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Anti-Racism Reading List - 1 September 2021
8 powerful articles worth discussing and sharing
As I was putting this reading list post together, I realized a bit of a theme was developing. It includes three articles that share perspectives on the notion of allyship. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts once you’ve read them. Here are the articles:
1. Dear White Colleagues: We’re Not Interested In Your ‘Racial Resume’ by Dana Brownlee
This term struck a chord with me as soon as I read it, as I’ve been on the receiving end of many such interactions. Actions definitely speak louder than words, as Brownlee points out.
“Black and Brown people have centuries of experience with White moderates (in particular) speaking anti-racism while doing nothing or even perpetuating systems and structures that disadvantage marginalized communities, so we’ve learned that talk is cheap.”
2. Racism in England has ‘got worse over last five years’ – says damning report by Natalie Morris
Surprising not a single Black or Brown person, this article covers a recent report revealing that, yes, there’s racism in England and it’s not getting better.
“In education, it was found that by the end of secondary school, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils are almost three years behind their white counterparts. Black Caribbean students are 11 months behind their white British counterparts.
The general trend from the data shows that inequality along racial lines has escalated since the same report was released five years ago.”
3. Active-Ally Leadership by Kevin Kamau
In this article, Kevin Kamau of Kamau Consulting Group breaks down what allyship is - and what it is not, and what to think about as you move from the label of “ally” to making it a verb, with the action to back it up.
“[Allyship] is not about an identity. It’s a lifelong journey where every learning moment is turned into a renewed commitment to the vast opportunity that lies ahead.”
4. What If Being Called a “Racist” Is the Beginning, Not the End, of the Conversation? Learning What It Really Means to Be a White Teacher by Elizabeth Denevi
If you’ve been an active anti-racist for a while, you’ll have experienced those moments where calling someone a racist ends the conversation. The title of this article posits a different outcome, which is what drew me in to start with. Here, the author checks her own biases as a white teacher of Black students and students of color:
“For me to have identified as really white felt tantamount to saying I was a KKK member. I had no examples of white people who had worked for social justice. I had no idea that, for as long as there was slavery in the U.S., there were white people working to end it. Nobody taught me about those people.”
5. Racism And The Cargo Cult Of White Allyship: If It Doesn't Feel Like Work, It's Not Actually Working by Stacey Alvarez de la Campa
In this article, the author unpacks the notion of allyship, and states plainly that allyship is work. If it isn’t work, you’re not doing it right. There’s much food for thought in this piece, of which the following quote is just one example:
“this is largely the problem with the vast majority of self-proclaimed white allyship: it is comprised of glorified and grandiose gestures that are meant to fuel a sense of self-congratulatory complacency and smugness, without coming out of the hallowed comfort zone. Genuine allyship cannot evolve without discomfort, and it is the hidden and unspoken allyship that is the most meaningful of all.”
6. Performative Allyship: What Are The Signs And Why Leaders Get Exposed by Carmen Morris
In this article, Morris calls out some of the key issues with performative allyship, and suggests how we can move beyond that.
“Performative allyship has become an issue of concern across the race equality agenda, so much so that Black employees have begun to call out surface level activism in the workplace, and across social media. The problem with performative allyship, is that it maintains the status quo and renders illegitimate, any attempts to change processes that support structural racism, and other barriers.”
7. The Hidden Curriculum by Naomi Raquel Enright
When Black activists say white supremacy is everywhere, one of the places we often find it is in the education system. Enright shares some examples of this and also shows how reframing an oft-quoted statement about the age at which we should teach children about “race” can make it a better challenge to systemic racism:
“The rewording could read, “Young children notice and think about racism. Adults often worry that talking about racism will encourage bias in children, but the opposite is true. Silence about racism reinforces white supremacy and systemic inequities by letting children draw their own conclusions based on how our society operates. Teachers and families can play a powerful role in helping children of all ages develop positive attitudes about identity and skills to create systemic change and promote a more just future—but only if we seek and speak the truth!””
8. Kids Don't Need Us To Sugarcoat Race Or Racism. Just Ask Sesame Street. by Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs
Like many people, I grew up on Sesame Street. In that show at least I took the presence of Gordon, Susan, Luis and Maria for granted. Those characters were full members of the cast with important roles to play, and weren’t caricatures. I’m happy to see that Sesame Street is continuing the work of raising important issues with kids, as this article points out:
“Sesame Street gives parents of every background the tools they need to have tough conversations with their kids about race and identity, and also to approach these topics in a way that’s kid-appropriate and fun.”
How did these articles land with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for reading,
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Cover photo courtesy of Canva.