The Resource Remedy
How antiracism resources represent a profoundly positive shift in the movement for racial justice
In the wake of the recent protests that followed the murder of George Floyd, I’ve noticed something online that you’ve probably noticed too.
If you’re on Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube at all, you’ve almost definitely seen some of these resources floating around the internet in the past few weeks. If you haven’t, here you go!
These resources are usually compilations of books, articles, and podcasts to check out, lists of artists, activists, and poets to follow, and links of videos, plays, and movies to watch — all with the goal of edifying and making people more antiracist.
This is a fabulous milestone worthy of celebration.
Because access to resources is the first step towards education, and education is the most durable avenue towards social change.
There’s something that feels qualitatively different in this particular wave of protests as compared to other protests throughout the history of the movement for racial justice. The protests in the US have been echoed in cities around the world as a show of solidarity, and we’ve already started to see legislators take actions to reduce the funding of violent police departments in several municipalities.
While I don’t think these resources are the most powerful thing to emerge from this most recent iteration of protests, I do think that they represent a sea change in the way people (especially white people) are thinking about racism.
Years ago, during the protests following Eric Garner’s murder, people were calling for police bodycams and separate tribunals for officers who violated their codes of conduct. Now, however, the focus is not on eliminating the “bad apples” from the police department, but rather on lessening the racism that we know exists in all of us.
As Robin DiAngelo notes in her book White Fragility, racism is a continuum, and we all exist on that continuum whether we know it or not. Our goal should not be to avoid the overt signs of racism, but to recognize the tens of thousands of structures we contribute to every day that make the world racially inequitable.
I’m excited to see all of these resources because it means that more people will start to take notice of these structures, and being aware of them means they’re one step closer to being dismantled.
I love libraries. I think they represent the best of humanity.
A library sits in a public forum and says “Come one, come all! I lift the lantern and shine the light of knowledge upon you! Shuffle off the yolk of ignorance and enlighten yourself within my walls!”
A library is a resource that enables people to freely educate themselves, which comes with a degree of moral responsibility.
If you have the means to educate yourself, and yet you fail to do so because of sheer laziness or unwillingness to learn, then you become morally culpable in your ignorance.
After all, once there’s a library in your town, you no longer have an excuse to be a dumbass.
As Deb Chachra says, “Any sufficiently advanced neglect is indistinguishable from malice.”
Because of the recent shared resources on antiracism that people have access to and the realization that the onus to learn is on them, I suspect that we’ll see more folks taking responsibility for their own edification.
This is doubly wonderful because it means that we’ll likely see fewer acts of individual racism levied against BIPOC, and it also means that as the young folks who are educating themselves today grow up, they’ll mature into positions of power that will institutionalize antiracism across society writ large.
So while I am devastated and heartbroken by what is only the latest instance of police brutality and racial injustice, I see the resources on the internet that have emerged as a harbinger of the positive changes to come.