So, I watched the video above and it’s about something I’ve struggled with for a while. Over the past 8 or so years, around the Trayvon Martin shooting, I’ve been doing work on understanding racism in the US. My own history with racism and why we are where we are as a society. It’s been a lot of soul searching and growing as a person. My education has gone through fits and starts over the years and some of the reason behind that has been getting the “Just google it response.” Now, I typically didn’t ask the question myself. I’d see an interesting tweet or retweet on Twitter and want to know more. Often, there’d be a question and the response was do your own research.
During the Black Lives Matter protest, I found this troubling. I wanted to read more anti-racism books, but I didn’t know a good source or which books were the most recommended or well regarded. For example, Ibram X. Kendi’s book How to Be an Anti-Racist was getting rave reviews in the media. However, when I looked at the point of view of some of the Black people (mostly Black women) I follow, they were not happy with the book.
So, how do, we move past this? Well, my approach was to get broader perspectives. Follow more people. Follow them for a longer period off time. Those folks will likely provide recommendations to sources that you can read. Furthermore, it provides you the opportunity to decide how much this matters to you. If the topic, really matters to you, then you will spend the time to follow them, read their thoughts on that topic and other topics and learn through listening to them over time. Just getting one or two questions answered right then and there really won’t stick, so if you want to learn about a topic like Black History or LGBTQ+ topics, then you need to invest time and energy through continual engagement.
By engagement, I don’t meant that you should always talk to the people you’re following. Sometimes, this may lead to more negative interactions because you’re well meaning but ignorant. You may need to build a basis of understanding before you can really have a serious conversation. You may also need to deal with your own (mis)understanding of history and how that applies to you personally. Many white people have family histories that tie directly to Black pain and suffering. You may know that you had slave holders in your past or people that fought for the Confederacy. Those are things you need to reconcile with before you can meaningfully engage with Black History and Racism as a topic. If you don’t, then you will simply get blocked and rejected because you don’t know enough to know how ignorant you are.
So, in my opinion, the best approach is to continual to learn through watching and following (but not in a creepy way). You will learn a lot. You will get book recommendations. When you ask specific questions, acknowledge the work you’re asking them to do and request books they recommend so you are learning from a trusted source. Then make sure you thank whoever you asked to do this labor. If they wrote a book that meaningfully impacted you, support the author by helping educate other people about the book.