If your Instagram feed and Stories look anything like mine right now (and I hope that they do), they're filled with lists—practical steps to take, books to read and where to buy them, shows to watch, numbers to call, organizations to donate to, restaurants and businesses to support, and teachers and activists to follow—to educate and "be anti-racist," in the words of Angela Davis. The purpose of this List has always been to distill the content I consume into recommendations; so in a lot of ways, this List will be no different, except that I'm consciously using the space this week to elevate Black voices. Here are some of the books, podcasts, movies, and Instagram posts that resonated most with me last week:
On Thursday, The Wing hosted a live webinar conversation between Melody Cooper, a writer and filmmaker who shared the video of her brother Christian's confrontation with a white woman in Central Park, and activist and lawyer De’Ara Balenger. The conversation addressed Melody's decision to share the video (which she wrote about in her New York Times opinion piece here), but also addressed so many valuable topics: accountability for 911 calls like Amy Cooper's, how white men and women are given so many chances and often "fail up," how tears of white women are weaponized, and why this moment feels different. It is worth carving out the time to watch every minute of this hour-long conversation. A quote that was particularly impactful: "When you got married, how many Black people were there? The day that is supposed to mean the most to you and be most representative of how you love in the world, and it's not diverse, that's a problem." (This Instagram post is in a similar vein.)
P.S., I've been a member of the women's club The Wing since the fall, and have found enormous value in it—but also recognize that not everyone feels that way. A racist incident took place at The Wing West Hollywood last year, and a New York Times exposé revealed that the company does not always practice the women's empowerment it preaches when it comes to it's own (non C-suite) employees. For those reasons, I debated including their webinar in this list, but ultimately decided that De’Ara and Melody's words were too valuable not to include. Update [Made 6/11/2020:
Toni Tipton-Martin's James Beard Award Finalist cookbook Jubilee was called "a celebration of African-American cuisine right now" by Tejal Rao in The New York Times. After ordering a copy last week, which finally arrived this morning(!), I not-so-patiently awaited it by cooking Tipton-Martin's wilted greens salad with bacon (with a few quarantine subs, like skipping the radishes). Her recipes are inspired from rare cookbooks that span nearly two hundred years and the contemporary recipes often appear next to the recipes that inspired them in Jubilee. Next up: pork chops in lemon-caper sauce.
P.S., After asking for recommendations for cookbooks written by BIPOC authors, I collected them in a spreadsheet accessible here. This article on Eater by Julia Turshen is also a worthwhile read on "overwhelming whiteness in cookbooks."
Rachel Cargle is an academic, lecturer, activist, and founder of the online resource "The Great Unlearn." Over the past week, her Instagram audience has quadrupled (more?) as she's posted actionable resources and of course published this address on her three-pronged approach to inciting actual change: Empathy + Knowledge + Action. One of the concepts she introduced me to is her application and breakdown of DARVO, a manipulative strategy employed by wrongdoers. In a series of Instagram posts, she introduced the concept then put it into action, using actual public comments from her posts as examples. Citing the original research by Dr. Jennifer Freyd, Cargle broke down the acronym: deny, attack, reverse victim/offender. A week later, she applied each letter to a comment and called to light how the manipulation is used by white people against the Black community:
Her lessons on language and rhetoric have made me uncomfortable and opened my eyes to the areas in my life where I have employed tokenism, "whataboutism," and even DARVO—which is exactly why they're so valuable.
I am also beginning Cargle's 30-Day #DoTheWork program today, which arrives straight to your inbox—sign up here. Please join me! (Kelly, who has already started the course, gave me a heads up that the Day 3 video has been deleted on YouTube, but is available here).
Other Black teachers and activists to follow, if you do not already: @laylafsaad, @mspackyetti (co-founder of @campaignzero and co-host of Pod Save the People), @shishi.rose, @accordingtoweeze, @ihartericka, @yarashahidi (watch this), @jennydeluxe (co-host of Still Processing), @privtoprog, @blackandembodied, @austinchanning, @ibramxk
With the tagline, "Race. In your face," NPR's podcast Code Switch has always addressed themes of race in respect to culture, but the past few episodes have focused on stories of Black Americans, reporting on the protests, the role of the police as a threat more than a protection, and a list of anti-racism resources. The episodes are short, but invaluable in terms of contextualization and learning about everything going on right now. Listen here.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want to use this space to re-recommend the brilliant podcast by Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham, Still Processing. It is hands down my favorite resource for culture commentary, and lately I've seen it recommended everywhere: Over the weekend, Samin Nosrat mentioned in a Story that she's listened to every episode multiple times, and in the acknowledgements of her novel All Adults Here, Emma Straub cited the apology episode as helping her to understand how to finish her book. My only complaint is that the seasons always feel far too short, but Wortham wrote a piece for yesterday's New York Times on why this "current incarnation of a civil rights movement" feels so powerful.
Other podcasts about race that I love: 1619 (recommended here), Good Ancestor, and this episode of Trudi Lebron and Louiza "Weeze" Doran's podcast, That's Not How This Works (recommended to me by Jess) Podcasts I have not listened to (yet!), but that have been highly recommended to me: The Stoop, 70 Million (the title refers to the 70 million people in America with criminal records), The View from Somewhere (based on the book of the same title), We Live Here, Come Through With Rebecca Carroll (a series of 15 "essential" conversations on race)
Brit Bennett's novel The Vanishing Half, released last week, has been one of the most highly anticipated books of summer (after her book The Mothers was a bestseller). It explores the story of identical twin sisters, starting in the 1950s, who are both white-passing, but whose stories go in very different directions: Stella moves to Brentwood, California and marries a white man (who does not know about her past or heritage), and Desiree returns to the small town they both grew up in. The women, unsurprisingly, live dramatically different lives, which is underscored when their daughters have a chance meeting. I had no problem finishing it in two days because I literally couldn't put it down—it's easily my favorite novel I've read this year, so far. Quick side note: Bennett also wrote a Jezebel piece in 2014 called "I Don't Know What to Do With Good White People." You know what to do (read it!).
Queen & Slim, written by Lena Waithe and directed by Melina Matsoukas, is a Bonnie and Clyde story of a Black couple who is pulled over on their way back from a first date. The tension escalates until the man (their names aren't revealed at first), played by Daniel Kaluuya, shoots and kills the white officer in self-defense. The woman (Jodie Turner-Smith), a lawyer, makes the case that they need to run. It's a love story, but it's also a commentary, as this review points out, on how many paradoxes and "contradictions" exist in racism. (The soundtrack is also fantastic.)
Ivirlei Brookes' IGTV video, "White Women who Truly Want to Help" breaks down the process of being not just an ally but an advocate in a way I personally found extremely motivating and helpful. She implores white women to begin with self reflection ("Ask yourself, 'How have I supported this?'"), then to commit to being the "very vocal white friend." Call out racism when you see it, even when you're afraid to be "disrespectful" to your family or friends. Watch Brookes' video here, and follow her here.
1. Don't forget to adopt a state because November is really, super, unbelievably important! I gotchu, Arizona.
2. Watch this video from Peloton instructor Alex Touissaint.
3. Virtual protesting 101.
4. A useful list of where to donate now to support BLM.
5. John Oliver's episode of Last Week Tonight about the history of policing is already available on YouTube, and definitely worth 30 minutes of your day.
6. L.A. friends: Consider signing up for quick daily actions to take!
7. Listen to Leon Bridges' new song, "Sweeter."
8. A yoga flow for Black Lives Matter, with empowering and strengthening affirmations.