Becoming an antiracist
"Every conversation that has changed my life is one I did not want to have.”
–Beverly Daniel Tatum

Beverly Daniel Tatum is the person who taught me how to talk about race. Early on in my career when I still hadn't come to the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion, she taught me through her writings and talks that having conversations around race early, often, and messily was better than not at all.

Because when the conversations didn't happen, whole groups of people were rendered invisible and erasable, were dehumanized and categorized based on assumptions, and were kept at a distance.

With the ongoing violence against the Black community getting the widespread attention it deserves on the national stage, my role as a white practitioner is two-fold: to make space to uplift Black voices and to implore non-Black people to have these conversations around race and color, including their own. This newsletter is focused on achieving these goals.
Reading Resources
Changing the Narrative with Semicolon

This week, the top two bestselling books on Amazon where White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and How to Be an Antiracist by Ibrahm X. Kendi. The appetite for antiracism reading continues to grow, and I'd love to make additional recommendations to add to your library. But before I do, I ask you to turn these purchases into investments in the Black community.

Semicolon is Chicago's only black woman-owned bookstore and gallery space, and I encourage you to order the books below directly from them.

If you find these books are on backorder and can't stand to wait, consider donating to their Liberation Library, which supplies incarcerated youth with books.

Antiracist Reading List

  • Can We Talk about Race? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
  • Race Talk by Derald Wing Sue
  • Subtle Acts of Exclusion by Tiffany Jana and Michael Baran
  • The Fire This Time by Jesmyn Ward
  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibrahm X. Kendi
  • Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements by Charlene Carruthers
  • The Racial Contract by Charles W. Mills
  • White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson
  • Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
  • Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen
Guides and Kits
A Guide to Non-Optical Allyship

There is such a thing as "bad" allyship. It's just often more likely to be called "Optical Allyship."

Latham Thomas, founder of Mama Glow and author of Own Your Glow, coined the term optical allyship and defines it as:

"Allyship that only serves at the surface level to platform the 'ally,' it makes a statement but doesn’t go beneath the surface and is not aimed at breaking away from the systems of power that oppress."

We've seen a lot of that this week, and write Mireille Cassandra Harper has the answer to how to practice Non-Optical Allyship.

  • Michelle Kim of Awaken shares her 20 Actions for Asians to show up for the Black community. Read >>

  • Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein compiled a list of #AntiRacism Resources for white people and parents to unpack and deepen their antiracism work. Read >>

  • Ibram X. Kendi of The New York Times shares his reading list of Anti-Racism books. Read >>

  • The Latch shares steps you can take to become an #antiracist #ally, including understanding and acknowledging your privilege. Read >>

  • Autumn Gupta with Bryanna Wallace put together a complete guide for Antiracism learning in June. (Thanks to Michelle Bess for sharing this with me!) Read >>
Ideas for Tech Startups
How Startups Need to Be Addressing Race

“Even if you feel really uncomfortable talking about this—probably as a white leader of your company—you have to address it,” said Alida Miranda-Wolff, the founder and CEO of Chicago-based diversity, equity and inclusion firm Ethos. “You have to condemn what’s taking place. You have to show your disgust. You have to individually check in with your black employees.”

ChicagoInno profiled how tech companies are responding to the murder of George Floyd, and I shared some perspective on what startups can do. There is much, much more than what's listed here, but it's a start.

Listening Resources
Listen Your Way into Antiracism

If you listen to podcasts as your best means of learning, here are the three to queue up.

  • Ibram X. Kendi (star of this newsletter) is a professor, best-selling author, and theorist who recently spoke with Brené Brown's on Unlocking Us to delve into racial disparities, policy, and equality. Listen >>

  • The Appeal features their first Podcast, Justice in America. In their first episode, "Justice for the Rich, Money Bail," they break down what money bail is, who benefits, and how it works. They also explore whether reform is possible. Listen >>

  • Yo is This Racist? dives into George Floyd's murder and the ongoing protests happening throughout the nation. Listen >>
Easy Ways to Make an Impact

George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Philando Castille. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Trayvon Martin. Sandra Bland.

The weight of these losses and so, so many others don't disappear the minute people clock on.

If you're feeling called to seek justice, here's a list of ways.



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