As a writer, I know the importance of words. They shape the our perception of the world and form the way we view the world. The repetition of the same hurtful rhetoric does not simply flow out of the other ear. It marinates and invades your thoughts like a spy and suddenly a thought you didn't think you would ever think shocks you. We internalize our environments to some extent, and with the subtle racism we see influence our actions and thoughts, it is our responsibility to actively be aware of our initial respone and how we can do better as well as hold others accountable for their own racist beliefs and remarks.
As children, we lack the autonomy to choose what we learn and read. Many continue to follow what they were taught at a young age, but it each our jobs to ask questions and truly understand what we hear and are being taught. We must teach ourselves to recognize when we ourselves are partaking in racism. This can be through unknowingly becoming wary around a black person or making a generalized statement about black people. We have all done this at least once in our lives. Once you acknowledge why and how it's wrong, and correcting it, that is a step towards antiracism. Take the time to read books and watch films that show racism and learn the history. Remaining stagnant in beliefs is not how one can grow and become a better person.
Moreover, we must speak out against racist mindsets and actions. Why should you accept your parents thinking a certain way simply because "that is how they were raised?" Every time you ignore a racist remark, you become complicit in the oppression. Those who face discrimination do not have the choice to ignore politics and how they carry themselves. The life they live is dictated by concerns that mark the difference between life and death. Ask a person why they said what they said and do your best to share why it is not true. The racial divide that has been established maintain the status quo and one's success in society should not be at the expense of another's life.
Furthermore, speak with your actions. Sign petitions, protest if you can, donate to organizations that help uplift those who have been discriminated against for simply wanting basic human rights. The Black Lives Matter movement is not only showing you care for black lives, it demonstrates that you believe everyone should have basic human rights. Right now, and for a horribly long time, black lives have been denied these rights. If you support and fight for black lives, you are fighting for all lives.
I think about every post that has been shared on social media, every tag, and the captions on powerful images and how this language challenges and fights against an unjust establishment. It is not enough to be nonracist, we must be anti-racist. It begins with you and those closest to you.