(Re)committing To Antiracism As a Practice
Updated: Jan 31, 2020
In January 2019, I resolved to work out more. Not because I wanted to lose weight or to train for an event, but because I feel better--physically and emotionally--when I am exercising regularly. I decided to aim for 3 or 4 times a week, but I committed to never skipping a week. Because it is the 21st century, I enlisted an app to assist me. Fast forward to today, January 2020, and I am proud to say that I am on a 54 week streak of exercise. (The image is my app's confirmation of that streak via helpful visual statistics.) There were a few of those weeks where the only workout was a 15 minute yoga flow, but not a week passed where I didn’t intentionally exercise.
I tell you all of this not to toot my own horn, but because I want you to understand how I approach fitness. It is a practice for me. Sometimes my workouts leave me feeling amazing--strong and capable. And sometimes they are a deep struggle. But however the last workout went, I know I must show up for the next one. Fitness is never a thing I’ll be able to check off my list and say “finished; now I never have to do that again.”
In the past several months, I’ve come to realize that antiracism and feminism and anti-antisemitism and climate action and related activism are like fitness. It will never be “done.” Sometimes you show up and you get beat up by the practice. Sometimes you hit it out of the park. And there will always be the need to keep showing up, keep striving, keep improving.
Maybe this metaphor seems obvious, but I see many activists who get burned out because this *isn’t* the way many people approach the work. So many of us treat the work like a sprint instead of a marathon. We get worn out and feel defeated when we don’t see any change or the change we see is small and incremental.
Alternatively, there are the folks who seem want to their antiracism to be of the set-it-and-forget-it variety. It comes with an attitude of “Tell me the words I should stop saying, so I can check 'not a racist' on my life assessment."
It doesn’t work that way.
Angela Davis told the world nearly 50 years ago -- “In a racist society, it is not enough to be not-racist, you must be antiracist.” Much like muscles getting stronger, antiracism takes time and consistency. It will never be “done.” If you want to see it done, at best you’ll be disappointed. At worst, you will perpetuate racism.
In that spirit, I am (re)committing to my antiracism as a practice. I believe that some have found this blog helpful in the past. I hope that my thoughts can continue to be of use to you, so I am coming back to this website. I won’t be leading IRL reading groups as I used to, but I never stopped reading. I’d welcome fellow travels who want to read along with me. I will be posting at least twice a month here, both reactions to what I’m reading and observations on life, race, racism, politics, and Baltimore. I’d love to have you join me.