“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist” – Angela Davis
The 2020 George Floyd protests sparked difficult conversations around the globe regarding racism. We saw civil unrest and new movements emerging across countries voicing out one of the oldest forms of discrimination that humans created: Racism. We saw people speaking up and organizations and institutions condemning racism and discrimination and talking about radical changes and hope. We saw brands and businesses introspecting and making changes in policies and racial practices.
Despite these movements, it will be a long run before we completely eradicate racial discrimination. Just recently we saw new protests emerging after Jacob Blake being shot by the police seven times on his back. The very fact that racial discrimination is a bitter reality for many individuals across the globe, calls for a check on our education and current understanding of the system. Why is it that certain people believe they have supremacy over another community? What can be done to eliminate this bias at the grassroots? Are you educating people in your family to eliminate such discrimination?
Here is a complete guide to help you and the people around you to educate yourself on racism. This guide is to develop empathy and correctly understand what it must be to walk a mile in the shoes of people who encounter such prejudice every day, understand their lives and how racial discrimination is a harsh reality for most people and how helpless they feel when discriminated by another individual who feels they are superior due to color, class and other insignificant reasons.
BOOKS TO READ:
1. The Bluest, Toni Morrison
A young Black girl’s journey as she struggles with society’s racial standards of beauty. She is mocked by other girls for her dark skin and prays everyday to be beautiful and normal like other girls. The book probes readers to think and reflect on powerful questions on race and class.
2. Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, Reni Eddo- Lodge
After a viral blog post on how discussions on race were led by individuals who were not affected by it, journalist Reni decided to write a book on the same. The book explores issues on racial history and white politics and the link between race and class. She also suggests a framework to acknowledge and battle racism.
3. White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo
DiAngelo explores the defense mechanisms that white people exhibit when being questioned about racism. The book urges readers to reflect on the many privileges associated with being fair or white and how prejudices and biases existing in the community can disrupt a system.
4. Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafetaria? By Beverly Tatum
Schools and educational institutes often witness teens and high school children sticking to their community groups rather than embracing diversity. At an age where children are coming to terms with their identity, such topics are a must to be educated. Inculcating diversity at a young age can help fix broken systems and help children be inclusive individuals when they grow up.
There have been books written on racism in India as well. Racism in Indian Country by Chavers, Dark Princess by W.E.B Du Bois and Caste and Race in India by G.S Ghury shed light on racial practices prevalent in India since olden times.
Surely books are one of the best ways to educate ourselves on a particular topic. But not everyone wants to read a 500-page book or a long essay. Movies, podcasts or TED talks are equally helpful to understand racial practices. Just Mercy (2019), Malcolm X (1992), BlacKKKlansman (2018), 12 years a slave (2013), Django Unchained (2012) are just a few of the movies which poignantly depict racism. Indians movies like Bala, Axone also shed light into prejudices and biases existing in our own country. The recent criticized Netflix show ‘Indian Matchmaking’ also reminds us of how skin color even today is considered as a very important factor in the Indian wedding industry.
Some podcasts that could provide more insight:
- The Diversity Gap
- The Code Switch Podcast
- About Race
These are merely resources for us to unlearn and re-learn and reflect on our practices and ideologies. A few ways each one of us can contribute:
- Research, Read and Learn
- Stand up for what is right, stand up against racist practices
- Be aware of your privilege
- Speak and initiate conversations, however difficult it may be
- Sign petitions and spread awareness
- Hold yourself accountable
- Think and reflect on your actions and words. Be mindful
- Practice inclusivity in your school, college and workplace
- Vote for leaders who are inclusive and advocate and practice equality
- Donate and support organisations actively working for such equality