Feministe Feedback: Suggestions for Anti-Racist Resources

A reader writes in:

Dear Feministe,

I am wondering if you would like to do a post for commenters to suggest resources for unlearning racism and the construction of whiteness. I’ve never taken sociology or women’s studies and I feel I should read a lot more in this area.

Suggestions? Ideas? Post in the comments.

And if you have a question for Feministe Feedback, send it to Feministe@gmail.com.

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27 comments for “Feministe Feedback: Suggestions for Anti-Racist Resources

  1. April 5, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    bell hooks’s Outlaw Culture and Black Looks are two books that I highly recommend that are both feminist and anti-racist; Tim Wise’s White Like Me is also worth a read.

  2. April 5, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Speaking of bell hooks, also check out Killing Rage, Ending Racism. It offers a vulnerable and almost embarrassing education on white supremacy (reading as a white person). Very educational and important.

  3. Michelle Smith
    April 6, 2010 at 12:03 am

    This, for me, was the catalyst article for my own personal growth against white privilege and inherent racism. The link is to a .pdf of Peggy McIntosh’s White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. It’s a very accessible article, even for those who never had the chance to take women’s studies or race studies classes.


  4. Lyndsay
    April 6, 2010 at 12:36 am

    I haven’t read it yet so I can’t tell you how interesting it is but The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter looks like a good book for this.

  5. Renae
    April 6, 2010 at 12:41 am


  6. cq
    April 6, 2010 at 1:06 am

    I would like to second the Peggy McIntosh essay as a good starting place. I would also suggest looking for anti-racism groups in your community. Depending on where you live, there is some good stuff going on around the country. I am most familiar with the Southeast, where Southerners on New Ground (SONG) is doing some excellent community organizing work, and if you’re anywhere nearby they are worth checking out. http://www.southernersonnewground.org/

    I will also put in a plug for make/shift magazine. I think they do a really excellent job of making intersectionality and feminism readable and thought-provoking. Race and anti-racism are very present in the articles I’ve seen published in make/shift. It only comes out about twice a year, but you’d be supporting a great indy feminist mag! http://www.makeshiftmag.com/

  7. April 6, 2010 at 3:07 am

    I second http://www.racialicious.com/ which was probably my first exposure to anti-racist blogging and is now, years later, still one of my first go-to blogs to read. I find their articles articulate and thought provoking and even though I mostly lurk, they have one of the best commenting communities I can think of. I love seeing what their readers have to say almost as much as the articles themselves. I also dig the kind of niche pop-culture angle they have. Where else can you go to read not just about current events and topical issues through an anti-racist lens but also things like comics, sci-fi, and fandom.

    Within the last year I also started reading http://www.racewire.org/ which is the blog for ColorLines and they are just unabashedly awesome and an excellent news resource for race and politics.

    Specifically discussing whiteness, I often read http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/ which is NOT the same blog as Stuff White People Like. It’s basically one white guy’s blog about things that we as white people may do, often unknowingly, that perpetuate racism. Things that often times our privilege prevents us from seeing as racist. And while there have been a handful of posts that have been pointed out as problematic and of actually illustrating some of the “common white tendencies” he tries to talk about (a point with which I agree), overall I really dig what this guy is doing. He’s got some great regular commenters who aren’t afraid to call him out if somethings a bit off, and I’ve never seen him blow off criticism. And the blog has definitely helped me identify some of my own “common white tendencies” and, in general, it makes me happy just to see a white person actively discussing and taking on whiteness like that.

  8. Siah
    April 6, 2010 at 3:15 am

    I think Stuffwhitepeopledo.com is incredibly confronting and educational, not only for those wishing to un-learn racism but also for those of us who grew up thinking a “color-blind” society is actually a good thing.

  9. April 6, 2010 at 5:07 am

    Seconding bell hooks’s Outlaw Culture. I learned a lot from Feminist Theory From Margin To Center, too, another book in the feminist/anti-racist camp.

    Beverly Daniel Tatum’s Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria is worth checking out, too.

  10. April 6, 2010 at 5:47 am

    Sparkymonster on LJ keeps a list called Links for Clueless White People.

  11. Jadey
    April 6, 2010 at 7:51 am

    All of my top go-to starting places have been mentioned, but I can reiterate for emphasis: 1) EVERYTHING bell hooks, 2) Racialicious (especially their frequent linkspams and guest posts which provide excellent avenues to other anti-racism resources – the world is your anti-oppression oyster!), 3) Starkeymonster’s links for clueless white people.

    Other recommendations are (and some are 101 links that explain basic things and some are voices speaking for themselves that are valuable to listen to and some are both; many also cover more topics than racism and race alone): The Angry Black Woman, who has her own required reading page; The Unapologetic Mexican, particularly his Glosario; Restructure!; Resist Racism; Transgriot; and the suggested reading links on Allywork (note: this site has not been updated in a while).

    For those coming from a fannish perspective (specifically sci-fi/fantasy fan culture, as well as general online participatory fandom), there is also the incredible number of essays produced during Racefail ’09, most of which can be accessed at Ann Somerville’s round-up (with context!). Rydra Wong also has an on-going round-up of the various fandom discussions/debates on race (not including racefail, which got its own page for being so damned long). These may not be of use to someone really not interested in media- and fandom-oriented discourse (although some are more general than that), but given that fandom can be a clusterfuck of fail half the time, some incredible work has been inspired in direct opposition to that fail.

    These are all the resources I have found since being confronted with the reality of white privilege. I have learned the most by lurking, reading, listening, following links, watching discussions unfold, watching other people make mistakes and making my own (the former is *much* easier), and genuinely challenging my assumptions without giving into anger and anxiety and taking other people’s representations of their own experiences at face value, especially when coming from positions different from my own. I actually recommend reading comment threads, even the really unpleasant and nasty ones so long as there’s still some kind of discourse going on (and providing they are not personally triggering), because there are few better lessons that seeing one’s own arguments coming out of someone else’s mouth and then seeing them smacked down, and eventually learning to recognize and smack them down on one’s own. When it comes to recognizing and confronting privilege, ego and self-interest will always try to get in the way, and it’s a good idea to grapple with that in private first, rather than jumping in headfirst (although I know different people will have different styles).

    Resources like the Glosario and the various bingo cards floating around are an excellent way of cutting through the bullshit to the patterns of racist and oppressive commentary that persist ad nauseam – if you ever find yourself (as I have found myself) talking like a bingo card, that’s a major red flag. Watching and learning from active conversations (or archives of former active conversations) is a great way to prepare for eventually getting directly involved in the conversation.

    Mastery is a process, not an end-point.

  12. Jadey
    April 6, 2010 at 7:56 am

    Two other links that I consider incredibly important, lest I get too comfortable where I am:

    Kil Ja Kim’s The White Anti-Racist is an Oxymoron: An Open Letter to White Anti-Racists

    Mai’a’s we dont need another anti-racism 101

    Proof positive of the importance of listening when the first impulse is to argue.

  13. Megara
    April 6, 2010 at 8:29 am

    I wouldn’t necessarily start with this, but once you’ve had some of the foundational stuff that is being listed “The lies my history teacher told me” actually really helped me examine my own racism, as well as the racism that is embedded within our culture and history. It goes far beyond the traditional textbook (which stops at how we were awful to Native Americans and enslaved Africans), and really made me think about our cultural narratives about these groups. For example, the author talks about how we portray Native Americans as all the same, or how we treat them as purely victimized (yes, they were victimized, but they also made choices and decisions and weren’t just a victim stereotype). It was an interesting way of confronting our Eurocentrism for me.

  14. Jadey
    April 6, 2010 at 8:41 am

    (Eeps! It used to be that a comment in moderation showed up as “In Moderation” and was visible to the original commenter but no one else until the mod decision was made. Has this changed, or was my first comment automatically rejected for for having too many links? I can try again if that’s the case. I just can’t see whether the comment made it to the mod queue or was vaporized – it never showed up after I submitted it.)

    • April 6, 2010 at 8:54 am

      Jadey, comments that contain lots of links often get sent straight off to the spam queue, since a vast majority of comments we get with lots of links are spam. I think it’s somewhere around 3-5 links that comments start getting misidentified. I just released yours from spam.

  15. KTanna
    April 6, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Personally, aside from the readings from the Women’s Studies class I took, I received good perspective from novels I’ve read, including “To Kill A Mockingbird” and Ellison’s “Invisible Man.”

    Also, I would recommend spending more time in areas with a lot of diversity. I received an education this way that no reading material could compare with; I’ve been living in downtown Detroit and attending an urban university for nearly the past 2 years. Listening to all the BS comments I get from suburban people like, “OMG is it SCARY living/going to school in DETROIT?” is really, um, educational.

    Answer: No, it’s not scary, and I feel that it is great to finally be able to interact on a daily basis with a diverse range of people. All you need is to be prepared with a basic level of common sense, as with ANY city.

    The point here is that living and interacting with a diverse range of people teaches you that people are just PEOPLE– they’re generally nice, with a few assholes thrown in the mix of course, no matter what the skin color in question is.

  16. Jadey
    April 6, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Thank you, Cara. I’ll break it into smaller chunks next time so as not to appear too spammy.

  17. Katie
    April 6, 2010 at 10:41 am

    @7 – the blog stuffwhitepeopledo was started by one guy, but is actually a group blog with many different writers.

  18. PrettyAmiable
    April 6, 2010 at 10:41 am

    I also recommend Racism without Racists by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva. There’s a limited preview on google books. I would recommend it as the second or third book you read as I think the concepts are difficult to really grasp if you haven’t confronted modern racism and white privilege yet, but it discusses the harmful effects of “color-blind” racism.

    I also like Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Beverly Daniel Tatum. She’s offered my favorite definition of racism which is that you’re a racist if you benefit from being in a racial society. She does it simply for the sake of having a concept to worth with for the rest of the book, but I think by phrasing it in that way, it makes it easier for white people to acknowledge racism (rather than get defensive over it) and provides a framework for how we can begin addressing racism.

  19. Holy!
    April 6, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Most white people will not acknowledge racism because they benefit from it materially. It’s a big privilege to have in our dog-eat-dog capitalist economy. Secondly, the biggest roadblocks for minority groups like blacks and Latinos don’t have much to do with weather or not some white person confronts their own privileges. They are all about economics.

    The very heart of our economic system assures inequality. It’s no accident that African Americans fill the worst inner cities in the country. Nothing less than a real change in our economic system will get them out either. Intellectuals like William Julius Wilson have realized this. It’s now also a structural and a cultural problem. Things like deindustrialization have disproportionately hurt African Americans. Deindustrialization is not really racist, it’s a structural economic change. However, the end result is the same. Economic changes lead to changes in culture and in the family structure. As long as we maintain the same economic status quo, inequality is assured.

  20. KTanna
    April 6, 2010 at 11:16 am

    ^ Very true. Urban sprawl has a lot to do with it, too; check out the NY Times book review on William Julius Wilson’s book “More than just race: being black and poor in the inner city.”

    From the review:
    “Meanwhile, economic and demographic changes that had nothing to do with race aggravated the problems of the ghetto. Encouraged by recently built highways and inexpensive real estate, middle-class residents and industry left the inner city to relocate to roomier and less costly digs in the suburbs during the ’60s and ’70s. Those jobs that remained available to urban blacks further dwindled as companies replaced well-paid and unionized American workers with automation and cheaper overseas labor.”

  21. Holy!
    April 6, 2010 at 11:33 am


    Thanks for posting that. Along with “More Than Just Race,” he’s laid out similar arguments in “The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, The Underclass, and Public Policy,” and “When Work Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor.”

    Not long before he was killed, Martin Luther King fully grasped the connection between economic inequality and racial and social justice. He eventually spoke against the economic order of the day. It’s interesting that today, while we honor Martin Luther King’s advocacy against racial injustice, hardly ever are we reminded of his campaign against the vicissitudes of the American economic system.

  22. LSG
    April 6, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Thank you for the resources, everybody! This has been something I’ve really been grappling with in the last year, and I’m excited to go look into your suggestions.

    A few things that have been helpful to me —
    Love stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com, racialicious.com, and lots of others that have been mentioned. I believe some of the early Stuff White People Do posts have long lists of resources, too.

    I’ve also found that reading the fiction and poetry of nonwhite authors and poets — W.E.B. Dubois, Chinua Achebe, Amy Tan, Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, and many many more — have helped me de-centralize myself and challenge my conception of my own race, even though they don’t go step-by-step through “here’s how to think about your whiteness.” Besides, great poetry and stories!

    For some heftier theory, bell hooks is amazing, and so is Audre Lorde (the little I’ve read of her).

    I’ve also had “a-HA!” moments with Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and Stephen Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man, which is a response to the horrible book The Bell Curve and (basically) describes how for centuries white men have been coming up with “objective” measurements of intelligence that are objective at all, and using them to “prove” that white men are superior to everyone else. Both those books are pretty large and require some reading commitment, but they’re fantastic.

    For explicit writing about whiteness, How the Jews Became White Folks by Karen Brodkin was a revelation to me. I’ve been trying to find Jensen’s The Heart of Whiteness in local libraries — I’ve heard it’s amazing.

  23. April 6, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    “@7 – the blog stuffwhitepeopledo was started by one guy, but is actually a group blog with many different writers.”

    My apologies, I had thought it was more of the dynamic that it was his blog and occasionally he would have guest posts on, or cross post something. I’m very sorry that my initial description diminished the contributions of those other writers and in the future I’ll definitely refer to it properly.

  24. Medea
    April 6, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    White, by Richard Dyer. Very well-written historical overview.

  25. Cassie
    April 7, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Definitely Racialicious.com and Stuff White People Do. SWPD lists newbie resources here: http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2010/02/commenting-guidelines.html

    I’d also recommend Derailing for Dummies, “a sarcastic guide to derailing conversations with and about members of marginalized groups,” which has mysteriously disappeared from http://www.derailingfordummies.com/, but you can find a cached version here: http://birdofparadox.wordpress.com/derailing-for-dummies-google-cache-reconstruction/

  26. PrettyAmiable
    April 7, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    LSG – I LOVE The Mismeasure of Man. I recommend to anyone on this list who has not yet read this book to pick it up.

    If you’re looking at other pieces of fiction that don’t center on white guys, can I also recommend Zora Neale Hurston. Their Eyes Were Watching God is obscenely amazing.

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