Anti Racist Advent

This December on the run up to Christmas, we’ve been sharing daily ideas, new perspectives and thinking points around becoming anti-racist. If you missed them, don’t worry, we’ve shared all 24 below and added some further notes to give a broader insight for each point.

  • Don’t treat your journey to becoming anti-racist as an act of self-improvement: this process isn’t really about you. Check in with yourself about why you are doing things, is your intention to make a difference, not to be performative?
  • Take time to research and understand the history and impact of racism. If you fully understand the origins of racism you’ll be better equipped to have discussions.
  • Listen to marginalised voices. Seek out different views and stories. It’s incredibly helpful to see and hear stories from other perspectives and not just stay in our ‘echo chamber’.
  • Language is very important, break the habit of using or hearing outdated words without questioning. Challenging words and terms can be a good place to start when having conversations about anti -racism.
  • Accept the discomfort of difficult conversations. Change is never going to be easy, but ‘leaning into’ feeling uncomfortable when learning helps us to grow.
  • Speak UP not OVER. Amplify rather than overshadow. It’s important to share the voices of people who have lived experiences rather than only adding your viewpoint.
  • Don’t explain away racist behaviour. If you feel you’re making excuses, you probably are. Recognise that statements such as “I’m not racist but….” are always going to be problematic and need to be addressed clearly.
  • Recognise the spaces in which you have privilege and power to make a difference. Consider how you can share information if you have access to a platform that allows you to share with people or networks who might not otherwise encounter anti-racism work.
  • Think offline. Impactful anti-racism work needs to happen in our daily lives. This links back to avoiding being performative, if you’re active on social media but haven’t looked into any other outlets such as local organisations…could you do more?
  • Anti-racist allyship is in what you do, not what you believe… it’s PROACTIVE not reactive. Reactive trends come and go with little impact in the long run, how many people did you see posting black squares on instagram but haven’t mentioned racism again since? This is a marathon not a sprint!
  • Keep up momentum. Don’t feel satisfied that you’ve learned or done all you can. We’re all learning new things every day. The landscape is always changing, and there is always more we can do.
  • Remember that just because you don’t experience it, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. This is all the more reason to listen to marginalised voices and expand your sources of information to get a clearer understanding of what people have been through.
  • Acknowledge that privileges do not mean that you have had an easy life. Advantages are usually structurally ingrained and unconscious. White privilege as a term is so often misunderstood but it’s most simple explanation is this: it does not mean White people are not disadvantaged, their lives are not hard, or they have not suffered, it just means their skin colour has never been an impediment in their lives. 
  • Mistakes WILL happen. Apologise without caveats or being defensive… then learn from it. Every one of us will get something wrong as part of this process, but if we do not take action due to fear of mistakes we will stand still.
  • Check the lens that you are listening through. You may have to unlearn to relearn. Think of it this way, if you’re reading a book about Black history, who is the author? If it’s a White historian, it’s really beneficial to seek out alternatives written from the perspective of a Black author (we recommend this one!)
  • Anti-racism is everyone’s responsibility. Take action, but most importantly take accountability. Remember racism is a responsibility for White people to understand and dismantle, it is not the job of Black and Brown people to do all the work.
  • You can’t always change someone’s mind, but there may be an opportunity to plant a seed. Over the years, a seed can grow. You’re unlikely to change someone’s mind from one conversation. Shift your goal and it can help to avoid frustration.
  • Be consistent about challenging injustices every single time. Small acts can build up to big changes. Start now!
  • Don’t assume: listen carefully to the support that people actually need. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Listen, listen, listen to the voices of others and their lived experiences.
  • Learn about intersectionality and the different experiences faced by individuals. Intersectionality identifies multiple factors of advantage and disadvantage. Examples of these factors include gender, sex, race, class, sexuality, religion, disability…to name but a few. For example, did you know that Black people are four times more likely to be detained under the mental act than White people?
  • Don’t underestimate the value of traditional forms of activism like protests, donating and writing to your MP. If you can, do more, actions speak louder than words.
  • Check in with yourself about your intentions. If your actions don’t go beyond social media, are you really committed to becoming anti-racist? As we’ve said in point 21, there are so many more ways to make a difference than posting online. 
  • Prepare responses in advance for common themes in uncomfortable conversations “All lives should matter. But all lives can’t matter until Black lives matter”. Look out for our article coming soon with tips about how to speak to your family and friends about racism.
  • Every small change that you make will matter. Small changes stack up to make big differences. If you haven’t already, sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with everything Anti Racist Cumbria is up to, and get involved!

We hope you’ve enjoyed our Anti Racist Advent, and from everyone here at Anti Racist Cumbria we wish all those celebrating, a very Merry Christmas and to everyone, happy end of year holidays!