What does it mean to be actively anti-racist?

On anti-racism

“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.”
– Angela Davis

I first heard this quote last year in Ravideep Kaur’s anti-racism course The Awakening. More recently, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, and the massive rise in awareness and support for the Black Lives Matter movement, I’ve been thinking again about what it means to be actively anti-racist. In every sphere of life–from work, community, relationships, hobbies–there are so many places to keep listening, learning, unlearning, and taking action.

What I learned from Ravideep is that we need to start with ourselves. It’s about becoming conscious of all the ways racism underscores the world we live in, and understanding how I’ve benefited from the system as a white person. It’s about getting still and quiet with all those uncomfortable feelings. It’s not a self-improvement project, but rather a lifelong commitment and practice that’s always evolving.

This post may seem out of the blue after twenty years of just wanging on about my travels, ups and downs, dogs and cats and marriage banter. But I feel if I’m going to hang out in a corner of the internet for this long, I need to be clear about my values and what I deeply care about. How else will anyone know what kind of place they’ve landed on when they stop by?

Any discomfort I’ve felt about getting the words wrong is nothing compared to what’s at stake for others right now. So I want to be clear that I support Black Lives Matter and that I’m committed to keep on deepening my efforts to be actively anti-racist.

While I’m here, I wanted to share some resources that I’ve found hugely helpful.

Leesa Renee Hall - Inner Field Trip™

Leesa Reneée Hall’s Inner Field Trip™
I’m currently taking Leesa Renée Hall’s Inner Field Trip™ which is available to her Patreon supporters. It’s a 10-day virtual journey that uses reflective writing prompts to explore unconscious biases and hidden prejudices. She writes: “The goal of embarking on an Inner Field Trip™ is to navigate to the deep, dark crevices of your inner being to find your Inner Oppressor – that part of you that wants you to conform to the dominant culture so you stay safe, avoid rejection, and are seen”.

Today is Day 7 and it is mega-powerful stuff. The prompts are like laser beams. They prod at all the uncomfortable places. By sitting for twenty minutes, writing stream-of-consciousness style, you end up diving deep and uncovering all the muck that can get in the way. So far we have written on topics like Black women and leadership, weaponised kindness, perfectionism, and deconstructing our privileged identities. Fellow field trippers share their reflections on the Patreon site, which adds to the whole experience and always gets me thinking from different angles. You can find out more on Leesa’s website and Instagram.

How to be anti-racist in your freelance creative business - by Esme Filsinger

How to be anti-racist in your freelance creative business by Esme Filsinger
Esme writes: “So what can you do as a freelancer to be more inclusive, and to elevate the narratives of people of colour without engaging in tokenism? Well my friends, there is plenty.”

This blog post has thoughtful and actionable ideas and how to go about them – without centering oneself, and with the knowledge that it will be messy and imperfect. It helped me see my responsibilities and opportunities to do better as a freelancer. Thank you, Esme!

(P.S. Esme is a coach who helps creative freelancers find sustainability, and she offers coaching sessions around developing inclusivity in your business.)

Body Kindness Podcast 150: Racism Explains the Origins of Fat Phobia and Diet Culture, with Sabrina Strings PhD, Author of Fearing the Black Body

Body Kindness Episode 150: Racism Explains the Origins of Fat Phobia and Diet Culture, with Sabrina Strings PhD, Author of Fearing the Black Body
Through working behind the scenes on Rebecca Scritchfield’s Body Kindness podcast this past five years, I’ve heard from so many different voices in the realms of diet culture, health, and eating disorders. One powerful episode was last year’s interview with Dr Sabrina Strings. Sabrina talked to Rebecca about the connections between racism and the origins of fat phobia, and the control of women’s bodies historically and through today’s diet culture.

Having long written in public about my own Body and Eating Stuff (catchy title eh?), I’m learning about the wider picture beyond my own experience; all the layers and connections. How did this diet culture come to be? Who gets access to help for their eating disorders and who doesn’t? There’s so much to unpack. This conversation is great, as is Dr String’s book Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia.

Anti Racism Daily - Nicole Cardoza

Nicole Cardoza’s Anti Racism Daily
These daily emails are intended “to keep your anti-racism practice persistent and consistent”. Nicole shares anti-racism education and tangible actions in each edition. You can support the massive amount of work that goes into this project with a one-off donation or a Patreon subscription.

The Awakening: Why I AM Talking to White People About Race - by Ravideep Kaur

The Awakening by Ravideep Kaur
I want to mention this course again because it is a fantastic place to learn. Ravideep lives and breathes her work with wisdom, depth, and heart. She writes: “I have dedicated my life to this work and genuinely believe that this work has the potential to make the world a better place for both my children and other children of colour.”

You can feel that dedication blazing in every single word of the course. Ravideep’s unique approach combines anti-racism education with mindfulness techniques and meditations. So throughout The Awakening you learn about overt and covert types of racism, privilege, language, power and more – from a place of staying present, reflecting, and “sitting with the discomfort” as she words it. If you’re looking for a teacher to go deep with your anti-racism education, Ravideep truly rocks.

Photo by Jithin Kumar on Unsplash

Ziggy the cat is in her carrier, behind a small red car, waiting to go into the vets during lockdown

Confinement Notes #4 – Vet Visit and Beach Balls of Rage

Week 8

Ziggy had a socially distanced trip to the vet. Her left eye had gone all weepy and squinty and Dr. Google said not to ignore a weepy squinty eye. So I made an appointment and Gareth got her pink space capsule down from the loft.

The only time Ziggy makes a cliched cat noise is when travelling to/from the vet. It’s a non-stop miaow miaow miaow miaow miaow miaow that sounds exactly like it’s spelled. Not sure if she’s saying I’m scared or This pink space capsule demeans us both.

Ziggy in her space capsule ready to visit the vet

It was surreal driving into town after an eight-week absence. I’d missed the transition from bare branches to full-on spring. The streets were quiet but the trees were loud with blossoms and green.

The lockdown vet process was beautifully efficient:

  1. Park up and place cat carrier behind vehicle.
  2. Phone the vet.
  3. Vet comes out to collect feline and take inside.
  4. Vet does their thing then calls back with diagnosis.
  5. Bill paid over phone.
  6. Feline deposited back to rear of vehicle, with medication taped to the carrier.

The vet’s plastic apron looked mighty shredded when she returned, so I hope Ziggy behaved herself.

The whole thing was done in 15 minutes and £52, then we miaowed our way back home to Fluffy Towers. A few eyedrops that evening and Zig’s peeper was de-squinted.

Ziggy the cat is in her carrier, behind a small red car, waiting to go into the vets during lockdown

Week 9

Gareth went back to work on Thursday after five weeks on furlough. Time to get that essential whisky back in production.

I felt a little sad and unsettled as he left our bubble, though relieved and grateful he still has a job and that he can do it safely, when so many are not so lucky.⁣

I said on Instagram that at first I was worried about being together all day. We’ve spent great gobs of time apart this past half-decade, with his long hours and my work travels. I half-joked that “separate lives” was the main reason we were still together.

So it’s been a relief to find he’s still the human I like to hang out with most. Not sure how he feels about it though 😉

I don’t take for granted this unexpected pocket of togetherness, with the bleary-eyed morning coffees, the cat-and-eyedrops wrestling, the mechanic assisting in the garage; the crisps/tea/Schitt’s Creek.

G in the garage

Week 10

Is anyone else’s mind throwing up a montage of past mistakes and/or cringe-worthy moments late at night? Just as you’re trying to get to sleep?

Maybe with the present being so repetitive/scary and the future but a fog, the brain is forced to look backward for entertainment. It’s bloody annoying.

Recently in Diversions:

  • I took up watercolour painting. “Taken up” = “slopping amorphous blobs onto a page”. I’m not great at making something look like something that exists on this earth, so I tried some Morning Mood Mandalas like my friend Alli does. You draw a circle, look at the paints, see what colours sing to your mood, and just do whatever you feel like in that circle. It’s strangely soothing and addictive! Gareth calls them my Beach Balls of Rage.
  • I started tidying the chaotic pit that is my office, starting with the bookshelves that are visible in my Zoom background and slowly working forward.
  • We’ve now done eight Friday night Zoom pub quizzes. I cannot believe Gareth did not know that the unicorn is Scotland’s national animal. That is THE BEST factoid about Scotland!

Ziggy in her tub

Ziggy now appears on Google Street View. It’s all because of this cat tree… We’d noticed for awhile that Ziggy liked to climb high, so we decided to get her a tree. Admittedly I didn’t research for long. I ordered the Fluffy II because it was reasonably priced and 163cm tall. I guesstimated since it […]

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four photos in a row - snow, daffodils, dunfermline's Abbott House, and some autumn leaves

Belated happy new year to you! For the tenth year on the trot, here is the Annual Review Thingo. Previous episodes: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009. 1. What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before? made two new friends who live in the next village. Walking distance pals: the holy grail! took a beginner’s sewing class […]

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