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Anti-Racism Reading List June 2023
10+ articles and resources to increase your anti-racism reflection and action
I love reading list time, don’t you? During each month, I collect articles and resources that pique my interest or teach me something, and I look forward to sharing those with you. Here’s this month’s selection:
1. How Hair Discrimination Affects Black Women at Work by Janice Gassam Asare
When it comes to Black hair, it’s often a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. And in addition to the known penalties for wearing natural hair, Black women who choose to fit in with the Eurocentric norm have health issues to worry about too:
“Black women are often aware of the harsh penalties they can face at work for wearing natural hairstyles, but the risks involved in adhering to societal norms is becoming greater and greater. One 2015 study found that certain hair products commonly used by Black women may increase the risk of breast cancer. The popular permanent hair straighteners, called relaxers, were also found to contain hazardous chemicals, and a 2022 study linked them to uterine cancer.”
2. It’s Time to Decolonize the Decolonization Movement by Ijeoma Nnodim Opara, MD
I was particularly interested in this article as we take a decolonising approach in Mission Equality. It outlines some of the pitfalls of many decolonising efforts, and provides tips on ensuring that decolonisation efforts don’t continue the problem they’re trying to solve:
“The attempt to incorporate the disruptive violent process of undoing colonization within colonial frameworks and matrices is itself an act of colonization as it ignores the inherent intent of decolonization and presents as an unwillingness or an inability to change. It is also emblematic of the ego-centrism and lack of self-introspection that often peppers well-intended decolonization actors and their actions.”
3. How to raise colour-conscious kids and reflections on the Real Housewives by Sadia Siddiqui
Here, the Language Matters Memo unpacks the bias that appears on Real Housewives, and urges those creating the programmes to do better.
“Producers and TV execs need to clean up their act to better protect the marginalised and minoritised women that appear on these shows and avoid them having to do the emotional labour of educating their colleagues.”
4. Black Cemeteries Force Us to Re-examine Our History with Slavery by Charmaine A. Nelson
This is a good piece on some of the hidden history of Canada, found by one of our readers - thank you! As the author says, the usual positioning ignores some of the complicity that existed:
“This lack of recognition has had several consequences, not least of which is the Canadian population’s overall ignorance of the extent of our country’s history of slavery; few of us learned more in school than the inevitable congratulatory lecture about Canadians’ role in the Underground Railroad—the covert network of abolitionists that helped enslaved blacks escape north.”
5. We Should End Black History Month by Dorothy Hines, Ph. D.
I know many Black people have mixed feelings about Black History Month. Dr Hines lays out some of the reasons why in this piece:
“But for many of us, Black History celebrations have been only that. Celebrations but no truth-telling. Celebrations but no history. Celebrations but no discussion about race. No acknowledgment or confronting of the pain of Black history, the oppressive nature of racism in the United States, or the resiliency of Black people.”
6. The Conditioned Apathy Towards Black Americans is a Malignant Cancer by Jeanette C. Espinoza
The author had me at “conditioned apathy” because that’s what it feels like sometimes. In this piece, she brings the receipts via actual comments she’s received. Phew! See for yourself.
“The truth is, I encounter racism, hatred, and bigotry on a daily basis. Whether through my writing, online or even in everyday situations, I feel the tinge of racism piercing through my skin and bones like a hot poker.”
7. White Privilege Means Your Irrational Fears are Always Validated by Johnny Silvercloud
Here, Johnny Silvercloud reflects on the murder of Ralph Yarl, and the fear that could have led to his death.
“When white people are wrong about racism, they smile because it’s not a threat to anything about their comfort. When we — Black people — are wrong about racism, we die. There’s a big difference there. Listen to me.”
8. Ralph Yarl Deserves Justice: Reflections on Race and Fear in America by Ciarra Jones, MTS
On the same subject, Ciarra Jones delves into how the intersection of “race” and fear plays out to Black people’s detriment, and sometimes death:
“In America, “fear” is not a neutral word, it is a deeply racialized term. From the Scramble to Africa to Slavery to Black Codes to Jim Crow Laws to the Bombing of Black Wallstreet to lynchings to the rape and sexual assault of Black women, Black people have been and continue to be systematically traumatized and brutalized by America. Yet still, we are seen as agents of fear — we are criminalized, and we are treated as a threat to public safety.”
9. If Your Ancestors Enslaved and Trafficked Africans, Here Are 4 Ways You Can Make It Up To Black People Today by Rebecca Stevens A.
Wondering what you can do if you find out your ancestors were complicit or active in the trafficking of enslaved Africans? Rebecca Stevens Alder suggests some options, as she responds to this surprising question:
“I was shocked. It was the first time I was coming across someone whose ancestors had enabled the horrific enslavement of people that looked like me, people of African descent. It was the first time that someone had openly acknowledged it. In case you’re wondering, here in Europe, people like to consider the TransAtlantic slave trade as an American problem. They don’t own up to the major role they played in that deplorable, exploitative, and traumatic trade of human beings.”
10. You Got 99 Privileges, but You Can't Ditch One? by Robert Livingston
This is a good exploration of the concept of privilege and how it plays out in our lives, especially in relation to racial identity:
“Remember: the world is not a monolith. There is no individual—in any social group—who experiences privilege 100% of the time (though some may experience it 99% of the time). But just because you don’t experience privilege in one situation does not mean that your privilege doesn’t exist.”
Bonus: Words matter by Latrice Torres
This LinkedIn post gives some different language to use when talking about white folx - while it may be somewhat tongue in cheek, it also makes a great point about how much of the language we use STILL centres whiteness.
Well, that’s this month’s collection. I’d love to know what resonated with you most and what action you’ll take as a result of your reading.
Thanks for being here,
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© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2023. All Rights Reserved.
Cover photo courtesy of Canva.