Anti-Racism Reading List May 2024

10+ insightful articles for learning and action

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Hello friends,

Yes, it’s reading list time again, and a couple of themes stand out in this month’s curation. First, there are a few perspectives on allyship and advocacy, then there a couple of articles on how we talk about our identity (terms we use instead of Black, and the myth of colourblindness). And that’s not all - ready to dive in?

Performative allyship has a cost - and it’s high. This author draws on the work of Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Kimberle Crenshaw and others, and suggests a new approach which resonates with me: co-conspiratorship, outlining five ways to actually do it.

“One of the most pernicious consequences of performative allyship lies in its aftermath — when allies inevitably disengage. When social justice causes cease to trend, allies often abandon ship, leaving marginalized communities to navigate the aftermath alone. This abandonment exacerbates existing disparities and inflicts deep wounds on those who trusted in the promise of solidarity.”

Continuing the theme of allyship, Kameko Thomas sets the scene for what allyship should look like, then charts an allyship fail from start to finish.

“Yet, Ally insisted she was my ally and wanted to use her privilege to effect change from within the system.

How exactly could she do that when she refused to listen to someone who was part of the system that needed to change?

Ignoring marginalized groups when they tell you what makes an action inappropriate while insisting they have your empathy and support is, hypocritically, what many ‘allies” do.”

*I had trouble loading the second page of the article above, but it eventually worked, and was worth persisting with.

Ok, there seems to be a bit of a theme developing here. In this article, Charleen Parkes looks at the performativity that often happens when observing a day or a month dedicated to a particular group, and calls on companies to do better.

“True advocacy should transcend performative gestures. When executed with intention and integrated into an organization's core values, these campaigns can enhance authentic brand experiences. They should not merely showcase convenient messages but reflect a deep commitment to the causes they purport to support.”

This is an older article that recently came to my attention, shared by someone who was having the same experiences today. The disconnect between what’s promised and what’s delivered is real, with many international students both courted for their fees and looked down upon when the arrive in the country of study - don’t ask me how I know.

“The reality is; many back home and here in the UK are unaware of the trials International Students face. Food, clothing and credibility are some of the things our people struggle with along with stereotyping. In London; many African international students are either grouped into two categories. A) The ‘stinking rich’ who can afford the Five Star Apartments, Flashy visuals and the very expensive ‘cash upfront’ international student fees they pay raises eyebrows for many home students who are used to the student loans way of living. B) The ‘I just about made it’ category..”

Medical racism happens everywhere, and it’s good to see someone taking steps to address it. This article is about an initiative in Canada, but I’m sure this course could be useful in many countries.

“Most of the time, it's not going to be a physician who actually says something directly racist, or a slur or something like that. It's simply a subtle lack of empathy, perhaps not going out of their way to provide resources. Or sometimes assumptions are made about a person or their level of education”

In this excellent analysis, Marteka Swaby looks at how anti-Blackness and misogynoir manifest in organisations.

“When individuals in positions of power use inflammatory language or promote harmful stereotypes, it can embolden others to engage in discriminatory behaviour and contribute to a climate of hostility and violence.”

It’s an awkward question, for sure. In this edition of the Language Matters Memo, Sadia Siddiqui highlights some of the thoughts that may cross the mind of the minimally melanated, and shows how that’s the wrong question to ask. I won’t ruin it, but it’s worth reading to the end of the piece.

“people of colour are often viewed solely through the prism of their race - navigating white-dominated society as 'other'. This positioning denies them the opportunity to be individuals”

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In this article, Robert Livingston explodes the myth of colourblindness, and shows how harmful and ineffective it is when countering racism.

“colorblindness has an insidious side that shows up in two distinct ways:

- People and organizations touting colorblindness have the propensity to sweep racial inequality under the rug.

- Those same “colorblind” people and organizations attempt to label DEI practitioners, affinity groups, or any identity-affirming actions or entities as racist.”

This isn’t an article, but a post and comments collecting euphemisms for blackness - the comments are instructive and go beyond the original intent of the post. Warning: some of them may have you in your feelings.

“Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) = Black

Critical Race Theory = Black

Woke = Black

Tick Box = Black

Ghetto = Black

Hood = Black

Urban = Black

Gang = Black”

It’s not a surprise that Black women and girls face disparities in society - in many societies around the globe. If we start paying attention, maybe we can change that. This act is a good first step, says the author.

“This act is essentially a bill that will help to identify several disparities that we as Black women face in our society. This act will create essential community based response centers and groups to readily assist Black women of all age groups, socio-economic backgrounds, and educational backgrounds.”

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Of Note - Things Worth Highlighting

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Well, that’s it for this month. What action are you going to take as a result of reading these articles?

Thanks for reading,

Sharon

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*Note: all articles linked here were free to read when I put together this edition. However, some may be paywalled by the time it is published, because capitalism. There’s not much I can do about that, but I hope the included quotes give you a flavour of the content.

© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2024. All Rights Reserved.

Cover photo courtesy of Canva.

I am an anti-racism educator and activist, Co-Founder of Mission Equality, the author of “I’m Tired of Racism”, and co-host of The Introvert Sisters podcast.

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