Part 1: Notes for people new to anti-racism and anti-oppression work
Updated: Jul 2, 2020
In the past days, in the wake of a series of events that has shaken us and that has provoked a new consciousness in many about the urgency of addressing racial injustice in America, we've seen a great deal of demand for education and resources about the issue from white folks wanting to learn more. The Greater Us is happy to offer a list of resources for those interested in learning more. Many of these lists exist on the internet, and our intent is to offer one that give a helpful overview and is not overwhelming.
First coming to an awareness about this work can be daunting. The revelation that there was a great deal that you didn't know can bring up a host of emotions, ranging from anger at the limited or censored knowledge that was imparted to you to guilt that you turned away from learning more so long, to sadness and fear for people and groups you care about. Knowing how to start and where to go can be difficult.
This work is a journey. The things that we can all educate ourselves about are constantly changing and emerging. There is no achieving perfection, no graduation, no end point. It is as much about cultivating knowledge as it is about learning to be different in relation to other people.
This work is deeply uncomfortable. All of us been brought up in ways that mean that certain aspects of our identities have been prioritized-- and this is especially true for white people in the United States. Undoing the effects of this programming means purposely engaging with things that will feel upsetting, destabilizing, and uncomfortable.
This work demands humility. You do not and cannot know everything there is to know and will not act perfectly at all times. You will make mistakes. The question is, what happens after this mistake? Learning to take in information about what you could be doing differently with grace and humility is a skill. Readily admitting that you are still on a journey and being open to hearing things that marginalized people want to tell you creates an opening for them to say it and for you to learn from it.
This work cannot be done alone. By definition, learning to be different in relation to different people requires contact with people. A mistake that many white people take is to put the burden of educating them on people of color. Resources abound, as do organizations that can put white people in touch with other white people who are on a similar journey.
As a general rule of thumb: listen to and center the voices of people of color when learning about these issues, and do processing and emotional work with other white people or in white affinity groups.