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!
by Amy Finney
The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975
Film directed by Göran Olsson, 2011
I discovered the amazing documentary The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 through streaming platform MUBI. Like most of us through lockdown, I turned to films in order to pass the time, but few platforms offered such documentaries as this one. Billed as archive footage of the Black power movement shot by Swedish film crews from 1967-1975 with retrospective interviews from some of its characters, it was independent, thought-provoking, informative and offered a much needed refreshing viewpoint of this particular group of people in their reaction to the times. It details individuals associated with The Black Panthers, a group misunderstood and misrepresented still to this day. One person that really stood out to me was Angela Davis. Her retrospective commentary really paints the picture of frustration and anger she felt. One scene stuck with me: Davis has been arrested and she allows the Swedish film crew to interview her from her cell. The following interviews become very intense as she describes her childhood and the violence she has witnessed throughout her life. The scene is as moving as it is uplifting with its depiction of one person’s triumph over hard-fought adversity.
by Joel Maudsley (@joelmaudsley)
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
Book by Robin DiAngelo
One of the books I found most inspiring this year was White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. As I am part white, this book made me recheck my privilege, and realize how in many ways, I have benefited from that privilege. As half Latino, the book spoke to me in so many ways of which I have been oppressed, made to feel ashamed of my heritage, and noticed all the small ways people have made my race out to be a joke. It taught me that speaking out against bigotry is an act of bravery and defiance by encouraging us to speak out against those who make hurtful comments, jokes, or promote negative stereotypes at other people’s expense. To me, DiAngelo’s work seeks to enlighten those who may engage in harmful rhetoric, without even realising they were doing so. It strives to make the world a better and more equal place.
by Megan Davis (@theanswris42)
Editor’s Note: There has been criticism surrounding DiAngelo's works and the profit she makes from her stance as a white anti-racist educator, which we encourage our readers to consider when investigating her writing.
Digital Bookclub by K Bailey Obazee, Grace Samba-Bandza, and Josh Woolford.
Aside from the #AbolitionistCurriculum which I created in order to centre Blackness and Black resistance, for both Black and non-Black readers alike, a resource that I think is really worth sharing is PRIM. PRIM is a digital platform for storytelling: 'Born out of not seeing enough Queer Black stories and stories, in general, of people of Black ancestry, the focus is to make stories by African, Caribbean and Afro-Latinx fam available and readily accessible.' They also run OKHA - the queer + Black book club on the last Friday of each month!
Editor’s Note: Jon is behind the incredible #AbolitionistCurriculum, and we wanted to give it its own special shoutout. A lot of our readers (and members of our team!) have attended, or are attending, schools and universities in the U.K., where curriculums are still incredibly eurocentric and white-washed. #AbolitionistCurriculum is such a valuable resource, and we recommend bookmarking it so that you can continuously refer back to it - whether you’ve completed your formal studies or not!
Book by Michelle Obama
My recommendation is Becoming by Michelle Obama. I have so much admiration for Michelle Obama after finishing this book, and not just because she also studied sociology and loves Hamilton (the musical) as much as me. The book recounts her life from her childhood growing up on the South Side of Chicago to her time after leaving the White House and throughout, her kindness, determination and humility is clear. Amplified by, but also prior to her position in the White House, Michelle's career was dedicated to uplifting the voices of other BAME individuals and trying to improve the lives of others who did not have the opportunities and security she was afforded growing up. However, once in the White House she faced a great deal more scrutiny; in particular being referred to as an 'Angry Black Woman' in the media whenever she was expressive and passionate. Reading this book served as another reminder to check my privilege as a cisgender and white woman. I couldn't recommend this book more and would also suggest listening to the audiobook version, as it is read by Michelle herself, making it such a personal experience.
by Anna Dyet
Baited with Ziwe
YouTube channel by comedian Ziwe Fumudoh
I have recently become obsessed with American comedian Ziwe Fumudoh who is mostly known for her livestreams and her YouTube videos, Baited with Ziwe, where she baits her guests by putting them in uncomfortable positions by asking confrontational questions about race. By using her dry wit to push people for responses, Ziwe brilliantly outlines the lengths people will go to avoid uncomfortable answers and how little the average American knows their Black history. Ziwe asks guests questions like, ‘do you know who Fred Hampton is?’ or ‘how much of your paycheck do you contribute to the Black Liberation?’ to which guests squirm under pressure. This show has prompted me to look introspectively at my own conversations (or lack of) about race; how would I answer these questions, do I acknowledge my privilege, and do I need to educate myself more on Black historical figures?
Her transcripts for her live streams can be found here.
by Katie Usher (@katieusherart)
On Writing PoC When You Are White
Article by Justine Larbalestier
‘On Writing PoC When You Are White’ is an article by Justine Larbalestier, which I discovered through a twitter thread from @writingtheother. Writing the Other are an organisation who host creative workshops specialising in helping artists create more diverse and representative work. They recommended reading two articles (find the earlier one here) written by Larbalestier, six years apart, both on the subject of writing PoC (person of colour) characters as a white author. They pointed out the way in which Larbalestier's stance on the issue had changed and evolved over time as she developed a more nuanced understanding of the issue – and a more interrogative attitude towards ‘how whiteness obscures our understandings of how we are who we are and of how the world operates’. Contrasting these essays back to back helped me to become more interrogative of my own work as a white writer.
by Alex Aldred (@itsmealexaldred)
Film directed by Spike Lee, 2018
Based on a true story, BlackKkKlansman follows Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), the only African-American detective in an otherwise all-white Colorado Springs police force and his Jewish partner, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), go undercover in their local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. You’ve got absurd, beautiful, disturbing, dark cinematography, playful hard-hitting scripting and socio-political storytelling which sits too close to reality for satire. The nods at Trump’s legacy of racial hatred hit me particularly hard in the cold light of 2020 and the film’s closing scenes served as a reminder that we all have a lot more ‘unlearning’ to do. Stemming from this, our weekly Zoom family quizzes were transformed, with me and my sister leading our first virtual workshop: a presentation and open discussion with our cousins, grandparents, uncles and aunts all about white privilege and fragility.
Podcast published by NPR Radio
Code Switch is hosted by journalists of colour who tackle the subject of race from a myriad of perspectives – that includes politics, pop culture, history, sports, fashion and more. What I like about the podcast is that it incorporates multi-racial and multi-generational voices talking about issues they experience instead of white people discussing racism as it is too often is the case in the news. Recent episodes have discussed the racial caste system in the U.S. capitol, white extremism in the mainstream, and the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on Black communities. They also offer book recommendations by authors of color and introduce diverse scholars to follow. It has been running since 2016, so you can fill days listening to episodes. One I can particularly recommend is ‘What does Hood Feminism mean for a pandemic?’ in which Mikki Kendall shows that mainstream feminism should take on-the-ground feminism practiced by women of color as an example, especially during this pandemic.
by Lara Hansen
Fattily Ever After
Book by Stephanie Yeboah
Fattily Ever After by Stephanie Yeboah was one of my favourite non-fiction books ever. She truly writes from the heart and it reads as easily as her very funny and witty social media accounts. She doesn’t only write about her experiences as a Black woman, but as a fat Black woman and the additional challenges that poses. Especially for slim people – to white societal standards – her stories are incredibly eye-opening and relatable as she talks about things you would never have to think about in a smaller body. Despite the heartbreaking experiences Stephanie shares, the book is so funny. To me she is such an inspiring person and I completely fell in love with her after reading her book. For anyone who might find anti-racist non-fiction reading lists a bit overwhelming, this is the perfect book to get started!
by Maria Lewis
Whites: On Race and Other Falsehoods
Essay by Otegha Uwagba
Whites: On Race and Other Falsehoods by Otegha Uwagba is an essay written in the aftermath of Floyd's murder. It explores 'the colossal burden of whiteness' and was very helpful to me in damping down some of the gaslighting I often experience.
One of the most upsetting elements of the aftermath of George Floyd's murder was the backlash against the BLM movement, seen especially on Facebook. I had to cull Facebook friends I'd been to school with due to their aggressively 'White Lives Matter' stance. The self-care I found most helpful during this was chatting, moaning and offloading to friends.
Another resource which stood out and helped me in 2020 was The High Low, which occasionally covered racism and the George Floyd murder. It was heartening to hear such solidarity from a couple of white women whose podcast went from highbrow to magazine-style issues. They definitely want to be allies, and not just for a season. Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid is the novel I read in 2020 that covered racism in the most absorbing, authentic and entertaining way. Although it covers racism, it leaves the reader feeling seen and cared for.