commit to learning from them so that I can become a more effective ally.

Self Care

During the past year, I have made mistakes — I was embarrassed, humbled, and most of all exhausted. A year later, I have learned to include more time for self-preservation and contemplation.

To all social justice warriors: Take breaks. Build in reflection time. Trust that you will continue to learn, share, and model during your inactive moments. Sustain yourself so that you can remain a formidable ally in this marathon. 

When acting, be cognizant of your physical and emotional safety. Prioritize your personal safety, and seek professional help if needed. 

Admittedly, this continues to be a major area of growth for me, in my own work. It’s an opportunity!

Normalize Antiracism 

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

One thing that can be done by just about anyone, immediately, is to talk about racial injustice. Check in on people you know who are impacted by racism, deferring to their preference for what is appropriate while taking care to not burden them with your own processing. If you are white/white adjacent, understand that avoiding dialogue about racism is a privileged choice, and that silence perpetuates white supremacy. Insist on conversations with white/white adjacent people who benefit from that privilege. Keep in mind that pseudo-interactions over social media – sharing memes, clicking ‘like’ – are not dialogue. Talking might not feel like much, but it is a form of action that is critically important because it raises awareness of racism in your communities. 

“Perfect is the enemy of good.” – Voltaire

If you are not sure of exactly what to say, say just that. You can also offer to listen. Normalize conversations on racism. Don’t choose silence, because silence is complicity.

Patience for Change

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you’ve felt – as I have – paralyzed by the enormity of systemic racism, I hope that this has resonated with you and that it will help support you in finding a path forward. I am your ally and would be honored to collaborate with you if you’d like to connect. We can’t fix racism in a single generation, and I’m hopeful that, in our wake, we’ll have gained ground toward justice for all.

“To make a resolution and act accordingly is to live with hope. There may be difficulties and hardships, but not disappointment or despair if you follow the path steadily. Do not hurry. This is a fundamental rule. If you hurry and collapse or tumble down, nothing is achieved. DO not rest in your efforts; this is another fundamental rule. Without stopping, without haste, carefully taking a step at a time forward will surely get you there.” – Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

Additional resources, including links to existing online communities and learning opportunities, are available at: http://metrognomestudio.com/findingmyway/