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Anti-Racism: What It Means and How To Be Anti-Racist

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In the wake of protests against police violence and the killings of Black and Brown people over the decades, the term “anti-racism” is popping up all over the place. What is anti-racism, and what does it mean to be anti-racist?

TEACHERS: Get your students in the discussion on KQED Learn, a safe place for middle and high school students to investigate controversial topics and share their voices. Download lesson plan and get started on KQED Learn.

What is structural or systemic racism?

When a society is designed in a way that unfairly reinforces and perpetuates discrimination against certain races, while benefitting others. These structures can include legal, housing, medical, educational, economic, and political systems.

What’s an example of systemic racism?

Between 2012 and 2016, Black males convicted of a crime received sentences — on average — 19 percent longer than white males convicted of essentially the same crime. Perhaps black offenders don’t make as much money as white offenders and so they can’t afford good lawyers. Maybe black people get judges that hand down stricter sentences. Maybe it’s both. But that’s the point. Society has been structured in a way that hurts black people harder. And it largely stems from one of the darkest stains on American history — slavery.


What does it take to be anti-racist?

In order to address systemic racism, simply being “not racist” isn’t enough. To quote Ibram X. Kendi, a historian and leading scholar of race and discriminatory policy in America, “The opposite of ‘racist’ isn’t ‘not racist.’ It is anti-racist.” And that requires work. Anti-racism is an ACTIVE state of mind. It’s the ACTIVE process of identifying and opposing racism.


What it means to be anti-racist (Vox)

How to be Anti-racist(CNN)

The Anti-Racist Revelations of Ibram X. Kendi (The Washington Post Magazine) 

Demographic Differences in Sentencing (United States Sentencing Commission)

Being Antiracist (National Museum of African American History & Culture) 

Antiracism, Our Flawed New Religion (The Daily Beast) 

A Glimpse at the Intersectional Left’s Political Endgame (New York Magazine) 


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