ezoza ismailova

Ezoza recently finished her junior year as a second-year resident advisor (RA), and first-year RA section leader. During her time being an RA, she received the Mid-Atlantic Association of College and University Housing Offices Academic Excellence Award. Her other involvements include historian of the History/International Affairs Club and PR co-chair of the Student Alumni Association. Most recently, she was part of the student planning committee for the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford's 2020 Presidential Inauguration Ceremony. Ezoza has utilized her past summers and breaks to intern at Duvall Rueter and Pruyne Law Firm, to job shadow the house representative for the 110th district, and to serve as a judge at previous National Speech and Debate Tournament and tournament qualifiers.

My Journey Towards Anti-Racism

13 Jul

My Story

The first thing I want to make clear is that I am still learning and growing; I aim to continue learning for as long as I live. Learning for me and my family has always been a survival mechanism, ever since our move to America when I was six. Not knowing the language or culture forced us to learn to survive in this country. It was especially challenging to move into a rural and isolated town, where an overwhelming number of the town population was white. Now, I am not going to sit here and deny the fact that my family and I didn’t face racism –even if it mainly came from my classmates. Likewise, I will also admit that as a straight, able-bodied, non-black person of color, I hold a lot of privilege and I have made mistakes in the past. Yet, at my core, I know that I am against all and any forms of racism. Before, I use to believe that if I simply did not participate in racist behavior, I was doing my part in this world. Today, I know that is not nearly enough and that I can do so much more to become an ally for those around me.

Another important thing to know about me is that as an International Affairs and History/Political Science double major, I strive to be informed about politics and news. With that being said, I can recall when the #Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) occupied news channels in 2013, way before the George Floyd incident. I recall when headlines were filled with updates about the death of Trayvon Martin, then Philando Castile, and so on. In my freshman year of college, I recall dissecting news articles on how the media framed the BLM movement in the past.

Source: Kevin Hagen For New York Daily News

Why Anti-racism?

But today, I am not looking at 2013 news articles about the BLM. Instead, I along with millions of other Americans, are witnessing the recurrences of the past flood back, due to the negligence of society to protect Black lives. Many nations today only exist due to the exploitation of black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), but continue hatred towards its creators. But I am hopeful that things can change. That is why I joined AP—to help those marginalized voices be heard. Additionally, I have realized that being non-racist is not enough and that my inaction benefits no one. That is why I aim to be anti-racist.

The difference between non-racist and anti-racist (yes there is a difference) is that non-racism means to passively denounce racism by not engaging in racist behaviors/slurs while anti-racism means actively opposing racism via addressing, confronting, and eliminating racism/racist behaviors. I think Angela Davis puts it nicely in the following quote:

Source: Pinterest

Ways to Take Action

Again, I want to reiterate that I am on this journey to becoming anti-racist and that I am in no means an expert on this topic.  I aim to always keep learning and educating myself and I hope you do too. If you choose to join me on this journey to becoming anti-racist or simply want to learn more, I encourage you to do the following: enroll in this highly informative anti-racism training (enrollment opens July 17th), listen to BIPOC stories, read black stories, support black-owned businesses, engage in conversations about race even if it’s uncomfortable, call out racist behavior, or simply start by doing a google search for the terms such as “microaggressions”, “white supremacy in law enforcement”, “redlining”, “structural inequality in education”, “brown eye blue eye experiment”, “school to prison pipeline”, or “implicit bias”.  If you have anything to add to this list, please feel free to comment below!

Some Videos to Watch:

Some Things to Read:




Posted By ezoza ismailova

Posted Jul 13th, 2020


  • Alexandra Mayer

    July 17, 2020


    Ezoza, your writing is moving and informative. I think allyship necessitates active lifelong learning. In acknowledging that you are still on your journey (as am I), you open yourself up for constant and continued improvement. Your engagement with learning will also serve this world well as you go onto secure positions of leadership. Ignorance is dangerous.

  • Brigid

    July 17, 2020


    Ezoza, the repeated theme in this blog that stood out to me echoes in one of your quotes: “Before, I use to believe that if I simply did not participate in racist behavior, I was doing my part in this world. Today, I know that is not nearly enough…” I had shared a similar viewpoint, until I learned more about racism during my first year of college in a class called “Politics and Political Life” where we examined our own political perspectives, as well as identities. Like you, I had not considered how racism is not limited to “aggressive” actions, but is a systemic issue, something I’m glad that is being reported on more and more.
    Thank you for all the resources you have provided, as I am too on a journey toward becoming ACTIVELY anti-racist. The point you made about entering into uncomfortable conversations is especially important for me, as many of my family members are white but do not realize the privilege that comes with it… Lastly, thank you for the humility and self-examination you brought to this post. I think you know more than you say you do, especially having experienced being an immigrant to the US first-hand. Still, I think more people should be open to being more honest with themselves and realizing there is always room to grow!

  • Iain Guest

    July 18, 2020


    My reaction to this blog is that I’m so sorry we’re working together remotely! I know you to be compassionate and very considerate of others, and it comes across in your writing. As a former professor, I also find it interesting and encouraging that you and Brigid have been helped on your journey by college. I’m also impressed that you have managed to emerge unscathed from your early exposure to prejudice in the US. Here’s the question I have about racism. I get your key point – that being anti-racist requires being ACTIVE. But does this require us to be in a permanent state of discomfort? If we don’t feel discomfort are we falling short? Should we be constantly searching for shortcoming in ourselves and our society? At the very least I think this has to be leavened with a heathy dose of positive thinking and gratitude for the incredible richness of a diverse society, of which you are a prime example!!

  • Mary Ellen Cain

    August 29, 2020


    This is a marvelous, thought-provoking post, Ezoza. Your own story as a young immigrant who rose above the prejudice you experienced was inspiring, but your realization that so much more needs to be done shows us all–no matter our color, gender, age, orientation, etc.–that we must continue learning about this complicated issue. Also, the resources you chose were excellent conversation starters. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us!

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