It’s long-past time for white people (myself included) to start being proactively anti-racist. It’s uncomfortable, and it’s difficult to know where to start, but that is not an excuse to remain silent.
Earlier this week, an African-American man named George Floyd was killed by Minnesota police whilst in the process of being detained for a non-violent charge. I was about to describe the way in which Floyd was killed, but really, that’s not the point – you can find it on Google easily enough, and be satisfied that yes it was horrific, no it wasn’t a reasonable use of force, yes it was murder, and no he wasn’t the first and will not be the last.
Actually, continuing to describe his brutal death, and that of other black people who have been killed by the police only serves to trigger BAME people while we white people look on in shock and outrage before we go about our days as if nothing happened – because this will never happen to us. Please consider the impact on your BAME friends/family/network when you share pictures and videos of these crimes.
I’m not saying that you are not genuinely horrified/shocked/outraged (delete as appropriate) or that those emotions aren’t unpleasant and tiring. But they are nothing compared to those felt by the people whose community is quite literally under attack by the people who are supposed to ‘protect and serve’, and at the end of the day, we can feel our feelings and move on with our physical safety in tact. Feeling, and even expressing, those emotions does nothing to prevent this happening again or to challenge the systemic racism in our society. And to be clear, I am writing this from London, UK and I do actually mean our society, because this is not a problem that is confined to America. Maybe fewer Black British people are dying, but there are still deaths and we, with our long and rich history of colonisation are absolutely living in a society whose very foundations are built on the oppression of black and brown people.
The message I want to get across to you is that apathy is complicity. Staying silent, staying inactive, staying out of it because it’s too ‘controversial’ or too ‘political’ for you is a racist action because you are aware of what is happening, and choosing not to do anything about it. If I call you a white person, not just a person, and that makes you feel uncomfortable, then this post is for you. We white people have to get comfortable with our discomfort, own our whiteness and the privilege it affords us. Having white privilege does not mean that you are not disadvantaged in other ways or don’t experience difficulty. It just means you don’t also experience an added layer of inequality and discrimination caused by the colour of your skin. ‘Not being racist’ is no longer enough – we must be actively anti-racist.
The following is a collection of resources to support you in taking action and beginning your anti-racist society. None of these resources are mine and have been collected mainly from Instagram and Twitter and all credit is due to those who have taken the time to put them together.
The list is long, because there are actually so many things you can do. No more excuses.
This list has already been and will continue to be updated.
Lists & Posts
How you can make a difference – a Twitter thread by Elle Osili-Wood
Amplifying Black Voices & Being Actively Anti-Racist – a collection of actions by Zoe Stromberg (@cutecatcalls)
Being an Anti-Racist Ally – a collection of actions by Sophie Williams (@OfficialMillennialBlack), I also used Sophie’s image for this post with her permission
George Floyd: How Can I Help From the UK? – a collection of actions by Das Penman
Fund Racial Justice – a collection of actions including a wider range of US charities to support by Hanna Kjedlbjerg
Why Racism is Not Just an ‘America’ problem – an Instagram thread of analysis by @wipbee
Donate / Campaign
There are a lot of organisations here and it can seem overwhelming – please don’t let that stop you from supporting any. Why not commit to donating a small amount to one each month?
The Minnesota Freedom Fund – this is a fund to pay criminal bail and immigration bond costs in Minnesota. This is a way of supporting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous & People of Colour) in Minnesota as they are disproportionately incarcerated, and additionally, a number of BIPOC are being arrested in the act of peaceful protest against the killing of George Floyd, so they need our support now.
The George Floyd Memorial Fund – a fund for donations directly to George Floyd’s family to support them in seeking justice for George, as well as supporting his children and their education.
Black Lives Matter – a movement that hopefully needs no introduction.
Southall Black Sisters – SBS is a non-profit established to meet the needs of Black Asian and African-Carribean) women. They aim to highlight and challenge all forms of gender-related violence locally and nationally in the UK.
Imkaan – Imkaan is a UK-based Black feminist organisation dedicated to addressing violence against Black, Minority Ethnic and Refugee women.
Charity So White – an organisation that is campaigning to dismantle institutional racism within the UK charity sector
100 Black Men of London – a community-based charity led by Black men delivering programmes and activities focused on Mentoring, Education, Economic Empowerment and Health & Wellness
Liberty – a UK human rights organisation comprised of campaigners, lawyers and policy experts to challenge injustice and protect rights and hold the powerful to account. Government powers such as stop and search and mass surveillance using facial recognition have been shown to significantly discriminate against BAME people. Therefore, Liberty’s work is essential in preventing the wrongful arrest and convictions of BAME citizens.
The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust – an organisation set up in memory of Stephen Lawrence who was murdered in a racist attack in the 1990s. They work with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to inspire and enable them to succeed in the career of their choice.
Books to Read
Likewise this is a long list! See what speaks to you and go from there, take it one book at a time – the most important thing is to engage with the book and use it to help you on your antiracist journey rather than attempting to rattle through the entire list!
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo – In this book, DiAngelo helps us to understand why we react the way we do to conversations about race, and how to start having more honest conversations, and listen and react better to feedback.
Natives by Akala – From the first time he was stopped and searched as a child, to the day he realised his mum was white, to his first encounters with racist teachers – race and class have shaped Akala’s life and outlook. In this unique book he takes his own experiences and widens them out to look at the social, historical and political factors that have left us where we are today.
The Good Immigrant (UK) by Nikesh Shukla (ed.) – a groundbreaking collection of essays by BAME writers about what it means to be an ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t seem to want you.
The Good Immigrant (USA) by Nikesh Shukla (ed.) & Chimene Suleyman (ed.) – a collection of essays from a range of writers about immigration and identity in America.
How to be an Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi – In this book, Kendi helps us rethink our most deeply held beliefs and re-examine the policies and larger social arrangements that we support to go beyond an awareness of racism and contribute to the formation of a just and equal society.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge – winner of the 2018 Jhalak Prize, this explores what it means to be a person of colour in the UK today.
Feminism, Interrupted by Lola Olufemi – A short book examining the problematic nature of mainstream/liberal/white feminism and highlighting the women it leaves out, such as trans women, sex workers and Muslim women.
Brit(Ish) by Afua Hirsch – Hirsch explores what it means to be British from the perspective of being a British-born, biracial woman, taking into account Britain’s colonial history.
Afropean by Johnny Pitts – Recently awarded the 2020 Jhalak Prize, this is a travel memoir exploring the experiences of Black Europeans.
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams – a contemporary fiction about a young Black British woman which features (but is not exclusively about) the everyday racism that Black people often experience.
Guantanamo Kid: The True Story of Mohammed El-Gharani by Jerome Tubiana – a graphic novel about Mohammed El-Gharani who was wrongfully detained in Guantanamo Bay
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – a young adult fiction about a teenage girl who witnesses the killing of an unarmed Black boy by a White police officer
Beyond the Pale by Vron Ware – A study of the role white women have played in the history of racism and the political connections between black and white women in contemporary racism and feminism.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates – A letter to the author’s son about the realities of being a Black man in the USA
Superior by Angela Saini – the book that Reni Eddo-Lodge describes as ‘debunking racism’s core lie – that inequality is to do with genetics rather than political power’.
Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde – a posthumous collection of essays, speeches and poems by African-American author and poet focusing on key themes of shifting language into action and silence as a form of violence.
I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Braithwaite – Black women in the UK are five times more likely to die in childbirth than their white counterparts. In this book, Braithwaite aims to help Black British mothers feel validated and encouraged to take up space, and for all other readers, to help accurately describe the many hurdles Black British mothers are up against.
Black and British by David Olesuga – a re-examination of British history revealing the long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa and the Carribean
Publishers to Follow / Buy From
Jacaranda – An award-winning independent publisher committed creating a space on the bookshelf for diverse ideas and writers. They are currently publishing a collection called Twenty in 2020 – Twenty Black British writers published in 2020.
Knights Of – Publisher of commercial children’s fiction with the aim of diversifying children’s literature and making books for every kid
Dialogue Books – an imprint of Little Brown, Dialogue Books shines a spotlight on stories for, about and by readers from the LGBTQI+, disability, working class and BAME communities
Adonis & Abbey Publishers – Publisher of niche non-fiction and academic journals
Peepal Tree Press – an independent publisher of Caribbean writing
Black-owned Bookshops & Subscriptions
This is Book Love – the travelling multicultural book carnival
No Ordinary Bookshop – has a particular focus on children’s books
Books of Africa – Africa-oriented books across multiple categories
My Book Basket – bookshop based in Birmingham that also sells gifts and wellbeing products
New Beacon Books – specialist in African & Caribbean literature based in North London
Heady Mix – a quarterly book subscription box focusing platforming diverse voices and emerging writers. This is a Black-owned business, though the choices are from a broader range of writers.
Decentred Lit – a Caribbean-based quarterly book subscription aiming to amplify marginalised voices
Workbooks & Courses
Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad – a book based on a month-long Instagram challenge that aims to take readers on a journey of understanding their white privilege and how they uphold white supremacy.
The Good Ancestor Academy – Layla F. Saad, author of Me and White Supremacy offers several courses on personal leadership and anti-racism, all with a view to becoming a good ancester.
#DoTheWork by Rachel Cargle – Cargle offers a free 30-day course to do the work of anti-racism. She also has several other lecture series and resources such as Dear White Women and the Great Unlearn
Scaffolded Anti-Racist Resources – educational resources categorised and linked to where white people are in their awareness of racism
About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge – a podcast from the author of Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race that takes the conversation a step further into concepts such as the ‘white working class’ and featuring guests such as Akala.
Have You Heard George’s Podcast? – The genre-bending podcast that cleaned up at the 2019 British Podcast Awards. This isn’t specifically about race, but as it is a podcast about inner city life, it certainly features.
We Need to Talk About the British Empire – Afua Hirsch’s podcast featuring conversations with writers and historians about the legacy of colonialism and empire. NB. this podcast requires a subscription to Audible.
Petitions to sign
Teach Britain’s colonial past as part of the UK’s compulsory curriculum – UK Parliament
Improve Maternal Mortality Rates and Health Care for Black Women in the UK – UK Parliament
Introduce Mandatory Ethnicity Pay Gap Reporting – UK Parliament
Add education on diversity and racism to all school curriculums – UK Parliament
Condemn the US government for the use of force against its citizens – UK Parliament
Making the UK education curriculum more inclusive of BAME history – UK Parliament
Suspend future sales of tear gas and other crow control equipment to the USA – UK Parliament
Queen & Slim – a crime drama that begins with a couple’s first date taking an unexpected turn as they are pulled over by a police officer. Starring Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith, directed by Melina Matsoukas
Just Mercy – World-renowned civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson works to free a wrongly condemned death row prisoner. Starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton.
Black Panther – Part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), T’Challa, heir to the hidden but advanced kingdom of Wakanda, must step forward to lead his people into a new future and must confront a challenger from his country’s past. This is the first Marvel film with a predominantly Black cast, the first superhero film to receive a Best Picture nomination and the first MCU film to receive an Academy Award. Starring Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan, directed by Ryan Coogler.
The Hate U Give – Based on Angie Thomas’s hugely successful novel. Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right. Starring Amandla Stenberg, Regina King and Russel Hornsby, directed by George Tillman Jr.
If Beale Street Could Talk – Based on a James Baldwin novel, a young woman embraces her pregnancy while she and her family set out to prove her childhood friend and lover is innocent of a crime he didn’t commit. Starring KiKi Layne and Stephan James, directed by Barry Jenkins.
Detroit – drama based on the 1967 Detroit riots. Starring John Boyega and Anthony Mackie, directed by Katheryn Bigelow
Get Out – Horror film about a young African-American man who visits his white girlfriend’s parents for the weekend, where his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him eventually reaches a boiling point. Starring Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams, directed by Jordan Peele.
Hidden Figures – The true story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program. Starring Tajari P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae, directed by Theodore Melfi.
Moonlight – A young African-American man grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence, and burgeoning adulthood. Starring Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris, directed by Barry Jenkins.
Selma – A chronicle of Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s to secure equal voting rights in 1965. Stars David Oyelowo and Oprah Winfrey, directed by Ava DuVernay
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – animated adventure film about teenager Miles Morales who becomes the Spider-Man of his reality, crossing path with five counterparts from other dimensions. Starring Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson and Mahershala Ali, directed by Bob Persichetti.
Love and Basketball – a romance about Monica and Quincy who play basketball together through many life challenges from childhood to adulthood. Starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood.
TV Shows & Documentaries
Netflix’s Black Lives Matter category – a list of films and TV shows in Netflix’s new BLM category
Sitting in Limbo – A one-off drama based on the true story of Anthony Bryan and his personal struggle to be accepted as a British citizen during the Windrush immigration scandal. Starring Patrick Robinson and Nadine Marshall, directed by Stella Corradi. Streaming on BBC iPlayer
Black and British – Historian David Olesuga explores the enduring relationship between Britain and people whose origins lie in Africa. Streaming on BBC iPlayer.
Trigger Warning with Killer Mike – American rapper, actor and activist Killer Mike conducts a series of social experiments including only spending money in the Black community. Streaming on Netflix.
Pose – Pose is set in the world of 1987 and “looks at the juxtaposition of several segments of life and society in New York: the rise of the luxury universe, the downtown social and literary scene and the ball culture world.” Streaming on BBC iPlayer.
Watchmen – Set in an alternate history where masked vigilantes are treated as outlaws, Watchmen embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel of the same name, while attempting to break new ground of its own.
What Happened Miss Simone? – A documentary about the life and legend Nina Simone, an American singer, pianist, and civil rights activist labeled the “High Priestess of Soul.” Streaming on Netflix.
This list is amazing Martha, thanks for sharing it! I have shared with friends.
I’m reading White Fragility at the moment and learning so much from it, on the fiction side I’m reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which contains some amazing reflections on race across the USA, Nigeria and UK – as well as being a total page turner and beautifully written. I’m looking forward to learning and discovering more 🙂
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Thanks Rachel, glad it’s helpful! I’m reading WF too with a book group, there’s so much in there! We’re only doing a chapter a week bit I found the idea of aversive racism (Ch3 I think) really rang true for me. Americanah is fantastic! It’s one of the first books that introduced me to the whole topic. Would also highly recommend her other books, especially Half of a Yellow Sun