Anti-Racism Reading List November 2023

10+ thought-provoking articles for learning and action

Hello friends,

In looking over this edition, it’s all about turning the lens on some of our less savoury behaviour relating to white centering, allyship and more. Have a read…

The other day, I was on social media, and I saw a Black man talking about how white people drew themselves away and clutched their stuff whenever he walked by, no matter how unthreatening he tried to be. As I’ve shared before, that’s happened to me too. And this piece shows that it’s not just in that context that the fear takes hold.

“Almost all the ladies in the group had received some type of comment from their direct managers or colleagues, and the message was a clear one: our white colleagues did not feel comfortable with us black ladies congregating. In the group, we didn’t discuss the matter much, but one thing was for sure, we needed our jobs and weren’t willing to upset the white colleagues that we worked with. Shortly after, we stopped our monthly lunches.”

As xenophobic rhetoric becomes more prevalent, not just in the day to day, but from politicians and leaders, maybe it’s time to think again about what allyship is as we move forward.

“The model of anti-racist allyship that we hastily defined in 2020 is no longer fit for purpose. Maybe it never was. There are no amount of reading lists, black squares on Instagram or learning about microaggressions that can make a difference in the face of such insidious, government-sanctioned racism and anti-immigrant rhetoric.”

3. My Indigenous Peoples’ Day Wish List by R. Wayne Branch PhD

This article explores an alternate present based on an alternate past without the ills of colonisation. It reminds me a bit of the vision of Wakanda in Black Panther.

“colonization and imperialism put conflict in humanity’s path. Yes, standards of living elevated swiftly and exponentially for those who benefitted from unbridled capitalism. Self-enrichment for a few came in exchange for the labors, resources, talents, deaths, and despair of far too many, however.”

4. The story of an internet troll and interfaith allyship by Rahimeh Ramezany

I’ve been listening to and learning from Rahimeh, among others, on what’s happening in Palestine and Israel. As I was going through her profile (because algorithms), I came across this example of allyship that I thought was worth sharing.

“it’s so important to be in community with multiple people from as many different identity groups as possible, because it strongly dilutes the impact and impression of the bad apples amongst any community. And we all have our bad apples.”

Wondering what white centering looks like at work and how to address it? Dr Janice offers some tips.

“What does whiteness as the default look like in the workplace? It could be the hair discrimination that people with afro-textured hair experience. It could also be the accent discrimination experienced by people from racially and ethnically marginalized backgrounds. Whiteness as the default could explain the phenomenon of highly-qualified candidates from racially and ethnically marginalized backgrounds being passed over for promotions.”

Here’s another take on what allyship is like, from someone who edited a whole book on it. Hint; it’s not about perfection.

“In essence, allyship is about being your best self in service to others. That does not mean one has to be “perfect,” which implies without flaw or fault. The inferred meaning is that if you want to advocate for others, you would be well-served to engage the true you—the parts of you that have encountered life’s bumps and bruises and learned some truths along the way.”

I’ve said before that the “freedom” granted to African Americans after the US Civil War was both partial and conditional - and easy to retract under the law. But some people never got it at all!

“By the time the Civil War ended in 1865, nearly 4 million African Americans were still imprisoned in forced-labor concentration camps (also known as plantations), which dated as far back as 1619.”

This is one to sit with. It’s about the author’s experience as a “Black truth teller” to use his own words, and it’s not always easy.

“even as people claim to be advocates for anti-racism, their selective acceptance of narratives from Black individuals reveals a problematic bias. By willingly engaging with only certain facets of Black thought — most commonly those they find convenient or in alignment with their preconceived ideas — they inadvertently tokenize and compartmentalize the Black experience.”

9. When You Want the Antiracism Cookie by Anjali Prasertong

Ah yes, the allyship cookie. I’m sure many will relate to this article. Although doing right in the name of humanity isn’t a cookie collecting exercise, sometimes the yearning for external validation is strong.

“that yearning for approval is something a lot of us experience as we move from a mindset of mastery to one of humility, vulnerability, and lifelong learning.

…But even that sounds too elegant. What I mean is a mindset of experiencing occasional humiliation, owning up to your mistakes even when it's painful, and being wrong more than you are right. It's not easy, when you are used to being right.”

I know it’s unbelievable, but it happens. Here Allison Wiltz unpicks the myth.

“Black people, stolen from their homelands and shackled on the bottom of ships, forced to abandon their original languages and cultural practices, kept in unsanitary conditions, and forced to endlessly labor until death were the true victims of the chattel slavery system, and anyone who says otherwise is either feigning ignorance or the real McCoy.”

Bonus: Engage in Making a Future without Race(ism) by Sheena M. Mason (Author) & Donna Druchunas (Illustrator)

This graphic piece encourages us to consider “race” and move towards racelessness - I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Which article did you find most interesting? And what action will you take in your anti-racism as a result? Please share in the comments.

Thanks for reading,


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© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2023. 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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