CLEVELAND — They're not exactly new words, but we’re hearing the terms "anti-racist" and "anti-racism" a lot more often lately, and not everyone knows what those words mean, so that's what we're addressing on this week's episode of the 3 Things to Know with Stephanie Haney podcast.
ThirdSpace Action Lab co-founder and CEO Evelyn Burnett talks through the intricacies of the words, and how in order to understand them, we really need a strong grasp on how racism is more about oppressive systems that have been in place for hundreds of years than it is about individual actions.
"Being anti-racist, or anti-racism, is not just about what we are against, but what we are for," Burnett, who hosts monthly anti-racism workshops through her organization, tells me in the latest 3 Things to Know podcast, out on Saturday, January 30. "The depth of understanding that people need to make those distinctions requires a lot of study."
Caitlin Hawkins, who is the Director of JEDI Programs through SHIFT Consulting at the Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio, also joins me to share what people Need to Know in NEO about their programs.
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Through the course of our conversation on anti-racism, Burnett recommends the New York Times bestselling book, "How To Be An Antiracist," by Ibram X. Kendi. "It’s a couple hundred pages of, 'What is this?' and 'How do you participate?' and again really drives home this point of how it’s not just about what we’re against, but what we’re for. And that does begin to speak to some of our individual acts," Burnett says.
Dismantling racism is no easy task. As such, Burnett has words of motivation for people really trying to be better allies.
"It takes us all, it takes us acting. It takes us taking steps," she tells me. "I really encourage people to not also be intimidated in these conversations by the 'moon shot intervention, like [thinking you have to go for] the big thing that you can do that’ll get a lot of change."
Burnett emphasized the important of simply checking in with others, particularly when we learn about difficult things like another instance of police brutality against a person of color, as happened on May 25 with the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
We also talked about what some of our blind spots might be, how we will make mistakes along the way and sometimes it will get uncomfortable, but that it is important to keep moving forward toward a truly equal society, for all of our benefit.
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Check out more episodes, including tips from an expert on moving on after life's disappointments, how to stay present, and the physical health benefits of letting go, at the links below.