“For my part, if I have recalled a few details of these hideous butcheries, it is by no means because I take a morbid delight in them, but because I think that these heads of men, these collections of ears, these burned houses, these Gothic invasions, this steaming blood, these cities at evaporate at the edge of a sword, are not to be so easily disposed of. They prove that colonization, I repeat, dehumanizes even the most civilized man; that colonial activity, colonial enterprise, colonial conquest, which is based on contempt for the native and justified by that contempt, inevitably tends to change him who undertakes it; that the colonizer, who in order to ease his conscience gets into the habit of seeing the other man as an animal, accustoms himself to treating him like an animal, and tends objectively to transform himself into an animal. It is this result, this boomerang effect of colonization that I want to point out.”— Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism (41)
Amidst the global uprising and the newfound widespread public discourse around the ongoing traumas of white supremacy, I was taking a required MFA course on modernism and aesthetics, in which I encountered this excerpt of Césaire. I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways that colonization and white supremacy shape monsters, and how actively learning to undo or avoid reproducing its damages (its complicity with the destruction of other lives) is a way to become more fully oneself, rather than to withdraw or subtract oneself — a false binary between liberty and self-suppression which is in toxic circulation around the pandemic and the push towards racial justice. (Becoming more fully oneself can also include the acts of quieting oneself, and listening to the stories of others.)
I’ve been laying mostly pretty low social media wise these days, mainly due to the exhaustion that sank in as this academic year wrapped up, but felt aware of an urge to perform the ways that I was also personally undertaking the work of reckoning with these matters — something that seems a bit antithetical to undoing the deranged dialectic of white supremacy. I’ve been hesitant to be too visible or performative for that reason, but I did want to offer some guides and readings that I have found helpful (both in terms of participating in this moment, and in education myself around race and racism in slower, long-term ways). They are below.
Resource + Action Guides
- Black Lives Matter Ally Resource Guide
- Bail Funds / Mutual Aid Funds / Organizers / Black-Owned Businesses
- National Resource Guide (incl. info on lawyers/legal support)
- Civilities Anti-Racist Resources (Compiled by Gabrielle Civil)
- Reclaim the Block’s List of Organizations to Support
- UAW (UC Graduate Student Union) Virtual Action Guide
- UCSD Cross Cultural Center’s resource guide
- Fantasy World Master List of Resources on How to Dismantle Systemic Racism
- Thug$ for Humanity
- Justice in June syllabus compiled by Autumn Gupta (with Bryanna Wallace); includes daily reading and listening recommendations scaled to the amount of time you have.
Please get in touch if you feel one of these guides is no longer trustworthy or there’s something else you feel should be represented on a compilation like this. Also this is a shit-ton of information, just saying.
Articles, Podcasts, Panels, Etc
- “The Fire This Time: Race at a Boiling Point,” Panel on 6.5.20 with Angela Davis, Robin D. G. Kelley, Gaye Theresa Johnston, and Josh Kun; moderated by Herman Gray.
- “Seeing White” podcast series by Scene on Radio with John Beewin and Chenjerai Kumanyika — I listened to this while I worked at the mushroom factory and found it incredibly helpful in giving some language and historical context to the (ongoing) construction of race.
- Lithub compilation: “Readings on Racism, White Supremacy, and Police Violence in America”
- MPD150 — History of the MPD
- “Getting Real About the Job of the Police: A Letter to Barack Obama” by Chenjerai Kumanyika: https://theintercept.com/2020/06/03/obama-george-floyd/
- Democracy Now podcast has had a number of amazing guests on the topic of defunding the police (like, what that even means and why it’s necessary) as well as reportage on the protests and surrounding incidents.
This reading/listening list is scratching the surface of what’s out there; hopefully you find something that’s helpful. These conversations have been going on for a long time and will continue. I am working to believe that the work I do within myself–and continue to do beyond this moment of upheaval–is an important part of this necessary healing and transformation and unlearning the patterns of white supremacy–escaping the boomerang effect of colonization that Césaire described above.