A Beginners Guide to 21st Century Racism
Hi ya'll. I'm a photographer from North Carolina who grew up in New York. As a southern northerner, I've noticed the racism conflict between the north and the south parallels to the conflict between the desire to defend your identity as a virtuous person and the desire to self improve.
North Carolina is often assumed to be horribly racist. Southerns often resent people in the north because southerns feel as if northerns project a negative, racist, ignorant, image onto them.
I think southerns and northerners would be surprised to hear how much they have in common when it comes to trying to figure out what modern day racism means.
Here are a few similarities I've found between white and brown people from North Carolina and New York when it comes to talking about racism against black people:
Most people, resent being called racist, but also quietly wonder how racist they are.
Those same people fear being called ignorant, so they defend the knowledge they do have instead of seeking more education.
Those same people truly want everyone to get along. The best way they know how to encourage peace is to redirect the race conversation, try to stop talking about it and proclaim skin color doesn't matter.
I am pointing out the similarities between two seemingly different groups of people, the northerners and the southerners, in attempt to even the playing field and say with all the best assumed...
Yes, we all do not want to be called a racist. Yes, we all do not want to be called ignorant. Yes, we all want to get along.
By cycling through steps 1 - 3 over and over again, we are doing damage. So let's break the cycle and learn a new way of doing things.
If you went to public school, the racism talk most likely ended at the civil rights movement. Because we didn't learn what happened to racism since then, we are left to educate ourselves. If you are interested in finding educational resources on modern day racism, let's get started...
(Feel free to save this blog on your timeline and come back to it as a reference guide)
Social Media Influencers
If you believe in the benefits of hearing voices which have a perspective different from your own, these are wonderful people to follow:
Rachel Cargle has a project called The Great Unlearn where she helps people with white skin learn about race in an authentic way. Just search her on facebook or instagram and dive right in.
Embracing Black Culture
Embracing Black Culture posts fun, humorous, and meaningful educational posts about black culture. If you have no black people in your life, this is a really great page to follow. It will help you get to know and love a culture which is not your own.
If you do not like reading, that's ok! If you have access to a phone which has access to apps, Libby allows you to plug in your library card number and listen to audio books for free!
A great place to start is White Fragility.
Here are two of my favorite quotes from Robin Diangelo:
“Racism is a system of advantage based on race. These advantages are referred to as white privilege...but let me be clear: stating that racism privileges whites does not mean that individual white people do not struggle or face barriers. It does mean that we do not face the particular barriers of racism.”
“The key to moving forward is what we do with our discomfort. We can use it as a door out - blame the messenger and disregard the message. Or we can use it as a door in by asking, Why does this unsettle me? What would it mean for me if this were true? How does this lens change my understanding of racial dynamics? How can my unease help reveal the unexamined assumptions I have been making? Is it possible that because I am white, there are some racial dynamics that I can’t see? Am I willing to consider that possibility? If I am not willing to do so, then why not?”
This book will start opening up the reflection process and allow processing to begin.
Next, I would recommend Where Do We Go From Here, which provides a more in depth analysis of where we've been and expert ideas for where we should go now.
A few favorite quotes:
“In the South [poor white Americans] have been deluded by race prejudice and largely remained aloof from common action. Ironically, with this posture they were fighting not only the Negro but themselves. Yet there are already signs of change. Without formal alliances, Negroes and whites have supported the same candidates in many de facto electoral coalitions in the South because each sufficiently served his own needs.”
“People struggling from the depths of society have not been equipped with knowledge of the science of social change. Only when they break out of the fog of self-denigration can they begin to discover the forms of action that influence events.”
“No great victories are won in a war for the transformation of a whole people without total participation.”
“Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”
Finally, for the beginner's track to education on racism, I would HIGHLY recommend Howard Zinn's The People's History of the United States.
This book walks through the history of the United States from the perspective of the people. He talks about how the rich few used racism as a tool to cause discord amongst the working class so that they would not unite against the powerful few. He also walks through moments of history where racism was put on hold when black and white working class citizens realized they needed to unite in order to demand, organize and create better working conditions and living conditions for themselves.
Interchangeable White Ladies - is a podcast where white ladies (all of them are teachers) have guests, read books, and talk through their journey as they learn about the impacts of racism and their role in it.
Go to Netflix and search Ava Duvernay. Everything she makes is amazing and speaks volumes on race.
13th is a great place to start.
I'm so excited that you've made it this far and are genuinely interested in learning more about modern day racism! I hope these recommendations help you get started.