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At Fullbrook, we take a stand against racism, and as part of this we know we can always be striving to do better. A lot of you will be feeling shocked and upset and maybe feeling a little helpless in the wake of the death of George Floyd, Amaud Aubery, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade. If you are looking for support on how to start, Fullbrook would like to offer some support to our community in how to make Fullbrook and the world around us a better place.
10 Ways to be Anti-Racist
1. Understand that nothing happens in isolation
Yes, it is terrifying to see some of the extreme violence against people of colour happening right now, and even more terrifying for People of Colour who may be thinking “that could happen to me”. But no one wakes up out of the blue and from out of nowhere decides to be racist or indeed violently racist. Instead, we learn a little bit every day, whenever someone makes a joke, or a comment, or a stereotype; whenever someone shrugs these things off of says “oh they probably didn’t mean it like that” that it is okay to treat some people as less than. And some people will always test the limits and take that a step further, and a step further.
Even the people with the best of intentions cannot fight the things they learn from the world around them without actively thinking about it, otherwise many things slip by subconsciously. If you want to stop racial violence, you need to notice and stop the little things first. Start with yourself and those around you. Let’s look at how to do that.
Jazmin Kopotsh said “[Racism] may manifest in different forms, and it may be addressed in a very different way, but societies both [in the USA and UK] still have an inherent, systemic, really big issue on their hands”
People are hurting right now – very visibly in the media. But these hurts have been present for a long time. As we move forward to make change, we must make space to raise the voices of those who have been hurt above our own, make time to hear the experiences of people for whom these experiences are part of their day to day life, and put a pause on our own desire to talk about our own experiences.
Sometimes the things we hear may shock us, upset us and even make us feel ashamed and defensive. The things we hear may make us question the assumptions we have made in life up until now which can be scary. But please remember, when someone is sharing personal experiences with you, they are being vulnerable and need you to listen, be empathetic, and offer your support in what they may need.
In addition, you may want to listen to some radio or podcasts of voices that want you to tune in.
3. Don’t expect People of Colour to explain everything to you
When you want to learn more about the experiences of People of Colour, it is tempting to turn to all your friends and family members who are People of Colour and ask them “What is racism?” “What is white supremacy?” “What should I do to be a better ally?” “Am I doing it right?” But imagine you had to educate someone every day about some of the most traumatic parts of your life. How quickly would this become very tiring and stressful? Search engines are your friend – ask the internet! There are lots of people who are more than happy to explain things to you because they do have the energy, so go look for them! Your tutor or teacher may well have recommendations.
4. Get Educated
If you’re reading this, you probably have a lot of questions about racism, but at the same time it’s not fair to your friends and family who may be POC to keep going to them and asking them to explain racism and anti-racism to you at every step. That would be very tiring for them! Thankfully, some people have made it their full time, paid job, to explain racism and anti-racism to anyone who wants to learn. They have written some great books, both fiction and non-fiction
- You can find the Fullbrook reading list for Black voices this month here.
- You can find a great list of anti-racism books here and some books for younger readers here and here.
- Excitingly, Fullbrook will even more recommendations for Black History Month reading list too.
- Three books that explore issues from perspectives that particularly relevant to the UK include
- ‘Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race’ by Reni Eddo-Lodge
- ‘Me and White Supremacy’ by Layla Saad
- ‘Orientalism’ by Edward Said
Furthermore, it has never been easier than now to watch relevant films, documentaries and television series. Whether on the streaming services of the usual television channels, or through streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime or Youtube, there are lots of amazing people telling the story of black people and other People of Colour, and the experiences they live through.
Some good places to start include:
Quick Watches and Ted Talks:
What happens when I try to talk about race to white people | Reni Eddo-Lodge
Alt History: Black British History We’re Not Taught in Schools | David Olusoga
British Values | Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan
What is systemic racism? | Race Forward
Everyday racism: What should we do? | Akala (some racial slurs)
How to deconstruct racism, one headline at a time | Baratunde Thurston
I Am Not Your Asian Stereotype | Canwen Xu
The disturbing history of the suburbs | Adam Ruins Everything
Facing Racism: What You Can Do to Fight Injustice | Dan Gannon
Making the Right Kind of History | Fullbrook Assembly
Bigger Watches Available on Streaming Services:
Dear White People (age rated 15)
When they see us (age rated 15)
13th (age rated 15)
12 Years a slave (age rated 15)
The Death of a Black Panther (age rated 12+)
I am not your Negro (age rated 12)
Just Mercy (age rated 12)
Moonlight (age rated 15)
Selma (age rated 12)
This is England (age rated 18) UK
The Stuart Hall Project (age rated 12) UK
Hidden Figures (age rated PG)
Hard Stop (age rated 15)
La Haine (age rated 15)
Belle (age rated 12) UK
Sometimes it can be scary to speak up when someone says something that is not okay. We know from our own actions that we often don’t mean the things we say to come out the way they do, and if someone tells us we did something not okay, we feel bad, and maybe a bit defensive, maybe we lash out. But even though challenging and being challenged can be painful, nothing will change unless we do.
Often, because we are too scared to challenge others, the only people who end up doing the challenging are the victims of racism themselves, and that’s a lot of hard work for people who are already being affected by racism AND then having to challenge people about it too. So here we need to brave and become the change we want to see in the world. Where else is a better place to start, than here, in the Fullbrook community where we know that we have a zero tolerance policy against racism. Time to stop tolerating it!
Martin Luther King Jr. said we should fight for the “positive peace of justice” not the “negative peace of a lack of tension” This means leaning into these tense moments to have a conversation about it, instead of ignoring things and hoping they fix themselves.
It can also be helpful to think about what you say before you say it. It can be easy to have an immediate response to someone saying or doing something (and there’s nothing wrong with this strategy) but if you know you’re the type to get a bit caught up in feeling angry and upset, give yourself a bit of a run up. Amnesty International have a nice guide for challenging racism in people you are close to here, but even with this advice, you may still have to face the possibility that people will get annoyed at you when you call them out on their racism or problematic behaviour – people who make change can’t be popular with everyone, but they can do what is right.
So step up. Take a big breath. Prepare yourself to maybe have someone be defensive at you. But challenge them anyway to make a little difference every day.
6. Be prepared to get it wrong
It’s really easy to want to do something or say something to stand up for what is right. But it’s also easy to be aware that lots of well-meaning people say things wrong all the time along the way. Be brave enough to put yourself on the line – try to do what is right, and be prepared to get it wrong and learn from it. Learning to be anti-racist is the same as learning anything else; you won’t get it perfectly right immediately, but without practice you definitely won’t get any better. Staying silent when someone needs to speak out won’t help you learn.
The flip side of this, of course, is not expecting a big ‘thank you’, ‘well done’, celebration or pat on the back when you get something right. Obviously, every little bit of help is important, but doing the right thing is never about getting praise for it and if you are a white ally, you must remember that this mission is not about you feeling appreciated.
Ibram X. Kennedy said “There’s no such thing as not racist. There’s only racist and anti-racist”
7. Be prepared for others to get it wrong
Just like you wouldn’t want to be defined by your worst mistakes when you are working hard to do better, we need to extend this chance to others too.
We do need to challenge racism, and we need to give people around us a chance to hear this challenge, listen to it, think about it, learn from it and start to make a change. People make mistakes; if we want people to do better, we must give them the chance. A lot of prejudice is born from ignorance, so we want to create a situation that people can learn from.
Does this mean stop challenging? No. Does it mean stop holding people accountable for the things they say and do? No. But it does mean giving people who want to learn and do better, the opportunity to do so.
8. Be prepared to feel uncomfortable
Being anti-racist doesn’t mean you don’t mess up and say or do something that is racist once in a while. It means being committed to challenging racism in yourself and others. It has been said that “the first thought that goes through your mind is what you have been conditioned to think; what you think next defines you”. Whether this is discomfort in looking honestly at your own actions or attitudes, or the discomfort found in the actions and attitudes of those around you, not all of this will feel great. You and others will say and do things that are not okay, and when someone challenges you on it, it is okay to stop, look at yourself honestly, and grow to be a better person.
Ijeoma Oluo said “Antiracism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including yourself. And that is the only way to go” So. Let’s go!
A lot of opening your eyes to racism and learning more about how to challenge it involves widening the range of people whose voices and experiences you regularly hear. You can easily do this by subscribing to some professional anti-racists in your social media feeds. Without expanding the range of voices that you hear, and making sure you give minorities and oppressed groups a route into your life, you miss out on hearing about experiences that are different to your own, and as a result run the risk of unintentionally living in a bubble of ignorance.
If you are on Instagram, here are some places to start:
If you’re on Tiktok you may like to follow
Who talk about Black History in America.
10. Keep going even when there is no social media pressure
Right now, you can’t really log on to social media without something popping up about George Floyd, other victims of police violence, or the protests and riots. Lots of your friends, family or social media influencers may well be posting. But this level of media presence will not last forever. You need to make sure that you keep listening and keep acting even when racism is not a top trending topic. Keep pushing even when, at that moment, justice is not cool. Keep the conversation going even when society would prefer you to just be quiet. Nothing great is achieved in a single moment, and true, meaningful change involved persistent, resilient action through thick and thin.
There are plenty of leaders to follow all year round, and many campaigns to get yourself involved in. Whether this is reposting the messages that campaigns share, signing petitions, donating to causes or attending protests, keeping the conversation open and standing up to change as part of a bigger team and bigger picture is also key.
Something missing? Can we make this resource better? Get in touch! As always, if you want to work with Fullbrook to take anti-racism and equalities justice in our community to the next level, please email Ms Sauer at firstname.lastname@example.org to speak up and to join the Fullbrook Student Equalities Team.