Kim Crayton on Antiracism

The pandemic has removed distractions and laid bare this country’s foundation, allowing for the largest, most sustained, widespread protests in a half-century to bring about this generation’s high-water mark in white American’s engagement with racial equity.

Do something about it.

Dubbed the Antiracist Economist, Kim Crayton led a virtual version of her Introduction to Being Antiracist Saturday. My small community journalism organization paid for several coworkers and myself to attend, and we kept up a constructive dialogue as a team through the three-hour session.

For years, our company has done past trainings and our reporting approaches seriously economic systems and still Kim’s approach and passion was enlightening, challenging and productive. For teammates who were new to this work and those of us who have tried to put in the work before, it was meaningful time well spent. (Thank you Kim)

You should engage her for your company, or attend her future seminars. (She does six-month engagements with companies and has other upcoming sessions This is not a duplication of her work, just sharing a few top-level notes that I can return to.

Read her 5 Stages of Grief for White Supremacy. Thanks to her prompting, I consumed and put together some notes on a podcast season called ‘Seeing White.”

Given the systems, she argues, white people can’t ever be “racism experts,” and that whiteness as a construct will always cause harm.” So this is not meant to imply I am an expert. I’ve benefited from many friends pushing, helping and talking through these concepts for much of the last 10-15 years, so this is just part of a lifetime journey.

These are a few takeaways I’ll carry to work and beyond.

  • There’s a difference between being non-racist and anti-racist. The latter is an active effort. As Angela Davis said: “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist.”
  • White people: “You are and always will be racist. You can have an active antiracist practice.”
  • “Incremental change is huge change when you’re talking about a system…” and it ignores the work that brought other incremental change
  • Privilege is about access; Inclusion is about experience
  • Be Small, do the work. Black people owe white people no educating. We have to do the work (actively, for our entire lives).
  • Separate out (institutional) racism and racial prejudice
  • “You do not have to believe you are racially superior, you benefit from it.
  • White people, especially white women, seem to always define themselves as either the hero or the victim, never the villain, of issues of racial oppression.
  • “Diversity is about recruitment; inclusion is about retention.”
  • “Intentions don’t matter; your impact matters.” Don’t explain when you cause harm by explaining your intentions. Focus on the impact.
  • “Intention without strategy is chaos.”
  • “When you start a revolution, the most vulnerable are harmed…You want to flip the table, who are the tables going to land on?”
  • White women show the difference between marginalized and underrepresented.
  • “White men built white supremacy; white women maintain it.”
  • “Equity over equality”
  • Privilege is not necessarily an advantage, but fewer disadvantages
  • “Whiteness is racist by design and can’t be trusted by default.”

Thanks to Kim for the session, and I encourage others to follow her work on Twitter @KimCrayton1.