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Anti-Racism Reading List September 2023
10+ insightful articles for learning and action
Whew - some of this month’s articles really made me think, and stirred up some emotions too. You’ve been warned…
1. UK seaside community unites to restore vandalised statue of Black woman by Miranda Bryant
This happened a while back, but I thought it was worth surfacing, as a reminder that “the fact of blackness” as Franz Fanon put it, can attract such vitriol. The quote from the artist says it all:
“That something as relatively innocuous as a sculpture of a woman in a sun hat and sundress, sitting on a chair, can provoke this level of rage and animosity is, in my opinion, solely because the woman is Black.”
2. How Colorism Affects Women at Work by Ruchika Tulshyan
I keep coming back to the issue of colorism and not just because I wrote a book about it. It’s an issue that’s pervasive not just in the Black community but in many Global Majority communities, and it also affects how some white folx relate to people from those communities. It’s something we need to address if we’re ever to decolonise our minds and move towards equality.
“Creating an inclusive workplace for people with darker skin tones is not a one-and-done fix. Simply taking an anti-colorism stance by itself isn’t good enough. Real change can happen only when leaders proactively educate themselves — and their teams — about how colorism shows up in the workplace and its outsize impacts on a person’s career.”
3. What Are Micro-Reparations And How Can They Benefit Your Black Employees? by Janice Gassam Asare, Ph.D
Mention reparations and some folx are up in arms, yet the potential for good is immense. This article features insights from people who are working to make reparations happen where they are, which is a great start.
“These misguided talking points neglect the research the indicates how impactful reparations could be to the lives of Black Americans. Although American companies profited from slavery in a multitude of ways, we rarely explore what specific actions American workplaces can take to address the harms that Black employees have faced throughout history.”
4. Resourcing the Anti-Racist Therapeutic Practitioner by Eugene Ellis
Anti-racist therapists? Sounds great to me! This article shares some tips for getting started.
“There is a tendency to avoid the hard questions or avoid race altogether. There is also a tendency to increase our defences and a tendency to shut down on our compassion. Many people would agree that they want to be anti-racist, but the very act of taking a proactive stance against racism deeply challenges our personal identity on a bodily, emotional and cognitive level, and we can find ourselves sometimes turning into the type of person we don’t even like.”
5. Blackness, slavery and anti-racism activism in contemporary North Africa by Tessa Talebi
I know very little about anti-racism in North Africa, so I found this article educational. I hope you will, too.
“The social movements that shook North African political regimes constituted a critical event and a turning point for anti-racist activism. Before 2011, the issue of racism was rarely discussed in public debates. The ‘culture of silence’ characterized not only Moroccan society but the general attitude vis-à-vis overt racism in all North Africa.”
6. These Women Warned Of AI’s Dangers And Risks Long Before ChatGPT by Kate Storey
File this one under “what do Black and Global Majority women have to do to be believed?” And also under garbage in, garbage out, which Timnit Gebru puts more eruditely:
“The training data has been shown to have problematic characteristics resulting in models that encode stereotypical and derogatory associations along gender, race, ethnicity, and disability status,” Gebru’s paper reads. “White supremacist and misogynistic, ageist, etc., views are overrepresented in the training data, not only exceeding their prevalence in the general population but also setting up models trained on these datasets to further amplify biases and harms.”
7. The white woman's scat: five ways white women cause harm by Michelle Shireen Muri
This article highlights the perils of white saviourism among white women, and I’ll let it speak for itself.
“A “power over” mentality is rooted in saviorism and paternalism, and it is entrenched within our sector starting at its origin story (see part 1 and part 2 of The Racist Roots of Nonprofits and Philanthropy on The Ethical Rainmaker.) White women have internalized (and benefited from) those frameworks; we often think we are being helpful when we are instead causing great harm.”
8. How Barbados Became a Leader in the Push for Reparations by Janell Ross
It’s back to reparations again, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to feature my country of residence and this important topic.
“On Barbados, reparations have moved from a fringe idea to a thing everyone is talking about. And this island, long regarded—some would say intentionally misconstrued—as so compliant with the colonial project that it is sometimes called Little Britain, has moved into a regional leadership position.”
9. Asset Framing: The Other Side of the Story by Trabian Shorters
I found this description of the way we talk about certain groups of people, especially Black people, really interesting. It’s a reminder that we can change our language and help to change our thoughts and reality.
“To define someone by their challenges is the definition of stigmatizing them. But very often in our work, that’s what we do, and there are real cognitive consequences for that.
There are far more black kids doing well than not, but the imagery we see so often is of black failure, so our associative mind treats that imagery as the norm thought it is far from it.”
10. The Forgotten Holocaust by Rebecca Stevens Alder
It seems to me that every day I learn about some new atrocity committed against Black people, whether it’s new or, as in this case, in the past. This one is pretty awful.
“When the Nama and Herero rebelled, the German occupiers decided to exterminate them. They hunted them down, killed them, and drove the survivors deep into the Khalari desert, where they poisoned their water sources. Those that weren’t killed were taken to concentration labor camps where they died of disease and exhaustion. Many were subject to sexual exploitation, and medical experimentation.”
Bonus: Say This Not That - Ending Racism Together
You know how much I love language (well, if you didn’t before, you do now, lol). If you are from the Global Majority, feel free to skip this one. There’s insight into many terms that are best avoided. (Note: there’s some dispute over the origin of “picnic”, though there’s no doubt at all that white folx treated brutalising Black folx as a festive occasion.)
Which article stood out to you most? How will you take action on what you’ve read in the coming month?
Until next time,
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© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2023. All Rights Reserved.
Cover photo courtesy of Canva.