Life skills coordinator and academic counselorAnti-racism is:
“To me, anti-racism refers to active action against racism, whether it be individualized or systemic, forward-thinking mindsets.”
Educate, Advocate and be Your Authentic Self
My anti-racism journey is just beginning.
Growing up, I never had “The Talk.” Instead, when I had an experience that left me confused or despondent, I chatted with my parents, specifically my mother, to understand the world I lived in.
My mother frequently had conversations with me to prepare me for possible obstacles I might face each time I embarked on a new life stage. It was never one single conversation, but an ongoing one. I remember trying to change who I was to fit in and gain acceptance from my peers, but I quickly learned that I could not escape judgment, especially in my high school years.
There will always be someone who doesn’t like you. Armed with that knowledge, I learned the importance of being your authentic self and being comfortable with who you are because it is impossible to please everyone.
I am still working on accepting and embracing all of my identities, and I believe this is the first step in my anti-racism journey.
With the current social justice movements, I’ve prioritized investing time in learning more about Black culture, Black joy and the Black community's successes.
Educating myself has been liberating and has encouraged me to learn more about other identities as well. There have been many accomplishments by people from marginalized groups, and I want to learn more.
I want to continue to educate myself so that I no longer sit in silence. I want to be armed with enough information to speak up with confidence and advocate for myself and others. If I want to see a change in the world, I need to work to change myself first and then the communities I operate in every day.
My hope is that others follow this model as well.
First, accept yourself and all of your identities. Second, educate yourself about as many identities as you can. And finally, advocate for those in need. With these three steps, I hope we, as a society, move forward in our collective journey to anti-racism.
Shakayla Collins works in Athletics Academic Services as a life skills coordinator and academic counselor. She works closely with faculty, coaches, and other student support services to ensure Titan student-athletes' academic success.