Racism impacts all aspects of our lives. It impacts what policies are created, whose histories are taught in school, and how we are seen and treated by others. We can all play a role in fighting racism. Let’s take a look at what racism is and how we can stand up against it.
There are several kinds of racism:
- Interpersonal racism is prejudice against people of color.
- Microaggressions are subtle prejudiced statements or actions, like racist jokes. Sometimes microaggressions seem so small that others think they are not a big deal, but the truth is that microaggressions add up over time and have a big impact on how we feel about ourselves, how welcome we feel in certain places, and how others treat us.
- Internalized racism is when a person of color believes negative perspectives about themselves either consciously or unconsciously.
- Institutional racism is racism within an institution, like at a school, workplace, or in law enforcement. It is the policies and attitudes that give advantages to white people over people of color, like how many schools teach history that exclude Native people.
- Systemic racism is racism at the societal and policy level that consistently gives privilege to white people over people of color. This kind of racism is often harder to see and challenge, because it is built into large and powerful systems, like the criminal justice system and the educational system.
Because it is so widespread, it can seem intimidating to figure out how we can stand up against racism. Here are a few ways you can be actively anti-racist:
- Recognize that because we live in a racist society, we all have prejudices we have to unlearn. To be anti-racist, we need to examine the prejudices or biases we hold – however subtle – and figure out how they impact our perspectives.
- Stand up when you hear something racist – even if it seems small. Microaggressions, like racist jokes or comments, might seem easy to ignore, but it’s important we call them out and let people know that racism in any form isn’t okay.
- Learn about the history of racism in this country and how it impacts Native communities and other communities of color. Find new TV shows, books, and movies that challenge your worldview and help you learn about other cultures. Choose not to engage in and support media that is racist.
- Support other communities of color. We have a lot of experiences in common, but all communities of color are impacted by racism differently. Let’s support each other!
- Advocate in your community when you see issues that impact Natives or other communities of color. Write to the politicians who represent you, talk to your peers about unfair policies, or help organize events to raise awareness of racist policies or incidents.
- Take care of yourself. Dealing with racism on a daily basis can be exhausting. It is crucial to take care of yourself so you can be your best self for yourself, your family, and your community! Make sure you take time to rest, do your hobbies, and spend time with people you love.
Check out these resources to learn more about anti-racism:
- Invisibility is the Modern Form of Racism Against Native Americans article by Rebecca Nagle for Teen Vogue
- Reclaiming Native Truths: A Project to Dispel America’s Myths and Misconceptions report
- Being Antiracist: Toolkit from the National Museum of African American History and Culture