Anti-Racism Reading List October 2023

10+ compelling articles for learning and action

Hello friends,

I was just about to put together this month’s compilation when an article by Khafre Jay popped into my LinkedIn notifications. Since I learned something from it, it seemed a great place to start today:

Allyship is something I’ve been talking about a lot recently so this article was timely in illustrating an example of allyship some of us might not know about. I love the idea of it being all-consuming rather than a watered down pastiche of itself:

“This is no time for complacency, for passive allyship, or for allowing the commodification of struggle. Today's watered-down, commercialized version of allyship is a slap in the face to those who have risked life and limb in the fight against systemic oppression.”

As discussions ramp up about toxic workplaces and the relatively worse outcomes in so many ways for Black people, this article from Sharla Stevens was very timely. It may push your buttons (that’s a good thing, right?) as it forces us to face some uncomfortable truths about the continued exploitation of Black women.

“The plantation will convince you to your core that you will die without your job. You will never be paid what you’re worth. You will always be devalued. Even if you’re paid well, I promise you you are likely the lowest paid in your field. Black women are routinely exploited.”

Here, Robert Livingston takes a nuanced approach to dealing with the aftermath of the 2004 Rwanda genocide, and also situates part of the “blame” for the situation on the Belgian colonisers who created divisions that hadn’t previously existed.

“the Belgians conferred racial differences onto people who had never been racialized in such a way before, and they stoked those tensions for years afterward by granting more rights, education, and opportunities to the Tutsi minority while leaving the Hutu majority behind (Tutsis constituted roughly 14% of the population whereas Hutus were about 85%).”

4. The white patriarchy in Tennessee by Maryam Abolfazli

When we say inequality hurts everyone, this is what we mean. Colluding with the forces of oppression can’t end well for anyone.

“All along, I thought I was powerful and respected for how well I followed rules and didn’t disrupt. How I tempered my emotions to sound rational and measured. I thought I was equal to them. But I was wrong. I had never achieved equality, I was only given the illusion of it, while serving them.”

One of the things we talk about all the time at Mission Equality is the way in which we’ve been raised and educated to believe certain things about ourselves and our identities. Like race itself, much of this is constructed, and doesn’t always fit us well. Dr Jana unpacks some of this in this article:

“White people, especially in the United States, have been feeling the mounting pressure of cultural and ancestral accountability — and many want no part of it. Of course they don’t. What white people have done under the delusion of white supremacy has always been amoral, inhuman, and unjust. Those who remain deluded cannot yet see, or are as yet unable to manage the cognitive dissonance associated with being atrociously and irrefutably wrong about race.”

Yeah, the over-representation of white folx is an issue in most organisational settings. What I like about this article is that it includes practical tips for fixing that.

“It’s not just lists though. Conference speakers, podcasts, panels, etc., all still have problems with representation, despite our years of DEI training. And it’s not just the lack of diversity and inclusion, but also how we react to it that may reinforce it. All of it just shows just how pervasive white, patriarchal, ableist, neurotypical, and heteronormative systems are, to the point that many of us don’t even know that we’re perpetuating them.”

I love the qualitative and quantitative data in this assessment of an anti-racism programme. Theresa’s takeaways on the difficulties and benefits of doing this work in community are invaluable, and the comments from people who took part in the programme also make good reading.

“We all carry it …internalized aspects of whiteness. Persons who are racialized white usually carry more…. a whole lot more. And it’s harder for them to divest from whiteness because of the “inherent” benefits it brings them. Neither working on their schit or working out their schit is work they should take on solo.”

The language we use matters, and what it reveals about our perspective matters too. This author explains what the educational experience is like for many Black and Global Majority students - and when we know what it is, we can start to address it.

“Similar to how they use “gap,” researchers also use the verbiage “cultural mismatch” to explain away why mostly white teachers lack the cultural knowledge of their students’ home, community, or language to relate to their students of color. These “cultural mismatches” often lead white teachers to have negative assumptions about their Black and brown students.”

Sometimes it’s nice to have something to celebrate, and I felt joy when the story of Ekow Nimako’s black Lego art resurfaced:

“He has re-created centuries-old African dynasties all in black LEGO and has sculpted anything from intricately detailed battlefields to African warriors to children with only one color: Black. It is indeed an original way to uplift and celebrate Black lives past, present, and future.”

I’m just going to leave this one here, as I think it’s evident why this is a huge issue:

“The Ugandan lawyers contend “the actions of Reene Bach and SHC reflect those of a White Savior Industrial Complex.” They explain this as the belief that any white person irrespective of their academic status or training and economic standing can offer aid to poor black people.”

Bonus: Dr Joy DeGruy explains racism vs prejudice

I liked this because of the question Dr DeGruy asks - it’s a good way to make those who play the “reverse racism” card think.

What stood out to you this month? How will you take ACTION on what you’ve learned today?

Thanks for being here,


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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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