*Please note: I am not writing this because I think I’m an expert. I’m doing work on this, and maybe, knowing that someone you know is working on this makes you do the same. That’s why I’m writing.
In the post On Being a White Person, after the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, I listed several resources as places to start investigating race in America. Shortly after posting, I realized I’d forgotten some, and then I also got lots of great recommendations from others about additional books, shows, podcasts, etc.
So, I decided to compile them here (I know I’ve missed some . . . I tried to take notes all week long when I could). I did most of the writing of this post, but hadn’t finished it, and then . . .
Then came Monday night, and on Twitter, I saw the first of the Central Park Ramble incident. I was frustrated and angry over what a despicable thing it was to do, to fake hysteria on a 911 call to try to get an African-American man in trouble. I woke Tuesday morning to see the typical “not all white people” defensive response. Ugh. Sure, it’s true that not all white people think this way, but it doesn’t matter. It’s not appropriate for that to be your response. Because plenty of white people obviously DO think this kind of behavior is ok.
And while it’s fine to be blown away by Christian Cooper’s education and accomplishments and love for birding, the fact remains that even if he was a homeless man who appeared unkempt, he does not deserve to have the police weaponized against him when he was in no way committing a crime. That white woman didn’t like being told she was breaking the rules of the park, and she used what she thought she had at her disposal – her white, hysterical voice – to get “justice.” What if there wasn’t a video?
And then, right on the heels of the reporting of the Ramble incident came the Minneapolis police and George Floyd. Again there is video. I stopped watching when I realized the full story, that this was a video of yet another black man’s life being taken by someone who was sworn to serve and protect. I couldn’t watch police kill him as he begged for his life.
When you hear this story and see this video, what is your reaction? Is it that you want to know the rest of the story? Is it that he shouldn’t have committed a crime, and then he wouldn’t have been in trouble? That he shouldn’t have resisted arrest?
He did those things. He appeared under the influence of something, was accused of forgery, and resisted arrest. But when he’s on the ground, handcuffed, unarmed, and under arrest, repeatedly telling the officer he can’t breathe, with onlookers pleading for the officer kneeling on him to get up, with THREE OTHER OFFICERS allowing this to go on and on minute after minute after minute . . . are you telling me forgery and drug use and initially resisting arrest deserve this? He didn’t even stop kneeling on him when his nose was bleeding, and he was unconscious.
And now, a picture of this officer has surfaced, with him wearing a red “Make Whites Great Again” hat, styled, you guessed it, after his dear leader’s slogan hat. Don’t tell me this doesn’t impact how he polices the streets of Minneapolis. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that he can keep his white supremacy separate from his job.
(Edited: this was proven to be a fake picture. I commented about it after a leader whose voice I trust posted it.)
I’m so tired and angry, but I’m not nearly as tired as the people of color in this country who repeatedly have to deal with this shit, who repeatedly lose their lives over this ignorance. This is on us, white people, to be tired of it and keep educating ourselves, and keep talking about it. So here’s the list I put together. This list is small, and if you have resources not listed here that you consider vital, let me know.
Let me reiterate: It doesn’t help to just be vocal when an outrageous news story appears, and then not continue to stand up for injustice, or continue to educate yourself. Start now. Examine every angle. Talk to your kids. Don’t hide from this. Help them understand racism from the slavery angle they’re taught in school, and then help them understand it as it is today, so they become ANTI-racist. Actively anti-racist.
Here’s a list of words or phrases to define and understand. Teaching Tolerance or The Innocence Project are two good places to begin as resources:
Cross-race effect or Cross-racial identification, as they pertain to witnesses
Study the history of the neighborhoods in the city in which you live. I’m willing to bet you’ll find it very informative.
The asterisk means I’ve read/watched myself. As I stated in the last post, I highly recommend following these authors on social media platforms, as a way to constantly be educating yourself. Honestly, the viewpoints they present (particularly in reaction to events like what is going on now) and the articles they point to have contributed significantly to my understanding and make me question myself regularly to examine what I think. They are where I keep learning. Follow the book authors and journalists, follow the historians and activists, follow projects committed to equality, like The Equal Justice Initiative and The King Center (and also Bernice King) on Twitter and Black Coffee with White Friends on Instagram. This list is long, but I’ll compile it if it makes one white person do this work. Let me know if you need me to do that.
Sidenote: Be sure to investigate the voices you follow. Shaun King comes to mind, as he is yet again being exposed for his shady practices.
*I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Built for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
*The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein (currently reading)
*Waking up White: and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving
*An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
*Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
*The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
*Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
*Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (currently reading)
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo
Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla Saad
Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique Morris
So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo
The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
White Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White by Daniel Hill
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter
I Can’t Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street by Matt Taibbi
Real American: A Memoir by Julie Lythcott-Haims
*When They See Us
The Central Park Five
The Hate U Give
National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis
National Museum of African American History and Culture
The King Center in Atlanta
Here’s an entire Google doc of resources. It’s full of links to social media, books, etc. It’s really good.