habit shift: listen to black women.

October 31, 2018

I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about how to go about writing this post. But the points that I need to make are really absurdly simple:

+ White women benefit from, and uphold, systemic and structural racism.

+ Coming to terms with that complicity is imperative to building a more just and equitable future.

+ Listening to Black women and following their lead and their example is a habit shift that all people who call themselves feminists can benefit from.

This piece is decidedly not—to borrow a phrase from Black folks—to prove that I’m woke. My blind spots abound. I’m a White woman with considerable privilege and as much energy as I feel like I’ve committed to dismantling a misogynist patriarchy, I also benefit from it. I have work to do. 

Last year, as the country reeled from the violent, outward expression of the myth of White supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia, I wrote a post which called for White parents to talk resolutely with their children about race. I wrote about how ignoring racism doesn’t dismantle it. At the end of the piece, I included a list of resources for adults to consult, too, but I didn’t really confront the adult part of the conversation head on. I’m hoping to do that now. In my own online community this week, a terribly sad discussion has unfolded that brings to the fore the consequences of White fragility and the failure of so many White women to reckon with our privilege.

I’ve chosen to center Black women in this piece because I’ve benefited from the labor of Black women activists and public thinkers specifically. What I’ve been hearing them say is that they need White women to both own their complicity in racist systems and to do more active work to disavow it. To be clear: What I’m saying here, Black women—and many other people of color—have said before me. My intention isn’t to regurgitate and reframe their labor as my own, but to invite other folks, and White women especially, to turn a generous ear in their direction. 

//

Why hold myself accountable as a White woman?

I’ve found it to be helpful to look at the expectations I have for men. In the same way that I can look at the system that supports and protects and upholds the comfort of men generally, and White men, in particular, and feel enraged at the unfairness, I’ve learned I can also critique the privilege of White women like myself. I can—and must—recognize the comfort and protection that I enjoy by accident of my birth, and realize the role I need to play in dismantling it and reallocating it. I expect men to give up the privileges that they enjoy that might hurt me. So too must I give up the privileges I hold that harm others.

For other folks thinking about this work, a few guidelines that I’ve developed for myself that might be helpful:

Diversify your feed.

Not all of us live in diverse communities, but each of us has access to a rich online community. Two years ago, I realized with no small amount of shame that the majority of the people who I followed on social media were White women, around my own age. When I began to make a concerted effort to follow women of color—activists and otherwise— my experience of social media was enriched. Of course it was. In the September issue of Vogue, Beyoncé says: “The beauty of social media is it’s completely democratic. Everyone has a say. Everyone’s voice counts, and everyone has a chance to paint the world from their own perspective.” Let’s take advantage of that small d democracy and use it to broaden our understanding of other peoples’ experiences.

Don’t police Black women.

It can be deeply uncomfortable to reckon with my privilege. That’s the point. Part of the process of changing a system that gives women like me an unfair advantage is to spend some time getting more uncomfortable not less. My goal is to listen to Black women, not to ask them to cater their message around my feelings. Robin DeAngelo’s new book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism explores the ways that White people’s reactions to conversations about race in general have historically halted progress toward equity.

Think outside of yourself.

As activist Rachel Cargle so concisely advises White women, “Look for ways that you are racist, rather than ways to prove you’re not.” And as Brittany Packnett recently wrote for The Cut, “When a Black woman asks for solidarity, don’t react with defensiveness. Don’t think about your own self-interest. All of us must be willing to be pushed by the people most affected by the issue we seek to help solve. I am not an ally for the LGBTQ community if I am above correction by actual LGBTQ people. The same goes for us all, my sisters.”

Don’t ask Black women to do your homework.

When I have a question about what more I might be able to do, I return to the resources that Black women have already developed, rather than interrogating them personally to provide me with answers. Even more important, I’m trying to become more comfortable with sharing the burden of responsibility and speaking forthrightly myself. Again, Brittany Packnett has wise counsel: “As you learn, share what you know with other people of privilege, unburdening those of us already oppressed from doing that work. As you do this, apply a similar series of actions to issues of injustice where you live, work, play, and worship.”

Pay Black women.

Many Black activists doing the tireless work to change systems have provided easy-to-use methods—like Patreon and Paypal—to help folks pay them for their services. I’ve started to pay them. If you follow their feeds and rely on their work, you might consider doing the same. More than that, support Black-owned businesses. Reallocate resources to the Black community. Blk + Green is a really great resource for Black-owned companies in the sustainability space and Black Minimalists maintains an excellent directory of brands (and writers!) as well.

Who to turn to from here? 

Here’s a shortlist of contemporary Black women activists, writers, thinkers, podcasters, etc. who I have learned from on issues of social justice in particular. (There are many, many others. Please share in the comments below.) These are women who do much of their work online, but of course there’s a rich history of Black scholarship and literature that is also important to explore. To get started there, follow the work of Well-Read Black Girl (and buy Glory Edim’s book of the same name!). 

A few more names:

Rachel Cargle: Social Syllabus / Instagram

Brittney Cooper: Twitter / Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower

Patrisse Cullors: Twitter / When They Call You a Terrorist

Angela Davis: Freedom is Constant Struggle (among others!)

Christie DeGallerie: Instagram / “It’s Time to Call Out ‘Nice Racists’ and their White Fragility

Roxane Gay: TwitterBad Feminist (among others!) (this week’s NYT op-ed is excellent).

Morgan JerkinsTwitter / This Will Be My Undoing 

Ijeoma Oluo: TwitterSo You Want to Talk About Race

Brittany Packnett: Twitter / Instagram

Layla F. Saad: Instagram / You and White Supremacy

Aminatou Sow (Call Your Girlfriend/TechLadyMafia): Twitter / Instagram

ShishiRose: Instagram

LaTonya Yvette: Instagram / Woman of Color 

 

Finally: Vote!

 

This post includes affiliate links. Reading My Tea Leaves might earn a small commission on the goods purchased through those links. 

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76 Comments

  • Reply Natalie October 31, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    This is important, Erin. Thank you.

  • Reply kim October 31, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    thank you for writing this!

  • Reply T October 31, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    *applaus*

  • Reply Sarah October 31, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    One of the reasons I love to read your blog and follow you on social media is that you are not afraid to talk about this! Love the thoughtfulness and intention you bring into the world. Thank you!
    Also, I agree- White Fragility is a must read for white women.

  • Reply Kyung October 31, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    Thank you for bringing more exposure to this crucial topic.

  • Reply SEM October 31, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    Well put! That these conversations are uncomfortable is telling. White supremacy may be synonymous with hate groups/speech but we participate in systemic injustice by failing to see our own role in perpetuating inequity. When we use our own ‘upstanding’ behavior as an excuse to absolve ourselves, we are passively refusing to help dismantle racism. When we let our discomfort dissuade us from meaningful conversations about white supremacy, we are appropriating victimhood and solidifying our privilege. When we use proxy language, colorblindness, and tokenism to ‘prove’ our post-racial status, we are denying POCs part of their identity at the expense of our white privilege. When we go to other countries and preach to indigenous peoples that WE (and OUR values) are the answer to their problems, we invalidate and patronize entire swathes of culture. When we appropriate and colonize ideas and traditions and still expect POC to dedicate emotional and intellectual labor to reforming us, we are far from true allies. When we practice conditional feminism, we are prizing racial allegiance over intersectionality. When we assume that having POC as family and friends makes us immune to racism, we normalize our hypocrisy. When we supplant ourselves and dominate a situation and speak over POC, we are still a part of the problem. @nowhitesaviors does a lot of work to show how overt expressions of hate are truly the ‘tip of the [white supremacy] iceberg.’ Scene on Radio podcast: Seeing White is super constructive too. All important work comes with growing pains; I’m prepared to assume my share of the burden.

    • Reply Jay November 1, 2018 at 5:16 pm

      Yes, to all of this!

  • Reply Katie Erin October 31, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    YES to all of this. And thank you for sharing those links. So helpful.

  • Reply Joy October 31, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this and for the links! Definitely sharing.

  • Reply Kaira Cooper October 31, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    Erin,

    Thank you so much for writing this post. To be a black woman is to fight on two fronts for your whole life: white supremacy and the patriarchy. My personal fight against injustice is to be seen as a PERSON (because of white supremacy) before I can fight for my rights as a WOMAN (because of the patriarchy). I love your blog and I very much appreciate your journey to be a better human being. I am grateful that you have created a safe space for ALL people. I read your posts and feel SEEN AND SAFE from mental and emotional intersectional trauma.

    There is a black woman who lives in Brooklyn with us named Dominique Drakeford; she is currently creating a black sustainability community online and in real life. Her blog is melaninASS.com (Melanin and sustainable style).

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 1, 2018 at 10:14 am

      Yes! Just started following Dominique recently! Linking to her directly above so other folks can, too!

  • Reply Roxanne October 31, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    Thank you for writing this, Erin! I think something that’s been really helpful to me, and you touched on this multiple times in your post, is learning to listen better. It’s a skill that is surprisingly underrated and sometimes difficult to practice, but I have gained so much by making a purposeful effort and decision to do better. XO

  • Reply Erica October 31, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    Great post with great links – Thanks for this! I just read “So you want to talk about race” by Ijeoma Oluo and found it challenging and immensely helpful – would definitely recommend! Some podcasts to think about too : Pod Save the People (with the powerful Brittany Packnett), Codeswitch, Afropunk Solution Sessions (the Below the Belt episode on reproductive rights and race is fantastic). I’d love to hear other recommendations too!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 1, 2018 at 10:14 am

      Thank you! Have added links so folks can get to these easily!

  • Reply Keryn October 31, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    Thank you, Erin. It’s so important that we all get uncomfortable and do the work.

  • Reply Ris October 31, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this! Yes to uncomfortable conversations, yes to sitting with our privileged white lady ness and trying to learn and do and be better. Thank you.

  • Reply Judith A Ross October 31, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    Thank you, Erin, for this helpful and much-needed piece.

  • Reply Stephanie Carkeek October 31, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    Thank you for taking this stand so openly. Thank you for the links you’ve listed (I’ve read works from about half of these authors, but you’ve researched a lot of new ones for me!). The most important thing we can do is realize that representation matters: read works by POC, vote for POC, hire POC, support media by POC. Thank you, Erin.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 1, 2018 at 10:11 am

      Yes: definitely a crucial part of the work.

  • Reply Jessica Brown October 31, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    Thank you Erin!

  • Reply Rachel October 31, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    So important. Thank you for speaking up and out. Here are a few more voices I find myself turning to over and over again on social media. I would also add that per my own embarrassing revelation, I am working to consume more art (be it tv, movies, podcasts, literature, music) by women of color.

    Dr. Adrienne Keene https://twitter.com/NativeApprops
    Stacy-Marie Ishmael https://twitter.com/s_m_i
    Eve Ewing https://twitter.com/eveewing
    Ashley Ford https://twitter.com/s_m_i

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 1, 2018 at 10:10 am

      Yes! All terrific. Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Huma October 31, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    I am in the U.K. and not so long ago, our social media feeds of that sort of privileged, lifestyle bloggers was lit up by a discussion by those of us that blend the lines of our heritage and are accepted because we are not “too” different. It made (some) people sit up and take notice and it also taught me not to hide the parts of me, those important parts of me, who make me who I am because of how I was raised, because of the colour of my not-easily identifiable skin. Seeing you speak up has made it easier for me to speak up for the things that I have hidden for fear of not being accepted in the blogging world. It’s taught me that I can have a pretty blog but still write about the important things that matter and no longer keep that part of me silent anymore. Thank you, and let’s all do this – together.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 1, 2018 at 10:10 am

      Hear, hear!

  • Reply Janean October 31, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    Thank you for your directness! I have a true inability to ignore this and am dedicated to listen, soul-search, question, read, watch, discuss… there is so much work to do. Being transparent about my process has exposed a startling result — some of my fellow white female friends have distanced themselves dramatically. While it is painful loss, I’m at peace with the shift and ready to make new friends. Tea anyone?

  • Reply Bethany October 31, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    Your blog just keeps getting better. Thank you for sharing these resources.

  • Reply Jay October 31, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    What happened in the online community this week? Is it something you can share? Thank you so, so much for writing and posting this.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 1, 2018 at 10:09 am

      Another white blogger with a very large following wrote an Instagram post that felt insensitive—even tone deaf—in light of the recent domestic terrorism attacks. When she was questioned by a mutual black friend, that friend was attacked by the blogger’s following. Although the blogger issued an apology to the Black woman who was attacked and publicly wrote on her story about the unintended consequences of her post, she did little to publicly halt the damaging conversation, offer a counter narrative, or respond to those who continued to attack the Black woman. As so often happens, the White woman was painted as the victim. Many thoughtful White women chimed in, but the blogger has so far also chosen not to amplify those voices either. These are crucial choices. For now, I’ve chosen to remove myself from that community. We foster the followings we have and when we allow misinformation and bigotry to go unchecked, we’re actively helping those doing the active damage.

  • Reply Julia October 31, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    This is excellent, Erin!

  • Reply milou October 31, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    Yup.

  • Reply Meg October 31, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    Thank you so much for this! Thoughtful and helpful.

  • Reply Rebekah October 31, 2018 at 8:28 pm

    For people of faith, I also recommend Austin Channing Brown’s reading list from her website (her book I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World made for Whiteness is wonderful) – though her library isn’t exclusively faith-based, her following is largely, so some of her recommendations are as well. Also Kaitlin Curtice’s “25 books by indigenous authors you should be reading” that’s available on her website.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 1, 2018 at 10:03 am

      Thank you! Have added links to help folks get there easily!

  • Reply Karley October 31, 2018 at 10:41 pm

    Thank you for this post. Also to add to your follow list – Amanda Seales. She is brilliant.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 1, 2018 at 2:44 pm

      Thank you! Added a link so folks can find her!

  • Reply Taya November 1, 2018 at 5:37 am

    Excellent Erin!! Also good reads to glean from this comment section.

  • Reply Emily Strong November 1, 2018 at 9:20 am

    Thanks for talking about this!

    The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond is another amazing resource. Their workshops are excellent; they go deeper than many trainings into the foundations of white supremacy and how it’s built into all our systems. https://www.pisab.org

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 1, 2018 at 10:01 am

      Thank you!

  • Reply Jenna November 1, 2018 at 9:30 am

    What a powerful way to start the morning – Thank you Erin.

    I also will chime in and suggest Reni Eddo-Lodge and her book “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race“. It’s a British perspective, with a lot of British history, which showed how the treatment of Black people in many Western countries is mirrored. It isn’t just an American issue (I’m Canadian). I also follow Emma Watson’s feminist book club on Goodreads, which I believe you originally turned me onto. Through her book club “Our Shared Shelf” she and many other White women (myself included) have begun to explore our privilege and learn how to use it to uplift all women of colour. There has been some really thoughtful discussion about inherent racism in the feminist movement on the Goodreads page which may be of interest!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 1, 2018 at 10:00 am

      Yes! Adding links to these additions so folks can find them easily!

  • Reply Abby November 1, 2018 at 10:31 am

    Thank you, thank you. This conversation has been happening in the kidlit community for a while, particularly around supporting and signal-boosting ownvoices writers. It’s refreshing to find it in another context, with so many links to read and learn from. Thank you, Erin.

  • Reply Kali Tate November 1, 2018 at 10:52 am

    https://youtu.be/PROVSWtIxwg Erika Hart this video and her Instagram.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 1, 2018 at 11:03 am

      Thanks Kali! Adding a link to her Instagram so folks can find her easily.

  • Reply Kelly Libby November 1, 2018 at 11:29 am

    We should listen to ALL women. And, people. Being a better listener is something I’m working really hard at.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 1, 2018 at 1:13 pm

      Hey Kelly, I think understand what you’re trying to say here, but this sentiment is actually one that’s often used by folks who don’t want to acknowledge or understand the particular pain and marginalization of the Black community and specifically the violence that’s enacted upon them by both the state and individual actors. Following the work of the The Black Lives Matter movement, and Patrisse Cullors who I list above, would be really helpful.

  • Reply Helen November 1, 2018 at 11:47 am

    I’d recommend following Tressie McMillan Cottom, a sociologist whose twitter feed is funny, honest, challenging, and very smart: https://twitter.com/tressiemcphd.

  • Reply lindsay November 1, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    Thanks for using your platform in this way!! I had a realization similar to yours re: social feeds a few years ago–the large majority of books I read were by white women. I started consciously steering myself away from those and reading more diverse authors, especially women of color. Jesmyn Ward, Zadie Smith, Carmen Maria Machado, Yaa Gyasi–all have truly widened my perspective. And in regards to diversifying my feed, I recently started following the tag #blackjoy on instagram, and it’s fantastic.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 1, 2018 at 2:01 pm

      Yes.

  • Reply Erin November 1, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    I’d like this a lot more if you also included the voices of other marginalized communities of color. One of the reason I’m not a fan of Rachel Cargle is her lack of intersectionality and inclusivity. White women should promote the voices of all women of color.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 1, 2018 at 2:00 pm

      Hi there: Understood. I really wanted to amplify the specific work of Black women in this post because it’s largely been their labor that’s taught me so much about intersectional feminism, but no doubt we can all learn from marginalized voices of all kinds.

      • Reply Erin November 1, 2018 at 6:10 pm

        That’s fine, and I think it’s great to amplify black women’s voices. I don’t think you can call yourself truly intersectional, or that they educate on intersectionality, when most of the resources you listed are dedicated to educating on black issues. You see the erasure that you’re creating just by saying “I’m now intersectional because I listened to black women”? This should be about listening to black women to address black issues, and educating yourself on how your standing as a white woman affects them. If you want to claim intersectionality, be truly intersectional and list resources from all WPOC.

        • Reply Lee November 2, 2018 at 1:31 am

          If you believe that “Black Lives Matter” is a true and just phrase, than I think you can understand why Erin is focusing on black voices in this post.

          • Erin November 2, 2018 at 9:46 am

            My point was that claiming intersectionality while just promoting black voice is erasure. It fetishizes black women activists as all-knowledgeable spirit guides, and erases those of us WOC who work in activism who are not black. I think it’s a fine post- I’m just not going to agree that it’s intersectionality beyond white x black, and since we’re much more than that as a nation- she might want to correct that.

          • ERIN BOYLE November 2, 2018 at 9:50 am

            Hi Erin: Thanks so much for your note and perspective. This is a start, not an end. I wanted to highlight the particular work of black women this week but my goal is not to erase all of the other women of color doing this. I can understand why my use of the word intersectionality grates in the context of a post only about black women activists.

        • Reply Helen November 2, 2018 at 9:48 am

          Hi! I hear where you are coming from but I think it’s also useful to consider that there’s a long tradition in antiracist feminism for focusing first on the experiences of Black women to successfully fight for all women of color. The Combahee River Collective is really instructive on this point. They wrote in 1974, “As Black women we see Black feminism as the logical political movement to combat the manifold and simultaneous oppressions that all women of color face.”
          http://circuitous.org/scraps/combahee.html

  • Reply kim November 1, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    Important post Erin. Curious if readers have any resources in the Canadian context. I completely acknowledge that White privilege transcends borders as do your resources. As a very privileged White woman on Canada’s west coast, I really struggle with my position especially vis a viz Indigenous women.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 1, 2018 at 2:01 pm

      Hi Kim: If you look up the comment thread a bit, someone mentioned a really wonderful Indigenous activist and her recommended reading list. I think she would be a great person to listen to.

      • Reply Colleen November 2, 2018 at 7:33 am

        Hi Kim. Here are some non-fiction books on Indigenous issues relevant to a Canadian context that may be of interest:
        -As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
        -Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga
        -Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life by James Daschuk
        -Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada by Paulette Regan and Taiaiake Alfred.
        -The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King

        Also some novels:
        -The Break by Katherena Vermette
        -Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
        -The Round House by Louise Erdrich (Already mentioned in the link above, but a brilliant, heartbreaking novel).

        • Reply Madeleine A Northcote November 9, 2018 at 11:39 am

          Colleen – great list! I love Leanne Simpson’s writings so much. I’ll have to add some of these other ones to my list, and bump some up.

          If you haven’t seen it already, the movie ‘We were Children’, which is available through the NFB. It is extremely hard to watch, because of the horrors of residential schools, but it really grapples with the reality head on. I would then recommend that you read the TRC recommendations, if you haven’t already. I find myself returning to them again and again. Also, 150 Acts of Reconcilation: http://activehistory.ca/2017/08/150-acts-of-reconciliation-for-the-last-150-days-of-canadas-150/ for a to-do list approach.

          If you’re living on the west coast – there are so many events that are open to everyone that you can go to. Being physically present to honour and witness ceremony is an important part of holding up Indigenous law.

          Some more novels;

          Monkey Beach – Eden Robinson
          The Blood Thieves – Cherie Dimaline

          Erin – I’d love to be connected to more Canadian readers like Colleen and Kim – if that’s ever something you’d do.

    • Reply Erin November 2, 2018 at 10:14 am

      Helen, that’s a great point- and I want to clarify that I have no problem with promoting black women’s voices. However, the premise of the Combahee Collective, that if the black women were free, it would mean the end of all oppression of WOC- is wrong, and ignorant of the systems that oppress Latinx and Indigenous people. I’m sure it’s also wrong for what oppressed other WOC, but I can’t speak to their experiences.

  • Reply Steph November 1, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    thanks for always providing great resources, Erin! i recently participated in a 10×10 clothing challenge on instagram and a new hashtag popped up (10x10representationmatters) to highlight the lack of diversity in the ethical and sustainable movements. part of the impetus to recently start my own blog was to put my voice out there but the recent events in our county have left me heartbroken and at a loss for words + this was the best i could come up with for a recent ig post “it’s hard to feel sunny when the leader of our country is basically saying I’m not an American. my parents were Ecuadorian immigrants and when I was younger I felt neither American nor Ecuadorian, just a limbo girl. now I don’t – I am lucky to be both even though lately being American has been painful and embarrassing. it’s easy to post pretty pictures, it’s not easy to talk about the direction our country is going in. especially because I’m not very eloquent when I’m distressed. but I have hope. I know this isn’t all of us. the best I can think to do is show up, talk about the tough stuff, be kind and put yourself out there because you never know who might be moved by your words or in need of a little bit of kindness.”

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 1, 2018 at 3:03 pm

      Yes! I was so glad to see that hashtag. Thanks for sharing your words again here. Another writer, Huma, in the comment thread above, actually just DM’d me about a book she wrote about a similar topic—straddling two cultures. It’s called In Spite of Oceans if you want to take a look!

  • Reply Jacquelyn Pope November 1, 2018 at 5:08 pm

    Thank you so much for this post and all the links. The comments too are a rich source of information, very appreciated.

  • Reply Nadine November 1, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    Hi Erin,

    Thanks so much for this post. As for the folks looking for some Canadian resources and content, Leesa Renee Hall is doing really great work right now on white fragility and being a highly sensitive introverted leader. So helpful. Sisters in spirit is a really great organization hoping to raise awareness/change policy with regards to missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada. Here is the link to donate: https://www.nwac.ca/donate/

    Thanks again Erin.

  • Reply Katarina November 1, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    Understanding intersectional identities and the way it can cause multiple burdens of oppression is really important. I am a current social work graduate student and have read a lot of work from intersectional feminists. The problem people are afraid to talk about is that if you have some ideological differences with the current brand of social justice, and you happen to be white, it is somehow evidence of “white fragility.” What I find particularly problematic about this brand of social justice is that it’s resulted in a lot of white guilt and earnest white people bowing down to ideas that they haven’t thought through very much, in fear of social repercussion or social justice mobs coming after them. The penalty of thinking things through or possibly dissenting is evidence of “the problem.” It’s unfortunate that the current social justice narrative does not actually incorporate diverse viewpoints and is starving of nuance. I know so many people of color who say that this current brand of social justice doesn’t represent them. Another problem that I’m seeing in my diversity classes is white people saying the most “woke” thing to elevate their own status and even POC must say the most “woke” things or they are traitors to their identities. There are many branches of social justice that are actually pretty toxic.

    Below is an example of how toxic this stuff can get. Sadly there are way too many examples like this. <3

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/opinion/when-the-left-turns-on-its-own.html

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 2, 2018 at 9:53 am

      Thanks for sharing this perspective.

  • Reply Nancy November 2, 2018 at 2:59 am

    Thank you for this. I will be prepared to fall down the rabbit hole of links you’ve provided.

    And I have a name to add to your list: Kima Jones, founder of Jack Jones Literary Arts, an publicity agency that primary promotes works by women of color. http://jackjonesliteraryarts.com

    Excerpt from a Refinery29 interview (https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2017/07/150068/feminist-employer-kima-jones-interview)
    “I think the problem is, if I can be frank, white feminism. There are white, female bosses patterning themselves after successful white men. They’ve looked at the way these companies work, how they’re run, what their practices are, and they take those things, throw a little millennial pink on it, and think they’re doing something new. But it’s the same exploitive practices. They’re not looking at the ways in which they’re being abusive and are reproducing the same culture they claim to be tired of.
    “So, for me, there’s no difference if a woman or a man is standing over my shoulder. There’s no difference if a woman or a man is paying me $10.50 an hour. If we keep reproducing this kind of toxic work environment, that’s what we’re going to keep getting.”

  • Reply BRI November 2, 2018 at 4:09 am

    In the spiritual domain, Black Isis is a most powerful goddess of healing and transformation, and in some Virgin cults, black women are central and highly venerated. Looking for beautiful difference can help retrain the mind that is afraid of others. Beauty is heart opening.

  • Reply Amy Greenan November 2, 2018 at 9:50 am

    Thank you, Erin, for compiling a great list of resources to get started with! I follow a number of POC on Instagram and have been wanting to post something relevant to this on my blog, but not quite yet knowing what to say.

  • Reply MR November 2, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    This is so important. It was so good to see it and see that it was shared with your readers.

  • Reply liz November 2, 2018 at 8:23 pm

    thank you for writing this post. as someone else mentioned, this is why i keep coming back to your blog– for the ways you continue to deepen what it means to create a sustainable footprint in our world, since this includes how we acknowledge and respond to privilege and oppression. i wanted to share feedback that this post doesn’t seem like an appropriate one to use affiliate links– in some small way, that feels as if you are continuing to profit off the labor of black women, since you will make money from referring readers to their books. since i love your blog, i generally want to support it as your livelihood and often click on these links or shop with your sponsors, but in this case, it doesn’t feel right. perhaps forward the profits, however tiny, to these women?

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 3, 2018 at 10:07 pm

      Affiliate marketing is one of three regular ways that I fund the work I do here and keep this site afloat. Whether or not the content has a social justice mission, if there’s an opportunity to use affiliate links in my work, I try to take advantage of that as a way to keep this work sustainable. Authors have an opportunity to earn royalties on books purchased whether or not the buyer purchases their book via an affiliate link. That said, if you’d rather send your donation directly, as I have, or take a note of these titles and purchase them at independent bookstore or borrow them from the library, I’m fully in support of that idea! Indeed the only thing I failed to mention here that I typically do when using affiliate marketing for books, is that I personally do all of my book buying at local shops!

  • Reply Elizabeth Kline November 3, 2018 at 11:24 am

    This posting come under such an appropriate heading: habit shift. We as white women must realize we have not done right by our black sisters in that we have been defensive or silent when we should be listening with an empathetic heart and then taking action accordingly. I have started by including black activists on my Instagram and plan to shift my library reading list. I’m at the beginning but I am inspired. Thank you for coming to the defense of Latoya on the mamawatters comment feed. Your tireless refusal to let any of the veiled or blatant racism go unanswered was admirable.

  • Reply Lisa November 7, 2018 at 9:01 am

    Thank you for this! I love the line from Rachel “look for ways you are racist not defend how your not”. Where in her work did you pull this? I’d like to see this in her larger context and her stuff is so vast.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 7, 2018 at 12:08 pm

      Wish I’d marked that down. I believe it was a post she shared on Instagram, but it might be in her syllabus on her website.

  • Reply Sasha L November 8, 2018 at 10:53 am

    Thank you Erin, for always trying your best. Thank you for all of these resources, so much to learn here. Time to get to work.

    I’ll throw out one more great book, a work of fiction, I didn’t see mentioned anywhere here, a wonderful and painful read : She Would Be King by Wayetu Moore.

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