Courtney is joined by Aisury Vasquez, Diversity Outreach Coordinator for the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, where they share some resources for folks who are looking to examine their own thoughts and beliefs around racism. As mentioned in the podcast, here are the book titles and authors for reference: “How to be an AntiRacist” by Ibram X. Kendi; “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” by Ibram X. Kendi; “White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism” by Robin Diangelo; “Me and White Supremacy” by Layla F. Saad; “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander; “Eloquent Rage” by Brittney Cooper; “Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay; “Sister Outsider” by Audre Lorde, and “Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism” by bell hooks. (For reference, bell hooks doesn’t capitalize the letters in their name, so that is not a typo.)

Transcription: 

All right, everyone. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome to Wellbeing Wednesdays. I am your host, Courtney Weaver. I'm the director over at well WVU here at West Virginia University. I am joined today by Surrey Vasquez from the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She is the diversity outreach coordinator over there, and so we're really excited.

Awesome. Thank you so much, Courtney, for having me. Um, I mostly work with, uh, identity needs for my patients off campus. I made sure to make sure rather that these students have a connection and feel like they can use the division as a resource that they can come to us for any needs that they might have.

We can point them under the direction of resources of trainings. Um, just an overall. Engagement with our office and help them build a community on our campus. Awesome. That's really important work. And I'm really excited to have you here today because we're going to talk about some of the recent civil unrest.

That's been spurred by police violence across the country with George Floyd. And then, but we also have some black trans folks who have been killed in the past couple of weeks, like Dominique Remy in Ohio, Rio, Milton in Pennsylvania and Tony McDade down in Florida and people might be wondering, well, why are we talking about racism and police violence on a Wellbeing Wednesday's podcast. And so we'll, let's make that connection for folks. So according to the American public health association, actually back on May 29th, they did release a statement that really categorized racism as a public health issue. And I'd like to actually read a quote from their past president, Camara Phyllis Jones.

She's a medical doctor, has her master's in public health and has a PhD. They asked what is racism and it's racism is the system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks, which is what we call race, that unfairly disadvantages, some individuals and communities, unfairly advantages, other individuals and communities, and SAPs the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources.

So, and sometimes racism can be intentional or unintentional and it operates at various levels. So it can be systemic, but it can also be interpersonal. And it's also a driving force in the social determinants of health, which is housing, education and employment, and it's a barrier to health equity. And so we're here trying to promote health equity.

So when we see that racism is a barrier to that, it's an issue that we need to talk about for sure. And so. In this time when we're seeing all of these different protests happening across the country and these acts of violence, uh, and you're thinking about your own thoughts and beliefs and examining them and maybe thinking, alright, well, what are some of the ways that I can really work on being, becoming an anti-racist like we'd like to help you on that journey.

And so we're really excited to have you here today. So you can, we can talk about some of the resources that are available, because one of the things that has really come out of this. Has been lists of books and movies and television shows and articles and authors for people to check out. And so I think it'll be, it'll be great if we just have a discussion about some of those different things, but I think, I don't know if you want to comment on this, this theory about performative allyship versus authentic allyship, because the reason we're doing this work is we want to be allies, right?

For sure. Yeah. So, um, I was recently watching a Ted talk by Dr. Kendi. Um, and you have some of his books listed on, on some of the things to read and to watch out for right now. And Dr. Kendi talks about the feelings of advocacy and. Folks that are trying to be allies right now because they feel bad about what is happening.

Right. We feel bad because an innocent black man was murdered, multiple innocent, black people have been murdered. And so that makes us feel something. And so the way that we go about feeling better about this is, is going to a demonstration or donating or reading a book and. What's most important for people in the United States to do is to take those feelings and try and create change with those feelings, because it's not going to be enough whenever we say, alright, well, I've gone to a protest and now I feel a lot better.

Like I feel a lot better about what's been done in the world and how I've helped to make sure that there's a difference. We have to realize that it's not about us. This conversation is not about. Um, white people and non-black people of color right now. Right? And so it doesn't, I get that a lot of us are feeling stressed and we feel bad about the state of our country and what are we going to keep doing to make sure that we move forward, that we're moving in the direction that we are taking away the systems that promote this kind of environment in our country.

And. And so feelings should be driving us and transforming this country. The energy behind the black lives matter movement cannot be lost. It has to stay high, so we don't lose traction and as white and non-black people of color, we have to make sure that we're not getting in the way of that message.

Right. We have to make sure that we're supporting black led movements and not making this about our experiences. Definitely. And I think that's, I don't know about you, but it's, it's something that I've always seen when we have these occurrences in society. And I hate the word occurrences to describe this.

But when folks, particularly white women who say, Oh, I feel so sick about this. And all of a sudden it's become about their feelings as opposed to actually what the black community or other marginalized group is going through. And it's not helpful, but we take those feelings and spur them into action.

That's actually. Helping that's another story, right? So let's, let's talk about some of the books that folks can pick up to start doing some of this work. So the books that we've put on this list, they were suggested by a woman named Victoria Alexander on Facebook. Book. And she works at Salem state university.

And the ones that we're going to share the like the list is not exhaustive because her original list has over 50 books on it. Uh, and it's, and she ranks them, not ranks them, but separates them by different categories. And so it's, if you can find the post on Facebook, it has gone viral. Uh, you could probably find that list and see the complete list, but we'll, we'll share a few with you right now.

So do you want to start? Yeah. And I also have to say, um, there is. This, I've seen it on Instagram, but there's this large talk about black literature right now. And one of the things that black writers are promoting right now is to demonstrate the power and clout in the publishing DJing industry. Sunday, June 14th through Saturday, June, June 20th, that we are encouraging you to purchase any two books by black writers.

Our goal is to black out bestseller lists with black voices. And so I realized that a lot of the resources right now, um, some of the movies you've listed have become free to the public because people want to make sure that they're providing the resources. Um, especially for folks that can't get them generally, uh, that those are available to them.

And I think that it's important for us. I'm important for anybody that can purchase these stories to purchase these stories. It's important for us to support black writers, black authors, black, um, Filmmakers, um, just black artistry all around in black businesses. And so I would encourage anybody that can to take advantage of this and make sure that we are black outing bestseller lists with black voices.

And that's great to know because this podcast comes out, we're recording on a Monday, but it comes out on Wednesday and that's still within that timeframe. So sure. There's plenty of time for folks to take action and find those lists. So thank you for bringing that to our attention. That's awesome. Um, so first on this list is how to be anti-racist by doctor X.

it come. It came out, uh, August of 2019. I am actually almost done reading this one right now. Um, I have become a bit obsessed with dr. Kendi, um, and, and now trying to figure out how to. How to like track him down so I can go work for him. I think that a lot of the work that he's doing is absolutely phenomenal and he talks about not just this idea of not racist versus racist, but really anti-racism in the United States and how there is not such a thing as not racist and not racist is really just.

A code word for racist. So, um, I thought his book was particularly interesting. I'm really enjoying reading it right now. Yeah. I actually saw him on the daily show a couple of years ago when the next book on our list stamped from the beginning, the definitive history of racist ideas in America, also about you and max candy.

When that book was published back in 2016, he went on the daily show. And I can't remember if it was, if John Stewart had retired at that point, it was Trevor Noah, but I remember him being on there and just incredibly engaging and it made me go out and buy that particular books. I was like, I want to read.

Well, he's writing. Like he's a, he's a bestselling author. He is the founding director of the anti-racist research and policy center at American university in Washington, DC. And actually beginning next month, he's going up to Boston to be the founding director for the Boston university center for anti-racist research.

So he's really like made this. His life's work. And so, so yes, check it out. He's he was also featured, um, we'll talk about this in a little bit, but the African American policy forum did a series of webinars about COVID-19 and racism and has been doing them since he started the pandemic. And he was, uh, a guest as on or one of the panelists on one of the webinars.

So I, for anybody that's. Scott tiny humans are knows tiny humans. Uh, he also has a children's book. I think it comes up tomorrow. Um, it's called anti-racist baby. Um, I think it's, it's really, really important. It's never too early to start talking to children about race and racial issues. Um, and so I would highly recommend anti-racist to baby, to anybody that knows any, any tinier folks.

That's true. I think there there's been a lot of discussion among the parents that I know about. When do you start talking to your children about race? And there are actually a lot of lists that have been curated from this that have children's books that deal with those issues or talk about those issues in ways that are, that kids will understand.

Uh, so that's really, I'm not a parent, but I know some parents. The next book is by, um, Robin de Angelo and it's called white fragility. And it's why it's so hard for white people to talk about racism. This is actually been a fairly popular book. I know that we're looking at reading it in the office of student wellness as a group and work through it.

Cause we like to do book clubs, but normally we're stuck with articles, but I feel like. It's time for an actual book, but she's a professor at the university of Washington in Seattle and her research centers on whiteness studies and critical discourse analysis. So at white fragility is, is the name of that one, I think.

Um, dr. D'Angelo does a great job about talking how, how white people tend to be insulated from racial discomfort. And oftentimes lack the racial stamina to engage in difficult conversations about race. Um, and I think she almost views. W, uh, white Progressive's under like this very critical lens. And so I definitely recommend her book as well.

Um, especially to folks that already think that they're allies, right. Folks that think of themselves as, as part of doing the good work. Um, because maybe we don't know where we're missing out on. Right. That's for sure. So, uh, we have some more books on here that will just sort of, cause we're actually, I've already been talking for quite a while, which is good, but we mean white supremacy by Layla F sod.

Then we have the new Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and Michelle Alexander is also one, uh, she's featured in the documentary 13th, which is available on Netflix. Um, but she's a civil rights lawyer. Advocate and bestselling author. So she's taught at Stanford and directed the civil rights clinic. She's a contributing opinion writer to the New York times.

And then she's also worked for the ACL. Ooh, I haven't read the new Jim Crow, but I will definitely be purchasing it and reading it in the future. But her contributions to the film 13th are, are really powerful and. I recommend you check you, check it out. And then for there are quite a lot of books about black feminism.

Um, so we have eloquent rage by Brittany Cooper. We have bad feminist by Roxanne gay sister outsider by Audrey Lorde and AI woman, black women and feminism by bell hooks. And what we'll do is perhaps in our description of this particular episode, we'll list a lot of these books. And so people don't have to write them down really quickly as they're listening.

And so they have folks who are just like jotting down really, really fast moving through these. Yeah, it's got all the notes. This is a lecture series. It is. It is. But that's time that they know. Um, so then let's move on to some movies and TV series to watch. And as you mentioned, um, a lot of the streaming services have made some of these movies free, which is really great.

And the first one is just mercy, which is also a biography written by Bryan Stevenson, who is the main character in that. Well, it's not really a story and the true story. Um, and it's available to watch for free by the studio on all sorts of streaming platforms. Cause the studio itself was like, we're making this free for everyone, which is really great.

And then what else, what else do we have on this list? We also have also as an aside, um, for anybody I'll, I'll plug WVU libraries in real quick. Uh, but I listened to just mercy as an audio book of through WB libraries. And so for anybody that actually wants to listen rather than read, um, before you watched the movie, I.

Check out your, your library. I also, I'm always about pumping up the library. Librarians are the unsung heroes of co of university campuses. This COVID-19 has, has been particularly hard for, um, my, I used to listen to audio books on my commute and so that's no longer happening. And now I'm trying to like, be more intentional about when I, when I listen to books and podcasts.

Um, but next on this list we have, when they see us, um, it's a Netflix created, co-written directed by Ava DuVernay, DuVernay. Um, based on the 1989 case of the central park five who were wrongly convicted and combined for the rape, rape and assault of a white woman in central park. Um, I will say, um, some of the, some of the, these films are incredibly hard to watch.

Um, and I would argue that that's the point. Um, I think that as, as people that consider ourselves allies or people trying to become more educated about the things that black people experience on a day to day basis, that's all we can do right. Is, is watch. Um, and we will never truly know what that experience actually looks like.

So. For those of us that have hard time watching this. And for those of us that want to say, like, you know what, I'm going to pause this. Um, I would argue like, keep going, watch it, and like, make sure that you understand that your privilege says that you might never have to go through this in real life.

That's some of the things that I've seen where like, you know, if you're uncomfortable, sit with that discomfort because learning often doesn't happen when you're comfortable. Uh, and so sit with it right. Um, we also have 13, which I watched over the weekend. Um, also from film maker, Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequalities in the U S so focusing on the nation's prisons that are disproportionately filled with, um, African Americans and black people, this one, uh, I think there's oftentimes where we don't know the history, the true history of the United States.

And I think this one did a great job of. Walking people watch walking the viewers through the history of the United States and why we're not quite where we should be yet. Why a lot of work for, for overcoming racial injustices is still being done and why it's not enough because it's ingrained in our laws.

Definitely, uh, and 13th is available just like when they see us on Netflix. And then, uh, we have the house I live in, which was directed by Eugene directly. And it's a deep look inside America's criminal justice system. And then specifically into the war on drugs and it's human rights implications. I don't believe this one is available for free, but, uh, I looked at the rental prices and you can rent it for about $2 on streaming platforms.

So it's not, it's not too much of a, of a burden in that sense. And I'm moving on from just TVs and TV series, not TVs, uh, TV and movies here. I cannot speak today. I'm so sorry, Monday. Oh, goodness gracious. Um, there are also some articles out there that are compiling resources. There's one. And this actually was published back in 2017 on the platform medium, but it's called 75 things that white people can do for racial justice by Corinne shoe tech.

And I pulled some quotes from there, which cause I think it's just. It's just important pieces of advice for folks. Uh, one is to listen without ego and defensiveness to people of color, truly listen, don't scroll past articles written by people of color, read them. Uh, another one is don't be silent about that.

Racist joke. Silence is support. So whether that's coming from a friend, a family member, Speak up because silence is complicit. I think it's time for some of us to lose some friends. You know, I'm going to be honest. Yeah, it is, it is going to happen. And if you make holiday gathering uncomfortable, then so be it, you know?

Um, and then also included on that our list of folks to follow on social media. Like there's a lot of online publications to read organizations. To donate to, and then tips for contacting elected, elected officials and things like that. Um, and now I know a lot of. There's been a lot of movement about donating to certain organizations and whatnot, but there has, there was an artist who created a 60-minute video on YouTube where they monetized it so that all the profits go to, I believe the.

National bailout fund, um, which is actually pretty cool because that way, if you just watch the video, but it has to be on your phone, you can still donate to the organization. If you yourself, can't fiscally, you know, swing that, um, that, that was really cool. And so they're making those opportunities available.

And then also on YouTube is the African American policy forum channel. I recommend you check it out. They've been doing these incredible webinars bringing on just, I mean, incredible scholars and, and social justice advocates. You know, one of the founders of black lives matter was featured on these, uh, Webinars they're available for free, just Google, just do the YouTube search of African American policy forum, and you will find them.

So that's a, that's a pretty good list of stuff, but it's by, that's just like the tip of the iceberg. There's so much, there's so much more that people can do and read. And normally we like to do like a wellbeing snapshot, which is like, you know, how is this topic related to, you know, current happenings in the world?

This whole episode was a snapshot and really it's a snapshot. It's like a panoramic picture. This isn't something new. Um, it's something that's been around for a long time. And. People are paying attention and then that's it. But we hope that, you know, the resources that we've talked about today can help folks.

Um, and that, you know, a, sorry, if you apartment is here to help students at WVU talk about these issues and do trainings with groups and whatnot. And so you're always going to be a great resource, uh, Anyone in the WVU community, which is really sure. I encourage, um, students, faculty, staff, community members, to reach out to us, um, and, and truly use us as a resources as a resource.

I think a lot of people, um, sometimes don't even know that there, that we are there to serve the Morgantown and WVU community. Um, and so we are, um, So I I'd encourage anybody, even those that are unsure of where they stand. They're not sure how to have these conversations, um, reach out to us and we can make sure that we provide them with additional resources.

We can sit down and have open conversations without the need of feeling embarrassed or feeling like you're going to be chastised for saying the wrong thing. We are truly there to educate folks and make sure that they're on the right track. We're learning. Um, I think another thing that I'd like to briefly mention before we end this episode is I encourage everybody to check their own biases.

Um, the Harvard, uh, Harvard implicit bias test, I think is a great place to start. Um, I think sometimes we think that. We are very woke and we like, you can't tell me anything about being an ally, like I already know. Right. Um, and, and that's not necessarily true. I think a lot of us have a lot of learning to do and a lot of self-reflection that needs to be done.

And so checking ourselves first, in addition to looking at all of these resources, looking at watching all the movies, watching the TV series, reading the books, listening to the podcasts. I think it's really, really important as well. Yeah, and that test is available online. You just Google, Harvard implicit bias test, and you can find they have.

Yeah, all sorts of different versions of that test. Uh, and I recommend, I recommend you do it cause it is really eye-opening. Uh, well, thank you so much for joining me today. I certainly, I really appreciate you taking the time. Um, and to the, our loyal listeners, I don't know how many of them they're all, but we appreciate you to the bottom of our hearts.

So we'll get you next time on Wellbeing Wednesdays.