Your anti-racist resource recommendations for 2021
Imprint's readers share the anti-racist resources that have enabled them to make individual action - from the educational and the eye-opening to the compassionate and inspirational.
Edited by Hedy Ismaiel and Abi Larner
To honour the trials and tribulations of 2020, we’ve asked you (our readers!) to share the anti-racist resources you’ve learnt the most from. From educational and eye-opening material which has moved our white readers to action, to compassionate resources which have provided comfort, validation, and solidarity for our BAME (Black - Asian - Minority - Ethnic) readers, we hope you’ll find inspiration from their recommendations below (what better to keep you company as lockdowns extend into the second month of 2021?).
Hello beautiful people! Hedy here, the latest Editorial Assistant and Diversity Strategist to join the imprint team. So let me get straight to it! I was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt, where race wasn’t really much discussed neither in real life nor on the news (I’m a 90s baby so this is before social media). I myself belong to the POC (people of color) community, but I often get mistaken for being white. Therefore, I haven’t experienced first-hand racism but witnessed how friends and family members from my country would be treated differently abroad.
So instead I first started learning about racism through movies and TV and decided to educate myself further on the topic. I found it important not only to learn about racism, anti-racism, the history of how different communities were oppressed and colonised and how this continues to affect them till today, but also how I myself can act in a more sensible way, learn about racial bias and contribute to a more equal society worldwide.
Nowadays, with millions of resources available at our fingertips at any given time, we shouldn’t really have an excuse for not educating ourselves about such issues. I understand though that with too many resources out there it can be hard to know which are beneficial ones or where to even start, so we asked you, our imprint readers, to recommend some of your favourite resources. Below are all the recommendations we hope you’d be inspired to check out, I know I definitely am!
Website founded by activists Leah Thomas and co-founders Diandra Marizet, Sabs Katz, Philip Aiken
The website Intersectional Environmentalist (and it’s accompanying instagram account and podcast Dismantled) is one of the best all-round anti-racist resources I have discovered this past year. Founded by Leah Thomas to be an ‘inclusive version of environmentalism’ and identify ‘the ways in which injustices happening to marginalised communities and the earth are interconnected’, it publishes its own articles and collates relevant information from outside sources. The wealth of information on this site is astounding and I think anyone that is trying to both live a more sustainable life and fight social injustice will find it an invaluable resource. As Leah herself said, environmentalists are often progressive, forward thinking people but can frequently view causes such as BLM as an add-on to their activism and this needs to change, especially as the climate crisis invariably affects oppressed communities first. It may be uncomfortable to confront your internal biases, especially when you feel as though you are a progressive person, but this site certainly helped me to do just that and I hope it will help you too!
by Izzy Harbinson
Visual Poetry Collection by Rupi Kaur
I am reading Rupi Kaur’s new book Home Body. I picked it up about a month ago after flipping through some pages because some poems on feminism stood out to me. If you don’t know her, Rupi Kaur is a South Asian confessional poet known for her first book Milk and Honey. In the book that I am reading, she talks about sexual assault, mental health, and capitalism issues. Frankly speaking, some poems made me a little bit uncomfortable, but that prompted me to take a closer look at myself and question why they made me feel the way I did. She also addresses her struggles with growing up as an immigrant, which was eye-opening for me, and racism, which I can strongly relate to. Her poetry is simple, but it reminds people that they are not alone.
by Jo Yeoh
Instagram account by Naomi and Natalie Evans
I’m recommending @everydayracism, created by sisters Naomi and Natalie. As chair of Lancaster Black History group, anti-racism has always been critical in our practise, otherwise there is no impact. However, as someone from the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People Of Colour) community it is easy to assume that I have all the answers, which is not the case. Last year highlighted my lack of knowledge surrounding terms like ‘anti-racism’ and ‘decolonising’ which is why I actively sought out resources which would support my growth. Creators Natalie and Naomi use their platform to explore white privilege, everyday racism and how to be active allies. Their message is always clear and concise, with the use of direct quotes and rhetorical questions, whilst also aesthetically pleasing to the eye. They make anti-racism accessible to all by doing the leg work and collating resources on your behalf, therefore removing the opportunity for excuses. I regularly signpost our own followers to their page to expand their personal understanding.
by Geraldine Onek
Don't Call Us Dead
Poetry Collection by Danez Smith
One book of poetry stayed with me throughout 2020: Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith. As I worked on decentring myself and my whiteness whilst the world seemed to fall apart, Don’t Call Us Dead allows us rare insight into the inner life of a young gay Black man in today’s America. He creates utopias for the Black American, and on the same page writes about gay hook-up app Grindr with miraculous fluidity. The whole piece is not (to me) poetry but rather a monologue, an open letter to white supremacy with little concern for margins or lines as the lines of American life have held no concern for him (see ‘litany with blood all over’). We shouldn’t have to rely on an aesthetic presentation of oppression in order to see it as valid. Smith’s poetry, though, grabs us by the collar, inviting even the most apathetic reader to listen, and then move to action.
by Pernina Jacobs (@perninajacobs)
The Watermelon Woman
Film directed by Cheryl Dunye, 1996
One film that particularly resonated with me recently was The Watermelon Woman. An extremely personal reflection of the director’s life as a young African American lesbian living in Philadelphia, this film intertwines Cheryl’s own life, depicted in its mumblecore 90’s American style, with a pseudo-documentary that follows her research on a fictional ‘Black Mammy’ actress known as The Watermelon Woman. Throughout her research, Dunye’s character encounters scattered instances of racial micro-aggressions, hindering the progression of her discoveries. However, her persistence as a filmmaker disregards these moments and she continues. This attitude mirrors that of the actress she has researched, particularly her ability to forgo Classic Hollywood conventions and follow personal desire. This determination to reflect personal argumentative vision through the veracity of Dunye’s own current experiences has influenced me greatly and has become an important reference of consideration to my own filmmaking approach and creative ideology.
by Jack Davis (@horsehouse_fontaine)
Multiple digital platforms run by activist Lady Speech Sankofa
Black, queer, fat and sex positive activist @ladyspeech quickly became my favorite Instagram account of 2020. Their views which championed messages including end white supremacy, end transphobia, end fatphobia, and the idea that you are worthy of sex, NO MATTER what your body looks like, all felt like a welcome breath of fresh air amidst the tumultuous backdrop of 2020. They became my go-to account when I needed uplifting. Unfortunately, back in October, Instagram made the decision to remove Lady Speech off their platform - a platform that was used to source a huge portion of their income. Lady Speech offered a safe space, and protection, for groups that are otherwise marginalised. Their story, and their healing journey, gave me hope that one day, despite all the oppressive systems in place, I would dance and soar and rise fully in my power, walking my path authentically.
Editor’s Note: As Aimie notes, LadySpeech Sankofa’s original instagram account (which had around 25k followers) was banned, reported for ‘hate speech’ when speaking out against anti-Blackness. You can now find them on their new instagram handle @ladyspeechsankofa, or on their twitter, tumblr, youtube, as well as donation platforms such as Patreon and OnlyFans (and more, here).
My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies
Book by Resmaa Menakem
As a white person, I learned a great deal about how white supremacy operates in the body through psychologist Resmaa Menakem's lens on the embodied experiences of Black people and white people in the United States. Menakem dives deeply into how "white body supremacy" operates at the macro as well as the individual level, including how intergenerational trauma is passed down through the body, and pairs these insights with somatic psychology exercises throughout the book. He skilfully weaves reflections on history with his own embodied experiences as a Black man into an easy-to-read narrative that pairs with his suggested practices to heal our nervous system and forge new patterns of relating that disrupt white body supremacy.
by Mel Meder
Racialised Trauma E-Course
Online Course taught by Resmaa Menakem through Cultural Somatics University
The author of My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway for Mending our Hearts and Bodies designed this course to supplement the book, but I took it before reading the book and still found it incredibly insightful. I read a lot, but as someone who is able-bodied, white, and cisgender, words on a page will never adequately relate what it’s like to live in a body not afforded those privileges. The format of this course made it a particularly eye-opening resource: Menakem connects generational, institutional, and individual trauma with physical and emotional behaviour patterns. One thing that particularly resonated with me was the notion of ‘white body stamina’; the idea that white bodies simultaneously benefit from an implicit unity with cultural and governmental institutions, yet as a result have a tendency to be particularly individualistic, and to use this individualism to absolve themselves of culpability.
The Hate U Give
Film directed by George Tillman Jr., 2018
The Hate U Give (based on the book by Angie Thomas) follows Starr, an African-American teenager, who lives in a predominantly Black neighbourhood but visits a predominantly white private school. Starr grapples with the aftermath of a police officer senselessly killing her friend, Khalil, after mistaking his hairbrush for a gun.
Sad, touching moments include the exploration of cultural appropriation and code switching, like when Starr explains to her school friends how when they listen to rap music, wear their Jordans and use slang they are seen as ‘cool’ but if she were to exhibit the same behaviours she would be labelled as ‘ghetto’. It’s ironic - not to mention frustrating - how people accept and celebrate Black culture/practices but only when appropriated by white people.
A powerful scene is when Starr confronts her uncle, a police officer, about officers shooting down innocent Black people, exposing how deep rooted the problem in the system really is. Another heartbreaking and moving scene is where the father has ‘The Talk’' with his kids about how to act when they are stopped by police officers solely because of the racist reality we live in. So to non-Blacks: Have you ever had to have this talk growing up? Or can you imagine giving it your own kids someday and explaining to them that the color of their skin will make people presume they are dangerous?
by Hedy Ismaiel
What a Time to be Alone
Book by Chidera Eggerue
Chidera Eggerue, or The Slumflower as she is affectionately known, uses What A Time To Be Alone to impart her wisdom onto the reader in three sections YOU, THEM and US. Each section promotes self-worth and empowerment; forcing the reader to see that alone is not lonely. At the very heart of the book is Chidera's mother and her Nigerian heritage, which guides the reader on their journey through the modern world by drawing on lgbo (Nigerian language belonging to the kwa group) proverbs. Chidera's original artwork is the perfect accompaniment to her lived experiences and her voice will reverberate in you long after you have put the book down. She will teach you to be unapologetic in your search of self-fulfilment. Be prepared to be single, and proud of it, by the time this experience is over!