The Difference Between Being Anti-racist, Non-racist, and an Ally

Black History Month is a time to celebrate and honour the contributions of Black people throughout history. One of the core goals of the month is anti-racism. But what does it mean to be an anti-racist, and how does it differ from being "not a racist?"

At its core, anti-racism is "the active effort to eliminate all forms of racism" (CCDI, 2022). This means taking action to dismantle the systems and environments that allow racism to persist. On the other hand, being "not a racist" simply means not using one's "race-based power to mistreat people based on their race or skin colour," but doing very little to address the underlying issues (Anderson, 2020).

To put it another way, being a non-racist is to do nothing, but being anti-racist is to take action and be an ally in the fight against racism. While there are many ways to put anti-racism into action, even small actions, over time, can lead to significant changes.

For example, diversifying your bookshelf, following more people of colour on social media, dining at black-owned restaurants, and choosing to see black doctors are all actions that can contribute to creating a more inclusive and equitable society (Capatides, 2020). These actions may seem small, but they can have a significant impact when taken collectively.

However, it's important to note that anti-racism is not just about individual actions. It's also about creating systemic change to address the root causes of racism. This means advocating for policies that promote equity and inclusion, supporting organizations that work towards social justice, and speaking out against discrimination and prejudice in all its forms.

In conclusion, being an antiracist means taking action to actively dismantle the systems and environments that allow racism to persist. While individual actions are important, true change comes only from collective and systemic change. Let us all continue to take action towards a more equitable and just society, not just during Black History Month, but every day of the year.



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”.