Today, I launched "Silence Is Not an Option
," a new podcast that will be an ongoing discussion about how we oppose racism — in fact, how we become anti-racist — and move toward building that "more perfect union" we were promised but that's never really
been available to all. Now is the time that history books will write about — and we
are living in it.
What can we do with this opportunity while so many people are open to listening and maybe, more importantly, receptive to change?
To start, we all have a lot to learn about why things are the way they are, and even more to unlearn if we're really going to make things better. You might have questions that you're afraid to ask because you're embarrassed or don't want to offend anyone, but we've got to be able to ask those questions or we'll never get to an answer.
Some of you are saying, "This podcast isn't for me. I'm not racist. I voted for Obama. I don't say the n-word. I'm nice to the Black people at work. I have a Black friend or even a Black partner or spouse."
But racism isn't all about white hoods and burning crosses — it's a white woman walking her dog and unnecessarily calling the police on a Black man
. By that I mean, it's not the obvious racism that we already know is out there, it's the next level that we've got to get to — our own unconscious, ingrained racism.
In the first episode of the podcast, I speak with Ibram X. Kendi
, author of the bestselling book "How to Be an Antiracist"
and professor of history and international relations at American University.
Kendi, who joins Boston University's faculty on July 1 and will launch the BU Center for Antiracist Research
, has said anti-racism means "the willingness to define terms, and to hold oneself accountable, to admit the times in which we're being racist. But even more importantly, to strive to hold antiracist ideas, meaning that all the racial groups are equals."
In other words, it's not enough to just be not racist — you must become proactively anti-racist. You have to fight against racism like you're battling a cancer.
So how do we take steps toward becoming anti-racist in our own lives? How do we step up when we hear a colleague or a family member make a racist joke? How do we make sure our workplaces are equitable and inclusive? How do we make sure all kids feel safe when they're at the playground? And how do you make sure the police in our communities are working for us?