In conversation with PhD Student and Diversity & Equity Facilitator, Victoria Alexander, Natalie and Diane learn about and discuss what it means to be antiracist versus “not racist.” In the first of a two part conversation series, Victoria breaks down misconceptions around terminology including racism, white supremacy and color blindness.
Victoria is a PhD student at the University of Maryland College of Education, studying Higher Education. Her research interests include anti-racist pedagogy, critical consciousness building, and experiences of Black students in predominately white institutions.
1:45 - Natalie & Diane introduce the episode as the first in a series of two with guest, Victoria Alexander. Natalie’s peer and a fellow Northeastern grad, Victoria is currently conducting critical research with which to challenge myths regarding the historical and present-day distributions of power, investigating the role of racism and anti-racism in social, professional, and educational spaces, and empowering people to analyze their own social identities and positions within systems of power.
3:00 - Natalie shares how this conversation came to be as Victoria’s Instagram (@victoriaalxndr) grew to 10x the size in the wake of the of George Floyd’s death and many friends and classmates and now strangers were drawn to Victoria’s social feed for her knowledge and anti-racist resource guide.
5:30 - Guest, Victoria Alexander, introduces herself. She gives the women a sense of where she is from along with her educational and professional background focusing on race, class, gender and oppression.
7:30 - Victoria defines “racism” as a system of power based on oppression and advantage. She brings this into the context of the United States’ use of white supremacy to establish norms to perpetuate inequality of racial groups by putting “whiteness” above other races.
8:45 - Diane reflects on her personal understanding of the phrase “white supremacy” as one of extremism and terrorism like the KKK. Victoria explains how “white supremacy operates in a series of implicit ways” whether it be in romantic preferences, acceptability of non-white accents or other seemingly innocuous preferences.
11:00 - Natalie asks Victoria to break down why there is an outcry for people to become antiracist instead of “not racist”?
13:30 - Victoria describes some of the symptoms of white supremacy as it relates to “chronic adverse outcomes” for BIPOC.
14:00 - Victoria quotes author of “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum (1) in her description of racism being like smog. Victoria recounts, “Racism is in the air in America. If you grew up here, you have in some way been subject to learning racism and it’s likely that you have internalized it in some way. So we all have it and it comes up in some ways that we might not necessarily prefer that it did.”
15:00 - To describe the difference between antiracism and being “not racist” Victoria references Dr. Tatum’s moving side-walk analogy (1). Victoria concludes that “Not being racist is not solving racism, it’s allowing it to persist, and watching as people try to move backwards on that struggle and knowing that it’s unfair and it’s unjust and not doing anything about it. Antiracism requires action, requires education, and it requires people to really think about the position that they have in their spheres of influence and how they can make a difference every chance they can. There is no ‘arriving’ at being antiracist; it is a constant state of being and practice.”
17:30 - Diane explores the vulnerability around “not saying things perfectly” and Victoria describes “self interrogation” as one the steps towards anti-racism. She defines this as questioning “what you know, how you know what you know and who decided to give you the knowledge you have.”
18:30 - Victoria touches on the definition of white fragility and the need to understand that, not discrediting hard work, as a white person, finding success is also buttressed by the “benefit of being white” dispelling the myth that we have grown up in a “just world.”
19:30 - Diane shares her journey with the phrase “I don’t see color.” Victoria breaks down why it is “emblematic of allowing racism to continue.”
22:15 - Victoria introduces the concept of bias. She describes it as “a way for our brains to make sense of the world” starting as young as age 2 and the power that each of us has to acknowledge our biases and then being able to change them.
24:00 - Natalie asks Victoria to share an action that listeners can take in their journey to becoming antiracist. Victoria asks listeners to “learn, talk and think.”
Tune in to our next discussion with Victoria Alexander on 8/5/2020 where we explore how to bridge conversations on race with people we love. In the meantime, follow Victoria on Instagram and Twitter and explore her Anti-Racist Resources Guide.
Follow Victoria on Instagram:@victoriaalxndr
Follow Victoria on Twitter @victoriaalxandr
Victoria Alexander’s Antiracist Resource Guide
Visit Victoria's website at victorialynnalexander.com
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