Act 1: Self and Schemas
Synthesis of Key Themes
- Definitions establish a framework for language and a measurable, achievable goal (Chapter 1).
- To be anti-racist requires an understanding of racism and anti-racism definitions through lenses of policies, people, and ideas (Chapter 3).
- You can be racist today and anti-racist tomorrow; the goal is to remain self-critical and continually reorient your consciousness (Chapter 1).
- Your association with a racial grouping can help you gain a historical and political perspective. Conversely, this can feel like a limiting construct if you don’t associate yourself in this history (Chapter 3). Generalizing behaviour is a racist tendency where you see your race > the individual (Chapter 4).
- Ethnic racism is the script of the oppressor targeting an ethnicity. It perpetuates racist sentiments (Chapter 5).
- Racialized people’s categorization of other racialized people of the same race (suggesting a fabricated ranking of race categories) creates an ethnic hierarchy that reinforces racism (Chapter 5).
- People consume racist ideas about other groups of people so long as they maintain a position of superiority within this valuation (Chapter 5).
- White racists see policies that do not centre White lives as being racist. Therefore, when White racists read “Black Lives Matter,” they shout back, “All Lives Matter” (Chapter 9).
- To be anti-racist is to be feminist; rejecting the hierarchy of races must also include rejecting the hierarchy of race-genders (Chapter 14).
- Intersectionality gives us a lens to understand how oppression can simultaneously intersect different social categorizations, ageism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination (Chapter 14).
- Our focus should be on advocating for others rather than advocating to compensate feelings of guilt (Chapter 16).
- There is no healing or progress without experiencing pain (Chapter 18).
The following are some suggested themes and topics to be explored during this Act. Depending on your own frame of reference and the direction you hope to take, it may be helpful to do some preliminary research. Our suggestion is that you approach these themes in a variety of ways, including small group discussions, sharing circles, visual prompts, brainstorming activities, and annotations.
Although you may be looking to offer contextual and factual information, prioritize establishing a collective understanding of your theme, and use this as a building block for further discussion and exploration with the group.
- Brave, Safe, Ethical Spaces
- De-centring Whiteness and holding space
- The Floating Signifier
- Social Constructs
- Racist vs. Anti-Racist
- Racist, Assimilationist, Segregationist, Anti-Racist
- Applying Critical Race Theory
- Double Consciousness
- Intersectionality: Mapping the Margins
- What Is Privilege?
- How Does Your Privilege Impact Your Experience?
Steps to Being Antiracist
Download the Steps to Being Antiracist Infographic [PDF].
- I stop using the “I’m not racist” or “I can’t be racist” defense of denial.
- I admit the definition of racist (someone who is supporting racist policies or expressing racist ideas).
- I accept the course of racist ideas I express (my upbringing inside a nation making us racist).
- I acknowledge the definition of antiracist (someone who is supporting antiracist policies or expressing antiracist ideas).
- I struggle for antiracist power and policy in my spaces.
- I struggle to remain at the antiracist intersections where racism is mixed with other bigotries.
- I struggle to think with antiracist ideas. Not being fooled by misleading statistics or theories that blame people for racial inequity.
- When did you first become aware of your own racial identity?
- Has your racial identity changed over time?
- What was your first encounter with racism?
- Where did you learn about racial identity?
- In thinking about double consciousness (Dubois 1903), how has your own avowal (self-perception) and the ascription (external perception) of others impacted your ability to share or be your authentic self?
- How have you impeded others’ expressions based on your ascriptions of them?
- How can and will you use your awareness of your privilege and space to apply an intersectional lens in your interactions in your classroom, curriculum, and campus community?
- Discuss one feeling that has surfaced for you during this Act.
- Reflect on one new orientation you’ve gained from this Act.
- Collectively brainstorm steps or actions this Act has inspired you to take.
The objective of this exercise is to allow respondents to reflect on the areas of their life where they may experience privilege. Privilege is not to be seen as something you should be ashamed of but rather something that if leveraged correctly can move anti-racist conversations and actions forward and an opportunity to reflect on how to turn your awareness of your individual privilege into action.
Throughout this exercise, each individual will move according to their own experiences. At the conclusion of the activity, respondents will be scattered at various “points” and see where they stand in relation to those around them.
This is an introspective exercise. It’s important to understand how privilege affects your life, but it is not designed to make you share things you don’t wish to share — nor is it made to make anyone feel guilty or ashamed. Please make a note of any questions that specifically capture your attention.
- If your parents needed you to translate newsletters that came to their home or be their interpreter at a school event or parent-teacher interview, please take one step back.
- If you saw people who looked like you as teachers and administrators in your schools when you were a student, take one step forward.
- If you felt that the traditions and beliefs that were promoted by your teachers and your school matched the traditions and beliefs that were taught to you at home, take one step forward.
- If your cultural identity has been appropriated as a sports logo, take a step back.
- If you have ever been made uncomfortable by a joke related to your race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation but felt unsafe to confront the situation, take one step back.
- If there were more than 50 books in your house growing up, take one step forward.
- Choose one word that describes how you felt with where you landed.
- Share your general feelings about the activity.
- How did it feel to be ahead of or behind the group average?
- Were you surprised by where you landed?
- Did you find any sentences more impactful than others?
- Did you find any sentences that you believe are or are not a reflection of privilege?
- Do you feel your final position would be different in an alternative cultural context?
- How does your position of privilege affect your vantage point and the story you tell?
- What role does privilege play when you are considering and relating to Indigenous peoples?
- Reiterate to participants that the activity is not designed to make them share things they don’t wish to share — nor is it made to make anyone feel guilty or ashamed.
- If you are conducting this activity in person, consider asking participants to bring a scarf or blindfold to wear during the prompts. This will allow for anonymity.
- Before launching into this Act, discuss ways to self-regulate, step away, or practice self-care when triggered or upset.
- Allow for enough reflection and processing time during and after a discussion prompt or activity.
- When debriefing, highlight that we all experience privilege in different ways and across different cultural contexts. Use this as an opportunity to tie in how the intersectional elements of who we are can impact our overall privilege.
Lorde, A. (1981). The uses of anger. Women’s Studies Quarterly, 9(3). https://academicworks.cuny.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1654&context=wsq.
Metta, J. (2015).I, racist. Those people. https://medium.com/thsppl/i-racist-538512462265.
Coaston, J. (2019). The intersectionality wars. Vox. https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/5/20/18542843/intersectionality-conservatism-law-race-gender-discrimination
Coates, T. (2015). Fear and the black experience. [Video]. PBS Religion & Ethics. https://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/2015/11/20/ta-nehisi-coates-fear-black-experience/27488/
Morrison, T. (1998). Beautifully answers an “illegitimate” question on race. [Video]. Charlie Rose. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Kgq3F8wbYA
McIntosh, P. (2012). How studying privilege systems can strengthen compassion. [Video]. TEDx Talks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-BY9UEewHw.
Deggans, E. (Host). (2020). Not racist” is not enough: Putting in the work to be anti-racist. [Podcast]. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2020/08/24/905515398/not-racist-is-not-enough-putting-in-the-work-to-be-anti-racist
McGregor, H. (Host). (2020). Being a demon bitch about justice. [Podcast]. Secret Feminist Agenda. https://secretfeministagenda.com/2020/06/26/episode-4-23-being-a-demon-bitch-about-justice/.
Brown, B. (Host). (2021), Brené with Emmanuel Acho on uncomfortable conversations with a black man. [Podcast]. In Unlocking us with Brené Brown. https://brenebrown.com/podcast/brene-with-emmanuel-acho-on-uncomfortable-conversations-with-a-black-man/.
(Kendi, 2019, p. 13)
(Kendi, 2019, p. 136)
(Kendi, 2019, p. 181)
(Kendi, 2019, p. 193)
Discuss and describe key content themes.
Unpack and elaborate on the definitions Kendi proposes.
Discuss the intersectional forms of racism that exist and their implications for individual experiences.
Gain a greater understanding of critical race theory, intersectionality, and other frameworks that offer context for the multidimensional nature of racism.
Consider and apply key learnings to various contexts.
Discuss implications of racism both individually and structurally.
Look at what racism means in the Canadian context.
Understand what racism means within global structures and systems.
Connect ideas across multiple contexts, including personal, professional, and pedagogical.
Recognize and identify personal steps to become an anti-racist.
Gain awareness of individual biases and the impact of our schemas on both our own and others’ experiences with racism.
Engage openly and authentically.
Communicate appropriately for various contexts, audiences, and purposes.
Facilitate and support others to have conversations about racism.
Recognize the importance of humility to anti-racism.
Apply intersectional and transdisciplinary lenses to the multidimensional elements of individual experience.
Consider and apply key learnings to various contexts.
This includes self, society, and schools (specifically post-secondary education contexts).
Plan, design, and facilitate a book club, anti-racism task force, or similar equity, diversity, and inclusion undertaking at your institution.
Design and facilitate appropriate interventions that reflect an anti-racist approach and a pedagogy for self, society, and schools.
Apply learned methodology, frameworks, and techniques.
Create brave, safe, ethical spaces that allow for authentic sharing by approaching difficult conversations with generative discourse.
Effectively incorporate Book Club Hub resources, media, technology tools, and approaches to enhance communication and increase participants’ scope and understanding of the topics discussed.