Gaining international recognition over the past few months, the Black Lives Matter movement aims to lead our generation toward being actively anti-racist, which is the effort to go against racism and create opportunities for racial equality. Examples of anti-racism range from Black workers receiving equal pay, to opening more roles for Black leads in film and television. However, even with the tremendous momentum of the BLM movement, some individuals refuse to understand the extent of discrimination and racism that Black people face on a daily basis, thus failing to recognize the importance of active anti-racism. Since being aware of an issue is the first step in combatting it, it is vital that we educate communities on how to be anti-racist.
The use of social media is one way to foster anti-racism. As soon as users log onto their social media accounts, they can see thousands of informative posts from accounts such as @antiracismdaily about anti-racism, victims of racism, and how people can educate themselves by simply tapping the screens of their devices. Through features like the ability to share posts, social media has allowed many people to raise awareness on a variety of issues and inspire people to take action. For example, after the story of Elijah McClain went viral on the internet, almost 5 million people signed a petition to demand justice and police accountability. Social media also allows for the dissemination of vital information, such as the dates, times, and locations of local BLM protests. Thus, BLM protests have taken place in over 60 countries, making the BLM movement the largest in the history of the U.S., according to The New York Times. By using social media, people can not only conveniently educate themselves about anti-racism, but also share posts easily to spread awareness about the BLM movement.
Another way to teach anti-racism is to have a simple conversation. A 2016 study centred around transphobia illustrated the effectiveness of this idea. The study was conducted by canvassers who visited and had conversations with more than 500 transphobic residents in South Florida. The canvassers implored the residents to “put... themselves in the shoes of trans people” to understand their problems, allowing the residents to reevaluate their discriminatory opinions. The short discussions lead the participants to assess their biases and drastically reduced the community’s negative perceptions of transgender people, its citizens even voting for laws that protected transgender people from discrimination. Through having small, non-confrontational conversations, people can start opening up their minds and considering different perspectives. In the context of the BLM movement, conversation topics can include the importance of anti-racism, how to be anti-racist, and the inner workings of system racism. The additions of simple diagrams that illustrate facts and statistics about systemic racism, such as the wage gap between Black people and white people, can also help others grasp these concepts through visual representation.
One of the most effective ways to encourage anti-racism is through the implementation of programs about race in classrooms and organizations. This claim is supported by the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s program, named “Let’s Talk! Teaching Race in the Classroom”, which focuses on making school environments safer and more inclusive by talking about significant topics, such as the struggles of being a minority, different cultures, and how race forms one’s identity. The program has allowed many marginalized students to become brave enough to share their perspectives and experiences of being discriminated against. Classmates also fostered a deeper bond between themselves and substantially decreased their uses of racial slurs, harassment, and racist comments. Additionally, changing school curricula to include a diverse array of voices gave marginalized students role models to which to look up, inspiring these students to become influential leaders. Thus, implementing programs in classrooms, such as continuously having conversations about race and racism and developing a more diverse curriculum, can help create a generation of anti-racist students.
Not being racist is not enough to combat the systemic racism that has oppressed Black people and other people of colour for centuries. We must be actively anti-racist to ensure no one is judged or held back because of their skin color. There is still much progress left on humanity’s path to global equality, as many issues, such as LGTBQ+ discrimination and misogyny, are still pertinent and widespread. However, through educating communities on how to be anti-racist, we can go at least a few steps forward in bringing togetherness in the world.