The first reading list post of 2022 is shaping up to be a bumper collection, so I’m not going to waste any time - let’s dive right in!
1. Microaggressions Sound Minor, But They’re No Laughing Matter by Tim Wise
I think Tim Wise’s title captures the importance of this topic. People who face isms experience microaggressions all the time, and the more it happens, the worse it feels:
“Intent, though perhaps meaningful for determining the character of a perpetrator, is inherently flawed when it comes to determining if an injury has occurred to a victim.
Injury can occur without intent — a statement no one would think to question in any other area of life but this one.”
2. Goodbye Friends: A Letter To Failed Equity Allies by Kimberley John-Morgan
Is it just me, or are some “allies” wearying of the struggle? Kimberley John-Morgan captures the feelings of people who face isms when confronted with flagging, sometimeish (a good Caribbean word) “allyship”:
“Your friends who face isms see who you are and now realize that your "support" lives within the boundaries of your comfort. They know that you have sacrificed nothing in the pursuit of equity. Not one thing. What’s more is that they now know they are not safe with you -- take that in for a minute. As such, your "diverse friends" are openly making moves to create some necessary distance if you care to notice.”
3. How to be a good Indigenous ally by Summer May Finlay
Speaking of allyship, here’s a perspective on being an ally to Indigenous peoples, from Yorta Yorta woman, Summer May Finlay:
“As Aboriginal people, at times yarns may be off-limits to non-Aboriginal people for many reasons. Be okay with not being included in everything and accept some decisions must be made by Aboriginal people. Don’t question the outcome of these conversations.”
4. Groundbreaking work on slave economy finally back on UK shelves by Donna Ferguson
This is a news story, but I’m sharing it because it illustrates how some aspects of history can be hidden (pertinent given what’s happening in the US right ow). I was lucky enough to have access to this book in the Caribbean, but isn’t it strange how in the UK nobody wanted a perspective on enslavement from a descendant of enslaved peoples? Think about that for a while. (I’m still mulling over how it came to be published in the US, though.) A quote from the book may shed light on why Brits may have found it contentious:
“When British capitalism depended on [sugar and cotton plantations in] the West Indies, they [the capitalists] ignored slavery or defended it. When British capitalism found the West Indian monopoly [on sugar] a nuisance, they destroyed West Indian slavery as the first step in the destruction of West Indian monopoly.”
5. 6 Ways A Black Person Can Tell A White Person Isn’t Racist by Rebecca Stevens
You know I love Rebecca’s work, and she’s pretty prolific, so it’s sometimes hard to pick just one example. This one stood out to me because of the title, and because of this quote:
“White people that aren’t racist know that racism exists in the world and that Black people suffer from it. They aren’t naïve. They won’t say stuff like “Are you sure it was racism or racism is a thing of the past”.
6. It's Okay To Have Mixed Feelings About the Maya Angelou U.S. Quarter by Allison Gaines
When I first saw the Maya Angelou quarter, I was ecstatic that one of my heroines had been honored. The next second, I thought about the fact that it had taken a long time, and the person on the other side of the quarter wasn’t worthy company for her. Allison Gaines addresses that dichotomy in this article:
“On one side of the quarter, we have a Black renaissance woman poet, the hope and dream of the slaves held in bondage in America. On the other side, we have George Washington, a slave owner who became a certified dream-killer to the Black people he enslaved.”
7. The Mantra of White Supremacy by Ibram X. Kendi
In this troubling article, Ibram X. Kendi shows how pervasive white supremacist rhetoric is the US politics. The quote below is the start of an in-depth exploration of how and where it shows up:
“How many Americans know that the claim that anti-racism is harmful to white people is one of the basic mantras of white-supremacist ideology? Americans are familiar with white-supremacist movements like the Klan, skinheads, neo-Nazis, and the Proud Boys. But they don’t seem to recognize white-supremacist ideology—the most venomous form of racist ideology.”
8. Complex safeguarding – a model designed for white people by Auma Acellam
Auma Acellam explores how policing and the social work safeguarding system in the UK work together to ensure that Black people can never actually feel safe:
“For many people from ethnic minorities the over-policing we have experienced in our lives is one of the most visible experiences of racism we have endured. My experience of being Black and British meant seeing my male friends and family start to be harassed once they reached puberty.
I would go to carnival and see police make a separate line for dark skinned men to be searched as they entered the underground while everyone else was waved through.”
9. 4 DEI Practices Your Company Should Adopt In 2022 and Beyond by Janice Gassam Asare, Ph.D.
How do you make your diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives actually work? Janice Gassam Asare has some excellent suggestions:
“Companies must recognize that no matter how many interventions you introduce into the workplace (mentorship programs, employee resource groups, DEI trainings, etc.) nothing will change if employees aren’t being held accountable for the environments that they are cultivating.”
10. The simple, but meaningful, interview question this anti-racist company asks job applicants by Jennifer Liu
I don’t want to spoil this one by revealing the question, so I won’t include a quote from this one. I’ll simply say that this article highlights a company that is changing its hiring practices in a meaningful way. Check it out!
While I was collating this reading list, I cam across a couple of useful resources. First, The Language of Inclusion defines and explains some common terms (ok, a LOT of terms, because it’s 24 pages) used in equity work.
Secondly, the Micropedia is a dictionary of microaggressions. It includes categorized examples of the things people say that cause emotional distress to people who face isms.
I hope you enjoyed this edition of the reading list. I’d love to hear which of these articles or resources resonated with you most, and why?
Thanks for reading,
P.S. From now on, it’s my intention to have a regular slot for this reading list, on the last publication day of the month. That means the next edition will land on Monday, February 28th. Catch up on previous reading lists on the reading list archive page.
Note: While these reading lists are always free to read, for this edition ONLY, paid subscribers are getting access a couple of hours early, as I’m testing out a new Substack feature. Please feel free to share - the article will be unlocked for everyone by 11 Eastern on January 31, 2022.
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2022. All Rights Reserved.