What is Anti-Racism?


The concept of anti-racism is based in theory and practice on action. Put simply, it is “[a]n active and consistent process of change to eliminate individual, institutional, and systemic racism” (CRRF Retrieved 5/18/18). Anti-racism theory analyzes/critiques racism and how it operates; this theory provides a basis for taking action to eliminate racism (Henry & Tator, 2006; Kivel, 1996). Understanding race and racism is rooted in understanding the experience of racialized people. This does not mean looking at difference or "the other," which often happens in a multicultural approach where we celebrate difference with song, dance, and food. Understanding racism involves becoming aware of how race and racism affects the lived experience of people of colour and Indigenous people, as well as becoming aware of how white people participate, often unknowingly, in racism. (See our section on Liberal Racism and our definition of Whiteness).

Analyzing or theorizing about racism refers to understanding how racism operates at personal, ideological and institutional levels. Understanding the complex and specific ways that racism operates helps us to develop effective actions to eliminate or address it. Anti-racism not only examines diversity in the context of race and ethnicity but also examines the power imbalances between racialized people and non-racialized/white people. These imbalances play out in the form of unearned privileges that white people benefit from and racialized people do not (McIntosh, 1988). Peggy McIntosh, and later Paul Kivel, came up with "White Privilege" checklists. (Click here to see McIntosh's 50 examples of white privilege; See our section on Learning Actions)

In the context of secondary and post-secondary institutions anti-racism practice involves developing new policies and procedures; anti-racism education for teachers' personal development; reviewing hiring practices to ensure diversity in the context of race and ethnicity; examining curriculum materials to identify racial bias; developing anti-racism curriculum materials, resources, and strategies; and ensuring inclusive classroom practices (Henry & Tator, 2006).

"Anti-racism is the active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably" (NAC International Perspectives: Women and Global Solidarity).

Anti-racism is the practice of identifying, challenging, and changing the values, structures and behaviors that perpetuate systemic racism. (Ontario Anti-Racism Secretariat).