WHY ANTI DOESN’T TRANSFORM
Proclaiming that we are anti-racism and anti-oppression will not transform our culture. We have been proclaiming such for fifty years and things are no better than when we first began the announcement. And that is not because we have not acted. We have. We have invested millions of dollars and tons of action. The euphoria of the triumphs of the nineteen sixties and seventies has waned with the resurgence of racism and oppression in the present moment.
To be anti is to be against. There is certainly nothing wrong with being against what is debilitating and destructive to democracy. The problem with against is that its energy is limited to consciousness-raising about what is wrong. It is a negative voice. It poses the need for change but does not pose the change that is needed. It is only the first step in transforming culture, howbeit, a necessary one. Change does not happen without an awareness of its need and anti is the voice of this need.
The second step, which is the prerequisite to social transformation, is stating what must be embraced for transformation of attitude and behavior to occur. It is a pro statement. It is what will complement the anti-statement and point toward correction. Here is an example. I am anti-racism. Racism is a form of negating oppression. But for that to change I must offer its solution. So I proclaim that the cure is pro-respect – an affirmation of the innate worth of every human. There can be no racism where mutual respect and worth affirmation are lived by the citizenry. However, we can embrace the need to cure without embracing the cure that is needed. Until the cure is embraced, racism and its oppression will continue.
If I wish to effectively combat racism and oppression I must do more than be anti the problem. I must be pro the solution. And the pro must be as clear as the anti. It must be empowered with the same adamant quality of conviction and energy.
Robert T. Latham