Antiracism is a broad movement committed to opposing and eradicating racism. It has historic roots going back centuries from figures like William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglas and continuing to modern writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates. Although there is no single antiracist ideology or statement of core principles, it’s helpful to view the distinguishing feature of ‘antiracism’ as its focus on systems and structures. While the vast majority of Americans see themselves as opposed to individual, personal racial animus, the ‘antiracism’ movement is distinct in that it is committed to identifying and dismantling society-wide institutions that propagate racism. Thus, not all people who are personally and even vehemently opposed to individual racism would be classified as ‘antiracist.’
One obstacle to understanding the ‘antiracist’ movement is its use of specialized language. Antiracists frequently employ words in technical, nonstandard ways, which can lead to substantial confusion, even when both sides are committed to genuine dialogue. While not all antiracists use these terms, they are undoubtedly widespread. This series will explain several such terms. I’ll define each term carefully, giving some important examples of ‘antiracist’ terminology from both scholars and popular sources. I’ll then call attention to areas of potential confusion and will identify the strength of the ‘antiracist’ definition before commenting on its weaknesses, particularly in relation to a Christian worldview.