I am Anti-Racist

Breaking the cycle of power in the systems

Ayisha Elliot. Photo by Todd Cooper.

As an oppressed person, it’s hard to write this. I think of how my oppression is so socialized and normalized by everyone and everything within our society. Even within our own community we practice the tools our oppressor used against us to justify who is better or best. 

Nowadays, the KKK isn’t as easy to name as other terrorist cells around the world. When they decided to maintain systems that were designed to exclude Black and Brown people, and especially Black and Brown women, by proxy of patriarchal practices and those deep beliefs hammered in by modern religion. When they said, “Take off the robes, and hide in plain sight,” they upped the game. They didn’t hide in hospitals to try to “make plans of attack” on Black people alone. They maintained their practices and process of oppression through indoctrinated ignorance and holding tightly to power. 

What is the best way to maintain power of an entire system? Well, maintain access to every necessity needed to live a daily existence. Be their (the oppressed) teachers, their bankers, their physicians, their “friendly” neighborhood police officers, their newscasters, their grocer. 

Give them no other choice but to assimilate to two options in order to eat, to be sheltered, to maintain education and personal growth. 

You have this, or that. There is no in between, and within that choice, you will only succeed so far, and if you do succeed you still will be considered lesser than because of “what you represent.”

Now, when we pinpoint the oppression it is easily gaslit because how could “everything be racist?”; although our collective experience is evident. History tells us the narrative is held by the powerful, and their narrative given to us is that our value is inherently less because of “what we represent.” 

What we represent is also a narrative that was given to us to help justify their oppressive practices and their unhinged hatred. The narrative all along has been one sided and incomplete. Just like the fight for freedom and equity for Black and Brown people — the reason for the oppression and the need for freedom is only heard from those who hold systemic power, to maintain that power. So you know it is a lie.

From a Black perspective, collectively, since the end of the institution called slavery technically ended, should we avenge our ancestors, and somehow fight back in ways that would obliviate the oppressive community’s complete existence? Alas, we cannot, and we — collectively — have not. We never gained the power to do so, we are still actively and consistently held “in our place.” 

I don’t agree with violence as an answer to violence, but I get it. To be an anti racist, past pain has to be the reason you do not behave or condone the same behavior that caused that same pain to continue. 

I am a cycle breaker. It is not convenient, it is a lived commitment in all that I do. As a human who lives a life of an oppressed person, the most balanced approach to life for my spirit is to be anti oppression and to insist on the freedom of every person on this globe.

I am anti racist.

Ayisha Elliott is a race, diversity, equity and inclusion executive advisor, content producer of The Podcast Black Girl From Eugene, writer and motivational speaker originally from Eugene. Find more, including the podcast, at BlackGirlfromEugene.org.

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