[ed note: this post is long and it’s rambling, but it is also about an important topic that we need to talk about. i’m working on doing my part to continue the conversation because i can already see our current momentum waning. this is as much to hold myself accountable as it is to encourage others to do the same]
i have been writing this post on my phone and in my head in fits and starts for the last few weeks. it felt too daunting to write, so i kept putting it off. where do i start? where do i end?
to be honest, i still don’t know the answer to either question. but if i don’t start, i can’t move forward.
it’s been a tough three weeks. it’s been a tough three months. it’s been a tough 400 years, and there still isn’t an end in sight.
at a time when our country is struggling against a global pandemic and rising unemployment, we are also still having to convince people that black lives matter. black people are frustrated, they are being pushed to the brink, and yet they keep fighting back. and so we must all fight back on their behalf to dismantle 400 years of systemic racism. it’s an uphill battle, but it will never be won until we all agree that it needs to happen and put in the work.
so how do we do that?
that’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? how do we topple a system that is literally hundreds of years in the making? how do we hold police officers accountable for senseless killings of black people? how do we protect black trans and queer lives? how do we convince people that white privilege is a thing and that racism still exists?
i can’t speak for other people [this part is important], but i can speak about the actions i am taking to unlearn all of the biases i have spent a lifetime internalizing. this is what is currently working for me, but it is equally important to remember that what works for me doesn’t work for everyone else. what ultimately matters is that we maintain this momentum and continue pushing forward.
resources i have found helpful.
there are *so many* resources out there on the history of systemic racism, how and why police forces were created, steps to take to create dialogue around these topics, and so much more. google is a great place to start, and i have found some great information on instagram as well.
below are some of the things i have found very useful in navigating conversations and learning more about dismantling systems. this is by no means an exhaustive list but merely resources i have found helpful.
the great unlearn. rachel cargle’s online learning platform is a great place to start. i joined her patreon a few weeks ago and am slowly making my way through all the resourches she has shared in just a few short months. her patreon offers a number of different tiers ranging from $5 to $100 per month with many options in between, so you can select the one that works best for you. this is also a great time to remember that black creators don’t owe us anything for free and we should support them with our dollars where and when we can. full disclosure: i signed up for the $10/month plan.
if you like ted talks, here is a great playlist of talks on racism, policing, breaking down systems, and many others. i recently listened to and learned a lot from kimberlé crenshaw’s “the urgency of intersectionality”, and two past favorites are clint smith iii’s “how to raise a black son in america” [full disclosure: i have a huge crush on him] and chimamanda ngozi adichie’s “the danger of a single story”.
lots and lots of podcasts. there are countless podcasts that talk about race and racial justice; some of my favorites include 1619, pod save the people, code switch, it’s been a minute, keep it!, and united states of anxiety. and i just subscribed to kimberlé crenshaw’s intersectionality matters!
favorite instagram follows. there are a number of incredible artists and activists who share their work on instagram. some of the accounts i’ve found super helpful during this time are below:
- oneika raymond [oneikatraveller and one of my favorite og travel bloggers] engages her followers in thoughtful dialogue around what it’s like to travel the world as a black woman and how to diversify the travel blogging space.
- rachel cargle once again. the way she breaks down some of the comments she receives to show how people express unknown racism is eye-opening.
- the conscious kid has been one of my favorite follows for a few years. they have countless resources for parents who are looking to explore topics of racism and racial justice with their kids, and i have learned so much from them.
- danielle coke [ohhappydani], emma kumer, and mona chalabi are all incredible artists who share great graphics on a variety of different topics including ways to get involved and breaking down systemic racism. these are perfect for you visual learners out there.
- naomi o’brien [readlikearockstar] is a teacher who shares incredible resources on her page. she talks about raising black children and talking to them about race from an early age, and she discusses books that cover racism or that include diverse characters.
- the equal justice initiative is a phenomenal follow anyway, but they have recently been posting about police reform and what that can look like as we continue this movement.
- good good good are awesome for a lot of reasons, and their blm stories highlight has a lot of great information.
- the slacktivist has incredibly thorough posts and story highlights on the history of police forces in the states and what it actually means to defund them. i started following them a few weeks ago when people were reposting them, but i’ve since been going back and reading more and more of their posts and have been learning a lot.
- marie beecham [wastefreemarie] covers the intersection between racial justice and climate justice. i especially love her guide on how to respond to common racist comments.
- i know it might seem weird to mention ben & jerry’s here, but whoever is in charge of their instagram page deserves a raise because they have completely focused the account on sharing information about how to dismantle racism. i was a fan before, but i am now a fan for life.
- curious parenting is another account that provides information on how to talk to young kids about racism. i especially like this graphic that shows the difference between being an inclusive parent v being an anti-racist parent.
- sophie w [official millennial black] has a lot of suggestions on how to continue the current momentum and how to be good allies.
- maite of s/he’s mighty mighty shares resources in both english and spanish on a variety of topics. she covers implicit bias, talking to kids about race, colorism, and so many other things. i learn so much from her posts and hope you will as well.
- for my south asians out there, simmi of paper samosa has incredible graphics on how we can be better allies for the black community. it’s past time we stop hiding behind the “model minority” myth and realize how many of our opportunities have come about because of the systemic oppression of black people and then actively work to break down those systems.
- michelle silverthorn of inwithmichelle has infographics and a ton of other information and dialogue about racial justice and implicit bias. she has a book coming out in september on inclusive diversity in the workplace and i am very excited about it.
- sarah baumann [signetsealed] has been using her platform to educate her followers on issues of systemic racism and to share the black artists and entrepreneurs she has been supporting.
- paul warren has all the things.
books, books, and more books.
you knew there were going to be books on this list so don’t even act surprised right now. these only scratch the surface, and i have many more on my shelves waiting for conference to end so i have a little more space in my brain. some are fiction, some are non-fiction; all are important.
the ones i have read:
biased: uncovering the hidden prejudice that shapes what we see, think, and do by jennifer l. eberhardt. i received this in one of my next big idea club boxes in 2019 and have recommended it to so many people. i learned so much about how deep implicit bias runs and how much we are impacted by the things we see and hear on a daily basis. dr eberhardt has a great way of breaking things down so that anyone can follow her research and findings, and i am so grateful to have had the opportunity to read this. and if you don’t want to read, her ted talk is also great!
maya angelou’s autobiographical series. in 2016 i reread angelou’s i know why the caged bird sings. i had read it in 7th grade but didn’t remember much from it and knew i wanted to read it as an adult; what i didn’t realize is that the book is only the first of 7 she wrote chronicling her life from her childhood in arkansas through to the assassinations of malcolm x and dr martin luther king, jr. in the intervening years she was a mother, a nightclub singer, a record store employee, a performance artist, an activist and fundraiser, and so many other things. in her matter-of-fact way she allows readers into the ins and outs of her daily life and gives an incredible glimpse into what she experienced as a black woman from coast to coast and across the world.
i’m still here: black dignity in a world made for whiteness by austin channing brown. just wow. in the few weeks since i read this i have also listened to two interviews with austin, and i continue to become more and more a fan of hers with each passing day. from the opening chapter where she talks about learning her parents named her austin so she could pass on paper as a white man to the missives she includes to her unborn son, the writing is spectacular and the messages are clear. whether discussing diversity in workplaces or relaying stories from when she worked as a camp director, austin challenges all of us to demand better of ourselves and of the world around us.
just mercy by bryan stevenson. chronicling stevenson’s journey to founding the equal justice initiative, just mercy is an incredible look at how racism continues to exert its power in today’s world. stevenson’s work to exonerate those on death row – mostly black men – wrongly convicted of crimes will both educate and inspire.
the hate u give by angie thomas. although this one is classified as a young adult book, it is great for all ages. told from the point of view of starr, a black teenager who witnesses her best friend shot and killed in front of her by a white cop, this story is absolutely worth a read. it will infuriate you and lift you up, it will make you laugh while you’re crying, and it will hopefully make you see that the world we’ve created is not what it could or should be.
the ones i have or am procuring and will read soon:
between the world and me by ta-nehisi coates.
how to be an antiracist by ibram x. kendi.
so you want to talk about race? by ijeoma oluo.
i’m telling the truth, but i’m lying: essays by bassey ikpi.
girl, woman, other by bernardine evaristo.
heart talk: poetic wisdom for a better life by cleo wade.
white fragility: why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism by robin diangelo and michael eric dyson.
movies and tv shows.
sometimes you need a good movie or tv show to fill in details. for those with streaming services, netflix, hulu, and prime have created playlists that amplify black stories. below are some that i have watched and highly recommend, but i definitely have many more to see.
- just mercy
- when they see us
- the hate u give
- hair love
- do the right thing
- love & basketball [one of my favorite movies ever]
- remember the titans
- get out
so what actions am i actually taking?
there’s no point to any of this if there’s no next step. reading and conversation are great to educate ourselves, but they don’t lead to lasting change and dismantling systems without putting in the work. below are the things i am doing. it’s not as much as i could or should do, but it’s what i am able to do in this moment. hopefully this list will continue to grow.
setting up recurring donations. this work has been going on for years and there are lots of great organizations out there who need support. i am finding the ones that i believe in and trust and am setting up monthly donations to continue fueling their work. [this feels like a good place to note that often black trans and queer lives get left out of this conversation. if you’d like to donate to a black-led queer / trans organization, bustle put together a list of 32 to help get you started]
researching local policies. i admittedly have not known much about local politics and budgets until recently, which is completely ignorant on my part and a huge sign of my privilege. i am learning as much as i can about how my taxes are being spent so that i can use my voice to lobby for change.
contacting my representatives. i am making a list of all of the people who represent me on a local, state, and national level, and each week i will be sending individual emails about different issues. if they are truly going to represent me, then i need to tell them what i think.
continuing to educate myself. i have so, so much to learn. i am continuing to broaden what i read and watch, and i am engaging in conversation whenever possible. my friends sarah, serrie, and i have started a monthly-ish discussion club where we talk about books, movies, and the ways that we have unintentionally supported racist ideologies and systems and how we are ensuring we are actively anti-racist going forward.
supporting black-owned businesses. the low hanging fruit on this one is to order food from at least one black-owned restaurant each week. the longer goal is to support one new black-owned restaurant, artist, or small business each month and to share them with others. locally i will be using black owned memphis to continue finding new places to support.
VOTING. nothing will change until we elect people who will listen to us and help us make that change happen. if you are over the age of 18, please register to vote and then show up at the polls. for every election. every. single. election.
these lists are only the tip of the iceberg. i have been working for years to learn more and to do better, but i still have a long way to go as does the world around me. what i realized recently is that any of the work i’m doing on my own doesn’t create an impact unless i use my voice to engage with others and to demand better from the people who have been elected to represent me. so this post is partly to share the things i’ve found useful but also to hold myself and those around me accountable in creating a world in which ‘all lives matter’ actually includes all lives.