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Anti-Oppression: Anti-Racism

It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I’d been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here. ~James Baldwin



What does racism look like?

Support Resources for People of Color
and Native Folks

Informational Resources for Allies

A note on the scope of this guide:

This guide is intended to provide general information about anti-oppression, diversity, and inclusion as well as information and resources for the social justice issues key to current dialogues within the Simmons Community. This guide is by no means an exhaustive list of anti-oppressive initiatives nor does it capture all of the many facets of the larger conversations about the issues listed here. This guide serves as an introduction to these issues and as a starting place for finding information from a variety of sources.


Racism is prejudice plus power; anyone of any race can have/exhibit racial prejudice, but in North America, white people have the institutional power, therefore Racism is a systematized discrimination or antagonism directed against people of color based on the belief that whiteness is superior. It is insidious, systemic, devastating, and integral to understanding both the history of the United States and the everyday experiences of those of us living in this country.

Note: A common, incorrect definition of racism is the colloquial definition: “racism is prejudice against someone based on their skin color or ethnicity and can be committed by anyone.” This is NOT an accurate definition nor the one used in most anti-racist circles. It highlights individuals' thinking and actions but ignores embedded institutional and cultural systems.

Non-white folks can be agents of racism as well (particularly when acting as representatives of white-dominated systems, such as higher education) by perpetuating the notion of white superiority and using it to discriminate against other people of color. For example, a black manager at a company may insist that a black employee's natural hair looks "unprofessional," or an Asian professor may knock points off the presentation grade of a Latinx student who speaks with an accent.

Anti-Racism is strategies, theories, actions, and practices that challenge and counter racism, inequalities, prejudices, and discrimination based on race.


What does racism look like?

Racial Microaggressions are commonplace verbal or behavioral indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults in relation to race. They are structurally based and invoke oppressive systems of racial hierarchy. Racial MicroinvalidationsMicroinsultsMicroassaults are specific types of microaggressions.

Note: The prefix “micro” is used because these are invocations of racial hierarchy at the individual level (person to person), where as the "macro" level refers to aggressions committed by structures as a whole (e.g. an organizational policy). "Micro" in no way minimalizes or otherwise evaluates the impact or seriousness of the aggressions.

Further Reading: 

Tokenism is presence without meaningful participation. For example, a superficial invitation for participation without ongoing dialogue and support, handpicked representatives who are expected to speak for the whole (socially oppressed) group (e.g. ‘tell us how women experience this issue’). Tokenism is often used as a band-aid solution to help the group improve its image (e.g. ‘we’re not racist, look there’s a person of colour on the panel.’). (from Sustainable Campuses)

Similarly, this attitude of "one is enough/they're all the same" contributes to the mindset that one person of color or one native person can stand in for all people of color and native people respectively. Not only is it problematic and illogical to assume that one individual's perspective and experiences can be generalized to millions of other people, it also promotes to the idea that a friendship, relationship, or just exposure to one or a few people of color or native people negates racist thoughts, ideas, or behavior toward others (i.e. "I'm not a racist, my boyfriend is black" or "My costume isn't racist--my best friend is First Nation and she thinks it's hilarious").


Further Reading:

Colorblindness is the racial ideology that posits the best way to end discrimination is by treating individuals as equally as possible, without regard to race, culture, or ethnicity. This not only amounts to a dismissal of the lived experiences of people of color, but also suggests that racism does not exist so long as one ignores it.

I don't see color. I just see people.

We're all just people.

I don't care if you're black, white, green, or purple-polka-dotted!


At face value, colorblindness seems like a good thing — actually living up to Dr. King's  ideal of judging people on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. However, colorblindness alone is not sufficient to combat racism or heal racial wounds on a national or personal level. It is only a half-measure that, in the end, operates as a form of racism. (from


Mic correspondent Darnell L. Moore lays down the definitive takedown of #AllLivesMatter everyone needs to hear.

Further reading: 

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Support Resources for People of Color & Native Folks

Practicing Self-Care

For People of Color & Native People in Crisis

Community Education & Support

Local & National Support Organizations

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Informational Resources for Allies

White Privilege

In the U.S., white privilege is the lived experience of greater social/political access, representation and entitlement, and material and economic security that people considered white have as a result of white supremacy. It's important to note that while many white people are oppressed on the basis of class, gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion, culture, ethnicity, etc, it is still true that ALL white people benefit from white privilege in various ways.

Deconstructing White Privilege with Dr. Robin Di Angelo from GCORR

Reverse Racism is a term created and used by white people to deny white privilege. Those in denial use the term "reverse racism" to refer to hostile behavior by people of color toward whites and to affirmative action policies which allegedly give ‘preferential treatment’ to people of color over whites. However, while people of color can certainly exhibit prejudice against white people, in North America that prejudice is not supported by a system of institutional power. And despite some public opinion to the contrary, studies show the largest group to benefit from affirmative action policies is white women. (adapted from "Definitions & Descriptions of Racism"

White Fragility

White fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as tears, argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium. 

White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress, leading to...White Fragility. (from DiAngelo, White Fragility)

Robin DiAngelo on White Fragility

Being a Supportive Ally

         Image: Screenshot of tweet from @MunroeBergdorf that reads "One more time. Racism is a system that ALL white people benefit from. Nobody is above or exempt. Regardless of how non-racist u consider yrself. Nobody is exempt from social conditioning or systemic racism. You can unlearn and be an ally but that doesn't mean you don't benefit from it."

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What are people saying about Anti-Racism?

Celebrating People of Color & Native Folks

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Digital Gateway

Queering Desi: a podcast that celebrates the unique experiences of South Asian LGBTQ+ people

Power Not Pity (podcast)

The Queer, Disabled, and Women of Color Suffragettes History Forgot

Black Panther Is a Beautiful Showcase for Natural Hair


100+ LGBTQ Black Women You Should Know

Diaspora Blackness in the Caribbean: A Radical Resource

Listen to these Native poets read their work

9 Essayists of Color You Should Know About

Black History Library

A Guide to Fantasy and Science Fiction Made for Black People, by Black People

Blair Imani Opens Up About Being Queer, Black and Muslim

#DearNativeYouth (video)

Cartoonists of Color Database

Making Queer and Trans Asian American Identities Visible

The Declaration of Independence. It’s Not What You Think.

Powerful New Ad Features Multiethnic Descendants Of America’s Founding Fathers

5 mental health podcasts by therapists of color

#RaceAnd Part 1

#RaceAnd Part 2

Being Black and Muslim (video)

High School Students Write Racial Literacy Textbook

8 Native Women You Should Have Learned About in History Class

Here Are 9 Latinas You Should Be Learning about in History Class

5 Japanese-American Women Activists Left Out of U.S. History Books

The Disability Visibility Project™: Hip-Hop, Disability & Police Profiling

The first time I realized I was black (video series)

Project adds Indigenous names to Canadian history​

'Just watch me': Challenging the 'origin story' of Native Americans

The Difference Between 'Latino' and 'Hispanic' in One Cartoon

Challenging Racism

Alton Sterling Baton Rouge Louisiana Black Lives Matter

Why People of Color Need Spaces Without White People

Why the Academic Achievement Gap is a Racist Idea

The Hidden Cost of Formal Recognition for American Indian Tribes

Indigenous Land Acknowledgement, Explained

A Conversation With Native Americans on Race (video)

Now Anybody Can Take an Online Version of the College Course Inspired by Get Out

Decolonise, not Diversify

The Language of White Supremacy

Teaching While White (blog & podcast)

Grad School Is Trash for Students of Color and We Should Talk About That

What Census Calls Us: A Historical Timeline

The Harmful History of “Gypsy”

Why It's Incredibly Problematic to Call White Supremacists "Insane"

How to Tackle Anti-Blackness as a Non-Black POC

A guide to debunking 'black-on-black crime' and all of its rhetorical cousins

We Can’t Talk Climate Change Without Talking Environmental Racism

Artificial intelligence: How to avoid racist algorithms

Anti-Racist Neighborhood Watch Manual and Resource Toolkit

Yes, Boston, you are racist

Dear Fellow White People

Scholarly Conversations

What's Race Got To Do With It? (Video)

Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity (Video)

White Supremacy and “Free Speech”on College Campuses: a (Digital) Toolkit

Now Anybody Can Take an Online Version of the College Course Inspired by Get Out

Racism Review: Scholarship & Activism Towards Racial Justice (Blog)

The Cost of Balancing Academia and Racism

The Purposeful Silencing of Black Women in Educational Leadership

Why We Need To Stop Questioning Women of Color

How Black Girls Aren’t Presumed to Be Innocent

What writers of color say we all should read now

A History of White Violence Tells Us Attacks on Black Academics Are Not Ending

Academia, Accessibility, Being Spoken For

Revealing the Unwritten Obstacles Faced by Academics of Color

Disability Justice In the Age of Mass Incarceration: Perspectives on Race, Disability, Law & Accountability

Ranking the Most (and Least) Diverse Colleges in America

Meet the Academics Behind Black Lives Matter

#BlackLivesMatter Syllabus

History Class and the Fictions About Race in America

“Talk does not cook rice”: Beyond anti-racism rhetoric to strategies for social action

Addressing Anti-Native and Anti-Black Racism in Child Welfare Social Work

Anti-racism ‘from below’: exploring repertoires of everyday anti-racism

Women social justice scholars: risks and rewards of committing to anti-racism

"We're a Culture, Not a Costume:" Ethical Analysis Of A College Student-Led Organization's Anti-Racism Campaign

The Harmful Psychological Effects of the Washington Football Mascot (Research Report)

Critical Race Theory and Education: Racism and antiracism in educational theory and praxis

Black-faced, red faces: the potentials of humour for anti-racist action

Post-racial futures: imagining post-racialist anti-racism(s)


In an effort at full disclosure, it should be noted that the collaborators on this guide occupy some of the oppressed identities outlined here, but not all of them. We have attempted to bring together quality, relevant resources for the anti-oppression issues in this guide, but we are not immune from the limits and hidden biases of our own privileges and perspectives as allies.

We welcome and greatly appreciate any feedback and suggestions for the guide, particularly from the perspectives and experiences of the marginalized groups listed and not listed here.