Welcome to the Action Items! These suggestions are meant to help challenge the narrative that so many of us know about race and racism. The optional activities we share each week may help expand your own self exploration or offer ignored or hidden aspects of the history and institutions of our country that are new to you. So often, the voices, histories, and narratives of white people are centered when talking about history and racism. In the coming weeks, we will share a few examples of news sources, books, podcasts, etc. to help launch your self exploration. We chose these sources to help center the narratives of people of color.
Week 1 – History of racism
Find the podcasts by Rev. Alex Gee called Black Like Me. It can be found at his website (https://www.alexgee.com/category/blacklikeme/), through iTunes or using a podcast manager app. Listen to at least one episode and consider continuing to listen to episodes during these 10 weeks. Find another podcast hosted by a person of color that discusses issues of race and racism and share your discovery with the group.
This year is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in North America. New York Times Magazine commemorated this event with a special issue called The 1619 Project. In partnership, the Pulitzer Center has developed an associated educational website: https://pulitzercenter.org/lesson-plan-grouping/1619-project-curriculum. Read one of the essays via the Reading Guide webpage and answer at least one of the before and after questions to consider, or else do one of the exercises on the Activities to Extend Student Engagement webpage.
Use your journal to reflect on your experience with these action items and with the first in person session focused on the history of racism and your reaction to the dyad exercise.
Week 2 – Pathology of racism
Reflect on an uncomfortable or harmful racialized incident where you remained silent. Consider sharing this in your next dyad experience.
Visit the Documenting Hate website (https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/hatecrimes). Spend time exploring the information on hate-related incidents. Consider getting involved and/or sharing your story.
Week 3 – White fragility & white privilege
Ta’nehisi Coates book Between the World and Me is a letter from a black father to his son about the vulnerabilities he will face in the U.S. because of the color of his skin. If you identify as a person of color, reflect on ways this book voices your own experience. If you identify as white, pay particular attention to chapter II and the passage on p. 98. How engaged are you with the work he identifies as necessary “if only to preserve the sanctity of your mind’? Consider sharing these reflections in your dyad.
The term “white fragility” was coined by Robin DiAngelo. She is a white, anti-racist thinker. Listen to Rev. Alex Gee’s interview with Robin DiAngelo (https://www.alexgee.com/white-womens-tears-and-white-fragility-an-interview-with-ny-times-best-selling-author-and-anti-racism-scholar-dr-robin-diangelo/). Reflect on your own experiences receiving, witnessing, or acting out white fragility. Consider sharing this reflection in your next dyad.
Week 4 – Perpetuation of racism
Social Media – Find a particular meme, tweet, or other form of social media surrounding racism that is currently circulating around the internet over the next week. Bring it to share with the group.
Parable of the Polygons (http://ncase.me/polygons/). Read the instructions and run each of the simulations several times. Play with the slider bars and continue with the simulations.
First step—visit one of the following websites:
- Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia (http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/)
- Without Sanctuary: Photographs and Postcards of Lynching in America (http://withoutsanctuary.org/main)
- Change the Mascot (http://www.changethemascot.org/)
- “Ending the Era of Harmful “Indian” Mascots” (http://www.ncai.org/proudtobe)
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (https://www.ushmm.org/).
NOTE: some of the images at these sites are violent and can be very disturbing to traumatizing.
Second step—Find an example of a recent social media campaign (in the last couple of months) that successfully challenged or resisted or brought public attention to policies/programs/activities/campaigns that directly targeted the community affected by racism as shown by the website you chose in step 1.
Week 5 – Institutional racism 1
Visit the Equal Justice Institute website (https://eji.org) and/or read Just Mercy by Bryan Stephenson. What organizations are working for prison reform in Wisconsin? In Dane County? How do Wisconsin and Dane County compare to national averages in terms of disparities in the justice system for juveniles and adults?
Visit the Mapping Inequality website (https://dsl.richmond.edu/panorama/redlining/#loc=3/36.71/-96.93&opacity=0.8). Read the introduction to the website, then look up your current neighborhood in Madison. If you don’t live in Madison, look at neighborhoods of interest to you in Madison. Bonus: look up other cities where you have lived or know people, if available.
Week 6 – Institutional racism 2
Visit the Race to Equity site (http://racetoequity.net/) or the Justified Anger Coalition site (http://nehemiah.org/justified-anger/). Choose one document to read. Choose one item from that document and research its current status, such as involved organizations and key people, achievements and updates in 2018, volunteer opportunities, etc.
Week 7 – Oneness of humankind
Visit the National Geographic issue on race (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/04/). Read one of the articles, then download the discussion guide and reflect on at least one of the discussion questions for that article.
Review the chapter ”Fostering the oneness of humankind” in Racial Healing by Reginald Newkirk and Nathan Rutstein. What are local examples of community activities that foster a sense of the oneness of humankind and loving our fellow people? Have you participated in any of these activities? Why or why not?
Week 8 – Alliance Building
First step—Visit Teaching Tolerance (http://www.tolerance.org/) or Showing Up for Racial Justice (http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/). What local organizations and initiatives are doing similar work or offer similar resources?
Second step—Find a local program, support group, or organization that offers support for your racial group identity. In what ways would these benefit your needs?
Week 9 – Fear/Action
Look for Bobbie Harro’s Cycle of Liberation. In an article on her cycle, she concludes by saying, “Once you know something, you can’t not know it anymore, and knowing it eventually translates into action.” Identify any fear/blockage that emerged or was uncovered in the last few weeks. What is the source of past inaction? Consider sharing it in the final dyad.
Find one local action to challenge racism and one online resource that you find helpful.