Inside of the classroom, my goal is to create a safe space for my students to learn about and explore the uncomfortable and challenging topics of inequality, race and racism. Outside of the classroom, my goal is mostly to maintain my sanity through practices of self-care and spirituality, nurture my creative expression, drink good wine and engage in compassionate action in my relationships and communities.
While my role as an educator and researcher involves teaching and writing on race and social theory, in my civilian life as a writer and regular gal, I have no obligation whatsoever to engage people on issues of race. To the contrary, I have the right to set my own rules of engagement, establish my boundaries and clarify what is and is not acceptable for me. This is especially so given that “talking about race” (and more specifically, anti-blackness and white supremacy) is not merely some sport or hobby for most people of color. It’s a painful topic that speaks to relations of power that all too often result in unarmed black men, women and children being killed by “officers of the peace”, the everyday reality of racial bias and discrimination and the fact that blacks only have access to a tiny fraction of the wealth possessed by our white neighbors, friends and co-workers. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
New Blacks aside, I feel like the average person of color with any degree of awareness already has a PhD in race just from surviving in a racist society. But wide swaths of the population 1) do not experience racial oppression 2) have not reflected on the topic seriously and/or 3) routinely devalue the perspectives and knowledge of people of color.
It’s become abundantly clear to me as my followers on social media and the blog have multiplied into the thousands that I am not interested in talking to just any-ol-body about race or other axes of oppression. Even beyond the racist ideology, abuse and bullying that anti-racists (and especially anti-racist POC and WOC) encounter online, the reality is that even well-meaning anonymous internet people make the mistake of believing they are entitled to “talk about race” without first educating themselves on the topic. Thus, for the sake of my own self-care, I make no apologies for the fact that the only public conversation about racial issues I’m willing to have on social media is one that is explicitly anti-racist and rather advanced in terms of the level of knowledge and awareness that I expect from my interlocutors.
Continuing a theme in my recent writings on the harm of racial ignorance, you can find below some resources for those wishing to have a more informed conversation about race:
Non-Exhaustive-List of Reading You Should* Explore** Before Talking To Me About Race***
1. Sister Outsider – Audre Lorde
2. Possessive Investment in Whiteness – George Lipsitz
3. The Racial Contract – Charles Mills
4. Together We Are One: Honoring Our Diversity, Celebrating Our Connection – Thich Nhat Hanh
5. When Affirmative Action Was White – Ira Katznelson
6. White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack – Peggy McIntosh
7. Black Feminist Knowledge – Patricia Hill Collins
8. Good White People – Shannon Sullivan
9. Writing Beyond Race – bell hooks
10. The History of White People – Nell Irvin Painter
11. The Nature of Race – Ann Morning
12. Killing the Black Body – Dorothy Roberts
13. Ain’t No Makin’ It: Aspirations and Achievement in a Low Income Neighborhood – Jay Macleod
14. Making Race and Nation – Anthony Marx
15. Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement – Kimberlé Crenshaw, Ed.
16. A Red Record – Ida B. Wells
17. Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom – Heather Williams
18. The Ethnic Project: Turning Racial Fictions into Ethnic Factions – Vilna Bashi Treitler
19. Conquest: Sexual Violence And American Indian Genocide – Andrea Smith
20. White Supremacy and Racism in the Post-Civil Rights Era – Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
*Note that this is really entry-level stuff here. The list doesn’t even begin to really address global race relations, queer studies or the really hard-hitting stuff on intersectionality, work in the humanities and so on.
**I am aware that being able to buy books is a luxury. This is why I advocate for using libraries and inter-library loan wherever possible.
***Yes, I also know that having time to read books is also a privilege. That said, so is “talking about race” with people of color. If you have time to do that, you have time to read a book.
Blessings and Namasté.