What is anti-racism?
Have you noticed people talking about this concept called “anti-racism”?
It means moving away from a binary labeling of someone as racist or not racist. The binary system has several problems. The number one problem is that it puts people into boxes of being racist and hence bad or being not racist and hence good. That is very limiting and not helpful if we want to see real change. We have to look at individual and systemic racism and take an active stance against this which is anti-racism. We first have to understand history and center those who have been oppressed in our telling of history.
I see everyone as a racial being. Do you see yourself as a racial being from the day you were born? How have you been socialized as a racial being? What is the story of your ancestors? What is their relationship to being oppressed or being part of a group who oppressed others based on race? Where did you grow up? Who did you go to school with? Where do you live now? Who do you have intimate relationships with? What kinds of meaningful conversations about race and racism do you have on a regular basis?
The reality is that the United States is a post genocidal nation. We have a lot of work to do heal from racial harm. Check out Anneliese Singh's racial healing circle. Where are you on the journey? Are you working on multiple elements of racial healing?
photo credit to Anneliese Singh from her book "Racial Healing Handbook"
If you notice some strong feelings or body sensations as you are reading the phrase white supremacy below, know that is part of the journey. It is referring to collective whiteness/whiteness as a culture. Defensiveness tends to be present in any unexamined area of privilege or domination. What might you need to soothe your activated nervous system as we continue this dialogue?
Some Core Elements of Anti-Racism
Here are a few things to consider that supports the idea that we are all indoctrinated into a racist society that has white supremacy (or anti-blackness) as its foundation:
We are NOT taught anti-racism or racial justice history in school
Is some of our history surprising? Was it what you were taught in school? Did you think of white supremacy as a small group of people with extreme views wearing white hoods? I did for a long time. My eyes were opened when I started seeing it a system. A system that makes whiteness as the norm and superior. From white supremacy comes white privilege. White privilege is a series of advantages that makes life a little easier even if you don’t have other privileges. What have you learned about critical race theory? Check out this blog and video learn more.
Being "Not Racist" Isn't the Same as Being Anti-Racist
It is easy to say you are “not racist” but often that means you are neutral in discussions about racist policies and ideas. We can assume that we all have internalized racist ideas if we have spent any time in the United States. If you agree with some of the history described above it makes sense how we got to today’s Black Lives Matter movement and a cry for some radical change across economics, education, policing, and healthcare access. You can now decide what you want to do going forward. How important is true equality and equity.
"Antiracism is the commitment to fight racism..."
I like Ibram Kendi’s definition of anti-racism which is someone who supports an antiracist policy through their actions or expresses an idea based in antiracism. What do you think and do on a daily basis that supports or dismantles white supremacy and supports or challenges anti-racist policies? What if it is really indifference of most individuals on a daily basis that maintains white supremacy rather than extremists that are explicitly racist.
Ready to Learn More About Anti-Racism Resources and Racial Justice?
Do you want to dive deeper into these topics? Start to unpack your racial conditioning and start to commit to anti-racism in your daily life. Check out some of the videos created by Dr. Nathalie Edmond and the anti-racism resource page. Sign up for one of the upcoming anti-racism workshops. Finally, set up a consultation for your therapy staff, yoga instruction, educational team and more.
In the meantime, check out this video of Dr. Edmond reading the untold story of racism by Ruth King. Perhaps, you might even adapt this resource to talk to your children or teams about racism!
Want to connect to other resources and Dr. Edmond on social media click here
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Nathalie Edmond is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of trauma from a mindfulness based and somatic approach. She is also a yoga teacher and anti-racism educator. She lives with her family in New Jersey.