Seven ways you can educate yourself about anti-Black racism and take action

By Zach Harper

The death of George Floyd has resulted in outrage around the world, with millions of people taking to the streets to protest anti-Black racism and police brutality. Canada has seen protests as well, partly due to the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet.

Celebrities have been getting involved, too, with many of them posting on social media, heading to protests or even donating to anti-racist organizations.

We've rounded up some ways you can educate yourself about anti-Black racism and learn about anti-racism today. It's important to note this list is by no means exhaustive, but we hope you find it helpful.

Read

Knowledge is power, and there's no better place to start than with a good book.

Of course, racism isn't just an American problem. In Toronto, Black men are 20 times more likely to be shot by police, according to the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Black and Indigenous folks are also over-represented in our own Canadian prison system. According to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, 10 per cent of the federal prison population in Canada is comprised of Black inmates. Meanwhile, 25 per cent of inmates in Canada are Indigenous, and 36 per cent of women in federal custody are also Indigenous.

Here are some good books to start on learning about anti-Black racism in Canada:

  • Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present - Robyn Maynard
  • The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power - Desmond Cole
  • Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada - Rodney Diverlus, Sandy Hudson and Syrus Marcus Ware

  • Ibram X. Kendi's book How to be an Antiracist has seen massive sales over the last few weeks. Photo: © Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty Images

    Here are some good general anti-racist books, mostly about the history and situation in the United States:

  • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism - Robin DiAngelo
  • How to Be An Antiracist - Ibram X. Kendi
  • So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness - Michelle Alexander

  • If you're looking for books for children, you can find a list of books with characters of colour over at Common Sense Media.

    Flamingo Rampant is also a Canadian publisher that produces "feminist, racially-diverse, LGBTQ positive children's books." They have tons of books for younger kids that will help you teach them about racial justice and anti-racism from a young age.

    You can support Black-owned bookstores, too! We've linked to Brampton, Ont.-based Knowledge Bookstore in some of the links above. You can also support A Different Booklist in Toronto, Sankofa Bookstore in Ottawa, Notability in Ontario's Durham region and Librarie Racines in Montreal.

    Reading isn't just limited to books, of course. If you're looking for a good Canadian Black news source, check out the award-winning publication By Blacks.

    If you'd like more written resources, it's worth checking out this extensive list. The Canadian Women's Foundation also has a good list of additional resources to help end anti-Black racism.

    Watch

    If you have Netflix and want to learn more about the roots of anti-Black racism in the United States especially, Ava DuVernay's Oscar-nominated, Emmy Award-winning documentary The 13th is worth a watch. The entire feature film is also on YouTube right now. The film explores the wording of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which outlawed slavery – except as punishment for a crime. The 13th examines how the phrasing has been used against Black Americans throughout history, including today.

    Little Fires Everywhere
    If drama is more your thing, this series produced for Amazon Prime is worth a watch. It stars Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington and examines anti-Black racism in an upper-middle-class Ohio community. Reese has since said she is "committed" to learning more about anti-racism and has vowed to educate her children. (See below on some ways you can do that.)

    American Son

    This film, which also stars Kerry, is on Netflix and addresses racism and police brutality.

    National Film Board of Canada

    If you'd like to learn about Canada's own issues with racism, the NFB has a good list of documentaries here. They're all free to watch if you've got a computer. Remember Africville tells the story of a Black community in Halifax that was forcibly relocated and had their homes demolished in the 1960s.

    Listen

    If you're a podcast fan, there are several great programs from which you can learn and educate yourself about anti-Black racism and other forms of racism.

    NPR's Code Switch is hosted by journalists of colour and explores how race "impacts every part of society – from politics and pop culture to history, sports and everything in between." Its most recent episode addresses the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans.

    A protester holds up a sign in memory of Breonna Taylor at a protest in New York on June 5. Photo: © Steve Sanchez/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

    1619 is a podcast produced by The New York Times that explores the beginning of slavery in the United States and how that violence affected American history and the present.

    Intersectionality Matters! is also worth a listen. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, who coined the term "intersectionality," hosts this podcast. If you're not familiar with the concept, the Oxford Dictionary defines it as "the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage; a theoretical approach based on such a premise." YW Boston has an excellent primer if you'd like to read more about intersectionality.

    Talk to your children

    If you're a parent and your children are young, you may have been wondering this week if there's an appropriate age at which to have a conversation about racism. CNN has a good guide for how to address anti-Black racism with children of all ages, from infants and toddlers to teenagers.

    Sesame Street also partnered with CNN to hold a town hall about racism. Abby Cadabby, Big Bird and experts worked together to explain prejudice and racism and how to fight bigotry in a way that's easy for kids to understand. You can watch the town hall, which is about an hour long, on their website.

    As mentioned above under "Read," there is no shortage of anti-racist books for children.

    Protest

    There is rightly no shortage of demonstrations to attend these days to push for racial justice. These are good ways to take action and to learn. Experts recommend you wear a mask due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, make a good effort to stay two metres apart and also go with a group of people.

    The intersection of Hollywood and Highland is seen during a Black Lives Matter protest in Los Angeles on June 7. Photo: © David McNew/Getty Image

    Donate

    If you want to make a financial contribution to an anti-racist organization, we hope this list below is a good place to start. You'll notice we've focused quite a lot on Canada here, and it's important to note this is by no means an exhaustive list.

    There are GoFundMe pages set up for the families of George Floyd, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade.

    Black Lives Matter Canada
    The organization has three chapters in Canada, in Toronto, Vancouver and Waterloo, Ont.

    Black Health Alliance

    This organization takes action on health issues affecting Black Canadians, including those that are connected to health inequities and anti-Black racism. It has been particularly active during the coronavirus pandemic with actions about how COVID-19 has been affecting Black Canadians.

    Black Women in Motion

    This organization helps Black women and survivors of sexual violence with therapy, healing resources and entrepreneurial opportunities.

    Black Youth Helpline

    This group provides support to youth and their families, conducts stay-in-school initiatives, runs a helpline and aids with referrals for health care services. It also addresses systemic barriers Black youth face when accessing physical and mental health care.

    If you'd like to support more Black mental health-related support, you can donate to this therapy relief fund for Black journalists and this fund aiming to boost the work of Black therapists in Toronto.

    NAACP Legal Defense Fund (United States)

    The LDF has spent the past 75 years fighting for civil rights for Black Americans. Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively donated to it last week.

    Support Black-owned businesses

    Note that you can also help Black business owners by buying from them. The Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce has a list of Black-owned businesses, as does Black Canada Network. The latter's list is very extensive.

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