Race & Equity Starter Kit
These resources are mostly for white people, but people of other races who are interested in exploring difference, power dynamics and standing for justice may also get something out of them. I try to share a range of resources for people who have never thought about race before (welcome!), as well as resources for progressive people who are looking for more advanced/theoretical pieces to take their work further. It’s not comprehensive, more of a ‘gateway drug’ that will get you on a pathway to more complex resources and into action. My goal in sharing these is that they help you wrap your mind around biases you need to work on personally, help you begin to understand racism as a systematic (not individual) problem, and help you learn how to be effective in recognizing systems of inequality and taking action for fairness and equity. Learning is just the start, taking action is the goal.
There is so much out there once you start looking. My advice it to take this page like a box of candy, start somewhere that feels juicy, feel free to jump around, stop when your stomach hurts, but make sure to come back for more later. Resources marked with * go deeper. Whatever else you read, start with the Jay Smooth video – it’ll make everything else much easier.
You will make mistakes, say the wrong thing, offend people and/or embarrass yourself. Start speaking up anyway! If you’re not making mistakes, you’re probably not actually taking any risks and you’re not changing anything. You will want to build relationships that help you check in with and be accountable to Black communities and others who are directly impacted by discrimination – they’re experts, while it’s harder for us to see where problems and solutions lie.
If you are a good human, you will also probably notice emotions coming up as you explore. It might be anger, sadness, shame, rage, guilt, frustration, overwhelm, but also hope, determination, urgency. All of these feelings are valid, and they are a sign that something important is happening. Sometimes emotions spur us into action, sometimes we get stuck with them and that makes it hard to move into action. If you find yourself stuck, please reach out to me or someone else to process what is happening, figure out what it means for you, and help you get to a place where you can take action to change these dynamics for the better.
Start with Jay Smooth – “There’s some racism in your teeth.” Jay does a great job of explaining how racism is a system and “racist” isn’t something you aren’t and other people are, it’s more of a process, like brushing your teeth every day. You will find pockets of racism as you do this work, and the best thing to do is to look at them, brush them out, and be thankful if someone points it out to you – not defensive.
Are you being oppressive without realizing it? Now that you’ve seen Jay’s video and you know that we all have pockets of racism in our teeth, this checklist is a good way to uncover some biases you might not have been aware of Susana Rinderle has a lot of very easy resources for learning about implicit bias and effectively interrupting them for change personally and in systems. (You have to sign up to get this and other resources, it’s worth it!)
* Test your biases with the Implicit Association Test(s). This takes a little longer, but is eye opening. Harvard has an online test you can take that will tell you about your biases – very helpful, since the definition of an implicit bias is that it’s hidden.
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) is a good place to start. This page lays out a good framework for White people who want to work for racial justice. SURJ has chapters in rural, suburban and urban communities, so there’s a lot of support for doing this work wherever you live. Their resources are pretty accessible for people who have never really talked about race before.
* Catalyst Project: This organization works to build powerful multiracial movements and work with white people to take collective action to end racism. The reading list for its Anne Brayden anti-racist organizer training program is online, and its resources tab has information about Ferguson curriculum and other trainings.
Speak truth to racism (& hearing it spoken)
Calling in, not calling out: A first mistake I see a lot of white progressives make is to yell ‘racist’ (mostly on Facebook), which is often a missed opportunity. Instead of calling people out (feels good for a little bit, but mostly doesn’t change anything), call them in.
Tone policing: Just because you’re going to call in, it doesn’t mean everyone has to. When someone experiences racism and other oppressions, they have a right to their experience, plus calling people out is a rational strategy when you have less power.
* How to choose between calling in or calling out.
Learn more about other perspectives
It’s really important to learn how people of other backgrounds see the world differently than you. On the other hand, it’s really annoying to stop someone you just met and ask them what they think about X because they’re Black/Trans/etc. Thankfully, there are a lot of compelling people doing the work of sharing their experience and opinions and with a few clicks, you can get a view outside of your bubble and get a window into other people’s world.
Here are a few Facebook pages you can follow that will give you insight into other experiences. I like following them on Facebook because it adds perspectives to the content I’m seeing every day and in the news cycle.
- Black Trans Women Lives’ Matter
- Color of Change
- 18 Million Rising
- Standing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ)
- Latino USA
- Multiracial Asian Families
- Spectra Speaks
- Ijeoma Oluo
- Raising Race Conscious Children
- Urban Cusp
- For Harriet
What am I missing? Tell me on my Facebook page – Empower Together Consulting.
Talking with babies and kids about race
Kids see race as early as 6 months old. Talking with them about it is key. Here are some resources to get you started.
Raising Race Conscious Children has resources and a lot of blogs modeling simple language to use when talking with kids about race.
Simple “Lesson plans” for talking with young kids about race. Great for taking to schools/libraries that want to talk with race and need help to know how to do it.
* This video by Dr. Alison Briscoe Smith about “How To Talk To Your Kids About Race” is long, but soooooo worth it. She breaks down the background research about race and bias, provides information about what is developmentally appropriate and more.
I’ve got a lot more resources, including specific books I like, on my parenting resources page.