Racism is part of America’s history as well as its present, a real and verifiable element in the country—but it’s also a deeply uncomfortable one. No one wants to be accused of racism—and few care even to be associated with it. But the aversion we feel can make grappling with racism even harder, since the unpleasant feelings can prevent us from examining or talking about the problem.
Although some groups claim racism and xenophobia are merely natural human phenomena or tensions between communities that see themselves as different, researchers have found that these attitudes and behaviors actually pervert natural human instincts and result in dozens of harmful outcomes. One key conclusion of recent research is that racism is not only detrimental to the group that is being targeted—but it is also destructive for those who harbor toxic feelings and ideas.
As the writer, Ibram X. Kendi explains, it’s not enough to merely not be racist. The winner of the National Book Award and author of the NY Times bestselling “How to be an Antiracist” says we must work intentionally to be anti-racist, a commitment that requires us to seek out areas of injustice in our workplaces, communities—and even in ourselves—and actively engage to dismantle them.
The University of Utah’s Anti-Racism Committee has prepared a self-guided protocol for helping units across campus prepare their own antiracism plans. The guide includes helpful definitions of key concepts, perspectives from experienced participants, and resources to support groups just starting the important practice. According to the committee, these strategic documents “are a critical step toward ensuring every student, faculty, and staff member enjoys an environment free of racism and hate.”
The process begins with the EDI Self-Study Guide and Toolkit which asks teams to carefully examine their own work environment, framework, goals, and outcomes in order to determine where racial inequalities may exist. Based on this work, groups are then encouraged to come up with their own plans for addressing inequity and even share those plans with others. A number of plans, as well as other helpful resources are already available on the Anti-Racism Plan website.
To learn more about the Anti-Racism Plan, why it’s important, and how it reinforces the university’s core values, please visit the plan website. And to learn more about the Anti-Racism Committee, its work, and how you can get involved, please visit the committee website or read more about the group in this @theU article.