Is "not racist" the same as "antiracist"?
Being antiracist is different from being “not racist” or “non-racist.” Antiracism is a positive term that describes people who actively work to understand, explain, and solve racial inequity and injustice. Unlike racist or antiracist, there is no consistent definition for “not racist”1. A movement or idea can be described as racist or antiracist but labeling something as “not racist” conveys a defensive and equivocal posture.
Racist and antiracist are not permanent identities. Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, leading scholar of racism and professor at Boston University, describes that they “are like peelable name tags that are placed or replaced based on what someone is doing or not doing, supporting or expressing in each moment”2.
We can be antiracist by re-examining the social structures that we support, rethinking our implicit core beliefs about race and interracial social relations, and working with our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) peers against systemic racism. Making conscious decisions toward antiracism will contribute to building an equitable society for all.
To learn more:
- How to be an Antiracist is available to borrow via ebook and audiobook from the NIH library
- Listen to The difference between being “not racist” and antiracist—A conversation with Ibram X. Kendi, Director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research
- How to be an Antiracist—Unlocking Us podcast hosted by Brene Brown
- Ibram X. Kendi’s An Antiracist Reading List. You can listen to or read several of these titles on race and social equity from the Montgomery County Public Library.