Anti-Racism Reading List - 14 July 2021
12 powerful articles worth discussing and sharing
It’s been just over a month since the last anti-racism reading list. This time round, I’m broadening the selection to include a couple of articles that might not strictly be anti-racism, but certainly offer food for thought for those of us learning and growing in this space. Let’s dive in:
1. Think of It as Planting Seeds, Not Changing a Racist’s Mind by Clay Rivers
In this article, Clay Rivers, editor of Our Human Family, takes a long view on fighting racism, by sharing the story of how the interactions he had with someone he knew made that person start to question and educate himself about racism.
“If you’re someone with a vested interest in eradicating racism, passing up an opportunity to speak out against it—especially with someone with a genuine desire to understand more than they know and to do better—is counterproductive. I’d much rather not have to beat the drum over and over, but if I have to I will. Because this is bigger than me. There’s more at stake here than what I feel like doing.”
2. It’s Not About You. It Was Never About You. by Erik Deckers
Sticking with OHF, this is a useful article on decentering whiteness by Erik Deckers. It surfaces and dismantles all the common pushbacks, and is well worth your time.
“So “decenter” means “This is not about you. For once, this is not about you. Stop making this about you. I swear to God, do not #NotAllWhitePeople this!””
3. To Dismantle Anti-Asian Racism, We Must Understand Its Roots by Lily Zheng
If you’ve ever wanted to know more about Anti-Asianness in the US, this history of the Asian presence that country and the discrimination that followed is a must-read.
“Low-income Southeast Asian Americans faced a paradox: if they strove for success and achieved it, they were seen as an undifferentiated “model minority”; if they engaged in activism and advocacy, they were racialized similarly to Black Americans and faced comparable rates of policing, disciplinary action, and systemic oppression.”
4. What White Allies Get Wrong About “Amplifying” Black Voices by Casira Copes
Want to be a good ally? It starts by recognizing that it’s not about what YOU want, but about what the person needs. Often, those aren’t the same things at all, as Casira Copes points out.
“When white people come in with the goal of “amplifying” me, there is an underlying assumption on their part that I want access to whatever audience or outlet they’re offering. This may come as a shock in the age of virality, but not every writer’s goal is to be seen by as many people as humanly possible. Making sure my work is in the right place and published under the circumstances I’m most comfortable with is far more important to me than the number of eyes it gets in front of.”
5. Can Companies Really Say They Don’t Hire Racists? by Rebecca Stevens Alder
We all know the corporate world needs to do better, and one way to fight racism is to screen out the racists, instead of blithely assuming you’ve already done the work:
“To catch those who are cunning enough to dissimulate their racism during the interview process, one idea could be to regularly screen employees to detect whether they are racist or not. Where I work, I receive annual training in ethics, risk, and compliance. Why can’t companies do racist screening and antiracism training on a regular basis to catch racists or deter racist behavior?”
6. Experiencing Racism is Worse Than Being Called a Racist (Believe it or not) by Jeanette C. Espinoza
I’ve seen this for myself, and it still mystifies me. As Jeanette C. Espinoza points out the consequences for Black and Brown people are much more severe. I love her “three ways to avoid being called a racist” at the end.
“I’ve witnessed White people become enraged at the mere suggestion that they may harbor racist ideals, but these same people can witness injustice and not bat an eyelash. How is that possible? How is it that we live in a world where a label carries more weight than actual discrimination, brutality, and death?”
7. HR needs to think about equity, not equality by Shereen Daniels
If you’re not following Shereen Daniels on LinkedIn, her HR Rewired YouTube channel, or many of the other places she’s active, you should be. Here she talks about the importance of equity, and some of the pushback HR people get when they try to address issues in an equitable manner.
“Equity is about giving people what they need, which specifically addresses the barriers they face, in order to make things fair.
At times, this will mean giving more to those that need: more time, focus, energy and resources proportionate to their circumstances.
It is the equity piece of anti-racism or even traditional diversity and inclusion which causes the most discomfort.”
8. Being An Anti-Racist Requires Breaking Your Silence by Arturo Dominguez
We always say that it’s not enough to be not racist; you have to be explicitly anti-racist. Here, Arturo Dominguez issues a call to action to break the silence on racism.
“The first step in becoming an anti-racist is simple: when we speak up, particularly in local actions where we take the biggest risks, listen, back us up, and don’t center yourself. In other words, don’t make it about you. Stop the indifference and get off the couch and take action with us. Declaring your solidarity on social media with Black and Latino folks was never enough. We need people to speak up. To show up. We need voices. We need numbers. We need unity among us.”
9. How to be a good ally to Indigenous Australians by Rachel Rasker
As I was putting this collection together, this article popped up in one of my social media feeds. Since I believe that we have to fight racism EVERYWHERE it exists, I took the chance to learn from people within the Indigenous Australian community what THEY need from would-be allies. I hope this is helpful to you, too.
"We need people showing up in physical spaces as well as online spaces, and doing work when it isn't visible, the work behind the scenes, having those hard conversations."
10. Nikole Hannah-Jones Issues Statement on Decision to Decline Tenure Offer at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and to Accept Knight Chair Appointment at Howard University
This is not an anti-racism article, but a statement about standing up against racism. I’ve been following this case closely, because it’s been pretty clear to Black and Brown people that, as always, Nikole Hannah-Jones was judged by a different standard than her white peers. For me, her decision to refuse the belatedly offered tenure and go where she was appreciated is a message to Black and Brown people everywhere that we don’t have to put up with this shoddy treatment. My favorite quote is below:
“For too long, powerful people have expected the people they have mistreated and marginalized to sacrifice themselves to make things whole. The burden of working for racial justice is laid on the very people bearing the brunt of the injustice, and not the powerful people who maintain it. I say to you: I refuse.”
11. Use Your Words, Not Your Label-Maker by Holly Jahangiri
Holly Jahangiri is a smart human being and writer. Her piece on the ridiculousness of stereotypes and our reasons for discriminating against people really spoke to me. The bullet point list of "dislikes" is particularly enlightening.
“The larger point is, if it stings – go talk to your fellow “white people,” your network of “men” or “Boomers” or “cis-gendered, heteronormative Evangelical Christians.” Work to fix the nasty little underlying truths of the stereotypes from within, because maybe it’s not a group you chose membership in and it’s not a group you can easily leave, but it is a group that you are best suited to talk to in terms it will understand.”
12. Accusing Anti-Racism Activists of Hating Our Country Proves Critical Race Theory by Walter Rhein
I could write volumes - and probably will at some point - about how the ridiculous right keeps banning things they don’t understand. On the issue of critical race theory, Walter Rhein has done it for me:
“In reality, insisting that people “hate America” when they speak the truth about the past is just another mechanism of control. Your true friends aren’t “yes men” who shower you with praise even when you don’t deserve it. True friends are those that care enough to have the courage to tell the truth.”
Did any of these articles resonate with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for reading,
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Cover photo courtesy of Canva.