Becoming Antiracist: Join the 21-Day Challenge

Earlier this month I shared my feelings on the George Floyd murder and the protests. Since then, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and studying into what it means to be Anti-Racist.

I’m sure you’ve heard the term as it’s been bandied about quite a bit lately. It’s from an Angela Davis quote:

“In a racist society it is not enough
to be non-racist,
we must be anti-racist.”

This goes way beyond simply calling out racist viewpoints (though that’s important). Becoming anti-racist requires a change in how you view society and your place in it, and from that, moves you into action.

Which is all well and good, but how do we get there?

Recently, one of the Sisters at the convent where I work sent me a link for a challenge with a cumbersome name:

21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge

Photo by James Eades on Unsplash

There’s a very real worry that (once again) all the white people who’ve been protesting and setting their social media icons to black squares (or writing blogs posts like this one) will return to their lives and nothing will have changed.

This challenge is one way to ensure that won’t happen. It gets you reading, listening, observing, reflecting, connecting and responding. You can start it at any time and modify it for whatever group you are working with.

I’m starting the challenge today and I hope you will join me. Again, here’s the link.

To start you off, I have a few videos to share (watch them over the next three days and you get to check off 3 boxes!).

The first one is from a new channel that I highly recommend you subscribe to: Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. It’s by Emmanuel Acho, former NFL linebacker and current analyst with Fox Sports 1.

In this episode he talks with actor Matthew McConaughey:

I particularly appreciated the bit where he compared our current focus on COVID-19 to  Black Lives Matter. (Seriously, you need to listen to this. It’s very engaging and only 12 minutes long.)

This next one is from the Tonight Show: Jimmy Fallon interviews Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility. (And I hope you’ll appreciate how with-it I am. It aired last night!):

If you read the comments on YouTube — I don’t recommend this, BTW — you’ll see that most are proving her point: white people get really defensive at any discussion involving race.

The last video I’m sharing is an interview between Jemelle Hill, a writer for The Atlantic, and Professor Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Anti-Racist:

If you only watch one of these three videos, I hope it’s this one. And please don’t be put off by the length; the interview itself is only a half hour and then it’s opened up for questions from the audience.

I had it on while I cooked dinner and wound up pausing it at several points to make notes:

“If you do nothing in the face of racist policies
then, essentially, because racist policies
are more or less the norm,
you are maintaining that norm of racism.”

It’s interesting that while Robin DiAngelo focuses on white people, Professor Kendi focuses on ALL people, saying that it’s a part of our human nature as well as our upbringing. At the 18-minute mark, he mentions confronting some of his own racist ideas.

You’ll also note that this interview took place about a year ago, making one of his quotes rather prescient:

“We’re engaged in this historical struggle
between racial progress and racist progress
and at some point,
this nation is going to have to choose.”

Perhaps we’ve reached that point?

One thing I want to highlight: he believes we can solve the problem of racism in this country. But as he put it, we must believe it can be solved, because if we say it’s impossible, then it’s guaranteed we’ll never solve it.

I believe it’s possible. Do you?

photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Take the 12-Day Challenge!

24 thoughts on “Becoming Antiracist: Join the 21-Day Challenge

  1. I love this and did see Jimmy Fallon last night and excerpts from the other two so I will watch them. I am also going to do the challenge – Thank you so much for sharing! xo

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Love this. We watched Just Mercy last night and it was amazing. I think it’s incumbent upon all of us, especially those of us who are white, to dig deep and be honest about how we feel about race based on the privileges we had but were ignorant of. I’m feeling angry too, at our educational system, because there’s so much that has recently come to light in the media (Juneteenth being one of them) that we never were taught about in school. I guess that’s one of the ways racism has been systemic. I plan on catching that YouTube show also, I’ve heard it’s great. And I really appreciate the picture with the sign about being privileged to be able to learn about racism instead of experiencing it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Rhonda. I agree, more of this needs taught in our schools. My kids learned more than I did, so it’s improving but we’ve a long way to go. I even took a couple civil rights classes in college and I’m still amazed at what I never knew.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Right? I feel like I’ve got a lot of catching up to do but it’s important I do it. My kiddo said something the other day that has stuck with me “Black Futures Matter”. I think that’s the whole point.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I will look that up. Just watched the first two of “Uncomfortable Conversations” and I think it’s insightful. I’m kind of tempted to write about my experience (really lack of) with racism. But I’m a little scared. Don’t want to be a cliche. Know what I mean? I want to evolve and be useful here.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I know exactly what you mean and I’m right there with you! It’s so hard to know the right thing to do.
              I probably wouldn’t have posted if it wasn’t for the fact it’s all I’ve been thinking about. Finally I figured I had to share the challenge and the videos, in case someone else would find them useful too.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Christi,
    I read this the other day, but didn’t want to comment until I had a chance to watch at least some of the video material. In the meantime, I was in a Zoom meeting with some members of my genealogy society and one person brought up the Black Lives Matter issue (in the context of we who have slave-holding ancestors). A conservative member was rather dismissive of racism due to slavery. She went on about all the non-black groups of people who have been enslaved, including Jews (in ancient Egypt) and Irish. Of course I tried to point out that those aren’t really tied to present-day discrimination, but I’m not a fast thinker. She also pointed out how she’d been discriminated against as a white growing up on the reservation. She’d been bullied and I can’t dismiss her experience. But all her comments were about negating the reality of black lives in America (or other people of color or ethnic backgrounds). I don’t even know where to begin to combat that attitude. Maybe this program can help. Maybe not. It’s a widespread attitude – harks back to that White Fragility concept, I expect.

    I’ll give it more thought and maybe look at the 21-day thing. Thanks for posting this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for commenting, Eilene. I’m the same as you — not a fast thinker when I find myself thrust into conversations like that. Most of my problem is that I feel insecure of my facts, or unsure if they would matter in those situations. If a person’s mind is made up, facts rarely seem to make a difference. And yet being silent feels wrong too.
      What’s interesting about the woman’s experience on the reservation — I grew up in a primarily Latino/a area of Phoenix and especially in my junior high, I was one of the few pale blondes in the school. Seriously, I never heard the end of it. I used to lay out in the sun burning myself in the attempt to get a tan just so I wouldn’t get bullied. (It’s a wonder I haven’t had skin cancer yet.) Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I definitely held on to some racist thoughts toward Latinos based on what I experienced. And then sometime in college I started realizing junior high wasn’t the real world and began to broaden my perspective. Especially once I learned that whatever bullying I might have endured, I never had to face getting racially profiled or fearing for my life when I saw the police.
      So while I can understand when people hold onto past grievances, I really pity their inability to work through them, especially when it prevents them from seeing the pain and suffering of others.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for this important post, Christi.

    As I’m sure you can sense, knowing me in the special way that you do, along with some of my recent posts, I’m having a difficult time dealing with the white rejectionist backlash against the peaceful protestors. The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which has been all over the news lately (and belatedly) took place in my hometown, yet there wasn’t a whiff of it in any of our history books. Tulsa was (and still is) a mind-numbing hotbed of extreme racism. (And homophobia, of course.) To this day, much of white Tulsa denies that such a thing happened or, not-surprisingly, considers the event a good thing.

    The mind reels. And my frustration grows every time there’s a sound bite or video clip of white people trying to belittle or even dehumanize the current equality movement. At the same time, I also wonder if there is ANYTHING I might be doing that could incorrectly associate me with the sound-bite sociopaths or the massacre-deniers or any degree of racism.

    All of this is a roundabout way of saying, yes, I’ll be taking the challenge. Thanks for letting me babble. But I’m sure you’re used to it by now… 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for adding your (non)babble, I appreciate every word of it. And I’m certain you’ll find much to appreciate in the challenge as it has opened my eyes in many ways. I’m about a quarter into Ibram Kendi’s book and having a hard time putting it down.

      As for the Tulsa massacre, I know a lot of people are stunned by it. Remember when I wrote the post about the Racism project I did for the convent? I poured over websites, books, articles and podcasts creating that timeline and I never came across it. Now I can, of course, but only because it’s in our focus. Certainly makes you wonder what other things have been kept quiet.

      Liked by 1 person

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