Social Justice Education

Black Lives Matter. Racial justice and social justice must be prioritized in our work and on our campuses. It is our responsibility and obligation to educate ourselves. There is no excuse for not putting in the work and engaging in these conversations. Wherever you are in the process of educating yourself about social justice, here are some recommendations and resources that you can engage in.

Some important ways you can help, especially as a white ally:

  • Use resources that already exist. There is SO MUCH out there for people to learn about white privilege, racial injustice, and social justice. Don’t expect the people of color or LGBTQ people in your life to educate you – this puts undue and unnecessary emotional labor on these folks. Do the work yourself!
  • When in doubt, use Google. You have the access and the means to search for this information. Take that initiative and use it.
  • Amplify Black voices and the voices of people of color.
  • If you are a white person, have tough conversations with your white colleagues, friends, and family members. Some of those conversations will be uncomfortable or difficult. Lean in to that. Push through the discomfort and have those conversations. Amanda Seales posted a great video on her Instagram criticizing white celebrities who posted messages of racial solidarity, but turned the comments off because they weren’t willing to engage with fans who disagreed and posted racist messages in the comments. She makes a great point and a challenge to white would-be allies: we need to engage in the difficult conversations. It’s not enough to make a statement. We have to have a full conversation.
  • Take a look at your office team, your board of directions, any committees you may be on – Are there people of color in those groups? LGBTQ+ people? A representative mix of genders? If not, engage your colleagues in conversation about how to make those spaces more welcoming to people of color. If there are not people of color in these spaces, challenge your leadership and ask them why.
  • If you oversee a student organization or supervise student employees, make a conscientious effort to recruit, hire, and retain students of color in these groups. Don’t make excuses – If no students of color apply for those jobs, seek out diverse student groups on campus. If you’re not retaining students of color in these positions, find out why.

The following books are great reads to understand more about the African-American plight and dealing with oppression and white privilege:

  • The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin
  • The Color of Law, by Richard Rothstein
  • This Bridge Called My Back, by Gloria Anzaldua
  • How We Fight for Our Lives, by Saeed Jones
  • The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson
  • Stamped From the Beginning, by Dr. Ibram X Kendi
  • From Slavery To Freedom: A History of African-American, by John Hope
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  • Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
  • How to Be an Anti-Racist by, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
  • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo

The University of Minnesota Press has uploaded a number of books regarding racial disparities. These are available to the public through the end of August.

Videos and Documentaries:

  • This former football player at the University of Texas does a great job summarizing what it’s like to be an African-American male.
  • Freedom Riders: 2 hour documentary about the Civil Rights Movement in 1961
  • Slavery by Another Name: 90 minute documentary about Jim Crow, Civil Rights, and mass incarceration
  • The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross: in-depth series touching on Black history and Black identity. This is a long docuseries, but very informative.
  • Eyes On The Prize: 14 episodes that go in-depth of the struggles of African-Americans in the US.
  • 13th, by Ava DuVernay: Exploration of the history of racial inequality in the US

People to follow on Twitter:

  • Saeed Jones, @theferocity (poet and writer)
  • Linh Ta, @linhmaita (Des Moines area journalist)
  • Hannah Giorgia, @ethiopienne (journalist with the Atlantic)
  • Tressie McMillan Cottom, @tressmcphd (higher education researcher)
  • Clint Smith, @clintsmithiii (writer with New America and Emerson Fellow)
  • Jamil Smith, @jamilsmith (journalist with Rolling Stone)
  • Reni Eddo-Lodge, @renireni (writer of Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race)
  • Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, @sholamost (lawyer and political activist)
  • Blair Imani, @blairimani (public historian and author of Making Our Way Home and Modern Herstory)
  • Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, @dribram (author of Stamped from the Beginning and How to Be an Anti-Racist)
  • @Blklivesmatter, the official Twitter account of the Black Lives Matter movement
  • @privtoprog, From Privilege to Progress, a platform that shares resources to further education around anti-racism

Accounts to follow on Instagram:

  • @soyouwanttotalkabout – concise explanations of common social justice issues and terms
  • @theconsciouskid – resources for parents
  • @laylafsaad – Layla F. Saad: podcast host, speaker, and writer of Me and White Supremacy
  • @rachel.cargle – Rachel Elizabeth Cargle: writer, lecturer, and activist
  • @mireillecharper – Mireille Cassandra Harper: writer and editor, posted a “10-step guide to non-optical allyship”
  • @ijeomaoluo – Ijeoma Oluo: author of So You Want to Talk About Race

Virtual Resources:

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