It’s not enough to not be racist. It’s important to learn how to be anti-racist. The difference is in the action. Simply being “not racist” doesn’t imply any action. It allows you to sit back, make a statement, and then move on to the next thing without any effort to make things better for the people affected by racism. Anti-racism requires action, education, effort, time, and making yourself uncomfortable. It’s not like a diet, where you lose all your racism and then go eat ice cream. It’s a change of lifestyle, integrating education, conversations, and action into your everyday life so it becomes more normal than the racism.
First, here’s some background and history for anyone who needs it, because education is the greatest tool against ignorance.
If you are not familiar with the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, please educate yourself on it here, to start, or here, if you prefer a more narrative version. HBO’s series “Watchmen” opened with a recreation of the riots that made lots of viewers (even Oklahoma residents) admit they had never heard of it before.
This is a Twitter thread (with documents) regarding Fred Hampton and the Black Panthers. Written by Claire Willett. If you haven’t heard of Fred, I hadn’t either, until yesterday.
A little closer to home: The Massive Resistance by white Virginia politicians and leaders against desegregation in the 1950’s, which has affected education in our state for 60+ years.
These are just 3 examples of how the United States, Virginia, and its institutions have failed (to put it extremely mildly) black people in the last 99 years.
If you ask BIPOC individuals, they can no doubt recount personal stories of how our national, state, and local institutions have failed them and their families. I do not recommend you go up to People of Color to ask them to remember all the terrible things that have happened to them because of the color of their skin. A simple Google search can do that for you without giving anyone PTSD for your own edification.
Pastor Vernon Gordon, who lives in Chesterfield, shared several stories on Instagram recently, and had a long conversation with my pastor on Sunday. The videos are collected on my church’s website as part of a conversation of empathy, introspection, and becoming better humans. Here is Vernon’s Instagram account where you can see what great things he and The Life Church are doing for the community.
Now some ways you can help:
What not to say when someone shares an experience with you.
75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice, which has been insightful and very helpful for me personally.
Anti-racism resources compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein.
Support local black-owned businesses. Here are some (definitely not all) of my favorites this month:
Little Nomad Shop
Participate in Blackout Tuesday (today) and start the conversation now. It will be uncomfortable. It’s time to be uncomfortable. We’ve been comfortable for far too long.
I want to add that I’m not an expert on BIPOC or anti-racism. I’m learning as I go, and trying to be better today than I was yesterday.