In the wake of George Floyd’s murder-by-police and the subsequent protests that have arisen in response to centuries of systemic and persistent anti-Black racism, colonialism and white supremacy across the globe, many people have been circulating anti-racist reading lists in an effort to educate themselves and encourage others to do the same.
While these are well-intentioned, Lauren Michele Jackson cautions us against the pitfalls of complacency, inaction, and relying solely on these lists to do the work for us. We must do the work ourselves. We must read about and listen to Indigenous, Black and racialized voices. Only then can we become literate and fluent in the language of power, oppression, and privilege in order to help dismantle systems of white supremacy, colonialism, and anti-Black racism.
Keeping this in mind, we have curated the following resources to encourage everyone to go beyond passive learning, performative activism, and/or using this moment of urgency to educate ourselves and then believing our work to be complete. With structured recommendations and space for reflection, this resource has been designed not only to educate, but to inspire action regardless of where you currently are on the spectrum of allyship and building relations and spaces of solidarity.
Guides to Structure your Learning
In order to gain the most from these resources, you might consider laddering your learning. Be honest with yourself about what you know and don’t know, and consider using these three thoughtfully paced learning plans to go further:
When engaging in the books, articles, podcasts and other learning materials consider some guiding questions:
- Is this article, book, podcast, and/or framework providing a mirror or a window into your reading, engagement, and/or learning?
- A mirror reflects back to us our identities and experiences and affirms our sense of belonging.
- A window provides an opportunity to learn from the lived experiences and identities that we don’t know from our own experience.
- How does this article, book, podcast, and/or framework confirm or disrupt or enhance your thinking/understanding of race, racism, white privilege, and systemic forms of white supremacy?
- As a result of reading this article, book, podcast, and/or framework, what do you intend to take action on AND how will you demonstrate your solidarity?
When creating a community centred on justice, it’s also important to adopt an intersectional approach. Coined by law professor and leading scholar in critical race theory, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Intersectionality is a lens that helps us understand how different parts of our identity overlap and impact the ways we interact with the world. Because our institutions are inherently shaped by, and often complicit in perpetuating harmful, marginalizing practices like colonialism, racism and patriarchy, we cannot dismantle or view such modes of oppression as separate entities. Rather, we come to understand the ways in which our struggles are both distinct and intertwined.
The following recommendations are just a few in-depth resources that can help in terms of educating yourself on themes and issues of race and racism in Canada.
- Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present by Robyn Maynard
- This book explains the 400 year old legacy of slavery and anti-Black racism in Canada, its role in present day institutions and society and urges readers to fight for a just, equitable society through a critical race feminist framework.
- The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole
- This book exposes current forms of systemic, casual and overt anti-Blackness in Canada, particularly in regards to policing.
- Remembering Black, Indigenous and Other People of Colour killed by Canadian police, by Desmond Cole
- This piece draws attention to Black, Indigenous and other POC peoples who have been killed by police in Canada.
- Distinct Histories, Shared Solidarity: Two Black and Indigenous activists’ reflections on land policing and gender, by Nickita Longman
- This longer piece is a critical conversation between two Black and Indigenous activists on injustice, intersectionality and solidarity.
- Secret Life of Canada
- This podcast delves into “untold and undertold” stories of people, places and events that are often omitted from Canadian history.
- Colour Code
- This podcast delves into questions, conversations and themes around race in Canada.
- Ibram X. Kendi on Out in the Open
- This conversation with Ibram X. Kendi explains how an anti-racist approach is necessary to uproot racism and inequality in society and ourselves.
Just because you are still learning, doesn’t mean that you should stay passive on these issues. There are many ways that you can appropriately and actively help tackle anti-Black racism in your community while continuing to learn to be anti-racist yourself.
Pair words with action by supporting or getting involved with the following organizations that are dedicated to fighting anti-Blackness, celebrating and supporting Black communities in Vancouver and across Canada.
- Black Law Students Association of Canada
- Black Health Alliance
- Black Artists Network Dialogue
- Showing Up for Racial Justice
- Federation of Black Canadians
- Black Youth Helpline
- Black Health Alliance
- The Federal Black Employee Caucus
- Canada Race Relations Foundation
- Canadian Civil Liberties Association
- List of Organizations to support + petitions to sign in Canada/America
To stay active after the initial burst of momentum, we encourage you to
- Consistently dedicate time and space for learning.
- Diversify your media.
- Decide on a series of sustainable actions you know you can commit to and be held accountable for.
As a part of our commitment to educate and empower people to continue learning about these issues, we will be sharing a curated, annotated list of relevant and up-to-date resources on social media.