This month’s resource roundup focuses on educating oneself from sources already available. Instead of asking to take time away from Black activists working to fight racial injustice, check out these pieces by Black women authors instead. Our friend Kelli Bates (who went to college with BA@M co-editor Giannina Ong) is here to share a few of her favorite resources:
In recent months, I feel we have all been called to stop and ask ourselves how we each play a role in maintaining momentum for movements against racial injustice and in supporting Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) activism, especially Black leadership. My advice for anyone looking to help propel these movements is to ask yourself: How can I continue to authentically show up for this movement in a way that is mindful of the space I occupy, while not silencing or exploiting the efforts of those I aim to uplift?
As we all strive to discover ways to practice meaningful allyship, it is important to remember that learning will always be necessary. Part of being an ally is taking the time to read and continually study the work of underrepresented authors. Education is the first step to finding one’s voice and lane when partaking in social change.
Five Articles by Black Women to Get Started
“Why You Need to Stop Saying ‘All Lives Matter’” by Rachel Elizabeth Cargle
“What about me? Don’t all lives matter?” These are common questions from white people and non-Black POC who feel excluded from or offended by the statement “Black Lives Matter.” Rachel Elizabeth Cargle answers this question eloquently by explaining why the phrase “All Lives Matter” is an example of gaslighting (a situation in which a person wanting to retain power or keep their own peace makes the real victim question his or her reality) because stating that Black lives matter does not insinuate that other lives don’t. This is a great article to send to your friends and family if you do not feel confident in your ability to explain the significance of the token phrase.
“We Need to Talk About Digital Blackface in Reaction GIFs” by Lauren Michelle Jackson
Have you ever noticed that Black people are usually the primary object of GIFs? It is no coincidence that Black people are used to express exaggerated emotions of humor, sadness and rage. Representation through GIFs is a modern-day reproduction of the tropes that Black people have been associated with since the Civil War. Learn more about “digital blackface” in this article and check out the documentary “Ethnic Notions” (1987) for an education about the origins of African American comedy.
“What White Publishers Won’t Print” by Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston is renowned as one of the original Black feminist authors. She is most well-known for her novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God” (1937) and is an acclaimed anthropologist. In this article, Hurston criticizes publishers and describes why they won’t publish Black stories. This is a great historical piece to understand the misrepresentation of Black stories and how the media has always changed the narrative.
“Eating the other: Desire and resistance” by bell hooks
bell hooks is an extraordinary professor and author whose work looks at the intersectionality of Black and female experiences. In this piece, she explains how minorities have historically been pitted against each other instead of uniting on things they have in common due to social norms and respectability politics.
“When the First Voice You Hear Is Not Your Own” Jacqueline Jones Royster
Advanced reading on the concepts of “otherness” and “subjectivity” from a woman of color/feminist perspective: In her essay, Royster pushes against the need for objective information by providing three personal scenes that articulate her experience as a Black woman from a subjective perspective. Royster presents her own personal testimony as a subject and while she admits that the three stories she shares are “singular,” she writes that “they are also plural, constituting experiential data that I share with many.” In this way, “individual stories placed one against another against another build credibility and offer, as in this case, a litany of evidence from which a call for transformation (…) might rightfully begin.”
If you take away anything from these articles, it is that now is a time to learn and ask questions. So often I feel that questions about race, gender, sexuality and other tough topics are unwelcomed. But we will never learn or begin to break down “otherness” if we are unable to inquire about these topics.
If you are interested in learning, watching or reading more from Black creators, you can find more resources in a living document I created in cooperation with Mac MannWood (another Santa Clara alum).
Mochi magazine’s Black Allyship @ Mochi column is an ongoing project that urges an awareness of racial injustice in the United States, particularly the oppression of Black people in America. The articles, resources and opinions we share are a call to action, an open discussion, and a place to take a stance against anti-Black racism. Read more about the column here.
We want Black Allyship @ Mochi to spark productive conversation. We want to know how we can do better: Feel free to email the co-editors at firstname.lastname@example.org.