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:
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?