Hello, Friends! Hello, White Christians & White Yogis!
I’m spending time learning about how to work alongside Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color, because as Christians and as Yogis we are called to work toward union. We are called to live (out in the world) what we practice (on the mat and in the pew) – unity & love. I’m inviting you to learn alongside me.
A Place To Start
A place to start is Guide to Allyship, created by Amelie Lamot, where I found one of many helpful definitions of what it means to be an ally. From author Roxane Gay in her article for Marie Claire, “On Making Black Lives Matter:”
Black people do not need allies. We need people to stand up and take on the problems borne of oppression as their own, without remove or distance.
We need people to do this even if they cannot fully understand what it’s like to be oppressed for their race or ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, class, religion, or other marker of identity.
We need people to use common sense to figure out how to participate in social justice.
“Being an ally doesn’t necessarily mean you fully understand what it feels like to be oppressed. It means you’re taking on the struggle as your own.
A individual from an underinvested community cannot easily cast away the weight of their identity (or identities) shaped through oppression on a whim. They carry that weight every single day, for better or for worse. An ally understands that this is a weight that they, too, must be willing to carry and never put down.”
Furthering Your Education & Taking Action
Below is a list of resources from NPR’s Code Switch. It’s a starting off point to help us begin to take ownership of our education.
There are at least a couple of ways to approach these titles:
1) begin with the topics and titles we’re drawn to, and then moving on from there.
2) Begin with titles and descriptions that make you uncomfortable or defensive.
This list is long but not comprehensive. There are so many more resources out there for us to learn from. If you happen to feel overwhelmed (like I sometimes do), remember that these works weren’t produced in a single day, and we don’t have to read, watch, or listen to everything this week or this month. In fact, if we are committed to working alongside our marginalized and oppressed brothers and sisters, this is the work of a lifetime. It is not a passing fad.
I’m encouraging us to take enough time to let the truths of these resources sink in. As much as I wish I would’ve been engaging with these texts for my last 20 years, I know that racial and social justice won’t be served by me simply skimming through, checking things off the list. The work will be better served if I honor the truths in these resources by integrating them into my experience: Sit with the stories and lessons. Let them sink in. Notice my reactions. Welcome the discomfort. Get familiar with how systems of oppression manifest in me. Let the discomfort teach me.
Then, after learning from each resource – and my reactions to it – ask myself:
“What is mine to do?”
And then take the actions.
I am inviting you to join me.
This information comes directly from the full article, which you can read here: This List Of Books, Films And Podcasts About Racism Is A Start, Not A Panacea.
Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Raceby Beverly Daniel Tatum
This classic text on the psychology of racism was re-released with new content in 2017, 20 years after its original publication. By providing straight talk on self-segregation and inequality in schools, Tatum shows the importance — and possibility — of cross-racial dialogues starting young.
Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
A finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in History, Race for Profit chronicles how the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 failed to stop racist, exploitative mortgage lending practices. Since the policy was supposed to be a balm to the 1960s uprisings — much like the ones we’re seeing now — it serves as a reminder to remain vigilant when policymakers promise change.
A Terrible Thing To Waste: Environmental Racism And Its Assault On The American Mind by Harriet A. Washington
From lead poisoning to toxic waste, Americans of color are disproportionately harmed by environmental hazards. This is detrimental to physical health — air pollution is linked with higher COVID-19 death rates, according to Harvard researchers. But Washington also argues that environmental racism is causing cognitive decline in communities of color. A deconstruction of IQ and an indictment of EPA rollbacks, A Terrible Thing To Waste is a stirring read.
From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America by Elizabeth Hinton
The origins of mass incarceration — which disproportionately puts black people behind bars — are often pinned on Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. But Hinton argues the carceral state was erected “by a consensus of liberals and conservatives who privileged punitive responses to urban problems as a reaction to the civil rights movement.” The 1965 Law Enforcement Assistance Act, part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society plan, led to today’s police militarization. This account of history poses relevant questions for today’s land of the free.
Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police and Punish the Poorby Virginia Eubanks
Algorithms are made by humans, so they are susceptible to human biases. From deciding which neighborhoods get policed to who gets welfare benefits, discrimination has gone digital. By scrutinizing statistical models and telling personal stories, Eubanks shows that machines do not correct racist systems — they only shift blame.
The End of Policingby Alex S. Vitale
In the wake of high-profile cases of police brutality, the same ideas for reform are trotted out — implicit bias training, body cameras, police-community dialogues. But Vitale argues that this fails to get to the root of the problem — policing itself. While calls to abolish the police are often met with skepticism, academics and activists have long-discussed alternatives to addressing homelessness, domestic disputes and substance abuse. A free ebook of The End of Policing is available now. (And you can read Code Switch editor extraordinaire Leah Donnella’s conversation with Vitale here.)
Blackballed: The Black Vote and U.S. Democracyby Darryl Pinckney
As young Americans take to the streets to say black lives matter, they’re often told to vote. While voting is important, it’s also important to remember how black political representation has been chipped away by voter ID laws, gerrymandering and felon disenfranchisement. Blackballed addresses the struggle for voting rights and for racial equality more broadly, drawing on Pinckney’s own experiences and writings of civil rights leaders to create a complicated picture of black political identity.
Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Classby Ian Haney López
“Entitlement mentality.” “Quotas.” “Welfare queens.” From Barry Goldwater to Bill Clinton to the Tea Party, politicians have relied on racially coded language to win over white voters and decimate social programs. Dog Whistle Politics makes the case that not only does this strategy endanger people of color, but it also hinders economic mobility for all Americans.
Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecologyby Deirdre Cooper Owens
The foundational knowledge of American gynecology relied on the exploitation of enslaved black women’s bodies. In Medical Bondage, Cooper Owens centers the stories of black women that have been overshadowed by the “discoveries” of white male doctors who experimented on them. Baseless theories about black inferiority and higher pain tolerance still permeate medical schools today.
Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discriminationby Alondra Nelson
The Black Panther Party is most remembered for its militant action, but health care was also a major pillar of its activism. The People’s Free Medical Clinics tested for hypertension and assisted with housing and employment. Its outreach also brought attention to rampant discrimination within mainstream medicine. Nelson writes that the Black Panther Party understood health as a human right, echoing today’s fight for universal health care. You can read Body and Soul online for free.
The U.S. imprisons more people than any other country in the world, and a third of U.S. prisoners are black. In this infuriating documentary, director Ava DuVernay argues that mass incarceration, Jim Crow and slavery are “the three major racialized systems of control adopted in the United States to date.”
I Am Not Your Negro
Narrated by the words of James Baldwin with the voice of Samuel L. Jackson, I Am Not Your Negro connects the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter. Although Baldwin died nearly 30 years before the film’s release, his observations about racial conflict are as incisive today as they were when he made them.
The 2014 killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Mo. was one of the deaths that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement. Frustrated by media coverage of unrest in Ferguson, co-directors Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis documented how locals felt about police in riot gear filling their neighborhoods with tear gas. As one resident says, “They don’t tell you the fact that the police showed up to a peaceful candlelight vigil…and boxed them in, and forced them onto a QuikTrip lot.”
LA 92 is about the Los Angeles riots that occurred in response to the police beating of Rodney King. The film is entirely comprised of archival footage — no talking heads needed. It’s chilling to watch the unrest of nearly 30 years ago, as young people still take to the streets and shout, “No justice, no peace.”
Teach Us All
Over 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, American schools are still segregated. Teach Us All explains why that is — school choice, residential segregation, biased admissions processes — and talks to advocates working for change. Interspersing interviews from two Little Rock Nine members, the documentary asks how far we’ve really come.
Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise
In this two-part series, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. chronicles the last 50 years of black history through a personal lens. Released days after the 2016 election, some themes of the documentary took on a deeper meaning amid Donald Trump’s win. “Think of the civil rights movement to the present as a second Reconstruction — a 50-year Reconstruction — that ended last night,” Gates said in an interview with Salon.
Floodlinesfrom The Atlantic
An audio documentary about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Floodlines is told from the perspective of four New Orleanians still living with the consequences of governmental neglect. As COVID-19 disproportionately infects and kills Americans of color, the story feels especially relevant. “As a person of color, you always have it in the back of your mind that the government really doesn’t care about you,” said self-described Katrina overcomer Alice Craft-Kerney.
1619from The New York Times
“In August of 1619, a ship carrying more than 20 enslaved Africans arrived in the English colony of Virginia. America was not yet America, but this was the moment it began.” Hosted by recent Pulitzer Prize winner Nikole Hannah-Jones, the 1619 audio series chronicles how black people have been central to building American democracy, music, wealth and more.
Intersectionality Matters! from The African American Policy Forum
Hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a leading critical race theorist who coined the term “intersectionality,” this podcast brings the academic term to life. Each episode brings together lively political organizers, journalists and writers. This recent episode on COVID-19 in prisons and other areas of confinement is a must-listen.
Throughline from NPR
Every week at Throughline, our palsRund Abdelfatah and Ramtin Arablouei “go back in time to understand the present.” To understand the history of systemic racism in America, we recommend “American Police,” “Mass Incarceration” and “Milliken v. Bradley.”