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What Is Anti-Racism?

What is anti-racism?

In the absence of anti-racist choices, there is the ability to consciously and unconsciously uphold aspects of white supremacy, white-dominant culture, and unequal institutions. 

So anti-racism is not just about who you are, but it is also about what you do! It is important to recognize that, due to the breadth and depth of racism, commiting to anti-racism can feel overwhelming; however, know that small daily choices can lead up to big changes. So ask yourself, what choices do I make in my daily life that contribute to anti-racism? Some great resources to explore are:  and 

  • At the individual and interpersonal level, being anti-racist involves becoming actively conscious about race and racism while taking actions to end racial inequality in your daily life. This requires believing that racism is EVERYONE’S problem and knowing you have an integral role to play in stopping it. This includes but is not limited to: acknowledging and understanding your privilege, working to change the internalized racism and racist ideologies you hold, and interrupting racism when you are identifying it around you. Exploring your own bias is a great place to start. 
  • Developing a strong “questioning” frame of mind is consistent with exploring anti-racist work in interpersonal encounters. Whether the racism witnessed in interpersonal interactions is obvious or covert, there are opportunities to respond and interrupt it by asking questions! Asking questions can be a powerful tool to seek clarity and offer new perspectives. Seeking clarity, offering alternative perspectives, speaking your truth, finding common ground, and setting boundaries often result from a curious mind. 
    • Here are some useful tools derives from the National Museum of African and American History and Culture that can help: 
    • Seek clarity: “Tell me more about __________.”
    • Offer an alternative perspective: “Have you ever considered __________.”
    • Speak your truth: “I don’t see it the way you do. I see it as __________.”
    • Find common ground: “We don’t agree on __________ but we can agree on __________.”
    • Give yourself the time and space you need: “Could we revisit the conversation about __________ tomorrow.”
    • Set boundaries. “Please do not say __________ again to me or around me.

As you practice, take note of your responses and ask: How am I processing the experience? What body sensations do I have? What is my emotional reaction? Notice what triggers your response and how it  

  • At the institutional level, racism proliferates in policies and practices within institutions that benefit white people and disadvantage people of colour. Advocating for anti-racist education is a starting place to change the discourse and the climate of an institution you may be working within; this allows a critique and challenge of institutional racism. It can address how racist beliefs and ideologies structure one on one and personal interactions within institutions and can examine and challenge how institutions support and maintain disadvantages and advantages across racial lines. Doing this in a reflective and interactive way that allows you and others to reflect on policies, name the racism, discuss what is found, and plan tangible actions can help push antiracism into institutional and structural forces. 

However, it is important to note that anti-racism and the actionable items behind it are inextricably bound to critical allyship; check out the next tab to explore more.

What to do and not to do; defining critical allyship and understanding your whiteness

Being an "Ally"

Being an “ally” has become a bit of a buzzword! And while its uptake in popularity is not necessarily a bad thing, folks that are not of racial identity have often misidentified and misplaced the word while actively engaging and upholding racism and racist discourse and action. Critical allyship is underpinned by anti-racist work and ideology and, as we mentioned, is a lifelong continuous process of supporting, advocating for, acknowledging, and hearing communities and peoples of colour. 

"The Type of White" by Alishia McCullough

A great interrogation into your allyship is to examine “the type of white you are”. Originated by Alishia McCullough, the circles of whiteness categories expressions of whiteness in hopes to interrogate and reflect on ideologies and actions that may be reflective of racism or may be reflective of allyship. We encourage you to explore what circle of whiteness you belong to, and how you are working your way to a circle of whiteness that is the lifelong student. 

Folks who consider themselves allies are often stuck in circle 5 and 6; Circle 7 involves a direct and interrogative process that can be uncomfortable, destabilizing, but liberation. Some tactics to work towards circle 7 can be: 

  • Say something; use your platform, conversations, workspace and community as a place to discuss racial issues. Keep these conversations going daily, until there is justice 
  • Show up: show up to protests, community events etc that are happening all over the world. Be active in now sharing images of peoples protesting for feeling seen or needing to validate your activism; it can be unsafe for people of colour and is not a form of allyship; sometimes allyship comes without recognition or praise. 
  • Use your privilege to protect others. Stand on the frontlines, protect the folks around you, shift opportunities to people of colour if you know they deserve it. 
  • Sign petitions and demand change from people of colour: write to your local government or school, call out brands and organizations that have stayed silent. Be relentless. 
  • Call out inaction: call out friends, colleagues, brands, influencers and governments. EVERYONE should be engaged in this work. 
  • Donate, if you are in a position to do so: use your money to support people of colour and racialized organizations and businesses; their progression and prosperity breaks down the disproportions and disadvantages of white supremacy
  • Commit to going anti-racism work--continuously look to understand your privilege and complicity in the system, develop a thorough understanding of what racism means and how it affects people of colour, develop strategies for the ways you can use your power to create change.  
    • Centre and amplify voices of colour; try not to speak over them, amplify their voice, give them space whether it be in person or online. Share their work and credit them when you do. Do not ask them to do the work for you; do your own research, google things and educate yourself 
    • Consume media by people of colour: follow activists online, diversify your news and media outlets, watch films and TV shows, books and articles created by people of colour 
    • Use your money to support businesses of colour; put your money where your politics are; do the research to find businesses or modalities that directly support the community 
    • Do these things ALWAYS, not just now; the work does end when the hashtag is no longer trending and the news stop reporting; for people of colour, racism is an everyday reality of living not just brief moments of reported news and instances that others redeem worthy of recognition. Commit yourself to doing the work. 


A Final Note on Critical Allyship

However, we recognize the road to critical allyship is long and multi-leveled. Do not get discouraged if you don't feel “there yet”. Explore the understanding, recognizing, and addressing privilege tab for some initial steps to begin the development of your anti-racist and critical allyship work and lens. We encourage you to explore these resources: