Confronting Racism

 Glenn Bigonet, M.A.

Social Activist for Racial Equity

Facilitating Discussions about Racism





When is an Action Racist?


"One of racism's harms is the way it falls on the unexceptional

Black person who is asked to be extraordinary just to survive."

Ibram X. Kendi


Often when a discussion has started in which one person has said that an action was racist the discussion turns into about whether the action was racist as opposed to how racial harm was enacted. Ijeoma Oluo defines some very basic rules about how to know if something is racist or not in her book "So You Want to Talk About Race" pages 14-15. These guidelines while seemingly simple are a great start to determining if something is about race or not. If you want more details on these guidelines please refer to chapter one of that book.


It's about race if:

  1. A person of color thinks it is about race.
  2. It disproportionately or differently affects people of color.
  3. It fits into a broader pattern of events that disproportionately or differently affect people of color.

I want to acknowledge here that this is specifying whether an action is racist or not. I am not defining whether a person is racist or not because racism is systemic. It is not about individuals. Individuals can act in ways that are racist and they can act in ways that are antiracist. Most people have behaviors and attitudes that are racist and other behaviors and attitudes that are antiracist. To effectively confront racism each of us must do our best to acknowledge the ways we and those around us are doing racial harm through our behaviors and our attitudes.    

Copyright © 2020   Glenn Bigonet, M.A.