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Anti-Racism Reading List March 2023
10 salty articles for reflection, learning and action
It’s reading list time, and this month’s contributors are definitely bringing the salt - you’ve been warned!
1. Why is There So Much Racism in DEI Work? by Melanie Jacob
Let’s start with Melanie Jacob who notes the enduring issue of white folks who don’t expect knowledge and expertise from Black folks, and are uncomfortable when they find it. This time, ironically, it’s about how this shows up in DEI work:
“Who could have ever predicted that after years of living in a world that centres whiteness, white leaders would have found it challenging to take a back seat when Black people were handed the mic?”
2. Nice for What by Anne Marie
I see a lot of the behaviour Anne Marie talks about here when observing white tourists in Barbados. It’s a luxury I never have as a Black traveler.
“I want to talk to little bit about the entitlement that so many Whytes have and how their assumptions of entitlement and privilege show up during travel. And I also want to note that this sense of entitlement and privilege allows them to be blind to the fact that they’re being rude in the first place because they assume that they have a right to engage in rude behavior just because they are who they are. Many of them really do seem to feel the right to be rude especially to local people.”
Bonus: Buy this salty resource from Kimberley John-Morgan - Guidelines for White Folx Travelling to the Caribbean.
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3. Dear White People? Is it So Hard To Tell Black People Apart? by Rebecca Stevens Alder
The number of times I’ve been mistaken for a different Black person (and virtually accused of being wrong when I reveal that we’re not related) doesn’t bear thinking about. It happens a LOT in the workplace, as Rebecca’s article shows:
“After the session, Valerie came up to me to apologize. She shared she had trouble distinguishing one Black face from another. Worse even for her was distinguishing Asian faces. She asked if I faced that same challenge and I said that I didn’t. She seemed surprised.”
4. When black people are in pain, white people just join book clubs by Tre Johnson
Welp… Tre Johnson isn’t that far off the mark. I know YOU are doing more than just reading, but there are a lot of people who think reading and learning is where anti-racism stops. Newsflash: it’s just the beginning:
“when things get real — really murderous, really tragic, really violent or aggressive — my white, liberal, educated friends already know what to do. What they do is read. And talk about their reading. What they do is listen. And talk about how they listened. What they do is never enough. This isn’t the time to circle up with other white people and discuss black pain in the abstract; it’s the time to acknowledge and examine the pain they’ve personally caused.”
5. The art of the denial by Philippe Copeland
This is another thing many deliberately disadvantaged activists see - especially in relation to racism, but also in relation to other marginalised identities. It’s a complete negation of everything we are and experience, and it’s both hurtful and dangerous.
“Racism denial involves obscuring the reality of racism or minimizing its significance. Racism denial is a political strategy. Its proponents know they benefit from racism and want to perpetuate it. They attempt to convince people racism is no longer an issue or is not a big enough one to require attention.”
6. One White Man Did Not Single Handedly 'Free the Slaves' by Dr. Amie "Breeze" Harper
Yeah, no! That white saviour attitude is so dangerous and worse, not true at all, as Dr. Harper points out:
“I explained why it is deeply problematic that children are force-fed the narrative, Abraham Lincoln , “Freed the Slaves!” I hear this ad nauseam, from the mouths of K-5 children, who are simply regurgitating what they have been taught, which reinforces the trope of white men as saviors. And this myth is contingent upon the other mythic trope that Black and/or indigenous people in the USA have no agency and intelligence to affect massive change during the antebellum period through Jim Crow Era (or even now!)”
7. The paradox of doing for ourselves by Shereen Daniels
For Black folx, being vocal on anti-racism is often a lose-lose proposition, yet we can’t afford to shut up, either. Here Shereen Daniels exposes some of the paradoxes we face:
“when we don't stand up for ourselves and fight for representation and to tackle systemic racism, we're accused of being passive, expecting handouts and/or not doing enough.
But when we do create our own events, awards, and platforms, employee resource groups, we're accused of being exclusionary.”
8. Sincere Ignorance & Conscientious Stupidity: A Nation That Refuses To Learn by Hannah L Drake
Here Hannah L. Drake calls on people to get their heads out of their backsides (or the sand, if you prefer) and face facts so we can understand and counter injustice and racism:
“Pretending as if the last 400 years didn’t happen is not how we move towards reshaping this nation. That is not how life works. It is like when you go to the doctor. If you have a good doctor, they don’t just examine you for what is going on in your body today. They ask you about your lifestyle and your medical history so that they can better ascertain and treat your condition today. To understand what is currently happening in this nation and make this nation better in the future, you cannot overlook centuries of injustice.”
9. 5 Qualities of Black Excellence Overlooked in the Workplace by Dr. Nika White
Black excellence is not just about being educated or resilient - there are many other ways we show up, as Dr. White points out.
“Black entrepreneurs coming from traditional Black households understand that building meaningful connections and looking out for one another is essential to survival.
This shows up in the workplace as Black employees seeking to connect with individuals at varying levels of the organization, networking across departments, social statuses, races, genders and nationalities to build connections that feel reciprocal, meaningful and welcoming. Lifting others up, checking on them and making sure they're included is a quality of Black excellence that eurocentric workplaces would be wise to recognize and value in their Black employees.”
10. Depression shows up differently in Black women—and that could lead to underdiagnosis. Here are the major signs by L’oreal Thompson Payton
Here’s another example of how medical racism can lead to Black women’s illnesses being misunderstood or ignored.
“Rather than recognize irritability as a common symptom of depression, a clinician’s bias can perceive that symptom as rudeness or hostility,” she says. “When you have centuries of anti-Black stereotypes that label Black women as mean, aggressive, and self-sufficient; it can lead to misdiagnosis. The same can be said for the Strong Black Woman stereotype.”
Well, that’s it for another month. What resonated with you most? How will you take action of what you’ve read and learned in the coming month? Remember, ally is a verb!
Thanks for reading,
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2023. All Rights Reserved.
Cover photo courtesy of Canva.