Accessibility statement

Anti-racism for allies

During times of crisis, such as Covid-19 and the public murder of George Floyd in America, systemic inequalities tend to become more apparent to a greater number of people. While this can bring about a wave of solidarity in the moment, real change and action needs to continue to take place long after mass public outrage subsides.

What is ‘white privilege’?

White privilege is an absence of the consequences of racism. An absence of structural discrimination, an absence of your race being viewed as a problem first and foremost - Reni Eddo-Lodge

When somebody asks you to “check your privilege” they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing and may in fact be contributing to those struggles - Ijeoma Oluo

What is ‘covert racism’?

Many people recognise overt racism when they see it. Things like hate crimes and use of racial slurs and the ‘n-word’ are generally understood to be overt forms of racism. However, we also need to understand the more covert forms of racism in society.

Whereas overt racism assumes blatant and insidious forms, covert racism hides behind the façade of ‘politeness’, political correctness and expediency. Racially coded words and calls for racial blindness obfuscate the reality of this subtle, subversive, and often hidden form of racism. Covert racism, just like its twin overt racism, is neither innocent nor harmless. The scars of covert racism, often seen in terms of increased levels of disease, negative sanctions, inadequate information, and lost opportunities – serve to continually victimise racial non-elites. - Coates, Rodney D., 2008, Covert Racism in the USA and Globally, Sociology Compass 2/1: 208-231

Examples of covert racism and systemic inequality

  • Blaming the victim
  • Colour blindness and believing we live in a ‘post-racial’ society
  • Cultural appropriation
  • Saying "it’s just a joke" when making a racially insensitive comment
  • Hiring discrimination
  • Racial profiling or stereotyping
  • Tokenism
  • Housing discrimination
  • Health inequalities or worse outcomes for ethnic minority groups

Different things you can begin to do

  • Start by reading and listening to BAME authors and voices
  • Vote in your local, national, and Students’ Union elections
  • Write to your MP and to your student representatives about changes you want to see in your community and on your campus
  • Donate and volunteer to causes that support the eradication of racial injustices
  • Use your right to protest
  • Intervene if you witness racism
  • Get involved with a Together York project
  • Follow BAME voices on social media and support BAME businesses
  • Accept that we will all make mistakes; listen, learn, apologise and move forward

YUSU 2018 to 2020 Community and Wellbeing Officer, Steph Hayle, has created a live document of resources and links to things you can do in the UK. We also recommend reading through the Black Lives Matter toolkits.



This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a starting point for thinking about race issues. Think about other forms of literature you read or listen to including fiction, non-fiction, and academic texts. How can you expand what you read to include a wider, diverse range of authors and experiences?




See more recommendations of podcasts on the Black British experience and race in the UK.