I’m doing x,y and z. Am I not racist yet?


Ashley Huynh

Practicing antiracism is a continuous learning process that relies on adopting a growth mindset.

It’s been about two years since what I consider the start of my student-activist journey at the beginning of my sophomore year in 2021. This was only a few months after the death of George Floyd and its resulting spike in the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM). Thousands congregated in the streets across the nation to protest as people took to the media to share their anger, frustration, and heartbreak.

Every single day for the past two years, I have thought about the influences and effects of racism, equity, justice, inequity, injustice, etc without fail. Every day. The way I perceived the world changed completely when I began understanding how the disproportionate allocation of systemic power disregards the minority because their interests are misaligned with those with power. This happened for centuries—hundreds of years of dehumanization—and it deeply disturbs me on a moral level that it is still happening.

I think about this often.

I think, why did it take so many protests, so many deaths, such large-scale recognition for me to hear? I think about how I lived almost 16 years with such ignorance. I once said that I wish my eyes were open to social inequity and injustice earlier, so that I could have started rectifying it sooner. I think about the years of my life, in which I operated with such passivity because I simply did not understand or see the full picture.

Antiracism is dependent on a growth mindset, which refers to using obstacles and setbacks as a springboard for more learning and development. Even those who attend antiracist workshops with the right intention to understand and empathize need to realize that the work doesn’t stop after that workshop ends. Even when one feels that they are knowledgeable about certain issues, there is always more to learn, more stories to hear, and more room to grow.

One does not need to commit to the level of antiracism and equity that I did because after all, I have adopted it as one of my life’s works, however, it is important to recognize that simply being aware of BLM doesn’t make one not racist.  It definitely doesn’t make one antiracist. Those who measure their progress with “not being racist” fail to see the bigger picture because becoming antiracist is a continuous learning process.  There is no end-all, be-all measurement of not racist that one should work towards to achieve so one no longer has to do the work. Those who are undergoing antiracist trainings “just to get it over with” or to reach a supposed state of “wokeness” are not doing it for the right reasons.

In the summer before junior year, my friend said, “I get scared whenever my dad and I have to get in the car.”

So few sentences in my life have struck me so deeply. For me, getting into the car was as mundane and boring as loading up the dishwasher. But for her, a Black woman who loves her dark-skinned Black father, it literally was a question of life and death. At this point in time, I was quite familiar with identifying my privileges as a Southeast Asian woman, who also happens to look East Asian. Yet, the duality of driving in a car was so dramatically different that it reinforced to me the vitality of understanding privilege and truly hearing others.

Her story humbled me.

And those fourteen words will forever remind me that I can always educate myself more about antiracism and the experiences of marginalized peoples. There is always more that I can learn about and there is always more that I can do. I’ve never considered myself “woke,” because to me, the term bears a certain finality to it.  As if once I am “woke,” I will indefinitely remain awake.  But to me, that is simply not true. Injustice, especially racism, has evolved for centuries and if I don’t keep educating myself, I won’t be able to keep up with it. If injustice has not rested, why should I?

As Montgomery County Public Schools increases its implementation of antiracist practices in our schools, I implore everyone to always remain a student to antiracism, inclusivity, and social justice. This doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t enlighten others about antiracism—in fact, one should! It means that while people are doing antiracist work in their classroom, school, or home, remember that there is always more to learn.

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