Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Challenges & Change

We at Reading While White have been challenged in recent months to keep up with regular posting as we individually navigate the realities of our world today and collectively consider how RWW can move forward in a way that is responsible, responsive to and part of the anti-racist work of Black, Indigenous and People of Color in the children's and young adult literature world. We hope to have more here soon, but in the meantime, we do have a Links Roundup, and some important updates.

Lowercase “white”

We have decided to begin using lowercase “white,” and realize that we should have made this change earlier. When we started the blog 5 years ago, we decided to capitalize Black, based on arguments such as Lori Tharp's "The Case for Black with a Capital B." We then went a step further to “capitalize White because it forces White people to confront the fact and awkwardness of this invented race. Uncapitalized, it suggested to us that Whiteness doesn't exist as a racial category.” (from our previous FAQs, now updated). It is clear to us now that this needs to change. 

Some Black scholars have their reasons to capitalize “white” (such as Eve Ewing in “I’m a Black Scholar Who Studies Race. Here’s Why I Capitalize ‘White.’“), and a lot of other racial justice scholars do too; however, we are not either of these groups. We are white library workers and bloggers and we failed to recognize that in making our own decision to capitalize “white,” we were centering the experience of our white readership and ignoring the impact on Black people.  Ryan Douglass explains it clearly in Capitalize the “B” in Black (and not the “w” in white): “A language shift meant to empower Black people does not have to invite the oppressors to the table in order to be legitimate. Period!” 


While we don’t pretend that by changing a term, or a capitalization, we are making actionable difference, we do know that changing language can mean a shift in perspective, and learning--it is certainly that for us. 


Goodbye to Allie

Allie Jane Bruce has sadly decided to leave Reading While White, as she looks forward to throwing her whole self into her upcoming graduate school learning and research. We are so grateful for her energy, insight, and many contributions over the past five years. We will miss her voice and her presence here, but are excited for her to embark on this new journey.


Links Roundup

Finally, as promised, here are some pieces we’ve been reading and reflecting on recently.  We’re still processing, so stay tuned.  


-What's Missing From White Fragility?

-White Fragility' is Everywhere. But Does Antiracism Training Work?

-Linguist John McWhorter Says 'White Fragility' Is Condescending Toward Black People

-Is the Anti-Racism Training Industry Just Peddling White Supremacy?

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