by Anna Muir |
Disclaimer: As a person with white privilege, I’ve learnt that it is my responsibility to educate myself on the racial injustices that ravage our society. I also understand that ‘I will never understand but I will stand’. The aim of this article is to highlight black voices, and to provide educational resources for our collective anti-racist journeys.
If you’re afraid of saying the wrong thing, please understand that at some point, we all will. It’s human nature. But, I believe that it is not enough to be silent. By default, silence sides us with the oppressor. We should all strive to learn, grow and take accountability for our actions.
With this in mind, I have compiled a list of resources that have been a starting point for my understanding of systematic racism. These are not definitive manuals, nor should they be, but they are useful when researching the oppression that Black communities have faced, and continue to face.
Black lives matter.
1) Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ by British journalist and writer Reni Eddo-Lodge started out as an blog post, before being published as a book in 2017. It outlines the history of racism in Britain, setting it apart from the American resources listed. Eddo-Lodge utilises examples of racism in our culture to explain the pervasiveness of white privilege.
Reni Eddo-Lodge also tells us what we can do to be better: we need to listen carefully and intently, not shy away from tough discussions on racism, and intervene instead of being bystanders to racial injustices. These changes are achievable and we can implement them in our lives today. We have the power to collectively shape the future if we listen to the voices of the marginalised.
Long reads available on Guardian and the book available on Amazon.
2) When They See Us
This series, directed and produced by Ava DuVernay, is based on the real life events of the Central Park Jogger case. It follows the story of the five young black men who were wrongfully convicted of raping a white female jogger in Central Park. The young black men, four of whom were under sixteen, were coerced into giving false confessions and were subject to the media’s racially charged rhetoric. They served between six and thirteen years for a crime they did not commit and were eventually cleared of charges after the true assailant came forward. Whilst a very emotional watch, this series shows an honest and brutally unjust reality faced by minorities all over the world.
The Central Park Five are briefly touched upon in ’13th’ as evidence of the systematic criminalising of African American men, which ultimately led to the incarceration of five innocent boys.
Available on Netflix.
3) How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi
In his book, Ibram X Kendi’s hypothesis is simple — you’re either racist or you’re anti-racist. There is no in between, no grey areas.
As one of the top scholars on race and history in the US, Kendi turns the focus away from others and onto himself, highlighting that to be ‘not racist’ is impossible. To be anti-racist, however, requires effort, education and acknowledgement. It is the attempt to dismantle the archaic systems that have oppressed Black people all over the world for centuries.
This book was vitally educational for me. It’s a how-to of sorts, carefully curated by not only a Black man’s personal experience, but his decades of work and dedication to the study of race and racism.
Available on Amazon, Kindle, or in any good bookshop.
This documentary explains the history of the criminalising of African American communities in the USA. Named after the 13th amendment, DuVernay enlightens the viewer on the ever-changing forms of oppression: The 13th amendment states that no man should be enslaved unless they commit a crime and therein lies the racist loophole that has been systematically exploited.
It’s both a historical and an educational account of institutional racism which aims to shock viewers into action — it shows you the hard facts. Award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay takes the helm of this hard-hitting documentary and it’s a must-watch for all who are interested in understanding systematic racism in the US.
Available on Netflix.
5) The Hate U Give
This is a fiction novel, also adapted as a film, about Starr Carter, a young girl who witnesses the murder of her friend as a result of police brutality. The film includes scenes of peaceful protests that become violent as a result of police escalation. The name of both Angie Thomas’ novel and the film (dir. George Tillman Jr) comes from Tupac’s acronym of ‘Thug Life’, which spells out ‘The Hate U Give Little Infants F*cks Everyone’, an idea central to the plot. The experience of being Black in the USA is portrayed in painstaking detail, Thomas and Tillman delivering raw emotion and brutal truths.
“If you don’t see my blackness, you don’t see me.” – Starr Carter.
Available on Amazon, Prime Video and iTunes.
This podcast by the New York Times, hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones, focuses on the effect of slavery on modern America, using personal experiences and stories as a means of engaging with the current climate.
The podcast is part of a larger project by the New York Times which seeks to educate on slave trade and its impact on modern society.
Available to listen online.
White people, it’s our job now to listen and to amplify the voices of Black communities. When a person of colour tells you something, listen. It’s the single-most important thing we can do. Listen and then speak up when you’re called on.
Please remember that this is a movement and not a moment, and therefore this list is just a starting point. Continue to educate yourself, continue to listen and learn, and continue to stand up for what is just.
Free and available everywhere.
Black lives matter.