by Sunni Musique
This should be a given but it apparently begs repeating: we’re only dating anti-racists in 2021.
Why can’t you get off on your date’s political ambiguity because they’d be the perfect Instagram boyfriend? Why isn’t adding #BLM to your profile enough of a contribution to Black liberation? Because in the same month that we inaugurated our first Black vice president, and celebrate the birthday and victories of Martin Luther King Jr., there was also a white supremacist insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that led to multiple injuries and the loss of life. Furthermore, we are in the middle of a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted Black and Brown folks. According to NPR, African Americans get infected and die from COVID-19 at rates more than 1.5 times their share of the population. Rates of Black death have remained disproportionally high since April of 2020, simultaneous to the Black Lives Matter Movement –– the largest political movement in U.S. History.
Considering the United States’ long legacy of racism, including a foundation that rests on the labor of Black enslaved people, it is eminently necessary that we all do the internal work to vet both ourselves and our partners if we are even to begin to construct a more livable future.
But, like, what even is Anti-racist?
To do the dirty work for you, racism comes in different flavors –– individualized/internalized, interpersonal, and systemic (or structural). Anti-racism is usually structured around conscious efforts to provide equitable opportunities for all people on an individual and systemic level.
In How To Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi defines an anti-racist as, "One who is supporting an anti-racist policy through their actions or expressing an anti-racist idea. … Racism is a marriage of racist policies and racist ideas that produces and normalizes racial inequities."
Who needs to be an anti-racist?
Everyone. Anti-racism is a collective community investment to combat the current racist structures that uphold white supremacy. The identities of Black people and POC are shaped in response to racial oppression, and the identities of White People are shaped in response to racial superiority. In order to dismantle the many different flavors of racism, we must understand how these identities operate in a variety of settings, and build concrete organizing strategies to combat them. This requires a collective perspective.
Every person is responsible for their own self development and anti-racist work (not the Black femmes disproportionally serving you educational labor). They should seek to honor the Indigenous practices and Black labor that precedes them. I can not say this any other way. Racism bad. Must do the work or racism keep going. And while we cannot tell others how to live, we can encourage them in their unlearning. We can decide to stop engaging with them if they are not invested in eradicating racist systems and ideologies. We must.
So, for all those who are bathroom scrolling for Tinder dates or sliding in DMs, consider working through the prompts below with your potential boo(s). It could help make the world a better place.
Anti-Racist Journal Prompts
Instructions: Have your partner answer each question and then switch roles.
- Do I know which Indigenous people(s) lived on this land before me?
- What privileges can I acknowledge that I currently have?
- What privileges can I acknowledge that my family currently has?
- What privileges do I hold relative to those in my community?
- How can I use my privilege to serve and empower my community?
- What does my access to political education look like? What does political education mean to my partner?
- What do I know about the history of racism and anti-racism?
- How am I studying the history of racism and anti-racism?
- Do I intervene in situations of racial violence?
- When and how have I used my privilege in situations of racial violence? How was it received? How can I be more effective in the future?
As you exchange and compare answers, take note - are you looking for right answers? Do you think there are wrong answers? Education is lifelong work, as is anti-racism. Engage your community and stop f*cking racists. Peace and love.
READ MORE: How Purity Culture Harms Everyone
Sunni is a queer multidisciplinary artist in Brooklyn, NY. She is a community activist, pole artist, vocalist, sensualist, and the founder of Skxn, a virtual strip party. You can follow her on social media: @sunnimusique.