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Anti-Racism Reading List January 2023
10+ powerful articles for reflection, learning and action
Hello friends, here’s the first reading list of 2023. As you’ll see, I’ve changed the subheading above to indicate what I hope will happen when you read. Onward!
1. Why Is The Phrase ‘White Women’ Triggering For Many White Women? by Dana Brownlee
Uh, good question, and it’s the truth. Whiteness may be a harmful fiction, but it’s a fiction many who benefit from it don’t want to unpack. Here, Dana dives into the furore that followed LinkedIn’s decision to deactivate author Saira Rao’s account following a post about her and Regina Jackson’s New York Times bestseller “White Women: Everything You Already Know About Your Own Racism and How To Do Better”. The account was later reinstated. Here’s Dana’s take:
“many white people simply aren’t used to thinking of themselves as having a racial identity. Race discussions are about “other people,” not them, so when their whiteness is labeled, for many, it can feel off putting.”
Bonus: read Dana’s follow-up piece: Has ‘Black LinkedIn’ Resorted To Intentionally Misspelling ‘White’ To Avoid Online Suppression?
2. Here’s What Indigenous Cultural Appropriation in Wellness Culture Looks Like by Chelsey Luger
Lakota and Anishinaabe writer and wellness advocate Chelsey Luger is the perfect person to talk about this topic, and I was happy to learn from her:
“If you’re curious about Indigenous spirituality, that’s commendable—everyone should want to know more about us, and should feel frustrated and angry that our stories have been shut out of history and popular culture. Key to this is observing respectful boundaries: You can learn about another culture without feeling entitlement to it. You can recognize that misusing traditional cultural practices can lead to consequences like exploiting, stereotyping, and ultimately, mistreating people whose ancestors created them.”
3. Understanding The White Gaze And How It Impacts Your Workplace by Janice Gassam Asare
Janice has rapidly become one of my favourite people to follow, both on and off LinkedIn. Her Pink Elephant newsletter is a weekly must-read, and her Forbes column is guaranteed to drop gems. While the “white gaze” itself is a concept that permeates our society and requires deep learning and unpacking, this article looks at it in relation to the work environment.
“Companies committed to interrupting the white gaze must focus on a few things. No progress can be made without education, understanding, and awareness of how the white gaze operates. Bring in consultants, speakers, and researchers to educate employees about the white gaze. Have a human resource consultant that specializes in diversity, equity, and inclusion review workplace policies and practices. You may be surprised to learn that policies that seem benign on the surface are actually exclusionary to different populations of workers.”
4. Tackling inequalities in research by Professor Winston Morgan FRSB
We know about health “disparities” (or more accurately, the results of racism and discrimination), and about medical racism. This article looks at the starting point for many treatments - medical research - and finds it wanting:
“These issues are just the latest example of long-standing health inequalities that could be resolved with greater equity in clinical research. Some of the most obvious examples include many areas of women’s health, pregnancy, infant mortality and perceptions of pain in Black people. In all these areas there is an intersection with socioeconomic class and race that compounds the inequality, but also helps disguise the role of simple racial discrimination.”
5. “Needlessly Contentious and Emotionally Loaded” Why My Tweet about White Privilege in Research Got Almost 15,000 Likes by Ivory Toldson
I’ve shared stories before of the experience of being #BlackInTheIvory - this article gives a few more examples of the racism Black academics face, especially when talking about topics that affect their communities:
“Recasting Black activism as anger is ubiquitous in academia, where White researchers become experts on Black issues, under a veil of objectivity, and Black scholars are accused of being emotional, opinionated, subjective, and angry.”
6. The Supremacy Trap by Farzin Farzad
One of my top voices in anti-racism for 2022, Farzin is always guaranteed to make me think, though we don’t always agree. I hope this piece on white supremacy will make you think, too.
“This cultural supremacy has become embedded in the very fabric of our reality, in the collective unconscious; in the values we uphold; and especially, in the conceptualization of how privileged classes and castes psychologically justify their grip on power. It is something happening on a global scale, being adopted throughout the Global South.”
7. The Five Stages of DEI Maturity by Ella F. Washington
If I think about DEI in 2022, one of the things I most remember is unfortunately what I think of as infighting and a lack of shared vision about what we’re working towards. I have my own thoughts on that (see Mission Equality’s Black Paper for a different approach), but I was interested to see this writer’s take on DEI maturity, especially at a time when so many companies seem to be making DEI an “optional extra” when there’s still so much work to do.
“Although there’s no one-size-fits-all DEI solution, a typical journey through these stages includes connecting top-down strategy and bottom-up initiatives around DEI, developing an organization-wide culture of inclusion, and, ultimately, creating equity in both policy and practice.”
8. Racism from Clients: The Last Taboo? by Sadia Siddiqui
Sadia is the creator of Language Matters, one of my favourite educational Instagram accounts, so I was fascinated to read this exploration of how organisations can put their anti-racist ethics into practice:
“All employers have a duty of care to their employees, especially when they may come from a marginalised community. This means creating environments that: are actively anti-racist, celebrate neurodiversity, are intolerant of homophobia and transphobia, and are actively dismantling toxic masculinity at every opportunity.”
9. How Quebec’s Human Rights Commission Drove Out Its First Black Female President by Martin Patriquin
This is a story of institutional racism, shared with me by Tamara Thermitus herself. Many Black women will recognise the insidious and sustained campaign of undermining she faced, as well as the tone policing and gaslighting. Despite this, her former employers won’t see it and she continues to face a battle for her reputation.
“To learn that the QHRC may have harboured a possible sex offender for years in positions nominated and approved by the provincial government? Both the Quebec City police and the Sûreté du Québec were well aware of Picard’s past, yet his career progressed. How was he afforded the benefit of the doubt for so long? And why wasn’t Thermitus, a decorated lawyer with decades of experience in human rights law, granted the same?”
Follow Tamara on LinkedIn as she continues to fight for justice.
10. Unearthing a Long Ignored African Writing System, One Researcher Finds African History by Africans by Molly Callahan
I love language and linguistics, and am interested in history, too, so for me this article was like hitting the jackpot. I mean, an ancient African writing system that’s still being used today? Why didn’t I know about this before? I hope you’ll find it as fascinating as I did.
“He found this modified Arabic script everywhere. Shopkeepers kept records with it and poets wrote sprawling verses in it. Ngom discovered religious texts, medical diagnoses, advertisements, love poems, business records, contracts, and writings on astrology, ethics, morality, history, and geography, all from people who were considered illiterate by the official governmental standards of their countries.”
That’s it for this month. Which article spoke to you most? What action will you take next as a result?
Thanks for reading,
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2023. All Rights Reserved.
Cover photo courtesy of Canva.