AACRAO Book Club - "How to be an Antiracist" Recap

March 22, 2021
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Professional Development and Contributions to the Field
  • Professional Well-Being
  • black caucus
  • book club
  • book review
Two silhouettes conversing while one takes notes.

In February, AACRAO's Book Club held a discussion on Ibram X. Kendi How to be an Antiracist. Professor Kendi is a speaker at AACRAO's upcoming Annual Meeting, and his book explores how to address racism at all levels in your life. After our largest discussion yet, our co-hosts Joyce R. Philip and Dr. Soraira Urquiza recap their expectations, experiences, and takeaways. 



What were your thoughts going into the discussion?

Joyce Philip:

The journey to being an anti-racist is not simple. Regardless of your race, gender, ethnicity, age and/or religion, traveling this road is a complex process. Obstacles made up of our personal experiences prevent us from smoothly traversing down paths that will lead us to declare, once and for all, that I am not a racist. 

To be an antiracist takes work. It takes an examination of self. Above all it takes action.

Dr. Soraira Urquiza:

Nervous. Anxious. Excited. Once I got settled in, I was so proud to be there and my fellow AACRAO colleagues. The stories shared in the larger group and the conversations in the breakout rooms were enlightening and inspiring. I only wish we had more time together. 

However, I also could not help but wonder, who wasn’t there and why? Were my co-facilitator, Joyce, and I just preaching to the choir? Now don’t get me wrong, I think the choir can (and should) always learn new songs, but why does it feel it is the same people at the table?

How did the discussion go?

Dr. Soraira Urquiza:

Listening to my colleagues discuss their journey with Dr. Kendi’s book reminded me that we are all dedicated to making higher education better for our students. By committing to being antiracist, we can review, challenge, and change our institutional policies and practices that support inequity. This book club discussion gave me the emotion I struggle the most to maintain, hope.

Joyce Philip:

One participant spoke of the systems that discourage students from being fully engaged in the college experience. These systems that work for the majority have been in place for long periods but remain unexamined. Taking action to make policy and process changes that are fair and impact the entire staff and student body is what the antiracist journey is about. 

Concluding thoughts?

Joyce Philip:

We all must recognize that we have an obligation to be the force of change and to take accountability for the activities, policies, and processes in our institutions and communities. The journey towards being an anti-racist is a reward in itself. It will yield a better institution, a better community, a better world, and an individual’s perpetual crusade to be an anti-racist. 

Dr. Soraira Urquiza:

If we are committed to this work, we need to do the work- beginning with ourselves. This requires honesty and transparency. We need to commit to looking inward. The fact of the matter is a commitment to anti-racism takes uncomfortable inter and intrapersonal work. This work goes beyond having a conversation; it necessitates action. Sometimes it requires an entire paradigm shift.

Read the full book club blog recap and watch the video recording today.  Want to join these discussions? Subscribe to our list and get involved.

AACRAO's Executive Director has released an official statement in response to the recent uptick in Asian-American violence and discrimination around the United States.


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