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Anti-Racism Reading List May 2023
10+ articles and resources to extend your anti-racism learning and action
Whew! Doesn’t it just seem like a LOT has been happening - and not in a good way, either. More people being killed for being Black, more people’s rights being taken away, more inequity wherever we care to look. It makes it more important for us to keep doing our work and the work. Here’s this month’s selection:
1. The Future of Work Is an Opportunity to Do Better With DEI by Ingrid Wilson
Here, Ingrid Wilson highlights the practice of “covering” for deliberately disadvantaged folx in the workplace, with lots of examples of how this shows up.
“When employees are concerned about being discriminated against or judged for their culture, beliefs, groups, communities and unique identities, they “cover” in the workspace — ensuring that their actions, behaviors, and performance does not stand out in the workspace, often suppressing their thoughts and opinions to fit into the corporate culture. Covering is an intentional strategy individuals use to protect themselves, their mental wellness and their personal space. If there is covering in the workspace, then there is not a true culture of inclusion within the organization.”
2. Being both Non-Binary and a Black Woman by Zee Monteiro
It’s funny how things surface when you need to read them. This article shares the experience of the nonbinary author with their reflections on Black womanhood. I certainly found it useful for my own education.
“Womanhood has always been denied to Black women, therefore they had to carve their own space. You do not have to go as far back as colonialism to see this. In fact you don’t need to look back at all - it is a very current, very visceral reality.”
3. The Logic of Slavery Reparations by Olivette Otele
Reparations is a subject dear to my heart. I think that’s because repair and restoration are part of healing. And it’s never sat well with me that the only people who got compensated when enslavement ended were the former enslavers…as the author points out, the Brits haven’t paid a penny in compensation to the descendants of the enslaved. Anyway, I think this is worth a read.
“At the heart of demands for reparations is the understanding that the past cannot be erased, and must not be ignored. Former colonial powers cannot undo the damage they inflicted on enslaved and colonised people, but they can engage in good faith with the descendants of those people, and work to address the systemic inequalities that exist today.”
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4. Racism and Bias in the Media by Sherry Kappel
I can always guarantee to find something worth reading on Our Human Family. This is an exploration of the perpetuation of bias in the way certain events are reported. Not a surprise to me at all, but useful to see it collected together with recent examples.
“When the news reports about a Black person who’s being sought or arrested, they frequently note the race, whereas whiteness is invisible because we white folks typically don’t think of ourselves by our color and we certainly don’t relate to “a criminal.” Whether this is intentional or not on the journalist’s part, it perpetuates the racist idea that Black people are more likely to be criminals.”
5. It Is Indeed A Racist World After All! By Rebecca Stevens Alder
You don’t have to look far to find examples of racism and bigotry, and it’s exhausting to deal with and write about all the time. But we also can’t close our eyes and stop working towards a better world, as Rebecca points out:
“The trolls can continue to insult and threaten me, but nothing will stop my antiracism work. I’ll talk about Black excellence, but I’ll also talk about Black trauma. I’m not docking my head in the sand, I’ll be in your face, unapologetic, determined, and clear.”
Bravo, Rebecca! I feel the same.
6. The Whiteness of Not Wanting to Diet Anymore by Virginia Sole-Smith
It’s not the first time I’ve come across the connection between diet culture and white supremacy, but this podcast chat with Jessica Wilson added some more nuance:
“When, like, why are people shrinking themselves? Why is that happening, in a cultural context? Why are we not talking about white supremacy and capitalism and the safety and survival that is gained from folks by shrinking themselves?”
7. Detour-spotting for white anti-racists by jona olsson
This is a long read, but it takes us through 28 common arguments and thought processes that derail white folx when doing anti-racism work, and offers reality checks for each:
“No white person has ever lived in a non-racist North America.) None of us has ever been taught the skills of anti-racist living. Indeed, we have been carefully taught the opposite: how to maintain our white privilege. Racism, the system (of oppression) and advantage (for white people) depends on the collusion and cooperation of white people for its perpetuation.”
8. Racism is Often the Lowest Common Denominator by Marlon Weems
Here, Marlon Weems explains the mental process many Black people go through before deciding whether something is or isn’t racism. Of course, that process can be lightning quick based on past experiences but it happens all the same:
“Using the system of the lowest common denominator, we asked ourselves, “Since when does a store refuse cash?” Why would a store owner call law enforcement on a customer who just bought $3,500 worth of furniture? The only logical answer is that this never happened — unless two Black men were the customers. In other words, racism was the lowest common denominator.”
9. The Law Won't Save Us by Olayemi Olurin
The law doesn’t operate equally for everyone. We’ve seen too many examples of that over centuries, decades, years, and in the last few weeks.
“Our lived experiences have shown us that while white people like Amy Cooper can weaponize calling the police who they know will do their bidding, Black people must warn each other not to call the police even in circumstances where we’d theoretically need them, because their presence is likely to end in our own arrest or someone’s death.”
10. How Dare You, America by Frederick Joseph
I don’t even know what to say about this piece, except that it is justifiably irate and undeniably moving:
“As difficult as it may be, don’t look away. For each time you opt to turn your gaze to something more comforting, something easier, the hands that clutch at our throats swell with a sinister vitality, fed by your own indifference. The systems and the people that hunt us down—those relentless predators—thrive in apathy, nourished by silence.”
Bonus: There is a big difference between being not racist and anti-racist by John Amaechi OBE
This is a question that comes up all the time. I think John Amaechi explains it perfectly in a recently reissued video. Check it out in his LinkedIn post. There’s also a full transcript on BBC Bitesize.
Which of these has inspired you most? What anti-racism action will you personally take as a result?
Thanks for reading.
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© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2023. All Rights Reserved.
Cover photo courtesy of Canva.