By Nina Berman on May 17th, 2018
Resources for White People to Learn and Talk About Race and Racism
In October 2017, Fractured Atlas began meeting in race-based caucuses. Several months later, we shared a list of the resources that the White Caucus had been reading and discussing in the hopes that that resource list could help other white people on the long journey of anti-racism.
Many of the resources we originally shared came from Tiffany Wilhelm, the White Caucus guest facilitator from July through December 2017. Nicola Carpenter brought together the first iteration of this list in May 2018 and we've updated it in July 2020.
Now, in 2020, we’re seeing a new urgency around anti-racism. Frankly, a lot more white people are realizing how much work we have to do to understand the ways that racism structures our world, and the part that we have to play in dismantling it.
For everyone realizing just how much they don’t know, a reading list can offer direction. But even the best-intentioned anti-racist reading lists have their limits. Reading lists like this one (and like the one we shared about anti-racism in the arts and nonprofits) are jumping-off points.
We want to be clear that when we talk about what it means to “do the work” of anti-racism, reading lists aren’t “the work.” Reading lists are for catching yourself up to speed, for educating yourself so that when you go into spaces (professionally, personally, politically) to do the work, you understand the context of your own actions and of the broader history of racism. Reading lists are like the required summer reading before school starts.
A lot of the resources we looked at early on came from white thinkers and white organizers. It’s important for white people to take on a lot of this educational labor. But if white people are only ever reading resources written by and for white people, we’ve only reified whiteness as the central concern in racism. White people who want to become more anti-racist need to seek out Black radical voices.
Here are some of the resources that have been important to members of the White Caucus at Fractured Atlas from 2017, plus a few additions that we’ve added over time. We encourage you to read the resources that resonate, recognize that no document is perfect, and that ultimately they are all best thought of as tools to give you and your white peers a shared vocabulary for talking about racism.
The Role of White People in Anti-Racist Work
- What is the Role for White People Working for Racial Justice in This Current Period? by the Organization for Black Struggle and the Anti-Racist Collective
- Racism, Whiteness, and Burnout in Antiracism Movements: How White Racial Justice Activists Elevate Burnout in Racial Justice Activists of Color in the United States by Paul C. Gorski (Equity Literacy Institute) and Noura Erakat (George Mason University)
- White People Hate Protest zine by Mariame Kaba
- Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice Edited by Jonathan Osler
- From White Racist to White Anti-Racist: The Life-long Journey Tema Okun
- The Work Is Not The Workshop: Talking and Doing, Visibility and Accountability in the White Anti-Racist Community by Catherine Jones
- Whites Only: SURJ And The Caucasian Invasion Of Racial Justice Spaces by DiDi Delgado, Black Lives Matter-Cambridge
- What is White Supremacy? by Elizabeth Martinez
- White Supremacy Culture by Tema Okun
- The Subtle Linguistics of Polite White Supremacy by Yawo Brown
- Seeing White podcast by Scene On Radio
- White People, It’s Time To Prioritize Justice Over Civility by Tauriq Moosa
- The Costs of Racism to White People by Paul Kivel
- Racial Identity Caucusing: A Strategy for Building Anti-Racist Collectives by Crossroads
- Caucus and Affinity Groups by Racial Equity Tools
- Principles for White Affinity Study Groups
- Tools for White Anti-Racist Organizing by the Catalyst Project
- SURJ Political Education Site
- Anti-Oppressive Facilitation by AORTA Collective
- Facilitation Tools for Meetings and Workshops by Seeds for Change
- Social Justice Toolbox
- Dismantling Racism Works Web Workbook
Talking about Racism
- Detour-Spotting for White Anti-Racists by jona olsson
- Talking Points — Effective Strategies for Confronting Racism in Conversation by WHAT’S UP?! Pittsburgh
- White Fragility and the Rules of Engagement by Robin DiAngelo
- SURJ Guide to Talking White Supremacy
- Calling In: A Quick Guide on How and When by Sian Ferguson
Historical and Cultural Context of Racism
- How to Cool It, interview with James Baldwin after MLK’s assassination
- Freedom is a Constant Struggle, speech by Angela Davis
- Slavery By Another Name, directed by Samuel D. Pollard
- 13th, directed by Ava DuVernay
- Uncivil podcast, hosted by Jack Hitt and Chenjerai Kumanyika
- Code Switch podcast, hosted by Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby
- The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah Jones (plus, they have a podcast!)
We sincerely hope that these resources can give you and your peers (professionally or personally) a useful framework for beginning anti-racist work. As our White Caucus continues to meet and as we as an organization recognize our responsibility to address racism in the arts, in nonprofits, and in our own workplace, we are growing and changing.You can follow what we’ve been writing about anti-racism, including pay transparency as anti-racism and next steps for organizations looking to become more anti-racist.
About Nina Berman
Nina Berman is an arts industry worker and ceramicist based in New York City, currently working as Associate Director, Communications and Content at Fractured Atlas. She holds an MA in English from Loyola University Chicago. At Fractured Atlas, she shares tips and strategies for navigating the art world, interviews artists, and writes about creating a more equitable arts ecosystem. Before joining Fractured Atlas, she covered the book publishing industry for an audience of publishers at NetGalley. When she's not writing, she's making ceramics at Centerpoint Ceramics in Brooklyn.