Resources for the Pseudo-Woke
May 25, 2018 7:06 AM   Subscribe

What are your favorite resources to talk about race/inequalities/power dynamics/inclusiveness? Preferably easier and shorter reads.

I'm in a public health program (100% women; 75% white) with people who claim to be liberal and open-minded, but then their biases/racism/ignorance really come out in full force in discussions both outside and inside the classroom. Some people have publicly questioned how political views can influence public health and others have questioned why we even need to talk about race when it comes to public health. I've offended others by making an offhand comment about how the recent string of mass shooters will never be called terrorists because they're white men. These are just some of the most recent examples that come to mind. It's been pretty much non-stop all year long so far. Just trust me that it's bad, frustrating, and alarming. They don't understand why systemic racism matters nor do they understand how it matters.

So, what are some resources I can direct people in my program to so that I and other students of color in this cohort (we're all feeling really burned out by this) don't have to 1) constantly put up with this sort of behavior and 2) don't have to keep explaining why their views can be troubling in this day and age?

Preferably shorter and more easier to consume. Podcasts like Code Switch are good. More humorous takes like Trevor Noah's Born a Crime and TV shows like Black-ish will probably be more accepted by this group.

Bonus: Resources talking about able-ism and accessibility would also be appreciated.
posted by astapasta24 to Human Relations (12 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe Everyday Feminism would help. Race and disability are a couple of categories on their site. In addition to articles, they sometimes post comics.
posted by Social Science Nerd at 7:21 AM on May 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

I would target stuff directly towards the work you are doing only because I think otherwise people can be sort of lazy about informing themselves if they haven't already. Sometimes pop culture topics like Serena Williams' issues with her delivery and how they were dealt with. Or Erica Joy talking about being a woman in tech and the way the stresses piled up (which becomes a health issue). So like CDC talks about Health Equity but also has done research into health disparities showing different outcomes according to race, class and disability status. Disparities that should not be there.

This is especially true within the community of people with disabilities and the term I like to use talks about is the "social model of disability" talking about how disability is basically defined by a society that is poorly structured to account for the abilities of ALL the people in a society. This is huge in public health because it outlines how attitudes and not medical issues, are the main barrier for people we often consider disabled. And when it overlaps with racial issues, extra problematic! The National Black Disability Coalition might have some good resources, though maybe not as light/friendly as you're looking for.

So there's a good chance you know those things but your cohort might not. When I'm looking for 101 types of explanations I often start with stuff like Invisible Knapsack or Scalzi's Lowest Difficulty Setting (and this follow up with some useful facts). For me personally (a cis white woman) I find that reading the Conscious Style Guide helps me stay on top of issues I might not come across in my day to day life because just basic stuff like how we talk about cultural, racial and social differences can have effects particularly in the world of health care (and my profession: librarianship)
posted by jessamyn at 7:36 AM on May 25, 2018 [12 favorites]

Jay Smooth is very good at talking about this stuff, I think. This series of short videos on systemic racism might be helpful.
posted by clavicle at 7:37 AM on May 25, 2018 [4 favorites]

The most powerful assuming-very-little-prior-knowledge work I've read on this, focussing on the ongoing effects of historic racism, is The Case for Reparations by Tah-Nehisi Coates. It isn't exactly a short read but it's compelling and accessible and really gets into the nitty-gritty practical detail of the consequences of racism in the US, in terms of the impact both on individuals and on communities.
posted by Aravis76 at 7:46 AM on May 25, 2018 [4 favorites]

Anything by Beverly Daniel Tatum, including the work she's most known for and has recently rereleased, Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? Her work is clear, accessible, wide-ranging, and practical.

One of the most provocative and helpful writers on ableism and the experience of disability that I've read is Harriet McBryde Johnson; this essay is a good place to start. It also appears in her book Too Late to Die Young; the first essay there, on the experience of watching a muscular dystrophy telethon as a person with muscular dystrophy, has stayed with me.
posted by dapati at 8:04 AM on May 25, 2018

I work in mental health, and I've had some luck in distributing various ethical guidelines from the APA (though our team's issue was/is appropriate care for trans clients). Saying, "Here are the standards we're held to by our profession" made it feel less personal, I think, and cut down some knee-jerk defensiveness. Does Public Health have some similar governing bodies or organizations that might have guidelines? I found a page on Racism and Health on the APHA website, and there are other links there too (including an editorial from AJPH on (pdf) Black Lives Matter: A Commentary on Racism and Public Health), but I don't know if there are other respected organizations that may be more relevant.
posted by lazuli at 8:39 AM on May 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

If you do find some people open to a bit longer read, the recent The Color of Law is a very strong study of the ways that federal, state, and local governments acted directly throughout most of the twentieth century to promote segregation and prevent integration. It's really good because it challenges lazy assumptions that segregation "just sort of happened" or was the result of the preferences of African-Americans. Segregation is, as I understand it, correlated to all sorts of negative public health outcomes.
posted by praemunire at 8:56 AM on May 25, 2018

Pieces about Walking While Black are good.

My first intro to this is an especially strong piece for introductory purposes. PDF

Here is another excellent piece, but possibly more thought provoking and more inflammatory in nature. Choose your audience more carefully for this second piece.

I recently learned this and I was quite upset by it:

Although the G.I. Bill did not specifically advocate discrimination, it was interpreted differently for blacks than for whites. Historian Ira Katznelson argued that "the law was deliberately designed to accommodate Jim Crow".[25] Because the programs were directed by local, white officials, many veterans did not benefit. Of the first 67,000 mortgages insured by the G.I. Bill, fewer than 100 were taken out by non-whites.

-- GI Bill

I think that snippet is kind of a good introductory nugget to toss out to gauge their receptivity. Depending on their reaction, you can decide whether or not they are ready for The Case for Reparations (recommended in an answer above mine).

Ablism: I don't have a link, but have had recent discussions about this. Recent trends in rising disability cases are influenced by lack of work in some sectors. The blurb that stuck with me was that if they lack a college education, they get declared disabled because they now, for example, have a back problem and can't do blue collar work. But someone with a back problem and a college education wouldn't be declared disabled because they can still do desk work.

You could also find short pieces on famous people who happened to have a disability. Helen Keller. Stephen Hawking. Wheelchair bound presidents.

I also like having a pithy rebuttal handy for arguments I run into a lot. Years ago, before Obama was president, I kept running into arguments that it wasn't racism to not be willing to hire or elect Blacks who "sounded Black" because this was about being articulate enough to do the job, not about skin color. My rebuttal at that time was "George W. Bush" because he was (or had been) president and was infamous for his speech issues.
posted by DoreenMichele at 9:14 AM on May 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

To me, the stories about black people being arrested for living should convince all but the worst offenders. It takes criminality and politics out of it, and it's not about getting something for nothing, which is how racists frame the argument. It's about treating people with fairness, dignity and respect, and these examples clearly and directly indicate that isn't happening. THAT'S why the conversation in your program is important.
posted by cnc at 11:05 AM on May 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

This discussion of Freddy Gray and the events in Baltimore in 2015 by Youtuber ContraPoints does a good job of relating Gray's exposure to lead as a child to the differences between black and white neighborhoods in Baltimore, maps of lead abatement across the city, and redlining. Though ContraPoints is/became a trans woman in the years since making that video, so if these are the sorts of pseudo-woke people for whom that fact would be an indictment or valid criticism, maybe it's a factor in how you'd have to present it.
posted by XMLicious at 11:39 AM on May 25, 2018

Just read this today, but haven't read the book the article references. Looks good, though.
posted by foxjacket at 12:08 PM on May 25, 2018

I've read that book, it's really good.
posted by jessamyn at 2:10 PM on May 26, 2018

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