UPDATE (8/16/17): I did not realize this would prove as popular and durable as it has and, accordingly, I have not edited this document since a few weeks post-election. In the upcoming days, I’ll be adding certain resources and taking off others, given the timeliness for lack thereof of some things on here. Please reach out to me with any suggestions for resources. Now, more than ever, white people of conscience need to take responsibility for educating ourselves and those around us and propelling that education into meaningful action. Now is the time to loudly proclaim our active resistance to white supremacy. Now is the time to stand with our siblings of all races, genders, sexualities, national origins, religions and abilities. I hope this will prove a valuable resource to do so.
Disclaimer: this is long! You won’t read it in a day, but if you commit to reading consistently, you will make your way through it!
On Wednesday, November 9, many of us woke up shocked. Many young people felt robbed of what little idealism about this country they had left. Many older white folks felt confused, or like the country they had lived in their whole lives was maybe not what they thought it was. Others clung to their belief that America is still a fundamentally good country, slowly but surely moving in the right direction. They said: “Not all Donald Trump’s supporters believe in his racist rhetoric. We need to humanize the angry white working class.” But you cannot selectively support a platform like this. Donald Trump’s election is a countrywide stamp of approval for his platform of hate and fear, and a reminder that this country, at its core, is a white supremacist state. American exceptionalism and myths about this country’s origins and history fuel the misguided belief that America was ever great, and that Trump and the violence that has escalated since he took office, most recently in Charlottesville, is anything new.
Now is the time to affirm our support for those whose lives are in danger. Bigots are not in fear for their lives because they are bigots (and even if they are, that’s a disgusting way of life they chose). People of color are. A “difference of opinion” is how you like your coffee, or debates over trade policy. Opinions that dehumanize others, that incite violence against them, cannot be treated as merely “opinions.” They must be called what they are: bigotry and white supremacy.
We need to be thinking about how we are thinking about this election and its aftermath. This sense of comfort, of insulation from the horrors of America, is precisely what this syllabus is meant to disrupt. We, white people, clearly weren’t listening hard enough to people of color, to women, to queer people, to immigrants, to Muslims, to anyone who holds a marginalized identity. This did not come as a shock to many marginalized people. Instead, as a friend of mine put it: “I am hurt but my hurt comes mainly from having my fears proven. Not from surprise. I am so angry because there are so many people who needed this result to prove to them the divide of this country instead of listening to the voices of their token friends. Instead of hearing. Instead of trusting.” Now is the time to hear. Now is the time to educate and propel that education into action.
Note: Many of these sources are not from traditional news media outlets. This is intentional, as those outlets often times only feature the most heard voices and partially got us into this mess in the first place. In an effort to unlearn systemic racism and understand how we ourselves are complicit, we have chosen a variety of forms of content on top of traditional news articles, including blog posts, scholarly articles, fiction books, movies. We have organized the material thematically and chronologically, so if you are overwhelmed with the length of the document, pick a couple from each section and then move on. I ask you to read through this syllabus with an open mind and heart. If you have any thoughts on additional materials or just in general, please use the comment feature! Thanks.
How can we make sense of this election and move forward accordingly?
We can start by facing the fact that the United States has always been and is still currently a white supremacist state. For many of people in color, this election wasn’t a surprise–it was a confirmation of their fears.
“Debunking the Progress Narrative” (The Atlantic)
“America will never be ‘Post Racial’” (The Atlantic)
“The Case for Reparations” (The Atlantic)
“History white people need to learn” (Salon)
“The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism” (Audre Lorde)
How exactly do white supremacy and systemic racism operate? How have we been complicit in reproducing racist ideology?
“White Privilege” (Peggy MacIntosh)
“Intentions Don’t Really Matter” (Everyday Feminism)
“The Privilege of Politeness” (Naamen Gobert Tilahun)
“Objectivity Can Be Oppressive” (Everyday Feminism)
“Enough with the White Male Rage Narrative” (The Guardian)
“Here Are 4 Ways to Navigate Whiteness and Feminism – Without Being a White Feminist “ (Everyday Feminism)
A history of #BlackLivesMatter
A Herstory of the Black Lives Matter movement (Feminist Wire)
How did white liberal culture, as well as systemic racism and
white supremacy, directly contribute to Donald Trump’s election?
“5 reasons Trump will win” (Michael Moore)
“Republicans and the White Working Class” (Mother Jones)