Throughout the past couple of weeks, I’ve been scrolling down social media and seeing various posts about the current Black Live Matter movement that is occurring around the world. I’ve seen people proclaim their solidarity with the movement. I’ve seen people denounce that racism even exists anymore. I have even seen people proudly display their support for racist endeavours and white supremacy.
One thing that I have frequently seen is people separate themselves from racism. Throughout these protests, many non-Black people have been quick to say “I’m not racist.” These people are the ones who type post #BlackLivesMatter and then go about their day without giving a second thought to the larger issues at hand. I won’t say that I do not appreciate the fact that these people are not racist. This is fantastic; however, I should not have to applaud you for not showing hatred to people who look different from you. I should not have to give you a pat on the back for displaying human decency.
Being “not racist” is something that you should be doing out of the kindness of your heart because you know it is right, and not because you are looking for likes on your latest tweet or post.Tweet
What I will applaud you for is being anti-racist
Yes, there is a difference.
Not being racist means that you don’t participate in racist endeavours. This means that you don’t have biases against people of colour, you don’t use your privilege to marginalize them, you don’t say or assume negative things about them just because of the colour of their skin, or display hatred against them of any kind.
Being anti-racist or anti-racism means that you actively denounce racism. This means that you use your privilege to remove racism from systems and institutions in society, you call racism out when you see it, you educate yourself on racism, and proactively and consciously seek to achieve racial equality. The Black community needs non-Black allies to act upon their “non-racist” beliefs and fight for genuine, long-lasting change.
The Black community is tired of having “not racist” non-Black allies march with us when matters relating to racial inequality are trending, and then disappear when they get bored with the movement. Racial discrimination is not a trend; it’s a frightening reality that deserves attention 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week.Tweet
We also need to be pro-Black.
For centuries, the idea of Blackness has been associated with crime, deviancy, and inferiority. The creation of policies, like Jim Crow laws, and policing practices, like racial profiling, have supported these beliefs. We can say that these ideas of Blackness are racist; however, they are also anti-Black. They suggest that, in short, Black is bad.
These policies, ideologies, and practices against the Black community reiterate that Blackness is problematic. They advise that something needs to be done to extract it from society or limit its chance of thriving. For Black people to be treated equally in a society that favours white people, we need to be pro-Black. Society’s policies, practices, programs, communities, and resources all need to be geared towards the interests of the Black community.
To be pro-Black is to be in favour of Black people. It means that you want to see Black people prospering as individuals and as a community. This means that you believe that removing racial and socioeconomic barriers is integral to their success in mainstream society. Being pro-Black means allowing Black people to embrace their culture, ethnicity, race, and heritage in public places without discrimination.
We acknowledge that the fight against racism and anti-Blackness is not something that we can do alone; however, the reality is that the Black community feels alone when these protests are over.
When most non-Black people stop marching, they go back to their everyday lives. Most of them don’t have to face discrimination in their everyday lives. They do not have to worry about how their Blackness is perceived in the workplace. Non-Black people don’t have to worry if they will be stopped by police on their way from work or school. They don’t have to experience racist microaggressions when they are in line at the grocery store, out for dinner at a restaurant, or out for a jog. When most non-Black people stop marching, they forget about their commitment to being allies in the Black community.
To be anti-racist and pro-Black means that you never stop supporting the Black community. This means you never get so wrapped up in your privilege to forget that there are people just like you with dreams, ambitions, and dedication, who cannot have what you have because of the colour of their skin. Building an anti-racist and pro-Black society does not happen overnight. We know this; however, the battle for racial equality has been occurring for centuries. It is time to stop simply talking about change and make it happen. To establish long-lasting, sustainable change, the Black community needs its allies to be as passionate and bold about anti-Black racism as they are.
I speak for many members of the Black community when I say that we are tired of our allies not seeing the importance of being anti-racist.
Past non-Black movements have been filled with allies who are “not racist”; look where this has gotten us. Black people have been fighting racism since the beginning of time, and since then, not much has changed. Our allies, especially our more privileged allies, need to have an anti-racist and pro-Black perspective. We need them to use their privilege to implement anti-racist policies, practices, and laws into our government and society. We need them to see how the legislature and resources can be changed to account for the years of marginalization that have isolated Black people from various systems and communities.
It is time to stop blaming Black people for their shortcomings in the system and start questioning how the system is hurting the Black community. What we hope will change in the wake of these recent protests is that our non-Black allies will educate themselves on their privilege. We hope that they, and you, will learn you how you can use it to advocate for racial equality.
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