Moving from “Non” to “Anti” in Social Justice Work

In this video from The Guardian, writer Marlon James talks about differences between being non-racist and anti-racist, and the meanings they carry.

I found the video on a status from The Program on Intergroup Relation’s Facebook page. A quote from Desmond Tutu was attached to the video which said:

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
—Desmond Tutu

After watching both the video, and reading the quote above, I was also reminded of an important saying that was used in my training that I continue to use in my teaching, and reference in my own ongoing development:

“Because oppression is seen as systemic, we tend to absolve ourselves of blame, but unless someone chooses to identify themselves with institutions and systems, the act of honest confession will never take place.”
—Author Unknown

Marlon also makes mention of other social identities in the video as well.

Ultimately I embrace his message as a call to recognize the power and privileges we have, and to resist the urge to absolve ourselves of our complicity with the oppression our privilege is built on, and the responsibility we have to make things right.


From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones, MSW, LLMSW



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I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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2 Responses

  1. Mikel Brown says:

    Thank you very much for continuing to provide thought provoking information and forum for sharing-

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