What is Anti-Racist Action?

ARA is an international network of people from all walks of life who are dedicated to eliminating racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and discrimination against the disabled, the oldest, the youngest, and the most oppressed people. We want a free classless society. ARA got its start in Minneapolis in 1988; since then, we’ve had chapters in dozens of communities in five countries and three continents. We have impacted the lives of thousands of people in our 20 plus year history.

All vouched-for chapters agree on the ARA Network’s four Points Of Unity, but can decide on what actions they will take in their communities.

What we do.

ARA’s work generally falls into four broad categories:

1. We Educate:
  • by doing serious and credible research on racist and fascist groups and issues involving racism and other forms of discrimination.
  • by sharing information with allied anti-racists in dozens of organizations worldwide.
  • by using this research to write and publish dozens of pamphlets, dossiers, articles, magazines, web pages, radio and television programs.
  • by distributing thousands of copies of all kinds of literature about racism and discrimination for free at schools, conferences, protests, concerts, parties and in prisons.
  • by sending speakers to talk to hundreds of school groups, youth groups, church groups, community organizations and conferences.
2. We Organize:
  • by acting as the primary contact for a new generation of anti-racist activists.
  • by mobilizing people to combat racism and discrimination, Anti-Racist Action has become a key vehicle for young anti-racists to get involved in and help shape the direction of this struggle.
  • by initiating or supporting anti-racist demonstrations.
  • by hosting some of the most diverse, well-attended, constructive and practical anti-racist conferences, trainings and gatherings.
  • by recognizing that racism is a multi-faceted issue entwined with a number of other problems our society faces and then using that knowledge to connect with groups and individuals from all walks of life.
  • by strengthening our understanding and resolve and improving our communities through work on issues related to racism, such as poverty, homophobia, prisons, police abuse, workers’ struggles, sexism, & reproductive rights.
  • by defending other anti-racists and anti-fascists across the globe. For example, the ARA War Chest has contributed to anti-racists in eight countries who were in trouble and needed our help. ARA Network chapters donate 10% of all money they raise, plus a biannual contribution of $25 per chapter or $10 per member (whichever is greater) to the War chest. We also accept private donations to the War chest. Click here for more information on the War Chest or to make a donation.
3. We Confront:
  • by refusing to ignore the violent bigots that
    comprise racist and fascist groups.
  • by challenging racists and fascists when they attempt to recruit, organize, mobilize, propagandize, and cause harm to people.
  • by using innovative, creative, and highly-effective tactics
  • by denying racist and fascist groups the opportunity to monopolize public spaces and by denying racists and fascists the chance to turn public spaces into spaces that are hostile towards people of color, women, immigrants, queer and trans folk, the disabled, and others.
4. We Celebrate:
  • through our commitment to developing a fun, authentic anti-racist culture.
  • by hosting parties, concerts and other events that encourage participation of people of diverse backgrounds in having fun in a safe and liberated environment.
  • by organizing regular weekend gatherings for young anti-racists to come to know and support each other.

How does a group become a vouched-for chapter?

The first step is finding a group of people that share common interests and goals. All people in this group must agree to the ARA Network’s four Points of Unity. Once you have that established, contact your nearest ARA Network chapter. They will arrange a face-to-face meeting with you.
Once you are checked out and solid, then you are welcome into the Network. It is good to do this so that other members of the network can have your back and you can take part in the ARA network War Chest. We will also supply you with information and recommend literature to help get your chapter off the ground. There are some groups out there that call themselves an ARA chapter. But the ARA Network only recognizes chapters that have joined the Network. The ARA Network cannot endorse the actions of a group calling itself Anti-Racist Action unless they are members of the ARA Network. If you are contacting a chapter that is not a member of the ARA Network, please use caution. A list of current ARA Network chapters can be found here.

Why doesn’t ARA rely on the cops or the courts?

  • Most anti-racist groups focus all their efforts on creating new laws or getting the police to respond to racism. But the cops uphold white supremacy and the status quo; they attack us and everyone that resists oppression. This means that police are not likely to get involved with fighting racist and fascists until they have hurt or killed someone. We think that that’s too late and that any anti-racist group that doesn’t organize an effective opposition to racist and fascists before they hurt people is not doing their job.
  • Another problem with anti-racist groups that work closely with the police is that they are afraid to criticize the police when they pull racist, sexist, or homophobic shit. By maintaining a distance from the legal system, ARA is in a better position to call the cops and the courts on racist practices and behaviors.

I saw some ARA people wearing masks at an action. What’s up with that?

You probably also noticed bigots with cameras at that same action. Racists like to take pictures of anti-racists so that they’ll be able to identify them and attack them later on. To protect our safety, we sometimes choose to wear masks so that we don’t have to worry about racists attacking us, or people close to us, after or outside of an action.

What is fascism?

ARA recognizes a number of characteristics of fascist movements. Fascism is an ultra-nationalist ideology that mobilizes around and glorifies a national or perceived racial identity, valuing this identity above all other interests (for example gender or class). Fascism is marked by its hostility towards  reason and human solidarity, by its dehumanization and scapegoating of marginalized or oppressed groups, by its use of violence or threats of violence to impose its views on others, and by its rejection of  supposedly “effeminate” or “soft” values in favor of “manliness.” Anti-Semitism and racism are primary facets of National Socialism and most other varieties of fascism. Fascism aims at a militarized society, and organizes along military or quasi-military lines, usually with an authoritarian structure revolving around a single, charismatic leader. Fascist groups may have the facade of an efficient and dynamic organization, but in reality, power structures are arbitrary and ruthless. Fascists use anti-elitist rhetoric to appeal to the “common man,” coupled with internal elitism and willingness to accept support from existing elites. Fascism glorifies a mythologized past as justification for its present ideological stances, and as a basis for future organization of society.

What about free speech for fascists?

  • ARA does not use the state to prevent anyone’s free speech. The right to free speech restricts the state from censoring ideas, it does not stop the public from opposing hateful ideas.
  • The fact that people dislike what bigots have to say and want to make that known is not prohibited by the concept of free speech. If bigots actively go out of their way to tell people that 90% of the world’s population should be enslaved or that the best thing they can do is kill someone because of their skin color, religion, ethnic background, immigration status, sexual orientation, disability, etc., they can’t use “free speech” to silence opposition.
  • Anti-racists and antifascists have an obligation to deny a platform to bigots so that they can’t spread their message and recruit. Concert venues, meeting halls, radio programs, and the like make choices about who to host on a regular basis. These choices have a very real impact on bigoted ideas taking root in one’s community.
  • Responding to bigoted speech is important. We believe in being proactive when it comes to fascist violence, which means confronting fascist organizing before they have a chance to put their ideas into action, and taking fascist threats seriously.