One of the ways we can keep learning and growing is by following people who are sharing their experiences of racism and their strategies for fighting them.
That’s why I’ve decided to add an occasional new feature: Meet an Anti-Racism Writer. It’s where I’ll interview someone who’s writing in this space about their work. I hope to feature many of them over the coming weeks.
I can’t think of a better person to interview for the kickoff than my sister, Lisa Hurley. She and I started writing about racism independently, but at the same time, and she’s written a number of insightful pieces.
Over the coming weeks and months, I hope to feature more anti-racism writers, but for now, meet Lisa:
Photo courtesy Sitazen Blake Photography
1) Lisa, what made you become an anti-racism writer?
The short answer is: the murder of George Floyd.
Here’s the longer answer: Like many BIPOC, I have always had strong opinions about race, colonialism, colorism, the policing of Black hair, and racism-fueled police brutality.
And, of course, I have experienced innumerable racist micro-aggressions, particularly in the workplace. However, up until recently I had kept my opinions to myself, or only shared them with a small group of “safe” people. (Partly out of fear of reprisal; partly as a stress-management mechanism.)
The murder of George Floyd was so brutal; the perpetrators so entirely unrepentant and proud of themselves, that it flipped a switch within me. It became impossible to remain silent.
And so, I started writing. Critiquing performative allyship. Clarifying that there is no such thing as a blue life. Cutting through the clutter of stereotypes to help communicate the dignity and humanity of the diaspora.
I believe that all forms of protest are valuable and can make a difference, so as a writer, my way of protesting involves using my words, voice, and platforms to help effect change.
2) What response have you had?
The response has been good! Despite my relatively small platforms, my anti-racism content has performed well. People have engaged with it, and more importantly, it has caused some of them to think a little differently and even reconsider their stance on certain issues.
Another clear sign that doing the work is having an effect is that I actually have trolls now. You know that your words are hitting a nerve when the MAGA crowd tries to shut you down.
Good performance has its downside, however. Like many BIPOC anti-racism content creators, as soon as my content started gaining traction, I noticed a significant reduction in views, likes, and overall engagement.
The algorithms are busy. (But considering that they are created, coded, and managed by people who don’t prioritize Black lives or anti-racism, that is hardly a surprise.) The algorithms are busy suppressing. Busy misinforming. Busy reporting BIPOC accounts. Busy censoring BIPOC content. Busy spreading propaganda. Busy amplifying racist messaging.
But despite that, I believe that ultimately the anti-racists will prevail. So I continue doing the work.
3) What is your vision for the future?
I envision a racism-free world. The goal is for us to achieve that. I honestly don’t know if it is possible, and I am sure that it won’t happen in my lifetime, but nevertheless I am committed to doing my part to help get us all closer to that ideal.
The plan is therefore to continue to #DoTheWork. Continue writing. Continue educating. Continue inspiring. Continue posting. Continue pushing. Continue protesting.
There is a purity of intention there that supersedes whether or not a post or article has good metrics. The message will reach who it is meant to reach. If one person is helped (or 10, or 20) in any way by something I have written, then my purpose will have been fulfilled.
The plan is to remain true to myself, improve constantly, stay focused, and seek more avenues for amplifying my content and that of other BIPOC writers.
4) What are your top three anti-racism articles you have written?
This is one of my personal favorites because it takes racism from the conceptual to the concrete. It provides specific examples of what racism looks like in real life, thus giving those who might believe that they are not racist an opportunity to recognize and hopefully change their toxic ideas and behaviors.
The shooting of Jacob Blake came months after the murder of George Floyd, and was the straw that temporarily shattered my resolve to continue fighting against police brutality. I figured that if I was feeling overwhelmed, there were probably a lot of people out there who were feeling the same. This was written to help comfort and shore up myself and anyone else in need of it. A little encouragement goes a long way.
I’m a fan of clarity, and this article helps provide that. It is another in my series of purely educational content, explaining what “caucacity” is, and giving clear examples of it in the wild, so to speak. Many people - especially allies - reacted positively. They appreciated the examples, and got ideas for how to remove caucacity from their mindset and behavioral arsenal.
5) Share one anti-racism article you've read that resonated with you.
The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates - Mr. Coates is one of my favorite authors and thought leaders in the anti-racism space. This article covers a topic that I believe strongly in: reparations are owed to the descendants of all enslaved people.
Thanks for reading,
Want to really work on anti-racism? Join the LIVE bootcamp Lea Jovy and I are running on November 14th.