Educating Ourselves about Whiteness and Racism

Resources that have been personally helpful to us library workers in starting to critically examine whiteness and racism and take action as anti-racists

A Note About These Resources

This is guide is a work in progress. These resources have been helpful to SMC library workers in understanding white privilege, white supremacy, anti-Black racism, and anti-Asian racism. We hope to add resources encompassing other forms of oppression in the future.

While we have separated resources on white privilege, anti-Black racism, and anti-Asian racism onto their own pages, we understand that these issues are tightly linked and we must act in solidarity to oppose all forms of racism and oppression. 

This list is not comprehensive and almost certainly contains blind spots, oversights, and resources with flaws. If you have any questions or suggestions for other resources for this page, please contact us using the form on the left.

What is Racism?

"Racism is prejudice plus power."

"Anyone of any race can have/exhibit racial prejudice, but in North America, white people have the institutional power, therefore racism is a systematized discrimination or antagonism directed against people of color based on the belief that whiteness is superior. It is insidious, systemic, devastating, and integral to understanding both the history of the United States and the everyday experiences of those of us living in this country.

"Note: A common, incorrect definition of racism is the colloquial definition: 'racism is prejudice against someone based on their skin color or ethnicity and can be committed by anyone.' This is not an accurate definition nor the one used in most anti-racist circles. It highlights individuals' thinking and actions but ignores embedded institutional and cultural systems.

"Non-white folks can be agents of racism as well (particularly when acting as representatives of white-dominated systems, such as higher education) by perpetuating the notion of white superiority and using it to discriminate against other people of color. For example, a black manager at a company may insist that a black employee's natural hair looks 'unprofessional,' or an Asian professor may knock points off the presentation grade of a Latinx student who speaks with an accent."

(Borrowed from Simmons University Anti-Oppression LibGuide)

Another definition, from Ibram X. Kendi, the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, is that racism is "a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas," and that a racist is "one who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or inaction or expressing a racist idea." These definitions stress the importance of policies in upholding racism and that each of us can choose from moment to moment whether to act in ways that are racist or anti-racist.

Consider This...

"Friendly reminder that White Privilege doesn't mean your life isn't hard, can't be hard, or was never hard... It means the color of your skin will never be a factor in what's causing  your difficulties." - @decolonizeont

James Baldwin, American novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, and activist

“It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I’d been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.” - James Baldwin, Collected Essays: Native Son

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.