Reading Time: 3 minutes

All I really need to know about anti-racism, I learned on social media… said no one ever. Because, of course no one says it that explicitly. But, I wonder how accurate it is.

After all, there is a plethora of information out there. There are books and peer-reviewed articles to read, quizzes to take, influencers to follow, TikTok videos to watch, organizations to get involved in, artwork to share, and merch to buy.

And, instant social media anti-racism often sells this fantastic promise: If you read this bestseller and follow this influencer you can become anti-racist (almost overnight).

Sounds amazing right? Too bad it is bullshit.

Here’s the thing: social media is a fantastic informational tool. But it’s just that: a tool.

There are great educators out there and there are ones that are completely full of nonsense.

Please don’t buy into the lie that you can read yourself out of racism. Or, that social media should take priority over building and engaging in IRL relationships.

The journey of anti-racism takes so much more than reading a book and diversifying your social media feed. It takes authentic relationships, an uncompromising commitment to justice and transformation, accountability, love, and honesty, just to name a few.

And, while diversifying your social media and reading diverse books are a great place to start, it is important not to confuse a starting point with an ending point.

Here’s something troubling that I’ve noticed: sometimes in the pursuit to gain knowledge, wisdom takes a backseat to trendiness, and honesty takes a backseat to performativity.

Being able to identify wisdom takes a lot of discernment. It’s not something that can be rushed. And, I’m still learning this too.

Maybe you can relate.

I think this lack of discernment is why (in part) people share Black squares and wear safety pins without cultivating systemic change. Or, why books that sell individual based anti-racism solutions instead of systemic ones become bestsellers. Because in an individualist culture, it’s sexy to sell the power of individualism. After all, insta-culture Smokey the Bear says that only YOU can fix racism. Right?

Eeesh. Here’s my caution: don’t fall for the bullshit that individual solutions alone will fix systemic problems.

Okay, so what do I mean? Because individual action is important, right?

Of course it is. But individual action AND systemic action must go hand in hand.

I like how Lily Zheng, Co-Author of “Gender Ambiguity in the Workplace: Transgender and Gender-Diverse Discrimination,” explains it:

“It’s all well and good to want a seat at the table, but I worry that too many of us have skipped an important question: is the table even worth sitting at? Just because an organization exists doesn’t mean it should…I don’t know about you, but I don’t want gender-inclusive drone operators. I don’t want racially diverse prison guards. I don’t want disabled engineers creating predatory and invasive apps that steal and sell data. I don’t want more LGBTA+ representation in the KKK…”

I think too many have skipped this question in the rush to jump into social media anti-racism.

Racism has been built into this country since the intentional and systematic genocide of Indigenous people in 1492. That means the “table” must be questioned rigorously and repeatedly.

Is this table of the American experiment worth sitting at?

Who is it working for and who is it not?

Who is being represented and who is not?

Who is invisible and who is not?

Personally, as a Mennonite, I don’t want more racially diverse representation in the military. I want the system to be reimagined and transformed. This desire also requires me to be transformed. And, this journey of transformation has helped me to engage in anti-racism work through an abolitionist informed lens.

So much of what I share in this space are things that I am also actively working on.

Here’s an itchy thought for my Mennonite friends.

Who is the Mennonite church currently working for and who is it not?

Who is being represented and who is not?

Whose bodies are valid and valued and whose bodies are not?

Who is invisible and who is not?

And, here is the itchiest thought of all: is the Mennonite table worth sitting at?

What about your company’s table? Your organization’s table? Your industries table?

And, what would it take for it to be reimagined and transformed?

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