Is sustainability antiracist?

June 22, 2020

Ok, this year just keeps getting more and more intense! At least if you live in the USA. 

I really hope you and your family are safe, that you’re feeling hopeful. Most of us are still living in a weird half - isolated version of our lives, and all of us are affected by the current social and political environment. A change has to happen, but HOW?

So far one of the biggest things I’ve learned during the past weeks is that white people can not stay silent anymore. It’s all of our responsibility to be an active part of the positive change.

I’ve lived in the states now for almost 6 years, and so far I’ve mostly thought it’s not my business to interfere, or to speak up about racism here. I’ve thought I’ve had some good reasons for it too - like not being an American, not knowing enough about the history of this country, or about politics in general. During these past couple of weeks though, I’ve started seeing things differently. 

Yes, I’m an immigrant here, but because of my skin color I get treated like a white American and also get the privileges that come with it. Yes, there’s still a lot I need to learn about the history and politics of this country, but that’s not a good enough of a reason to stay silent. I live here now, my business is founded here, and my kids are growing up here. I’m definitely a part of this community, so I should act accordingly.

It shouldn’t be another burden for people of color to keep explaining and educating white people about the racist systems or the inequality that’s happening all around. We need to check ourselves, and be clear on where we stand.

All that is to say, I think I (we all) need to actively learn more, to see racism in its different forms, and use our power where we can.

Also, racism isn’t a problem just in the USA, right? It’s a problem EVERYWHERE (also in Finland). So don’t think you’re off the hook if it’s “not as bad” in your country. 

Now, there’s a whole lot to learn, and it might feel overwhelming, so let’s start from the basics. If you’ve been wondering what people mean by some of the terms around the current social and political environment (words like assimilation, anti-racism or white privilege) this is for you! I’ve started to get educated, and I’m hoping you’ll join me. 

Here’s a video of a conversation I had with Tess, a good friend of mine, who’s a teacher and a researcher of sociology at Cornell University, NY. She was kind enough to help me figure out the basics of this conversation about racism and anti-racism. I realize full well that a 30 minute video isn’t going to cover all of what needs to be talked about, but I’m thinking it’s a good start! 

What did you think? 

Were these things totally familiar to you, or did you learn something new? What are some of your own experiences with racism (individual or structural)? 

Can you see some ways to use your power in your community, to make a change - to be anti-racist? 

As I’m learning more and more, I’m also realizing that anti-racism is a value that fits very well in my world view in general. I’m amazed that I hadn’t heard of it before, but happy to learn more and to be able to do my work even better with this newfound knowledge and determination. 

Like we talked in the video, anti-racism and sustainability have some very similar goals - bringing awareness to the systemic and racist problems in our societies. Businesses are big and governments are complicated, but neither one can function without people. And we are the people! 

I’d love to hear from you. I’m open to comments and feedback, and very interested in continuing the conversation.

Much love and respect,


Efforts for antiracism and sustainability both strive towards a more just society - locally and globally, individually and structurally. These books have both been very inspirational for me.