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The difference between being anti-racist, non-racist, and an ally

Antiracism is one of the core goals of Black History Month but being “not a racist” and being anti-racist are two different ideas.


The biggest difference between the two terms is action. While antiracism is “the active effort to eliminate all forms of racism” (CCDI, 2022), non-racism is simply not using one’s “race-based power to mistreat people based on their race or skin color,” but doing very little to change the systems or environments that allow racism to persist (Anderson, 2020).

To put it another way, to be a non-racist is to do nothing, but to be anti-racist is to take action and to be an ally.

While there are many ways to put anti-racism into action, speakers in the video “What it means to be not racist vs. antiracist” (CBS News, 2020) remind us that even small actions, over time can lead to big changes. Some suggestions include: “diversifying your bookshelf, following more people of color on social media, dining at black-owned restaurants, choosing to see black doctors and more” (Capatides, 2020).

Click here to see the Centre for Diversity and Inclusion’s Glossary of Terms.


Anderson, K. L. (2020). From racist to non-racist to anti-racist: becoming a part of the solution.
Capatides, C. (2020). “The difference between being not racist and being antiracist”. CBS News.
Canadian Center for Diversity and Inclusion (2022). “Glossary of terms: A reference tool”.