So, I have a question for you: are you you non-, or are you anti-?
Several months ago in response to Ferguson, Baltimore, the killings of Freddie Gray and Tamir Rice my friend Kaitlyn put up a Facebook post breaking down the difference between non-racism and anti-racism.
Most of are non-racist. Because racism is looked upon as some moral lapse, we feel self-assured by simply not being racist. I’m not a bigot. I don’t sing that N-word when my favorite rap jam comes on. I didn’t vote for that guy. I’m not burning any crosses. I’m not a skinhead. “I don’t,” “I won’t”, “I’m not”, “I’ve never,” “I can’t.”
What you end up with is an entire moral stance, an entire code for living your life and dealing with all the injustice in the world by not doing a damn thing.
That’s the great thing about “non-“: you can pull it off by simply rolling over in your bed and going to sleep. So why are you sitting at home and watching unfold on TV instead of doing something about it? Because you’re a non-racist, not an anti-racist.
Now do this for me: take the “C” out of “racist,” and replace it with a “P.” I’m not a rapist. I’m not friends with any rapists. I didn’t buy that rapist’s last album. All these things that you’re not doing. Meanwhile, people are still getting raped. And Black boys are being killed.
It’s not enough that you don’t do these things.
Your going to bed with a clear conscience is not going to stop college students from being assaulted. You thinking climate change is terrible is not going to stop climate change. You being so assured that you’re not anti-black, anti-muslim, won’t stop the next hate crime. And it’s wonderful that you recognize how brave gay people are when facing persecution, but they aren’t the ones who need to be brave.
We need to get active. We need to hold people accountable. We need to accept that what hurts one of us hurts all of us. And we need to stop thinking that injustice going on in the world isn’t to an extent our fault.
We need to stop being non- and start being anti-.
Pair with Allies Must Be Traitors: On Barnor Hesse’s “action-oriented identities.” for more on anti-racism and You Can Take It Back: Consent as a Felt Sense along with “I said ‘yes.’ But I feel raped” for more about how we’re conditioned to behave as “non-rapists” rather than anti-rape.