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Anti-Racism Reading List - 20 September 2021
8 powerful articles worth discussing and sharing
Today’s collection is a mixed bag. There are articles on different aspects of racism in the workplace, as well as thoughts on education, allyship, and misogynoir. Ready to dive in?
1. Choosing to be a ‘nonpolitical’ company means choosing to be anti-Black by Mimi Fox Melton
Remember Basecamp’s decision to ban political talk (aka a focus on equity) earlier this year? I thought it was a terrible decision and canceled my Hey account immediately. In this article. Mimi Fox Melton explains why taking this stance is a red (dare I say “Confederate”) flag for many.
“a direct refusal to address racism is the tech industry’s equivalent of flying a Blue Lives Matter flag.
Why? It signals the choice to protect power and whiteness. Both are silencing tactics, maneuvers meant to uphold systems of power based in whiteness. Taking a “non-political stance” is, in fact, a political choice, poised to protect white culture at work.”
2. Minority ethnic Britons face 'shocking' job discrimination by Haroon Siddique
I’m always finding more evidence that Britain is, indeed, racist. In this Guardian article, Haroon Siddique presents the results of a report showing how much harder it is for a person of color to get a job in Britain. Sadly, it suggests that the problem of racism hasn’t got better, and may even have got worse. Go figure.
“A linked study by the same researchers, comparing their results with similar field experiments dating back to 1969, found discrimination against black Britons and those of south Asian origin – particularly Pakistanis – unchanged over almost 50 years.”
3. How to Teach About Racism, Without Guilt or Shame by Tim Wise
In this article, Tim Wise suggests that one way to avoid unhelpful white guilt is to include the actions of white anti-racists when teaching about the period of enslavement.
“Rather than historically fetishize elites who owned other persons, fostered genocidal land grabs, and rationalized it all under the banner of white supremacy, why not introduce students to white people who chose a different path?”
4. Stop running diversity campaigns without a culture change by Shamontiel L. Vaughn
Cosmetic diversity isn’t diversity, says Shamontiel L. Vaughn. You need people to actually believe in changing things and take action:
“I still raise an eyebrow at any company (whether it’s higher education or a traditional office) that is pushing diversity and inclusion harder than Amazon pushes online shopping. The minute I see that being a driving point, the first thing I look at is the staff (or student population) that’s already there. If it’s a token employee and nothing else at the company looks even slightly like it’s trying to improve overall diversity, not just within this “diversity” group, I already know it’s a waste of time humoring that organization.”
5. If you have to tell black people you’re an ally, you’re probably not by Shamontiel L. Vaughn
Allyship is earned, not assumed. It’s a point many antiracism writers make, and Shamontiel L. Vaughn does it well here.
“I have had a social circle of people of diverse cultures and races and can usually spot when I’m with an ally. And the main way I know it is they don’t constantly remind me about their “black friends” or “friends of color,” they do not equate sexism with racism or claim to have the carbon-copy experience of black women”
6. When Privilege Kills by Sherry Kappel
Our Human Family is one of the publications I look forward to seeing in my inbox every week, and it’s worth subscribing if you haven’t already. In this article, Sherry Kappel breaks down some aspects of what privilege is, and what it isn’t, with clear examples of how it shows up (or, more chillingly, how it doesn’t).
“White people are busy attending weddings and fighting over their right to go maskless and unvaccinated, while Black people are being more careful and yet they’re twice as likely to die. That is white privilege: not private jets, not gold fixtures, but life or death.”
7. Black Women Don’t Need To Be Thin, And They Don’t Need Your Approval by Allison Gaines
As Black women, it sometimes seems that we’re damned if we do, and we’re damned if we don’t. Navigating the stereotypes, the aggression, the misogynoir can be exhausting. Here, Allison Gaines unpacks Lizzo’s experience. Though it’s been a few weeks since the incident she’s discussing here, this is worth sharing because this type of thing happens to Black women again and again and again.
“Those bullying Lizzo contributed to the misogynoir that Black women experience. On one end, she has to battle sexist people who feel that women should not celebrate their passion. And on the other end, she has to battle racist people calling her “mammy.” The pain Black artists like Lizzo experience comes from societal norms that we all need to take responsibility for breaking.”
8. The Racism of the ‘Hard-to-Find’ Qualified Black Candidate Trope by Autumn McDonald
How many times have we heard the argument that such and such a company couldn’t find Black and Brown candidates? This has always seemed suspect to me, given that historically underrepresented groups rely on education as a major way to change their lot in life. And given the credentialism that means that Black and Brown candidates have to have ALL the pieces of paper before being considered for a role. In this article, Autumn McDonald reveals some of the fallacies of the “hard to find” argument, and highlights some actions companies must take if they’re serious about addressing racial inequity in the workplace.
“Black and Hispanic computer scientists and computer engineers graduate from top universities at twice the rate that leading technology companies hire them. Dominant groups make the excuse that they “‘searched but there was nobody qualified,’” but, Hamilton observes, “if you look at the empirical evidence, that is just not the case.””
Did any of these articles strike a chord with you? Feel free to share your thoughts below.
Thanks for reading,
Want something more for your reading list? I’ve been reading some moving first person stories in Collecting Courage: Joy, Pain, Freedom, Love—Anti-Black Racism in the Charitable Sector. The book “is a collection of 15 first-person narratives shared by accomplished Black fundraisers and equity, racial, and social justice advocates, documenting their experiences confronting and surviving racism working in charitable and philanthropic spaces across North America. With searing and intimate detail, they write about their experiences with anti-Black racism: from coping with being last hired, first fired, and overlooked for promotion to outright hostility in toxic workplaces. Their testimonies chip away at the idea of the inherent goodness of the charitable sector.” Learn more about Collecting Courage.
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Cover photo courtesy of Canva.