How to Talk About Racism Without Ever Opening Your Mouth

One of the biggest challenges we face when doing anti-racist work in new spaces is the need for a shared language.  Since race is a fluid, social construct and racism is this wily system of oppression, having a common language is essential for gaining a tight grasp on racism so we can flip it on its head and really tear it to shreds.

Unfortunately, since the mainstream suppresses race-consciousness, we often find ourselves explaining the rules of the game and never having the chance to actually play. Especially in the predominantly white spaces we inhabit–graduate school, dietetics, local food movements–the responsibility of establishing a common language is often defaulted onto us, POC. Some days we see this as a privilege–an opportunity to use the power we have to educate others–while other days we just cannot.

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On those days when we just don’t feel like it we turn to these videos to do the the leg work for us. Each explains a different component of anti-racist/anti-oppression work using the powerful tool of allegory.

Just as important as the word that are shared in these videos are the voices who speak those words. The narratives below all come from black-identifying folks. In a point in our history where black liberation is being redefined through the #BlackLivesMatter movement, we feel it is vital to have our black brothers and sisters take center stage in defining these terms through their lens. Needless to say, each video speaks at volumes we can only dream of someday achieving.

Systemic Racism:

Dr. Camara Jones researches social determinants of health and equity, specifically focusing on the role racism plays in shaping population health. In her 2014 TEDxEmory Talk she beautifully illustrated the systemic roots of racism through her gardener allegory.

Privilege:

Dr. Joy DeGruy is a researcher of social work who authored the book, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, which deconstructs “residual impacts of trauma on African Descendants in America” (1). Dr. DeGruy’s personal story of privilege in everyday life exemplifies ways in which those with privilege can use their power for good.

Allyship:

Franchesca Ramsey (ChescaLeigh) is a YouTuber famous for her humorous and educational videos like, “Sh!t White Girls Say to Black Girls.” Franchesca is an UpWorthy.com contributor who uses her platform to discuss issues of marginalized communities. Her “5 Tips for Being an Ally” video cleverly explains allyship in manner that can be applied to all forms of oppression.

Intersectionality:

Akilah Hughes is another YouTuber, comedian, and content contributor for sites such as, Refinery 29, Fusion, and HelloGiggles. Her vlogs cover everything from fashion to pop culture, racism, and feminism! Being food lovers, we found her pizza analogy for intersectionality deliciously awesome.

Microaggressions:

Tucker Bryant is a student at Stanford University majoring in international relations. His 2014 spoken word performance at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational was a gut wrenching portrayal of microaggressive culture that permeates our system. Brace yourself.

Cultural Appropriation:

Amandla Stenberg is most famous for her role as Rue in the first Hunger Games film. When she’s not acting, she’s just living her life as an all around badass young person taking action for social change. Amandla breaks down the complexities of cultural (mis)appropriation so perfectly it had us completely swooning.

We hope you find these videos as helpful for you and yours and they have been for us in educating ourselves and others. We’d love to hear what videos or other forms of media have been helpful in building your language around anti-racism/oppression. Just comment below!

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