suggested reading

I've been thinking about how best to talk more about the issues I'm confronting here while acknowledging that we are not all coming from the same background and don't all read about oppressive systems in our spare time. I've decided to create a sort of reading list for some background and also for me to better keep track of what I'm reading and who I am referencing. This list is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully you will find something useful. I'll be adding more, but here are some I thought were important.


Peggy McIntosh's "Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack"
Written in 1989 this is a really incredible list of white privileges we often don't notice we have in America. There is also a recently published South African version.

Gina Crosley-Corcoran's "Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person"
Crosley-Corcoran draws on McIntosh for this article. I'm including it primarily because I'm from rural Appalachia, and I understand how poor white people in a predominantly white area would struggle with this idea. When we talk about white privilege, no one is saying that's the only type of privilege or that white people don't experience any oppression.

"When you're accustomed to privilege, equality can feel like oppression"
Often I hear people worry that the "PC police" are coming after free speech or that Christians are being persecuted by gay marriage. This article will hopefully help you see that in a different light.


John Halstead's "Bursting the White Bubble of Colorblindness"
A personal story of moving from "not racist" to anti-racism and why that shift is important. If you are unsure what is wrong with being "colorblind" or saying "All Lives Matter," give this a read. He also gives a great illustration of systemic racism in education.

John Metta's sermon "I, Racist"
This should be required reading for all white Americans. If you consider yourself fairly liberal or just think "racist" is a term best reserved for KKK members, this is important.

Michelle Alexander on her book The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
I'm currently reading Alexander's The New Jim Crow and truly cannot believe how much I didn't know about the War on Drugs and mass incarceration. As Alexander illustrates in her introduction, there is no effective anti-racist activism in America without an understanding of how these systems have created a new racial undercaste.


The Anti-Oppression Network on allyship
A good resource for anyone who considers themself an ally or wants to do allyship better. Read it often.

Mia McKenzie's "How to Tell the Difference Between Real Solidarity and Ally Theater"
Honestly you should read everything McKenzie - creator of Black Girl Dangerous writes, including her provocative and deeply moving novel The Summer We Got Free.

JLove Calderon and Tim Wise, "Code of Ethics for Anti-Racist Whites"
Black Lives Matter Nashville lists this as suggested reading for any white folks who want to get involved with their work.

Intersectional feminism:

Cate Young's "This Is What I Mean When I Say White Feminism"
If you identify as a feminist (as Chimimanda Adiche would tell you we all should), this is an important read on intersectionality - a term coined by civil rights advocate and theorist Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw.

A particular branch of white feminism includes "The White Feminist Savior Complex" or Imperial Feminism. Also see Harsha Walia's article on "Reimagining Feminism on International Women's Day."

Mission/Foreign Aid/Voluntourism:

Pippa Biddle's "The Problem with Little White Girls, Boys and Voluntourism"
Please read this before planning a mission trip.

The Onion's "6-Day Visit to Rural African Village Completely Changes a Woman's Facebook Profile Picture"
Because satire is just too real sometimes.

Teju Cole's "The White Savior Industrial Complex"
The term White Savior Complex has become commonplace in discussions of mission work and foreign aid, but few people credit Nigerian-American Teju Cole with the work of naming this issue and few have read his brilliant article on it. It is grounded primarily in reaction to NGO Invisible Children and its campaign Kony 2012, but his arguments about it can be applied to all sorts of international intervention.

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