While it seems that things these days are pretty terrible, in many ways, they are not. There were protests in the 1960s and the 1990s, and I feel like each time, the topic of the elimination of racism was pushed, with great difficulty, at the forefront of people’s minds.
There are again protests in 2020, but I do feel like, more than ever before, we are at the cusp of a painfully difficult yet ultimately glorious transformation, resulting in the elimination of all prejudices, including the scourge of racism. The fact that so many people now (finally!) know about “anti-racism” and their willingness to do the work reflects the potentialities of this time.
However, we have to realise that this is going to be arduous labour. We are going to be picking at a mountain of rock with dull pickaxes for quite some time. But there are more of us than ever, and if we keep at it, we will carve our way through.
Being an Anti-Racist
Being an anti-racist is easy and hard at the same time.
It’s easy because the things you have to do are relatively simple. It’s hard because you have to keep doing them for years, oftentimes without seeing any visible result and yet still pushing forward with full confidence. The question isn’t “can we do it”; rather than question is: Will we do it?
Here are some of the things that, if we do daily and continue doing over a long, long period of time, will effect change, or make clear other paths that will effect change.
And I really mean everything. Why are things the way that they are? Why do we accept it? Has anyone done anything about it? If not, why? If yes, why didn’t it work? Don’t worry about having the answers; ask the questions, find collaborators, and the resulting consultation will end in concrete action and tangible results.
Read Content by Creators of Different Backgrounds
When you read content from the same type of creator, you are building and strengthening an echo chamber in which change becomes almost impossible. Find authors, bloggers, Instagram accounts etc. from creators who have different opinions than you do, that come from different backgrounds than you do, that live in completely different places than you do. You’d be surprised how one book can completely change your mindset, inspire and empower you.
Build Your Community
The concept of “building community” sounds terrifyingly difficult to some, while all it is, really, is getting to know your neighbours. You can start small: spend time in front of your home, instead of behind it. Go to the front of your building instead of staying on your balcony. Sit on your front stoop or your front porch, or hang out in the front yard. Don’t become absorbed in what you are doing; rather, get absorbed in your environment. Look at the people walking by (smile and wave!); check out the cars driving by; listen for people. Get to know the rhythm of your neighborhood and talk to people. I mean, instead of commenting on posts and DM-ing others, why not do it IRL?
Buy Less, and Buy Small
As much as you can, buy less and give the money you save to organisations doing the work—or work less and spend time on one of the other points on this list. And if you can, buy small—that is, from small businesses. Profits made by small businesses usually stay in the community, rather than line already thickly lined pockets. And small businesses are both more accountable and can more easily adopt constructive policies. (And if you can, start a small business!)
Stand Up For Justice in All the Small Ways
We can’t let our understanding of the magnitude of the problem of racism snuff out our individual, daily efforts to eliminate it. It might not seem like a lot, but every time you call out a racist comment or joke, when you call out someone who wants to switch park benches because someone different is sitting close to them, when you read a book that opens your mind to other possibilities, when you contribute to an organisation, when you post something challenging institutional racism, when you write a letter to your elected representative about a covertly or overtly racist policy—it does help.
I’m a realist; I know that none of my actions as an anti-racist are going to change the entire world. But I am a realist; I understand that these actions are, each and every one (even this post!), a little spark of light in a world darkened by racism. Please join me in adding sparks, both in real life and online. Your spark might not seem like much to you, but imagine if you and I and everyone around us contributed these little sparks all day, every day.
What spark have you lit today?