Don’t be a Hero, be Clark Kent

How to actively practice anti-racism 

Written By: Sydney Ko

My dad used to say to me, “don’t be a hero.” I was 13, and we were on our drive to school. Maybe it was because I was at the age where I thought the world revolved around me, but I was baffled by his statement. Shouldn’t parents encourage their children to be heroes just like the main characters of a Hollywood movie? 

I’ve always wondered why he said this, thinking it was merely his way of invalidating my dreams and aspirations. 

Flash forward to 2020, I think I finally understand what he truly meant. Racism continues to be a war that we’re fighting today, and I pray that this fight will be over someday. However, it is up to us to thoroughly push through this issue. 

Perhaps my dad was right, we shouldn’t strive to be the superhero who swoops in when the archetypal “damsel-in-distress” is in danger. In this case, the “damsel-in-distress” is human right, and the villain? You guessed it, Racism. 

We shouldn’t be tackling this issue through short-term exaggerated solutions that draw major media spotlights. And this certainly isn’t a fad for people to get on and eventually leave when it’s no longer a trend. 

This is an issue that requires a long-term solution, which we are able to solve it if we actively practice anti-racism. 

Everyone sees Superman. Everyone, especially, loves him when he comes to rescue. But that shouldn’t be the way we approach the problem as a society. We cannot expect applause every time we stand up to our racist uncle at the dining table nor can we applaud corporate for hiring BIPOC to meet its diversity and inclusion act. 

Instead, we should all strive to be Clark Kent. We should treat the act of anti-racism as a long-term project, just like Kent’s everyday life at his 9-5 desk job, because that’s the hard part. We need to learn to do the right thing daily without expecting compliments or awes of admirations from people. We need to normalize acts of anti-racism such as speaking out when racism is in action and educating your peers. 

In fact, instead of glorifying every act of “awareness” and “kindness” to BIPOC as a valiant act seen through superhero movies, we as members of society should start seeing this issue the way Kent views his work life, a normalized routine. 

We need to improve as a whole, and society is not going to be better if we simply continue to respond to major issues of racism through performative actions through Social Media platforms. 

As a society, we need to go beyond Social Media posts and instead, continue the conversation, educate yourself and stay on top of the news. 

While everyone wants to be Superman, being Kent is the challenge the society needs to overcome. 

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