With the recent, inexcusable murder of George Floyd by four Minnesota police officers, I’ve been having many discussions with white family and friends about racism and white supremacy, and many people want to know what they can do to help make sure this doesn’t happen again. Well, friend, one thing you can do is take the initiative to educate (or re-educate) yourself about the long history of racism in the United States. Below are some resources that I have personally found helpful. This list is by no means exhaustive, but I’m providing it in hopes it will help you find a place to start.
If there’s one thing I value, it’s the opportunity to learn, and a few recent reads have glaringly pointed out to me that there is so much more to our history that we are not taught in school, at least not in predominantly white schools, and it is imperative to understanding why and how we are where we are today. I think one of these three books would be an excellent place to start:
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism – This book, written by a white woman for a white audience, helps break down how white people’s discomfort with talking about racism makes it so challenging to make any progress.
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide – This book provides a very detailed history that clearly illustrates how systemic racism has oppressed Black people for the past 400 years, and how intentional policies and behaviors allow it to persist.
So You Want To Talk About Race – This is another excellent book to help promote dialogue about racism and what we can do to work towards it.
These are just a few that I think would be helpful to start with, but Google anti-racism books to get plenty of other lists to choose from. There is so much information out there.
UPDATE: Originally I had linked these to Amazon but have since changed to support a Black-owned online book store, Kizzy’s Books & More. Here is a list of other Black-owned independent bookstores on Literary Hub.
WRITE or CONVERSE:
In addition to education, this is also a very important and prime time for introspection, to examine the prejudices we hold (we all have them) and how we came to have them, to recognize the various forms of privilege in our lives, and to see if our actions align with our values. Therapist Lisa Olivera provides some excellent journaling prompts/conversation starters to get you thinking, such as: “What narratives did you learn (or not learn at all) in school about whiteness and white privilege?” Check out her Instagram post for her full list questions.
This might not be something you normally think about or even talk about with your family and friends, and perhaps it sounds really uncomfortable, but I encourage you to start having these conversations…because it matters. I’m not immune to feeling nervous about this sometimes, but try to push through that discomfort. Your efforts make a difference.
There are plenty of opportunities for in-person or online learning, and some of my biggest ah-ha moments have come from workshops.
People’s Institute Undoing Racism – I’ve participated in a few anti-racism workshops, which are opportunities to listen and learn, and also to take your conversations even further and help break down some of the discomfort in talking about race. This was the first I ever attended and I really enjoyed it.
Fleur Larsen’s Habits and Practices of White Women Gatekeepers – Fleur is a local Seattle facilitator and I’ve had the opportunity to learn from her on several occasions. This workshop was particularly powerful because it provides a lot of suggestions for the “how can I help” and “what can I do” questions that a lot of white women have, especially in the workplace.
Hey parents! Raising Race Conscious Children is hosting a webinar for white people on June 21st and 28th. This webinar will provide education and support for parents in talking to young children about race. I haven’t taken any of their workshops, but I’ve been on their email list for a few years and as an auntie to eight little cutie pies, I really appreciate their content.
Code Switch podcast – This podcast is awesommmme, and not only does it discuss race and racism in very different situations, but it’s hosted by journalists of color who can share their lived experiences – these are voices that need to be uplifted.
1619 podcast – Based on the New York Times’ 1619 Project, this six-episode series shed light on some history that I didn’t know much about. Highly recommend.
Common Purpose and CPNxt: Taking civic action to the next level. This Seattle organization was started by one of my favorite UW professors. Common Purpose targets its activities towards older generations, and CPNxt is focused on Millennials. “We’re reinventing the way communities form around volunteering, voting (and vacation), and we’re doing it with style.” Yep, that’s right. CPNxt is my fammmmily. Back in November 2019 I traveled to Richmond, VA, with a group of Millennials to partner with a local organization to help get out the vote before election day. This was my first comprehensive experience with civic action, and one of the most important ways we can make change in the future is by electing the people who will listen to us and fight for that change as well. You can participate or donate (or both!). Please check out both links to learn more.
Of course there are many people and organizations you can support, but here are a few:
- Black Lives Matter
- National Bail Fund Network or The Bail Project – both are helping pay bail for people in need, including protesters.
- Official George Floyd Memorial Fund
- Black Visions Collective
- Reclaim the Block
- Know Your Rights Camp
- Campaign Zero
- Equal Justice Initiative
Literally, just Google “donate Black Lives Matter” or “donate George Floyd” and you will find sooooo many posts about organizations you can support. Or, check out some of the accounts I’m about to share below and see who they’re you to help.
SUPPORT AND AMPLIFY:
Support black businesses, black artists, black voices, and others who are helping spread anti-racism. Learn about individuals and their work. Buy from them. Share things that move you. Here are a few Instagram accounts that I’m following to stay informed, learn from, be inspired by, or support:
- Rachel Cargle and The Great Unlearn
- Courtney Ahn Design
- Tash Haynes – special shoutout because she’s a local Tacoma photographer and an awesome human being
- Danielle Coke
- Monique Melton
- Cyndie Spiegel
- Toi Smith
I hope you found these resources helpful! There are so many other ways to educate yourself, but regardless, I’m so glad you’re putting in the work. Let me know if you have questions! I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also – huge, ginormous THANK YOU to the people and resources listed in this post who have educated me and helped me grow.