It’s Juneteenth! How can I do Antiracism work in my own life?
Marching is so important in keeping the movement for Black Lives in the public consciousness, but there are plenty of things you can do on Juneteenth and in regular practice to bring antiracism to your own life. Whether you like to learn, reflect or do, there are more choices than ever to get into practice. Reading lists clog the internet, and there is no shortage of choice. Here are some of my favs for learning and leaning into antiracism at the individual level. The best activity to choose is one that you might naturally enjoy—reading, connecting with friends or even going for a walk. Use these ideas to help make your me-time a part of the movement.
Media That Makes You Think
There are so many amazing books on the subject of race and racism. A dozen top the NYT best sellers list, but may be hard to get a hold of. While you are waiting for your copy of How to Be Antiracist by Ibrahm Khendi or So You Want to talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, take a look at some other options out there to read up on race:
What do I tell my kids?
Why are all the White Kids Sitting Together, Beverly Tatum
I like to read fiction!
The Water Dancer Ta Nahishi Coates
Washington Black Esi Edugyan
Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler
How Long Until Black Futures, N K Jemison
2000 Seasons, Ayi Kwei Armah
How do systems work?
Just Mercy, Brian Stevenson (also a movie!)
The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander
Give me the History.
The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, Edward Baptiste
An African American and Latinx History of the United States, Paul Ortiz
Africans In America, Charles Johnson and Patrice Smith
From the frontlines
How We Fight White Supremacy, Akiba Solomon and Kenya Rankin
How We Get Free Keeanga Yamahtta Taylor
Citizen, Claudine Rankin
When They Call You a Terrorist Patrisse Khan-Cullors
These films use the art of storytelling to bring us to pivotal moments in history and times of silent suffering. While hard to watch, bearing witness is an important part of participating in liberation.
When They See Us
Race the Power of An Illusion
The Journey of Man
Sankofaa (hard to find—check the website to order DVD or hit up your library.)
If you’re ready to hit the couch with your favorite snack, dive into the black experience with binge worthy shows full of perspective. These shows created by Black artists give us a contemporary look at authentic experience beyond the frontlines.
Dear White People
Heading out for a walk or hitting the hammock this weekend? Take some of these podcasts with you to keep you learning and growing.
Tea with Queen and J
1619 Project Podcast
Pod Save the People
If all the talk is not your scene, hit up these playlists for some musical motivation to engage with the movement.
Liberation Playlist on Spotify
For Us By Us on Apple Music
Pretty much everything Bob Marley and Talib Kweli ever made
Beyond consuming great media on race and racism, you can start doing your work with activities or journaling that will help you metacognate on race. What do you think? How have your experiences and ideas shaped your interactions? How can you do what you love and still be reflective of the moment. Grab your pen or favorite craft supplies and try one of these prompts to explore.
Grab your favorite journal tools and make some space to think, explore and create new pathways for change in your own life.
- The last few weeks have been heartbreaking, eye opening and transformative. How how your feelings and reactions been evolving over the last three weeks? What new ways of thinking and being have you been choosing? How does starting to think and act in new ways feel so far?
- Antiracism is like dieting: there is no one act or word that will satisfy what is needed for sustained growth and transformation. To be what we want to be we must create antiracist practices that we can employ in our every day life. To do that, explore the intersection between your world as it is now and the construct of race. Ask yourself—how does race show up in my environment? What power, skills, talent, or inclination do I have in that environment to make that connection visible and healthy? For example—if you love golf, and you know that there is lots of dialogue on the links about these issues, you can make a commitment to educating yourself about history and current issues so you can bring an antiracist perspective to those discussions. If you love to craft, you can make a commitment to learn about black craftspeople in your chosen medium and try techniques or processes that you learn, respecting their expertise to help you become a stronger artist. If you have children or grandchildren, talk with them about what they are seeing and experiencing and listen to how the babies can challenge us to build a more free world with them. There are books and movies for every age group—including babies—to encourage them to care, be loving, and be a part of healthy diverse communities. The commitment we can all make is to talk with the people around us about what we are experiencing and what we want to do to make the world a kind just place for everyone. Focus on the people who, like you, are learning and exploring. Your job is not to fight people who are committed to the status quo, but to expand the tent of all of us willing to make the our country truly a more perfect union.What are the SMALL ACTIONABLE REGULAR activities that you can commit to over the long term?
- Journal just for yourself all the things that you are worried might be “the wrong thing to say”. Write them down. Avoid getting stuck in shame and guilt. These ideas want to be met and challenged and this exercise will help you bring them out in a space where only you will see. What makes these ideas wrong—are there ways that these ideas or words about racism feel out of alignment with your own moral code or rules for treating others? Are there ways that these ideas miss the mark in recognizing the humanity of other people who may have different life experiences or ways of being than you? Look at the areas where you need more information and note resources here or otherwise where they might help. Consider asking what are the barriers to you developing the skill and knowledge to understand your own perspective on these issues?
Simple acts can yield powerful results in grounding us, challenging us and helping us make connections between the world we live in and the one we hope to create. Free yourself from worrying about comfort, don’t worry about what others think of your journey as you use these activities to make a space to do.
- Explain racism to a child: children as young as 3 months notice race, school age children are ready to think about how rules work and what is fair, teens are ready for revolutionary thinking. The babies are leading us so talking about race with a child you know and love may make you think in new ways and is likely to make you feel more hopeful as you see their power to wish for a world where everyone is treated fairly.
- Share something you learned with a neighbor or friend. Speak to the willing and work together to build the conversational muscles need to do the work.
- Make something! Cultural appropriation is about making someones culture your own, and we want to not do that and Black artists and craftsmen have honed techniques for creating in visual arts, in cooking, in music and dance. Try out some of the amazing techniques from black art to help you gain an appreciation for forms you may not have tried before.
- Take a nature walk and look for ways that nature seeks to create and maintain harmony and balance. Be mindful of ways that natural elements work together. How does the cycle of life and the ecosystems that you live in work together? What can we learn from the natural world around us about living in symbiosis?