Update, 6/3/2020: There is an excellent website that rounds up key resources - it's far superior to what I tried to do a few days ago so please check it out!
As for me, I'm still processing the enormous amount of ever-changing information, but wanted to take at least a few steps in the right direction. Helping dismantle racism is a marathon, not a sprint, and I intend on working on it basically forever. So while it's not much, I've taken in a lot of information and a few actions to start with. In the last 72 hours I have devoured countless online articles and IG posts, followed at least 30 IG and Twitter accounts run by black women, ordered 2 of the 4 books noted in the first list below (purchased from black-owned bookstores), and donated to the Black Visions Collective. All of these are not enough and should have been done far sooner, and I'm certainly not broadcasting these things to be self-congratulatory or to receive a pat on the back. I'm merely trying to demonstrate that I'm starting to put thought into tangible action and that you can too. Try not to be overwhelmed with all the information being distributed or the steps you can take. It's a lifelong process and you don't have to do it all at once...but doing something tiny is better than nothing.
I'm also working on a plan or a statement of some kind about how the Museum can better represent and support black people. I had long been intending to unveil a plan on diversity and inclusiveness for the Museum as part of MM Musings and actually had it scheduled for July, but I think given the current situation I am going to address the issue sooner with a focus on racism. It won't be complete since I still don't have the resources I wanted to incorporate, but it will be some thoughts. Stay tuned.
Original post, 5/30/2020
You know I try to keep the Museum a happy place, somewhere people can look at pretty makeup and learn about cosmetics history. I like to think of it as providing a much-needed escape from scary times. But right now, as I was with the Freddie Gray protests here in Baltimore, I am too distracted to write about makeup. I subscribe to the #museumsarenotneutral stance so with that, I wanted to share some resources that might be helpful to non-black people who are trying to be allies. I feel very useless as well as overwhelmed by the volume of information being circulated across various social media platforms and I suspect you do too, so by getting some key sources in one place I'm hoping you can feel like you're taking some small amount of action. This just the tip of the iceberg and by no means intended to be an exhaustive list, but it's a starting point.
1. The basics: Understanding what allyship and privilege really mean and how white people in particular have benefited from a racist system. This is a great allyship beginner's guide and an article explaining white privilege, plus an allyship primer on Twitter.
2. If you can afford to, even if it's just a couple dollars, donate. Here are the individual donation pages for Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, as well as the donation page for the Minnesota Freedom Fund, the Black Visions Collective, and a complete list of bail funds. And of course, there's always the ACLU. More donation sites can be found here. This list also includes organizations that provide mental health resources to black people, if you'd rather divert your money to places that help in a more direct way.
3. Continue educating yourself...and not by badgering black people. They do not exist to teach you; it's up to you to do the work. There are so many resources out there. In the interest of being totally transparent I haven't read these books yet, but these are the ones that I keep seeing on every list of recommended reading. Lots more books here and here.
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- How to Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
- Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Others from a more feminist angle (I've read all of these except Eloquent Rage):
- Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
- Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins
- Feminism Is For Everybody by bell hooks
- Women, Race and Class by Angela Davis
- Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper
4. Support black artists, writers and other creatives and businesses. Follow, share, retweet etc. to help get their voices heard. This is something I admittedly don't do much of because I was always afraid of it coming off as disingenuous - just a move to make the Museum look like it actually cares about diversity while not actually doing anything of value. I've also always been hesitant to attempt to write about black beauty history or brands because I was afraid of white-splaining, or that it's not my story to tell. And honestly, I still feel like it would be wrong of me to, for example, detail the history of shade ranges since I've never experienced not being able to find a foundation match. I feel as though it's better left to a black person who has had to deal with it first-hand, especially since, again, we need to help make sure their voices are heard. I'm still trying to figure it all out, but I think following and sharing the work of black people is a start.
5. Do the work in real life. Online support is great, but real-life interactions are necessary for change. Here's a preparation checklist for protesting (if you're able). The most important thing is having conversations with your friends, family, co-workers, etc. and taking action in your community. Here are 75 ways to you can do the work, plus another good general guide outside of protesting.
This situation is so odd because I don't want to be silent but at the same time I don't want to just be paying lip service either, and I know this post is going to come off as performative, absolution-seeking, virtual-signaling and/or white-knighting. I also know that it won't solve or undo hundreds of years of racism. But I thought it certainly couldn't hurt, and compiling these resources will also clarify what to do. Finally, please know I'm also constantly thinking about how the Museum can be a more inclusive and diverse space, acknowledging that there's still a ton of work to be done on my part, and focusing on keeping the conversation going and not just when police brutality and other violence towards black people are dominating the headlines.
If there are any other key resources you think need to be here, please let me know.