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2020 has brought us the COVID-19 Pandemic, and its attendant rise in both anti-Asian racism and anti-immigrant actions. Socioeconomic inequities have been amplified by the disease and a host of public health policy failures, with the worst outcomes occurring in black and Latino communities. Then, with the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd among others, protesters have taken to the streets to proclaim “enough is enough” to anti-black police brutality and more broadly to systemic racism throughout American culture and institutions.

The Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies has an important role to play in the work that we all need to do to “strive to be ‘antiracist’ on a daily basis, to continually rededicate ourselves to the lifelong task of overcoming our country’s racist heritage,” in the words of the historian Ibram X. Kendi (“An Antiracist Reading List,” New York TimesMay 29, 2020).

Our department’s faculty, staff, and students would all benefit from engaging with the resources below. We need to educate ourselves about racism past and present. We need to understand the role of racism in the institution in which we work and study and in the communities in which we live. We need to examine the insidious effects of bias in our academic fields and in our classrooms, and do the work of acknowledging these forces to begin overcoming them. And we can start by understanding our own racism and privilege. This is not a quick or easy fix. It is in fact a “lifelong task.”

This list focus on three action areas: educating and assessing ourselves; examining and revising our work; and enacting change. It is a work in progress and all suggestions are welcome.

Educating and assessing ourselves

 

  • READ: Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist (2019)
  • READ: Robin J. DiAngelo, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism (2018) – available as an ebook through the UNC library
  • READ: essay by Garnett Cadogan, Walking While Black
  • READ: essay by Audre Lorde, The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism
  • READ novels:
    • Angie Thomas’s The Hate You Give (2017)
    • Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing (2016)
    • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (2014)
    • Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987)
    • James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953)
    • Zora Neal Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
  • LISTEN: Under the Blacklight (Video/Podcast from African American Policy Forum & Kimberly Crenshaw)
  • LISTEN: Code Switch podcast episode: A Decade of Watching Black People Die
  • LISTEN: All episodes of podcast White Lies (NPR)
  • LISTEN: All episodes of podcast The 1619 Project(New York Times)
  • LISTEN: True stories from the Civil War podcast: Uncivil (Gimlet Media)
  • WATCH: What Matters (Documentary video and narratives from Black Lives Matter)
  • WATCH: 13th (Ava DuVernay’s examination of the U.S. prison system looks at how the country’s history of racial inequality drives the high rate of incarceration in America)
  • WATCH: White Privilege (Poem by Kyla Lacey)
  • WATCH: 5 Tips for Being an Ally (Video by @Chescaleigh)
  • WATCH: The Urgency of Intersectionality(2016 TED Talk by Kimberly Crenshaw)
  • WATCH: 60-Second Lectures on Racial Injustice: “This Isn’t for You” (by Jolyon Thomas, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania, a scholar of Japanese religion)

Examining and revising our work

 

Enacting change

 

These resources were collected through suggestions from Department of Asian Studies faculty as well as a from a huge range of online lists and articles, including the following:

 

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