Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

For white people considering anti-racism, when your Black friends and colleagues have had enough

Alanah Nichole compiles people, accounts and shops to watch, follow, and patronize to give your Black friends and colleagues a much-needed break.

A youth-led protest in Baltimore, 2020.

(Photo by Jerrod Clayton)

This is a guest post by creative consultant, organizer and artist Alanah Nichole.
No one’s going to say it, but I will: You don’t pay Black people enough  — or at all — for the emotional labor and anti-racism work that some of you are asking for.

If you read that first line and you’re uncomfortable, this is a good first step to addressing how you’re approaching Black people with anti-racism questions in 2020.

If you’ve been under a rock for the last few months, the U.S. has been at civil unrest due to the recent police killings of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Sean Reed and Breonna Taylor. Baltimore just wrapped its fifth day of protests related to these deaths.

Unless you’ve hired the Black person you’re asking to do so, we shouldn’t be consulting you, your family, friends or our co-workers on what the next steps should be in your personal or professional lives to have accountability for race-related issues or to start your anti-racism work. It can be extremely uncomfortable and trying to assert that it can be exhausting on top of office politics, existing social dynamics, or daily Black life. Sometimes the questions can be re-traumatizing, unethical, or just plain unnecessary, because…

Black people aren’t ALL experts on Anti-Racism.

Blackness is not a monolith. While our skin may be similar, our backgrounds, identity and social affiliations are all very different. It’s safe to assume we’re all tired of unjust police brutality against people that share our skin color, but we’re not your personal equity or inclusion advisors. In general, being Black gives you some perspective on how the world around us functions or doesn’t around the color of our skin.  To think we have to share those perspectives is entitlement or privilege. White privilege refers to societal privilege that benefits white people over non-white people, particularly if they are otherwise under the same social, political or economic circumstances.

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Many authors and experts have embarked on the journey of debunking the tensions I’m talking about. I’ve gone forth in compiling a list to affirm that NO, you can’t pick our brains, but you can graze on the content of the people on this list to an extent.

A few tips on engaging these suggestions and people:

  • Receive the offerings and only ask for more if absolutely necessary or warranted in the person’s descriptions.
  • Please keep in mind that some of the folks suggested identify as Black and have every right to decline to do further work for or with you on your anti-racism journey.
  • Even when they aren’t Black proximity to these sensitive issues and the work surrounding it can be exhausting, proceed with that in mind.

Here’s a look at Baltimore folks to follow, shop from and seek out:

Greedy Reads

Here are some books on race available to order at my favorite Baltimore-based book shop. A huge shoutout to my friend Irene Bantigue for the recommendation of this cute shop in my neighborhood. They are currently offering free local delivery and nationwide shipping.

  • “The Fire This Time” by Jesmyn Ward
  • “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison
  • “The Fire Is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate Over Race in America” by Nicholas Buccola
  • “Women, Race, and Class” by Angela Davis

  • Bonus: 15% of the proceeds from certain anti-racism books will be going to Anti-Racism research until June 6.

Joyell Arvella (Ella/She)

Feel free to follow, email, or pursue a conversation with Baltimore-based womanist and professor Joyell Arvella and you will be met with the vacation responder your Black friend or colleague wants to make applicable. It reads “Away to Center Racial Trauma Healing.” I love to see this type of boundary setting, and I’m personally inspired by it. I met Joyell and respect the work Ella does in leading courses like “Horizontal Hostility” or  “Ego Trippin: 28 Days of Unlearning Internalized Oppression,” for which the registration is now closed. But alas, Joyell will be on “Thoughtful Thursdays” by Curios, founded by Michaële Antoine, on Instagram at 7 p.m. Thursday. Curios equips leaders on having uncomfortable conversations. They host Thoughtful Thursdays every week, and always have a new guest.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CA5oex5j9w7/?igshid=1daz2iny09h52

Follow E. Cadoux (They/Them)

I met E maybe two years ago in my arts and culture work. We both shared an office building in what were our respective roles in the Baltimore social change landscape at that time. E and their Instagram posts are calling a thing a thing. E. Cadoux has spent years as a facilitator, multimedia performance artist, and chef. They are passionate about artwork and education that center bodily autonomy and liberation. Here are two recent Instagram posts from E titled, “White Culture is Violent”and “White Culture Writing Prompts.”

Baltimore Collegetown Network

A couple of my good friends — Kirsten Brinlee and Kae Monsanto —  marketing director, are on staff and getting it right at Baltimore Collegetown as executive director and marketing director, respectively. Their usual mission is to bring area colleges and universities together with government, business and community leaders to develop and market Baltimore as a vibrant place to live and learn. They are responding actively to the times by hosting a Care Circle for students and program alumni on Zoom  on June 4 at 4 p.m. Join them for an open discussion about the recent protests of police brutality and the pandemic.

Email them at info@baltimorecollegetown.org for the link and meeting information.

Andréa Ranae (She/They)

I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Andréa Ranae in person but enjoy their Instagram posts and Youtube videos thoroughly. A recent quote — “Anti Racism is not an identity or a checklist; it’s a practice” — led me to a Youtube video titled “HOW TO USE YOUR PRIVILEGE FOR GOOD.” First off, I love the title in all caps, but the content is even better. The video is 14:22 long and should be on your watchlist if you’re ready.

BOTH/AND + Zara Cadoux (She/Her)

Both/And is led by Director Zara Cadoux (whose sister is listed earlier on. This family is getting it right). I met Zara through my work at Impact Hub Baltimore, where she hosted a Skill Share in June 2019 titled “White Identity, Culture & Shame Resilience.” Both/And are a network of educators, trainers, organizers, and artists. I more recently attended a workshop the network facilitated titled“Radical Sistah Self Care in Trying Times – Honoring our Inner Audre Lorde.” I thoroughly enjoyed the facilitation and noticed they carry a vast offering. Zara also founded The White Womxn Anti-Racism Alliance (WWARA). Take a gander at the Both/And website for upcoming offerings.

Support and donate to Black-led organizations, restaurants and initiatives

Some of my favorite Black led organizations are listed on CLLCTIVLY who has an extensive directory of black owned businesses. Including Brown + Healthy or Muse 360 Arts both founded in Baltimore. Share organizations like CLLVTVLY with your network. They have a Black Futures Micro-Grant every month. Learn more about CLLCTIVLY and founder Jamye Wooten in his recent Q&A with us.

Old-fashioned keyword search

To find trusted people in your network sharing resources, simply keyword search anti-racism on your Facebook or other social sites. I did and came up with these additional resources, super simple.

My Facebook friend Whitney Bard-Birenbaum, who is the director of Charm: Voices of Baltimore Youth, shared:

“More resources for white parents that I have found helpful ❤️

Raising Race Conscious Children — this is a wonderful resource to begin conversations with young children. I went to a workshop with SURJ Baltimore, and two things really stuck with me:

1- White children notice when we don’t discuss skin colors. (Think about how many times we say, “what color is the tree? Look at the red truck,” etc.) They learn from that omission —> talking about skin color is taboo. But, kids are very impressionable, and us making a conscious effort to “notice” skin color and race by thinking aloud while reading begins building their vocabulary and a foundational awareness.

2- Many white parents feel that books “about race” have to deal with oppression. It’s so important for white children to see dynamic characters of color in stories that have nothing to do with racism. (Think, The Snowy Day, Corduroy, Last Stop on Market Street).

Please share more on this thread ❤️ #blacklivesmatter”

Simple searches like this can be so resourceful. From that post, I even learned how to get a Black Lives Matter lawn sign. Let’s see if you can follow the links in that post to find that information or more.

There’s More…

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