"The beauty of anti-racism is that you don't have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it's the only way forward." --Ijeoma Oluo, author of So You Want to Talk About Race, Twitter post @ijeomaoluo
Part of my personal world-view takes on the challenge of modern racism. I recently read a book by Ibram X. Kendi, the Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. The book How to Be an Antiracist changed how I saw the world. Director Kendi speaks with clarity about the complex issues surrounding race in the United States, highlighting the various ways in which racism is exhibited in our daily lives. Rather than assuming policies are enacted fairly across the board, I feel it is necessary for our policymakers to oversee that each policy is deemed fair and racially equitable throughout the U.S. My hope and drive is to fight racism in every part of my campaign and personal life.
As I've grown up, I've never known how to approach the topic of race because I had never solidified my racial identity. That was, until I read this book. Solidifying your racial identity is a key component in moving forward in a discussion on racism. It gives you a starting point and allows others the chance to understand your story. So here's my starting point:
I am a white-passing Indigenous male. In all of my life, people have not taken into consideration my heritage because I do not appear to come from any racial minority group. I have also not been subject to any racial discrimination due to my fairer skin color. However, my mother told me stories of how she would be bullied because of her darker, thicker hair and her darker complexion. I also grew up hearing about how my great grandmother would not speak her native tongue around her granddaughters if she could help it. She had converted to Christianity, and at that time, they were trying to assimilate all natives to speak English. She was ashamed of her native tongue so she wanted her granddaughters, my mother and aunts, to only speak English. This has resulted in me not knowing how to speak the Hoopa language, and a greater ignorance of my heritage. If I had been born with a darker complexion, I would have known a harsher world. Now it is my duty to make the world into a more racially equitable place, for blacks/African-Americans, for indigenous peoples, for minorities and immigrants alike.