Updated: Jul 20, 2020
Since the hate-filled murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, anti-racism literature has been flying off the shelves and is even on back order in many bookstores and online. This is exciting for two reasons: the outpouring of support for those predominantly minoritized authors and the seeming awakening of the nation and the world on issues of race and social injustice. On the surface it appears that people really want to learn more on the issues, build their personal libraries on the issues, or even to just support the authors who write about the issues. However, we are in a time where the mantra of anti-racism can’t be taken lightly or used to push certain contrary agendas. It is a mantra that is long overdue in this country, and the sentiments of it cannot afford to be derailed by ill-meaning individuals and organizations.
Angela Davis said “in a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.” And we are finally moving towards those words, but those words were for the previous generation. This current generation desires to take it further, which is the eradication of racism. So, in building on Sister Angela’s words we can’t allow the anti-racism mantra to be side-tracked or watered down if eradication is the next step. We must keep pushing and reading, but don’t stop at reading. Besides, anti-racism can’t be found in a book...
Anti-racism can’t be found in a book.
Read until the brain becomes fatigued,
And the words run together like mush in the folds of grey matter.
Become as informally educated on the topic as time will allow,
But be reminded that anti-racism can’t truly be acquired there.
For the words consumed from those pages carry no power
Without change of heart,
Without change of mindsets,
Without the dismantling of racist traditions,
Without the inactivation of love of the culture but hate for the people,
Without legislation that holds hate and bigotry accountable by providing protections,
Without true memorialization of those lost due to unimaginable hate crimes,
Without Black history being un-whitewashed,
Without embracing the cultural experience while abandoning appropriation,
Without the removal of monuments that perpetuate, celebrate, and glorify presumed superiority,
Without heightened awareness to racial injustice,
Without the guts and gall to speak when in the face of it,
Without the disruption of voter suppression,
Without intentional desegregation of schools and communities,
Without more Pro Black and Brown representation in local, state and federal positions,
Without discontinuation of silent yet harmful racist bureaucratic violence,
And Without full civil and human rights bestowed upon the darker brother.
Go ahead, by all means, read the anti-racism literature,
But also read your heart,
Consider what’s written on the pages of it.
Do those paragraphs read of hidden hate,
Condescending phrases like “I’m glad it's them and not me”
Or “That’s their problem”
Or “Would they just get over slavery already?”
Are there words like white guilt, white hope, and white fragility
Overshadowing words from those consumed books?
Or does it read of ally, co-conspirator and abolitionist?
Are there eloquent sentences that read of social justice reform
And long overdue racial equality etched in permanent ink on those pages
Without whiteout sitting on standby?
Anti-Racism simply means opposing or against racism, but opposing it isn’t enough.
It needs to be obliterated, eliminated, and annihilated at the root to never be reproduced.
And reading books on anti-racism isn’t enough unless the words from those books rewrite and transform the pages of the heart.
It is a reconditioning with deep revisions and line by line editing that transcends mental work;
It’s heart work.
It penetrates and rewrites the pages by copying and pasting the sentiments of full eradication of racism and prejudice within the heart.
Anti-racism can’t be found in a book; it can only be found in the heart.
S.M. Nelson, 2020