Everyday actions to help you in your anti-racism journey
Kendi, a prominent anti-racism scholar, argues that denial lies at the heart of racism. You cannot acknowledge or alter what you refuse to acknowledge or see. In order to dismantle racism, the first step is to overcome this denial by educating oneself on the history of African Americans and the Black experience.
Visibility of systemic racism is fundamental work. The historical context illuminates the original dehumanization of African Americans, which serves as the foundation for American racism. It reveals the laws and policies that supported white supremacy, as well as the cultural rules and norms that fostered anti-Blackness.
Learning about the unconscious and automatic manifestations of racism will enable one to recognize and combat it. The participants of the challenge believe that “learning lesser-known facts” not only helped them see and comprehend racism and anti-Blackness, but also inspired them to fight against it.
Anti-racism is a lifestyle. Anti-racism, like any other new habit, requires a conscious decision to pursue it as a goal and way of life. Intention imparts mindful presence and awareness to our words and actions.
Setting the intention to be anti-racist with an open heart and mind influences one’s behavior. The connection between present-moment awareness and intention pulls us out of autopilot and into the conscious pursuit of our goals.
This paves the way for development. According to psychologist Rick Hanson, whatever you focus on has a unique ability to alter your brain. Attention is like a combination spotlight and vacuum cleaner: It illuminates what it focuses on before sucking it into your brain — and into yourself. Setting the intention to pursue anti-racism will assist in adjusting one’s life perspective and deactivate the autopilot state. This will assist you in tapping into your internal anti-racist motivation.
According to studies, internal motivation is the most important factor in effecting lasting change. Affirming why you wish to be anti-racist as part of your intention will serve as a reminder of your objective and assist you in achieving it. We offer the 30-Day Challenge for this reason: It provides participants with purpose clarity and encourages them to take action.
It is difficult to confront the realities of racism, white privilege, and white supremacy.
The term “white fragility” was coined by sociologist and author Robin DiAngelo to describe “the defensive reactions so many white people have when our racial worldviews, positions, or advantages are questioned or challenged.” She proceeds:
For many white people, the mere suggestion that being white has significance will elicit a strong defensive response. And this defensiveness serves to preserve both our comfort and our positions in a racially unequal society from which we profit.
Confronting shame, blame, guilt, and anger requires courage and openness. According to researcher Brené Brown, we are vulnerable when we experience uncertainty, risk, or emotional sensitivity. Vulnerability requires courage; it requires learning how to simultaneously be courageous and fearful. The virtue of courage empowers us to be everyday heroes and inspires collective heroism.
To be antiracist, one must accept discomfort and prioritize courage, compassion, and vulnerability over comfort. It is essential to cultivate an anti-racist mindfulness practice in order to conduct and sustain this work. Participants say that The AntiRacist Table Mindfulness Practices incorporated into the Challenge provided them with a space to confront difficult emotions and discover compassion.
Seeing another person’s individuality involves recognizing the positive and negative characteristics that set them apart from the group. However, as Zaid Jilani writes in Greater Good, mental shortcuts known as heuristics can “lead us to make potentially damaging assumptions about other people.” “For example, racial stereotyping stems from the belief that membership in a racial group defines an individual based on a variety of characteristics, including behavior.”
To be antiracist, it is essential to comprehend and acknowledge that Black people have historically been assigned a negative group identity, including labels such as lazy, irresponsible, dangerous, and angry. Important awareness is that these stereotypes can prevent us from seeing Black people as individuals, because, according to research, we feel less threatened by “different” people when we consider their individual tastes and preferences.
Rehumanizing African Americans is integral to promoting humanity.
According to philosopher Michelle Maiese, the dehumanization process demonizes the enemy by making them appear less human and, therefore, unworthy of humane treatment. The result is a “good versus evil” framework.
According to Maiese, “dehumanization may be mitigated or reversed through humanization efforts, the cultivation of empathy, the establishment of personal relationships between conflicting parties, and the pursuit of common goals.”
Just as denial is the core of racism, recognizing the humanity of others is the core of antiracism. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “We are caught in an unbreakable web of interdependence, bound by a single garment of fate.” Whatever directly affects one individual affects all indirectly.
6. anti-racist activity
In this context, “anti-racist” is a verb that is defined by the action that is being performed. Ibram X. Kendi defines an anti-racist as “one who supports anti-racist policies through their actions or expresses anti-racist ideas.”
To be anti-racist, one must actively participate in the creation of anti-racist policies. One must engage the world with the perspective that all racial groups are equal and actively promote equity. Antiracists support policies such as:
Reparations to address the wealth gap between Black and white families caused by slavery, Jim Crow segregation, anti-Black practices such as redlining, and other discriminatory public policies in criminal justice and education that have denied Black people the same opportunities to build wealth as whites.
Educating Americans on the need to eliminate systemic racism and racist policies.
Holding accountable officers with a history of excessive force.
Kendi writes that racial inequality exists when two or more racial groups are not approximately on equal footing. One must view all groups of people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, or age, as equal. To advocate for equality is to fight for it. To comprehend that corrective action is required to establish equity.
Empathy is essential for rehumanizing the dehumanized. According to Jamil Zaki, director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Laboratory and author of The War for Kindness, “empathy is… an umbrella term that describes multiple ways people respond to one another, including sharing, thinking about, and caring about others’ feelings.” Sharing experiences is the best way to cultivate empathy, according to Zaki, because it is “the closest we come to dissolving the boundary between self and other.” This empathic concern is what drives us to “improve another person’s wellbeing.”
We know from research that empathy creates connection and breaks down the “us versus them” barrier, allowing us to see others as fellow human beings.
Empathy has a second benefit for anti-racists: it aids in the development of resilience to shame, a crucial tool for this work. Empathy increases resilience to shame because it moves us toward connection, compassion, and courage — the opposite of shame’s fear, blame, and disconnection. Remaining mired in shame indicates a lack of anti-racist effort.
To be an ally is to engage in this conflict as though it were your own. It implies that you perform unpleasant tasks. You are committed to taking risks and sharing any privileges you possess in order to center marginalized Black and brown individuals. When you observe something, you comment on it. You imagine and behave as though you have no choice. You strive to eliminate injustice.
Before his death, Congressman John Lewis wrote, “Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by engaging in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble.” Allies are in serious trouble. “Coming to terms with and exploring the deeply rooted systems of white supremacy within my own self and the way I have worked in the world is essential for me to become a true ally,” said one Challenge participant.
Choosing love and healing over fear and oppression is a courageous act of openness. Gratitude, joy, and an open heart are all components of love that enable one to be anti-racist and to incorporate anti-racism into everyday life. Accepting love empowers us to accomplish difficult tasks. According to meditation and communication instructor Oren Jay Sofer:
The greater our awareness of our own lives, the greater our awareness of our interconnectedness with others. This type of love is a transformative force. It provides the fortitude to confront the suffering in the world and the strength to work toward its healing.
Director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Barbara Fredrickson, puts it another way: “Love pulls you out of your cocoon of self-absorption so that you can attune to others. Love enables one to see another person holistically, with concern, care, and compassion.
America is at a crucial juncture. This is the imperative of our age. We must do more than post a sign or read a book; we must understand our shared history and work to support our collective humanity by eradicating the various forms of anti-Blackness. You can start immediately by educating yourself.
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