Why it’s so Deceptively Hard

Why Committing to Counter Racism is So Deceptively Hard


Committing to taking action to counter racism is not an easy thing.  To take significant and sustained action naturally asks a surprising amount of White people – it is a deceptively powerful challenge, and it needs to be clearly seen in order to diminish its power to stop us.

As White people we need to take on this challenge with our eyes open because then we can draw on the character and capabilities that we have developed over a lifetime – and expand them in the process.


The site not only lays out the specific nature of the challenge, but it also provides a lot of guidance and strategies for dealing with it.  


“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

– Alice Walker

What Countering Racism Really Asks of White People
– 10 Natural Demands –

Each individual White person can probably come up with more demands or requirements, but these are common and very natural things that are asked of us.  It’s a surprisingly powerful list.

  1. We must confront an evil that has been built into American life for 500 years.  As the dominant group in America, that is a natural and unavoidable indictment of us.  We have to move past that indictment to commit to countering racism.  That means not being diminished by it, not retreating to denial, and not making excuses.  We aren’t responsible for our history, but we are responsible for how we act now.   

  2. We are asked to leave our comfort zone – and stay out of it when we get challenged, disappointed, frustrated, etc.  This is a bigger deal than it sounds, partly because there are other factors challenging us or driving us to leave our comfort zones.  However, our comfort zone will expand with experience.

  3. It requires making a significant extra effort just by definition.  Most people are already stretched thin dealing with the challenges of everyday life.  We are, therefore, asked to either invest more time and energy or substitute countering racism for another priority.

  4. We must take risks to make a difference and we can’t know at the beginning what those risks might be – but it feels risky. 

  5. It requires going forth into a great deal of unknown with an unclear destination.  This is true with any major change and countering racism is no exception.

  6. We must be we willing to let go of a number of possible things, for example our understanding of the world, self-image, the nature of some relationships, some beliefs, some sense of belonging or place, some behaviors, etc.  We may be surprised at how little we have to let go of, but we can’t know that at the beginning.

  7. Countering racism will require that we discover and master new ways of thinking and acting.  This takes a surprising amount of time, energy, discipline, and perseverance.  

  8. For a long time we will be dealing with “Inbetweenity” – the feeling of being between old ways and new ways – no longer quite “here” and not quite “there.”

  9. The ability to persevere in the face of barriers, frustrations, disappointments, rejections, mistakes, and setbacks is required.  This is required in any area of significant growth, but it is particularly important in countering racism.  

  10. There is an “opportunity cost.”  Other opportunities may be lost if we focus on countering racism.  It requires the willingness to reprioritize to counter racism –saying “yes” to countering racism will require saying “no” to other possibilities


These are Not Reasons to Avoid Committing to the Challenge

These are just realistic dynamics that we must deal with in order to genuinely commit.  They combine to form a challenge that naturally calls for our best – our courage – our ability to go beyond our immediate self-interest – the competencies and qualities that we have developed in our lives – our ability to persevere and be resilient – our belief that our actions have significance.

If we say “yes” to the challenge, we will be tested – and we will grow in the process of being tested.  Our comfort zone will also grow.  If we say “no”……