Anti-Racism Reading List February 2024

10+ articles for anti-racism learning and action

Hello friends,

It’s time for another reading list*. This month, the articles look at Black leadership, the backlash against anti-racism and DEI, examples of institutional and organisational racism, and much more. Ready to dive in?

As many organisations walk back the commitments they made just four years ago, Whitney Alese takes a look at what this signifies, and who’s likely to keep working towards equality. I hope that includes all of us.

“The elimination of diversity, equity, and inclusion across industries and institutions speaks loudly. It looks at every commitment of inclusion and statement of solidarity made by these organizations mere years ago and mocks them. It is a mirror held up to a culture that shows who we truly are, a nation that with its words says “we are ready to put racism behind us” but with its actions shows that its willing to allow it to persist to protect its bottomline and the status quo.”

For some people, activism starts early, as happened for this writer, whom I personally find pretty inspiring. I also thought her statements about infrastructural inequalities in South Africa might resonate with readers from the USA and elsewhere':

“Anti-racism is one of the causes that is the most important to me, because it is central to a lot of inequalities we face in the world, like poverty. Poverty is a manmade crisis, mainly affecting Black people in the world. Not only have I been affected by it, but I understand how it affects the many different parts of the world. The economy in South Africa is still divided, and wealth and poverty have opposite faces. The fight against racism is a fight for the betterment of all of humanity, because it determines how we will live amongst each other, and how resources will be shared.”

Here, Clay is talking a bit about the why behind Our Human Family. In doing so, he also shares some hard truths about Black experiences in the USA:

“The ways this nation despises, dehumanizes, and seeks to destroy Black people and People of Color while enriching itself at their expense are innumerable. The means include but are not limited to the school-to-prison pipeline, redlining, unfair lending practices, and a tiered criminal justice system that issues sentences based on prejudice and privilege.”

4. The pursuit of racial justice: What we want to see change by People of Colour in Development Working Group

A while ago, I was talking to a fellow activist, and we discussed the fact that racism is a global issue, born of the same toxic paradigms: patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism and so on. This piece also links what happens in one country - the murder of George Floyd, for example - to the awakening and action that are necessary worldwide.

“Tackling racism should not be siloed to HR teams and CEOs. It must be broadened to include all areas of an organisation, meaning everyone can be involved. Bond’s anti-racism and decolonising framework is a great resource that explains why a holistic approach to anti-racism is needed, one that includes teams working on advocacy, communication, campaigning, fundraising, governance, programmes, research and more..”

I was intrigued by this piece as I don’t know many (maybe not any?) Black people who ski. Here, the stats speak for themselves, and I’m glad someone’s looking to melanate this sport:

“About 88 percent of visitors to ski areas during the 2019-2020 season were white and 1.8 percent were Black, according to The National Ski Areas Association.”

Is there something to all the criticisms of DEI? Here, Dr. Janice sees where the industry could improve:

“Many DEI initiatives are surface-level and don’t address systemic issues. Celebrating cultural heritage months, having safe space conversations, and book clubs are nice, but these activities don’t address systemic problems. A popular DEI initiative that has been the go-to for many organizations, especially following a public faux pas, misstep, or blunder, was the almighty unconscious bias training—but this type of training and other DEI initiatives often fail to address the systemic issues workplaces are plagued by.”

That said, we must be mindful of what the battle against equality, or “war on DEI”, if you will, really means, says Minda Harts:

“We’re witnessing a pushback against the strides made in workplace rights, a movement that seeks to roll back the progress of years, if not decades. Yet, in this resistance, we find a renewed call to action – not to be diminished by these setbacks but to rise above them with greater determination.”

I haven’t yet watched either of these films, though I plan to, but this commentary is one reason why I will. (I really wanted to quote the optimistic vision in the last paragraph, but I decided it would be a shame to ruin it.)

“Like Hughes, the protagonists of these movies — the journalist Isabel Wilkerson and the novelist Thelonious Ellison, known as Monk — strive to write as they please. But, by depicting their characters’ struggles, the films offer refreshing commentaries on the social construction of race and its devastating consequences for those at the bottom of the hierarchy.”

I had relatives who were part of the Windrush generation, and know many people with half their family in the UK while others remained in the Caribbean. That always makes these news stories feel closer to home, and the way the British government has dragged its heels is a crying shame.

“Speaking to The Independent, historian Kayne Kawasaski described the death toll as a “tragedy”.

“Each time another claimant dies without redress, Black Britons feel the ripple effect,” he told The Independent. When Britain needed help, the Windrush generation answered the call. Windrush claimants now need help for the wrongs they’ve experienced to be put right.

“How they’ve been treated by this government is unacceptable.””

Well, I don’t have anything to add to the title question. The writer lays out the evidence for what Dr King said and believed pretty clearly. See for yourself:

“King addressed the white backlash to policies designed to help Black Americans, which is why he commented that some White people misconstrue this as a "demand for privileges," when in reality, Black people are engaged in a "desperate quest for existence." In other words, Black people are not trying to create a society where they are privileged as other groups suffer. Rather, doing something special for Black Americans, such as using affirmative action or DEI programs, attempts to reconcile the racism they experienced, an effort to create a level playing field. King believed that Black Americans needed programs that would mitigate racism.”

There are times when a phrase is so on-point that it stops you and makes you pay attention. “Coloniser’s journalism” is one such phrase. Here, the writer explains what it is, and the article contains a few examples:

“I would be mincing my words if I do not call it what it is: a textbook case of coloniser’s journalism. It is journalism done by practitioners from colonising countries who take pride in their imperial conquests and have an elevated sense of self, every fibre nurtured by centuries of predatory accumulation of wealth, knowledge and privilege. These journalists seem convinced that their countries have fought and defeated particularly immoral and powerful enemies throughout history, stopped evil in its tracks, protected civilisation, saved the day. This is the dominant story of the West and by extension, the story of Western journalism too.”

Thanks for reading. Which article stood out to you most? What action will you take as a result?


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*Note: all articles linked here were free to read when I put together this edition. However, some may be paywalled by the time it is published, because capitalism. There’s not much I can do about that, but I hope the included quotes give you a flavour of the content.

© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2024. All Rights Reserved.

Cover photo courtesy of Canva.

I am an anti-racism educator and activist, Co-Founder of Mission Equality, the author of “I’m Tired of Racism”, and co-host of The Introvert Sisters podcast.

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