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What Does It Mean to be Actively Anti-Racist?

What Does It Mean to be Actively Anti-Racist?

First, what is it to be ‘anti-racist’? Being anti-racist is to actively identify and oppose or challenge racism. The idea is that by challenging racism, we can directly impact and change beliefs, behaviors and policy that continue to maintain the culture of racist ideas and actions. Over the last several years,the Black Lives Matter movement as well as other protest movements and organizations like Stop Asian Hate, have helped to shine a brighter light on how racism operates in our society. Racism flows through our structures within the micro and macro levels of society in ways that often are unrecognizable – especially to folks who are white or benefit from white skin privilege.

 

Other Important Definitions

Prejudice: unjustifiable preconceived opinion or negative emotion toward a group of people

Racism: the belief that some races are superior to others, the discrimination of individuals based on race and/or the belief that capabilities differ based on race.

Equity: is related to fairness and justice. Equity means recognizing that everyone does not start from the same place and we must acknowledge and make adjustments to address these imbalances and disadvantages.

Diversity: including or involving individuals from different social and ethnic backgrounds, genders, sexual orientations, etc.

Inclusion: in this context, means providing equal access of opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized

Oppression: unjust or cruel use of authority of power (Merriam-Webster, 2022)

POC: people of color/person of color

 

We are coming to realize that it isn’t enough to simply not be racist. You must be actively anti-racist in order to assist with real change. Only being “not racist” still allows people to avoid participating in anti-racism and taking a backseat. That means that being anti-racist is an action and a choice, not a label.

 

Here are a few specific ways that you can work to be actively anti-racist:

Educate yourself on different cultures and ethnicities!

Racism and stereotypes can come from a lack of knowing and understanding others. We live in a society that puts white culture on a pedestal and it is important to be aware of that. Reading articles or books and watching documentaries and podcasts are great ways to take in new information about other cultures and ways of life.

 

Explore your biases and your information biases.

Make sure you are gathering information from accurate and trusted sources. Diversify the ways in which you gather information and absorb different perspectives and ideologies. Analyze and interpret sources through the lens of race/ethnicity, power, and oppression.

 

Avoid using stereotypical comments and microaggressions

Microaggressions are often small comments or questions that reflect assumptions and stereotypes based off of someone’s identity. Examples of this are: “Where are you really from?”, “What are you?”, “You sound white”, “You’re pretty light for a Black person”, “I don’t see you as Indian”. Try challenging others if you hear these statements being made as well. (Forbes, 2022)

 

Challenge friends and family

Hold the people around you accountable when they make problematic statements. Try educating others when they make inaccurate,  or uneducated or biased comments. Exchanging stories and sharing perspectives can serve as a bridge to understanding. This will take courage and intention in order to step out of your comfort zone.

 

Support the work, art and business of people of color

There are systemic barriers for POC-owned businesses and their work in media, politics, movies, art, books, music, etc. By financially supporting the businesses of people of color and sharing their work on social media we can help distribute small-business success and restore equity.

 

Get involved in organizations that support racial justice

Donating time and volunteering for organizations that tackle racial justice issues, is a great way to broaden your horizon and make an impact. You can support organizations by purchasing merchandise, but it is often more impactful to volunteer time and assistance towards these causes.

 

We encourage you to be intentional and mindful about incorporating the tips listed above. Over time these behaviors may become instilled values and it will become natural – almost instinctive reactions. Remember during this process to stay courageous and empathetic, recognize your biases and your privilege, and encourage others to do the same.

 

Sources:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/

https://www.npr.org/2020/08/24/905515398/not-racist-is-not-enough-putting-in-the-work-to-be-anti-racist

https://www.forbes.com/sites/danabrownlee/2020/12/02/if-youre-not-sure-what-workplace-microaggressions-look-like-here-are-7-examples/?sh=66691c3d5280

https://mesa.umich.edu/article/10-ways-be-anti-racist