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Anti-racism

My work and my small audience here straddle a lot of connected disciplines. Science, technology, statistics, museums, libraries, academia, have encouraged and upheld racist ideas for centuries, and continue to resist change. Everyone working in these fields should feel complicit.

Sustainably dismantling racist systems takes a long time, a lot of work, and a long-term commitment to anti-racism.

The first step I'd recommend to peers and pals who have recently decided to make that commitment is to read a lot, inside and outside your craft or discipline.

Before diving in head first - if you recognise that you have power to make things better, recognise that you might naively misuse that power to make things worse. Listening to people who are affected by the systems you create or maintain will help you avoid making things worse.

I've found that reading and listening to black/brown/anti-racist perspectives has been the most effective way of finding places where I might be able to effect positive, sustainable change.

I'm going to share a couple of the clearest voices from each of those fields which have helped my understanding of structural racism, in the hope that they might help you get started too:

  • For scientists and academics, Superior by Angela Saini
  • For data scientists and technologists, Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff
  • For people new to museums, Ways of Seeing by John Berger
  • For people who have been in museums too long, The Power To Name by Hope A. Olson
  • For people without context for the current pain in the US, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • For everyone, Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Race is one way among many in which society has been built imbalanced. All of them can be dismantled and rebuilt. If you're already committed to anti-racism, keep reading work about class, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, disability, by the people who know their impact best.

Commit to work on those too. In my experience, a system that oppresses one group is often a system that oppresses many. Broadening your perspective will broaden your potential impact.

Lastly, make active use of the reading you've done. Engage critically with the real world. Use the new eyes given to you by those writers, find the broken parts of your work, rebuild them better.