How to Overcome Racism

Three Methods:Combating Institutional RacismDealing With Day-to-Day RacismPlacing Racism in Context

Racism runs deep. It can seem like an insurmountable task to overcome institutional racism, and it can be unsettling to confront racist tendencies within yourself. Do not think that you need to do it alone. Find your voice, educate yourself, and speak up about the injustice that you encounter. Be bold and act with intention.

Method 1
Combating Institutional Racism

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    Educate yourself and stay informed. Consider that racist stereotypes are largely rooted in ignorance. Confront ignorance with truth. Try to keep an open mind and step outside of your shell. Learn as much as you can about other races, languages, and cultures. Knowledge is power.
    • Read the news, and not just from a single source. Absorb as many perspectives as possible. Carefully consider the bias behind each source.
    • Don't hold it in. Share what you learn with your friends, family, and larger community. Learn to teach and teach to learn.
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    Keep an open mind. Accept others, even if they don't accept you. You do not need to become "colorblind" – you can appreciate other races and cultures for the things that make them unique. Embrace uniqueness wherever you encounter it.
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    Find your voice. The ubiquity of the Internet makes it easier than ever to reach, teach, and influence people beyond your normal sphere of interaction. Share articles, videos, and stories on social media; find a platform to blog or otherwise broadcast your perspective; and generally consider how your online presence feeds or fights the dialogue of racial imbalance. Look for ways to speak out in your school, neighborhood, or workplace. Encourage your family, friends, and broader community to respect and accept individuals from different backgrounds.
    • Be careful about what and how you post on the Internet. Your social media presence may be much more public than you realize. Consider the dangers of provoking the ire of anonymous strangers.
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    Create dialogue. Listen to people from all races and cultures. Find the things that you have in common, and seek to understand what divides you. Strive to curate a peaceful and respectful conversation about racism – a conversation that includes and empowers everyone.[1] Understand that we must work in collaboration to create a safe and inclusive society.

Method 2
Dealing With Day-to-Day Racism

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    Intervene. Do not take racism lying down. Act on your beliefs when you come across injustice, prejudice, and discriminatory words. Call out racism when you see it. Don't be afraid to stand up for someone who is being mistreated!
    • Use your words, your actions, and your influence. Be bold, but be smart. Think about how you can intervene most effectively.
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    Document injustice. Keep a cell phone camera handy, and take video footage of any oppressive acts that you encounter. Do not be afraid to videotape law enforcement officers if you feel that they are physically or verbally oppressing a civilian. Broadcast the truth. Show your friends, tell your story, and post your footage to social media.
    • If you can't take video, take photos or record audio. At the very least, pay close attention. A solid eyewitness account is better than nothing.
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    Keep a level head. React with intention, and advocate nonviolently. Try to hold your cool and maintain perspective in the face of deep injustice. Do not submit, but be careful about acting with anger. Sometimes, it's best to slow down and consider the wisest way to react. Find your center and work from there.[2]
    • Take your cues from nonviolent activists like Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Harriet Tubman, and Martin Luther King, Jr.: men and women who used their frustration to help people rather than hurt people. Each day, be the change that you wish to see in the world.
    • Consider that anger often arises in response to anger. Ask yourself whether, by reacting angrily, you will actually solve the problem – or only feed the cycle of anger.

Method 3
Placing Racism in Context

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    Understand why people look different. The history of humanity is the story of people that, over tens of thousands of years, migrated from the jungles and savannas of Africa into Europe and the vast sweep of Asia; navigated ships through the islands of Polynesia using the currents and the stars; followed the hunt from Siberia, across the frozen-over Bering Strait, into the wild heart of North America; and spread, by roughly 10,000 years ago, across the whole grand span of the Americas – to the tip of Tierra del Fuego. Everywhere that our ancestors went, some people stayed and some people eventually moved on. The people that stayed adapted to their environment in various ways: people in cold northern climes, with less sunlight, developed lighter hair and skin, while people living nearer the equator tended to produce more melanin to protect their skin from the heat.
    • Look past these superficial differences at the underlying DNA. From South Africa to Siberia, Bangladesh to Brazil, Canada to Kazakhstan: we are all genetically homo sapiens. We are all human.[3]
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    Consider the evolutionary root of racism. Some say that there was once a tribal function to discrimination. When groups of ancestral, pre-modern humans were competing for resources and territory, there may have been real danger in the inability to distinguish between someone from your "own" group and someone from another, potentially hostile group. Studies of our ape cousins have shown a similar distrust for individuals from a rival group. Consider the thought, however, that while this tendency may have come about for a reason, it is not necessarily something that still serves our species.[4]
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    Read about the modern history of institutional racism. Understand that laws and individuals have been discriminating against non-white human beings for hundreds of years in the United States alone. Learn about the abolition of slavery, the Jim Crow years, the Civil Rights Movement, and the ways that racism has persisted through it all. Read the news and stay up date about the events that people are talking about. Learn to connect the dots of systemic injustice from the past to the present.[5]


  • Remember: we all bleed red.
  • Avoid using slang terms for other races. Try not to refer another race with pronouns like: "them," "they," or "it." Catch yourself when you are thinking in stereotypes.
  • Encourage those who make racist comments around you to stop. That may make them realize how bad it sounds and stop altogether.

Article Info

Categories: Racism