While discrimination against BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities has existed in our country for centuries, the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, Elijah McClain and countless other Black people by police has increased the urgency for everyone to work together to address and dismantle racist systems. All of us can help by actively becoming anti-racist.
Kimberlé Crenshaw, a law professor at UCLA and Columbia and host of the podcast Intersectionality Matters!, says the first step toward becoming anti-racist is acknowledging that racism exists right now in our everyday lives.
“We must resist the instinct to consign racist history to yesterday,” she tells Good Housekeeping. “When we resist this impulse, we can understand how historical inequities shape the present; we can understand how the tendrils of slavery, separate but equal, and Jim Crow stretch into the present.”
Once we acknowledge this persistent racism and — if we’re white — our white privilege, the next step is to become anti-racist by actively educating ourselves and others about America’s white supremacist history, speaking up when we observe racist acts, and working toward eliminating racist policies and practices.
What is anti-racism?
The term “anti-racism” was popularized by Ibram X. Kendi’s memoir, How to Be an Antiracist. In his book, Kendi articulates that the underlying tenet of anti-racism is the belief that all races and ethnic groups are equal and deserving of the same opportunities. But the most important part of anti-racism is the next step, which is to do something about the existing inequality.
“Anti-racism is the active dismantling of systems, privileges, and everyday practices that reinforce and normalize the contemporary dimensions of white dominance,” explains Crenshaw. “This, of course, also involves a critical understanding of the history of whiteness in America.”