Anti-Racism Resources for Fellow White Women

Because it’s well past time for us to start doing the work

“Fundamentally, an antiracist is a part of the struggle that is challenging racism on an everyday basis.”

Ibram X. Kendi

White women, we are in a unique position. Although we experience the constraints of patriarchy, we are still privileged by the color of our skin. Too often, we forget that we are contributing to the systematic violence that affects Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). If we are to start making a difference, we must not only raise our voices against racism, but change our thoughts and behavior as well. As others have said, it’s not enough to just not be racist. We must be anti-racist.

How do we go about beginning our journey toward anti-racism? That’s what I intend to offer here — a starting point, a place from which we can begin to change. This is by no means intended to be comprehensive or authoritative. It’s a collection of preexisting resources that BIPOC have done the work to make — now it’s our turn to do the work to learn and change.

This isn’t just for you, fellow white women, it’s also for me. By no means have I read and done everything in this list yet. And we have all failed and made mistakes. But we need to do more than avoid inadvertent racist behavior and prejudices. We need to actively combat the purposeful ways that white women weaponize their privilege to harm BIPOC. It’s not acceptable when ignorance and prejudices lead to the deaths of other people. They cannot afford for white women to make “a mistake” when their lives are on the line.

It’s time to start doing the work — so let’s begin together. Are you with me?

What to Read

Everything written by Ezinne Ukoha, perhaps beginning with her recent article on police brutality and the death of George Floyd. You can also click through to learn about the history of police brutality.

Robin DiAngelo’s book White Fragility, which you can learn more about in this Guardian article by Nosheen Iqbal.

How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi — and you can donate to his Antiracist Research and Policy Center. There’s also a great interview with him on NPR. Kendi also compiled a list of anti-racist books that was published in the New York Times:

I highly recommend science journalist Angela Saini’s book Superior, which debunks race science and helps frame it in historical context. The book is also brief, so if you don’t read a lot it may be a good one to start with before diving into Kendi’s list.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture has an online anti-racism resource called Being Antiracist.

Consider checking out this incredible piece on how to explain white privilege to white people in poverty, who likely do not believe they still experience privileged:

If you are religious, I recommend reading Dear Church by Lenny Duncan, which does an extraordinary job of addressing white people’s lack of commitment to social justice issues in the church. I am an ex-Christian, but it was an enlightening book that also made me more sympathetic to religion and its role in BIPOC culture.

Wonder what reparations are and why they matter? This article in the Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates is an eye-opening and necessary read.

This Q&A put together by Teaching Tolerance helps make sense of the fine lines of white anti-racism.

“The most common mistakes white activists make are 1) setting an agenda with the illusion of inclusion, and 2) having to have a franchise on comfort.”

— Georgette Norman, Rosa Parks Library and Museum Director

Changing our online behavior

I have not yet found a comprehensive resource regarding white women’s behavior online and how to not be inadvertently racist and insensitive, so it’s important to tune in to the social media of BIPOC and be conscious of how you may be participating in behaviors they find offensive and upsetting. My personal approach is to pay attention to what is called out and make sure I don’t repeat others’ mistakes, and when someone points out something problematic I have said, to publicly apologize and make reparations.

One of the most startling things I read this past year was an article on why using reaction GIFs of Black people is the new blackface. Until I read it, I was not aware that using these GIFs was problematic. It’s well worth a read: “We Need to Talk About Digital Blackface in Reaction GIFs”.

It’s good to actively follow, retweet, and share more BIPOC on your social media channels. Seek out lists to follow, too.

Please do not share traumatic videos and pictures of violence and death that dehumanizes BIPOC. There are ways to discuss incidents without putting those triggering and harmful images onto the feeds of Black folks.

Humor, as I learned the hard way, is not a great coping mechanism. Be careful of what you post, whatever your intentions. Someone once told me the impact of yours words matters far more than intent.

Time to take action

Here are some things you and I can start doing today to make a difference:

Most importantly, protect the lives of BIPOC by learning how to intervene as a bystander. Follow the link below for a detailed guide:

Finally, I’d like to end on this note by Diane Flinn, who is a managing partner of Diversity Matters:

If we identify and own racial privilege and, as white people, have our own experiences of exclusion so we can authentically empathize, then we are “getting it.”

We “get it” when we value equity, human rights and social justice.

Nonfiction writer wrangling words and horses in the Pacific Northwest | she/they

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