Moving From "Not Racist" to "Anti-Racist"

Michael Burg, MD

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A life-long learner, constantly evolving, who contributes positively to society.

That’s what I aspire to be.

I’m focused now on moving from "non-racist" to "anti-racist" as I learn, grow and engage. If you’re on a similar journey, please read on.

Wiser, more experienced minds than mine have defined “anti-racism” as “the active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably.” [1]

It’s not enough to be “not racist” [1]

That’s because a “not racist” posture is passive. It does nothing to build solutions to problems caused by racism. It merely identifies you as someone who presumably does not behave in a prejudiced or discriminatory manner. [1]

An intentional commitment to societal change is what is called for: by undoing racism’s damage, by changing racist policies, by preventing inequalities based on skin color or ethnicity, by realizing the goal of equality for all. [1]

Becoming “anti-racist” is that active positive commitment.

What can I do?

I’ve described elsewhere what I now do on a one-to-one basis when confronted by racism.

But, even as I wrote and posted the description, self-evaluation of my efforts made them seem small, inconsequential, unlikely to significantly move the needle from a passive “not racist” stance to an active, effective “anti-racist” one.

So, I sought the advice of others to have a greater impact.

Actionable ideas

1. Volunteer for, or contribute to, organizations with anti-racist ideals, policies and programs [2]

2. Use your influence to change racist policies [2]

3. Talk about race and racism [3]

4. Use metacognition — essentially thinking about your own thought processes — to constantly re-evaluate your understanding about racism-related issues

5. Diversify your circle of friends/acquaintances to include others unlike yourself [3]

6. Read [4]

7. Be intentionally anti-racist [5]

8. Speak up courageously to family and friends [6]

9. Learn — at racism-focused meetings, events, demonstrations [7]

10. Support POC-owned businesses [7]

11.Don’t scapegoat [7]

This is all a starting point

As described, I’m on a life-long journey to learn, grow and contribute. In a wide variety of ways and on a wide variety of subjects, I’m just beginning my journey. That’s a constant for me.

If you have knowledge and opinions to share I welcome your input, always.

Thank you for reading.

Anti-Racist Resources

[1]https://www.simplemost.com/heres-the-difference-between-not-racist-and-anti-racist/

[2]https://mashable.com/article/how-to-be-antiracist/

[3]https://everydaypower.com/things-you-can-do-to-be-an-antiracist/

[4]A “Google” search of anti-racist themed books will reveal many fine works. Scholar Ibram X. Kendi’s book, How To Be An Antiracist, is a classic.

[5]https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/ten_keys_to_everyday_anti_racism

[6]https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/04/health/how-to-be-an-anti-racist-wellness/index.html

[7]https://mesa.umich.edu/article/10-ways-be-anti-racist

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