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Anti-Oppression Guide: Anti-Racism

Table of Contents

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hat, they can be taught to love. --Nelson Mandela



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 Lesley 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-Racismis 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 - Timeline | Facebook

Further reading: 

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Support Resources for People of Color & Native Folks

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.

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. (adapted from "Definitions & Descriptions of Racism")

Deconstructing White Privilege with Dr. Robin Di Angelo from GCORR

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

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What are people saying about Anti-Racism?

Celebrating People of Color & Native Folks

How to Talk to Your Loved Ones About a Donald Trump Presidency

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

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

14 Must-Read Works Of Chicano Literature

Simone Manuel first African-American woman to win individual swimming medal

Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky got the Marvel superhero treatment they deserve

Superstar Simone Biles Wins Her Fourth Gold Medal And Makes History


Meet the Latina DJ Crews Fighting Cultural Erasure, One 45 at a Time

My Asian American Identity Demolition Project

In Honor of Orlando: 10 Books That Celebrate Queer Latinx Identity

Filipino Americans: Blending Cultures, Redefining Race

10 Afro-Latina Authors You Should Know

Hispanic Heritage Foundation to Honor Sonia Sotomayor, Junot Diaz

An Interview with Dr. André Carrington, author of Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction

Pull List: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Beyoncé's Lemonade and Information Resources (Maryland Institute College of Art)

23 LGBTQ Books With A POC Protagonist, Because It's Time To Diversify Your Reading List


Challenging Racism

Dear Fellow White People

Indigenous New Zealand Students Respond to Disney’s Upcoming Film Moana

Photos Show Why The North Dakota Pipeline Is Problematic

I Know Why Poor Whites Chant Trump, Trump, Trump

4 #BlackLivesMatter Myths Debunked (Video)

Philly Doc Lists Therapists Who Offer Discounted 'Healing for Activists'

The Reality Of Imaginary Whiteness​

Black Lives Matter: 25+ Resources for Your Conversations on Police Violence

The Faces of American Power, Nearly as White as the Oscar Nominees

How to Tell Someone They Sound Racist (Video)

White People Challenging Racism

The Black Feminist’s Guide to the Racist Sh*t That Too Many White Feminists Say

White Savior Movies, Ranked

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Discussing Race (Video)

Why are Asian women "Sexy" but NOT Asian Men? (Video)

Engaging Families for Latino Student Success in Higher Education

Asian Students Not Standing on Protest Sidelines

What “Racial Equity” Does and Doesn’t Mean

Where are all the black college faculty?

The Enduring Myth of Black Criminality (Video)

The Invisible Labor of Minority Professors

Anti-Racism Resource Centre


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.

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