Becoming actively antiracist


My heart hurts about the Charleston shootings. I feel sick to my stomach with this world sometimes. I wish I were a goddess because this is what my world would look like, just for starters:

People would see each other as humans first.
All men would treat all females with love and respect as equals.
Parents would love and support their children. Period. Or give them to someone who would.
Only religions that spread love and tolerance would exist.
Everyone would have access to good food and clean water.
We would be good stewards of our planet.
People would actively work to end violence on all levels.

How do I talk about this incident with my students of color and not seem fake and condescending? Why can we not have an honest, calm, open dialogue about race and white privilege? As a public school teacher responsible for teaching future public school teachers, how do I make them understand that they must nurture an open mind and open heart for all the types of students who will show up in their classrooms? As public school teachers, we must fight our prejudices, because we all have them, on some level, about certain types of people. Sometimes I feel that teachers may be the strongest voices to promote tolerance. I sure do not hear our church leaders and political leaders doing it.

I like the idea of being “actively antiracist” as Spelman College’s President Beverly Daniel Tatum explains in “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”

I sometimes visualize the ongoing cycle of racism as a moving walkway at the airport. Active racist behavior is equivalent to walking fast on the conveyor belt. The person engaged in active racist behavior has identified with the ideology of White supremacy and is moving with it. Passive racist behavior is equivalent to standing still on the walkway. No overt effort is being made, but the conveyor belt moves the bystanders along to the same destination as those who are actively walking. Some of the bystanders may feel the motion of the conveyor belt, see the active racists ahead of them, and choose to turn around, unwilling to go to the same destination as the White supremacists. But unless they are walking actively in the opposite direction at a speed faster than the conveyor belt—unless they are actively antiracist—they will find themselves carried along with the others.


I am going to start exploring this idea. What does being actively antiracist look like? I am not exactly sure yet, but I saw one example last night when thousands walked across the bridge in Charleston. I wish we would stage love demonstrations regularly so the haters will know they are outnumbered and that love will always win in the end. 

I am going to also start exploring the organization Educolor's resources and sign up for their newsletter. One of my favorite bloggers Jose Vilson helped create it. 

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