Anti-Racism Reading List November 2022
10 thought-provoking articles worth discussing and sharing
Whew - reading list time came around fast. There are articles in this month’s roundup I’m STILL thinking about. I hope they make you think, too. Let’s dive in…
1. When Readers Don’t See The Humanity in Your Work by Vena Moore
Vena Moore is coming in hot with an exploration of whether trauma porn is the only thing that makes people pay attention to Black people’s struggles. She explains why that’s a problem.
“Trauma porn dehumanizes marginalized people and renders our pain and trauma into mere products that a dominant group can consume and discard when they’ve had their fill.”
2. Class, Caste, and Unapologetic Racism by Robert Livingston
Last month, I shared the first part of Robert Livingston’s exploration of racism outside the USA. The second part is particularly interesting, as it covers one of my other homes, the UK. His observations are fascinating.
“Despite the traditional emphasis on class, nationality and race do determine social status in the UK. I would attribute this, in large part, to the long history of British imperialism and colonialism.”
3. Stop Trying to be a Perfect Antiracist & be a Decent Human Instead by Dr. Tiffany Jana
This is an oldie and goodie that resurfaced recently. Honestly, I have nothing to add, but this example of what allyship can look like is instructive:
“BIPOC folks don’t want to hear about how you or your family members marched with Dr. King. We want to know that you stood up for a Black colleague last week in a closed door meeting when someone said she didn’t have leadership potential because of her ‘attitude’. Demonstrate your cultural fluency by educating other white people about their uninformed missteps instead of waiting for us to do it.”
I’m adding this article under the heading of “things that made me think”, even though I’m not 100% sure WHAT I think because I’m still reflecting on it. But this paragraph stopped me in my tracks:
“Africans, including those of us born of the diaspora, are an Indigenous population withstanding the same global colonization efforts enacted by white supremacy that has bled its way—quite literally—across the Atlantic, and our lived experiences as colonized and displaced Indigenous people should be recognized accordingly.”
5. Study finds racism causes Black Americans' brains to age faster than people of other races — increasing dementia risk by Allana Akhtar
Sigh. We already know that racism takes a toll. This study provides more evidence. Isn’t it about time we did something about it?
“The paper suggest the "cumulative effects of oppression, environmental adversity, and psychological stress" — or a lifetime of exposure to racism and discrimination — might be causing Black brain to age faster, since scientists have previously determined these factors can lead to cognitive decline.”
6. Yo White People, Are You Really Ready to Ally? By Devon J. Hall
Here, Devon J. Hall explores the difference between attempting to speak for people and making space for them, and looks at how to be an effective ally without stressing out your Black and Global Majority friends and colleagues.
“We don’t need you to be our voice, we need you to be willing to make space for us if we ask for it, and back off when we don’t, and I just want you to understand I know how difficult a space that can be in, but you actually can ask.”
7. When White Women Weaponize Brené Browne Against Black Women by Rebecca Stevens Alder
It’s not the first time I’ve heard that the self-help methods that work for the global minority can be weaponised against the Global Majority. This article by Rebecca Stevens Alder illustrates how this happens:
“white people put Black people into categories: we are either always strong, angry, emotional, with too much attitude, or what have you. Vulnerability is not an option for us in their book, so we don’t get to be it.”
8. Miss Major & Chase Strangio: The Irrepressible Future of Trans Power by Wren Sanders
I shared this article in the Diverse Leaders Group community after seeing it on LinkedIn, and I felt I had to share it again. Miss Major’s words as a trans activist with a focus on women of colour really spoke to me, particularly the answer to the question of when will we be free:
“I’m free now. I don’t need no permission from outside my front door. Fuck that shit. I am free now. I don’t have to wear wings and shit like that. I’m not going to fly across the street. But I’m free now. I am free.”
9. To Straighten Or Not To Straighten: The Difficult Decision That Black Women Face When It Comes To Their Hair by Janice Gassam Asare
I really related to this article, having faced that decision in my own working life (yes, in the Caribbean, too). Combined with the recent news (which many already suspected) that some of these hair straighteners increase the risk of cancer,, it seems a good reason to ban these products altogether. But ideas around “professionalism” may keep them on the shelves.
“A 2020 research study examining natural hair in the job recruitment process found that Black women who made the decision to wear their hair in natural hairstyles were “perceived to be less professional, less competent and less likely to be recommended for a job interview” compared to Black women with straightened hair or white women with curly or straight hair.”
10. Bill Maher’s ‘But What About Merit’ Commentary Exposes The Racist Conditioning Of Many ‘Good White People’” by Dana Brownlee
Some ideas last and last - and the idea that people from the Global Majority are less competent is one of them. Dana Brownlee shows one example of this in action, as well as all the reasons why it’s wrong.
“Maher seems oblivious to the idea that casting these supremely capable, talented, proven leaders as simply a token check mark could be highly insulting. Why can’t they be highly qualified candidates who happen to fall outside our ingrained straight-white-male default paradigm? Why aren’t they viewed as fully capable, qualified leaders some of whom likely would have already been nominated if we actually had a purely merit-based system?”
Bonus: Untold: The Golden Age of Africa | Emmanuel Kulu, Jr.
This is a powerful video about Africa and history.
As always, I’d love to hear which of these articles resonated with you most, and what your takeaways are.
Thanks for reading,
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2022. All Rights Reserved.
I am an anti-racism writer, educator and activist, Co-Founder of Diverse Leaders Group, the author of “I’m Tired of Racism”, and co-host of The Introvert Sisters podcast. If you value my perspective, please consider upgrading to a paid subscription.