To dig deeper into the nuances of systemic racism, own our part in it, and do the hard work of dismantling racist structures in ourselves; in order that we as white people can more effectively work to dismantle racial systems around us and serve as allies for people of color.
“Doing The Work” is based on some key assumptions about race, privilege, systemic systems, and being white in the world. It’s important to understand these assumptions at the start.
Systemic racism is all around us, and we are part of it. The vast majority of the time, we as white people fail to see it. It’s the water we’ve been swimming in all our lives.
Our tendency to draw distinctions between ourselves and “overt racism” only serves to further racist structures. By differentiating ourselves from the more egregious instances of racism and white supremacy (Charlottesville 2017, police brutality, white people saying outlandish things), we absolve ourselves from having to do any personal work because “real” racism is not what we say or do.
It is not the responsibility of people of color to explain racism to us. Systemic racism was created by white people. We are its architects; people of color are its victims. Therefore it’s our problem to solve, not theirs.
We have to do the work on ourselves first. There is no such thing as dismantling racism in our society as a whole if we are not willing to confront and address our own role in systemic racism first.
Action needs to be preceded by, or at least paralleled with, self-education. The second will help us be much more effective at the first.
White fragility is real – own it, work through it. Doing this work will trigger rationalizing/explaining/distancing/pushing back. We should anticipate this, acknowledge it when it happens, ask ourselves what specifically triggered it and why, and then press on with the work. Think of white fragility as a muscle we haven’t used in a while – it’s going to be sore initially. The goal is to exercise it and build up stamina for the work that needs to be done.
The work never ends, on ourselves or on our world.
“Doing The Work” is less a class and more a self-guided endeavor. While this initiative is geared toward a six-week period, there are plenty of resources to keep you going beyond that. This work involves ENGAGING a variety of resources and RESPONDING to those resources in a way that facilitates learning and growth.
ENGAGE (all resources listed below):
Over the course of six weeks:
– Read two books: White Fragility and a second you choose
– Watch two movies: Colorblind and a second you choose
– Listen to all six episodes of the podcast The 1619 Project
Once a week:
– Read two of the articles
– Watch at least one of the short videos
There are plenty of additional resources listed, and the list will be updated. Feel free to engage them at your leisure.
Use these questions to shape your response to each of the resources:
– 1-3 short statements of “learnings” that you gained;
– Were there any parts where you felt your white fragility kick in? What specifically, and what about it do you think triggered it?
– 1-2 things you can take from this article as “action steps” to confront systemic racism in yourself and your world.
Keep a journal of some sort to capture your thoughts/feelings/learnings.
Accountability Partner – consider pairing with another person or weekly check-in conversations to process what you’ve read/watched/listened to, what you’ve learned about yourself, how you’ve grown, where you’ve struggled, etc.
At the conclusion of the six weeks, we hope to convene as a group (either in person or virtually) to process our work and discuss next steps.
Consider ordering books from black-owned bookstores. You can discover online options HERE.
Caste: The Origins Of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson – The Pulitzer Prize–winning, bestselling author of The Warmth of Other Suns examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
Chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson
An extraordinary timely and urgent call to confront the legacy of structural racism, and to show its continuing threat to the promise of American democracy.
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson
Short, emotional, literary, powerful – this book is one that all Americans who care about the current and long-burning crisis in race relations will want to read.
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
This book guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to “model minorities” in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life.
How To Be An Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
“Kendi dissects why in a society where so few people consider themselves to be racist the divisions and inequalities of racism remain so prevalent. Punctures the myths of a post-racial America, examining what racism really is—and what we should do about it.”
The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias by Dolly Chugh
Reveals the surprising causes of inequality, grounded in the “psychology of good people”. Offers practical tools to respectfully and effectively talk politics with family, to be a better colleague to people who don’t look like you, and to avoid being a well-intentioned barrier to equality.
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein
This “powerful and disturbing history” exposes how American governments deliberately imposed racial segregation on metropolitan areas nationwide.
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity In A World Made For Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
From a powerful new voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female in middle-class white America.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
A stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement.
There’s A Storm Comin’: How The American Church Can Lead Through Times of Racial Crisis by Harold Dorrell Briscoe
Provides insights that are synthesized with biblical data to create a framework that gives churches practical steps to prepare for and respond to racialized crises that inflict trauma to the social fabric of America.
The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap by Mehrsa Baradaran
“Baradaran’s point is to show how white and Black Americans effectively live in two separate economies. A must read for anyone interested in closing America’s racial wealth gap.”
Good White Racist? Confronting Your Role In Racial Injustice by Kerry Connelly
Exposes the ways white people participate in, benefit from, and unknowingly perpetuate racism—despite their best “good person” intentions.
Robin DiAngelo and Resmaa Menakem In Conversation on On Being
A deeply insightful conversation with the author of White Fragility and the renowned Minneapolis-based trauma specialist. Both audio and text available.
The Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun
From “Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups,” a detailed look at qualities and attributes of white supremacy culture often found in the workplace and other social organizations, along with antidotes for each.
Not Just Tulsa: Five Other Race Massacres That Devastated Black America
There is a long history of white terrorism destroying Black communities.
A History: The Construction of Race and Racism
A historical account of “race science” that, while widely discredited now, has still profoundly influenced how we think of each other and our societal structures and systems.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.
An open letter to area white clergy making the case that people have a moral responsibility to take direct action rather than waiting potentially forever for justice to come through the courts.
New Projections Point to a Majority Minority Nation in 2044 by William H. Frey
Reflections from a Token Black Friend by Ramesh A. Nagarajah
I am a token black friend. The black one in the group of white people.
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh
“I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was “meant” to remain oblivious.”
Being Antiracist from the National Museum of African American History and Culture
“To create an equal society, we must commit to making unbiased choices and being antiracist in all aspect of our lives.
Ahmaud Arbery Holds Us Accountable by Jim Barger, Jr.
“I and all of the other people in my community and in this nation failed to protect our neighbor, Ahmaud Arbery. In short, we loved ourselves more than we loved him..”
For Our White Friends Desiring To Be Allies by Courtney Ariel
Listen more, talk less. Resist the need to respond to a person of color’s opinion with a better or different insight. Educate yourself about systemic racism in this country.
75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice by Corrine Shutack
Read it. Try doing a few things each week.
Witness Now, Before It Is Too Late by Dr. Brian K. Blount
“White Christians are not witnessing. Not enough.”
Performance Allyship Is Deadly (Here’s What To Do Instead) by Holiday Philips
Activism can’t begin and end with a hashtag.
The Long History of Racism Against Asian Americans in the U.S.
African Americans are not the only ethnicity to suffer from systemic racism in America.
What Does It Mean To Be Antiracist? by Anneliese A. Singh
“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist – we must be anti-racist.” – Angela Davis
We Have To Stop Thinking About Racism As Someone Who Says The N-Word’
“Racism is a white problem. It was constructed and created by white people and the ultimate responsibility lies with white people.”
Covid-19 Fueling Anti-Asian Racism and Xenophobia Worldwide
“Racism and physical attacks on Asians and people of Asian descent have spread with the Covid-19 pandemic, and government leaders need to act decisively to address the trend.”
Who Gets to Be Afraid in America? by Ibram X. Kendi
“All Americans seem to be thinking about is their fear of us—not our fear of their fear.”
Segregated By Design – examines the forgotten history of how our federal, state and local governments unconstitutionally segregated every major metropolitan area in America through law and policy.
Trouble The Water: Conversations To Disrupt Racism And Dominance
A documentary series resource produced by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for communities and congregations to facilitate conversation and engagement around the issues of race and racism.
You’ve Got To Go Through It by the Rev. Aisha Brooks-Lytle
We cannot simply avoid or skirt around the challenges of racism and classism, we have to go through them. Rev. Brooks-Lytle will be our Gilchrist speaker in 2021.
Deconstructing White Privilege by Dr. Robin DiAngelo
This video focuses on the oppressive behavior that is born out of white privilege. Dr. DiAngelo describes the most obvious and explicit aspects of racism and white privilege, while going beyond the surface of racism.
Systemic Racism Explained
Systemic racism affects every area of life in the US. From incarceration rates to predatory loans, and trying to solve these problems requires changes in major parts of our system. Here’s a closer look at what systemic racism is, and how we can solve it.
How to Deconstruct Racism, One Headline At A Time by Baratunde Thurston
Baratunde Thurston explores the phenomenon of white Americans calling the police on black Americans who have committed the crimes of … eating, walking or generally “living while black.”
Slavery To Mass Incarnation in Five Minute
Slavery did not end in 1865. It evolved.
What do racism and poverty have to do with pollution and climate change?
We already know that pollution and climate change negative affect people’s health and quality of life. But we’re not always clear about which people are most exposed and impacted.
Being Anti-Racist: A Primer by Landon Whitsitt
“Being racist” is not simply a personal behavior thing. It’s about the water we swim in, and if racism is going to be eradicated it’s a lesson people need to learn.”
Seeing White Fragility
This video provides a crash course in how to identify and overcome white fragility in order to a) improve our racial literacy, b) become better allies, and c) amplify black and brown voices in the interest of achieving equality and justice for people of color.
The Little Problem I Had Renting A House – James A. White, Sr.
A powerful story about the lived experience of “everyday racism” — and how it echoes today in the way he’s had to teach his grandchildren to interact with police.
Nice White Parents
A podcast from Serial Productions about the 60-year relationship between white parents and the public school down the block.
The 1619 Project
An ongoing project developed by The New York Times Magazine with the goal of re-examining the legacy of slavery in the United States and timed for the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia.
Hosted by journalists of color, this podcast tackles the subject of race head-on. It explores how it impacts every part of society — from politics and pop culture to history, sports and everything in between.
Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast
Co-hosts Chevon and Hiba give their unique takes on race and pop culture, and uplift narratives of hope, struggle, and joy, as we continue to build the momentum needed to advance racial justice in our policies, institutions, and culture.
Intersectionality Matters! is a podcast hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American civil rights advocate and a leading scholar of critical race theory.
Wilmington On Fire – $5 to rent on Vimeo
Director Christopher Everett amassed rare photographs, original research, and testimonies from historians and descendants of the victims to uncover a shocking event that marked a turning point in the politics of the post-Reconstruction South.
Colorblind: Rethinking Race
For years, we have talked about racism and healing, but until we understand the root of racism, examine its origins and confront the history, we can never get to a place of healing.
Ava DuVernay’s Netflix film ’13th’ reveals how mass incarceration is an extension of slavery. Slavery technically ended over 150 years ago. But Ava DuVernay wants you to take another look at the amendment that abolished it. … The title refers to the 13th amendment, which formally abolished slavery.
The Central Park Five (Amazon)
The Central Park Five, a film from award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, tells the story of the five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in New York City’s Central Park in 1989.
Just Mercy (available to rent – FREE ON STREAMING PLATFORMS THROUGH JUNE)
Stevenson encounters racism and legal and political maneuverings as he tirelessly fights for the life of Walter McMillian, wrongly sentenced to die for the murder of an 18-year old girl.
The Root – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
Provides an unflinching analysis of important issues in the black community through insightful and savvy commentary from black thought-leaders.
Ijeoma Oluo – Twitter (@ijeomaoluo)
Author of “So You Want To Talk About Race”
Charlotte Black Owned – Instagram (@cltblackowned)
A place to support, highlight, and increase the visibility of our local black businesses and services
Check Your Privilege – Instagram (@ckyourprivilege)
Walking with folk on their journey to dismantle their relationship with systems of domination.
We Insist: A Century Of Black Music Against State Violence from NPR
From R&B to old-school rap to modern hip-hop, an amazing compilation of nearly 50 songs with short stories for each. Playlists can be found on Apple Music and Spotify.
RESOURCES PARENTS CAN USE WITH THEIR CHILDREN
Black Lives Matter Instructional Library
A wonderful resource to listen to various children’s books.
Talking To a White Kids About What Whiteness Means by Kaethe Schwehn
The children’s books to help start the conversation.
Your Kids Aren’t Too Young To Talk About Race
A comprehensive list of various resources including books, articles, podcasts, and more.
The Conscious Kid (Instagram)
Parenting and Education through a Critical Race Lens.