Since May 25, 2020, when George Floyd was mercilessly killed at the hands of police, the widespread systemic racism in the United States has become evident (finally). I’ve been lucky enough to attend private schools, live in a nice neighborhood, and receive countless collegiate opportunities. I’ve never second-guessed if the local police were actually there to protect me or not. Quite honestly, I’d barely thought about it.
I knew there were still racists out there, but I always pictured them as extremists. Specifically the image of the KKK comes to mind. While unfortunately these extremists do exist, the most common form of racism that I’ve come to learn about are microaggressions. Microaggressions are more than just insults or insensitive comments. They are very specific remarks that reference a person’s identity with a group that is commonly discriminated against or stereotyped.
An Asian-American student is complimented by a teacher for speaking perfect English, but it is her first language.
A mixed person is asked “where are you really from?”
It is locking your car door when a black person walks by.
It is telling your black friend she looks exotic.
It is asking your hispanic friend to touch her hair (or worse, just doing it).
These comments are subtle and not always intentional. However, their effects can be damaging to the mental and physical health of the Black (and other minority) communities. It is important that we speak up when we witness these comments and be actively anti-racist.
Ways to Be Actively Anti-Racist:
Educate yourself. In today’s world, ignorance is a choice. Netflix now has a section called “Black Lives Matter.” I’d be happy to send anyone a pdf I am reading of “Stamped from the Beginning” by Ibram X. Kendi.
Speak up. Now that you’re informed, you can step in and educate others. Even if they don’t acknowledge their mistake, it is important to make it known that you are a witness.
Take action. Sign petitions. Spread verified information. Correct your family members. Start a conversation with someone who disagrees with you.
It is not okay to stay silent- especially if we are lucky enough to be given a voice.