Design

Have a Loving Weekend.

Martin Luther King Jr

What are you up to this weekend? My mom is visiting, and she’s teaching the boys to cook her favorite things: garlic shrimp, sautéed broccoli, buttery pasta. I’m grateful to be the taste tester. And as we remember Martin Luther King, Jr., I would love to hear articles or books you’ve read about race that you’ve appreciated. Hope you have a good one, and here are a few links from around the web…

White people assume niceness is the answer to racism. It’s not. “Most white people continue to conceptualize racism as isolated and individual acts of intentional meanness. This definition is convenient and comforting, in that it exempts so many white people from the system of white supremacy we live in and are shaped by.”

Also, how we talk about racism in America is wrong.

This is what black burnout feels like. “So how does a black woman combat burnout? Black girl magic, right?! I love this phrase. I use and repeat it often. I love the song by Janelle Monáe that repeats this phrase even more. But I can’t stop honing in on that word, ‘magic’ — the idea that black women have had to subsist on their mystical powers to persist. Black women have had to rely on wizardry to make it through this tumultuous life.”

50 conversation starters at family dinner.

This comic made me laugh.

An argument for halloumi cheese.

One way to choose a career path.

Where I’ve lived: Eight homes of a 13-year-old former foster kid.

Have you seen this nutty street photography?

Says Franny: This eye balm is a lifesaver for mornings after staying up too late watching too much Great British Bake Off. It’s cool to the touch and I can feel it working.

Five magical things I’ve seen in NYC.”

Plus, three reader comments:

Says Petya on parenting reader comments: “I’m an immigrant, and my family lives thousands of miles away. I send photos every morning, so my mom, dad and sister can see my little girl. I give them context: she picked out her clothes today, she insisted on a bow in her hair, she doesn’t like bananas anymore. They oooh and aaah, and my mom always says, ‘…And she is so little!’ It’s her grandmotherly way of expressing pride and amazement, but it has become the one thing I say back to myself when I get flustered in a temporary moment of crazy toddler behavior. Instead of getting mad, I just say to myself…’and she is so little!'”

Says Ginger on sex talk with Erica: “A great resource for all things sex-ed and sex positive is the excellent comic series Oh Joy Sex Toy. There’s so much good information, with representation of ALL types of bodies. I’d recommended it to anyone looking for insight into things we weren’t taught in ninth grade health class.”

Says Clara on learning new things: “Three cheers for hobbies! A year and a half ago, I was inspired to take up the tuba. It’s a forgiving instrument to learn, and I’ve discovered it’s impossible to be in a bad mood while you play it. The tuba is joy, distilled.”

(Foster homes via Kottke. Niceness link via Hither & Thither. Street photography via Emily.)

  1. Meli says...

    @Sasha, keep at it.

    “I tell sincere white people, ‘Work in conjunction with us—each of us working among our own kind.’ Let sincere white individuals find all other white people they can who feel as they do—and let them form their own all-white groups, to work trying to convert other white people who are thinking and acting so racist. Let sincere whites go and teach non-violence to white people!” Malcolm X

    • Sasha L says...

      Amen. Thank you. White people need to wake up other white people and do this work together. White supremacy is ours to tear down.

  2. Liz says...

    I’m Cypriot- American and I cannnnnot believe how trendy haloumi has become in the past few years – No one know what we were eating most of my life haha

  3. jessica says...

    I always look forward to your Friday posts, and the thoughtful reader comments. I’ve discovered many wonderful book recommendations from your blog, and happy to pass along some recommendations of books I’ve read in the past couple years:
    Just Mercy
    Homegoing
    The Hate U Give
    Between the World and Me
    An American Marriage

  4. Alex A. says...

    Thank you for linking “50 Conversation Starters” in your blog. As a college student, I occasionally find it hard to keep a conversation going with my family that I stay with on weekends since I am so far from home. I know that the article is geared more towards conversations with kids, but it has given me some ideas to start new conversations with my family rather than just talking about sports or what has gone on during our week.

  5. Florencia Duran says...

    LOVED LOVED LOVED the Instagram about the magical things in NYC. Actually brought tears to my eyes!
    Hope you’re enjoying your mom, Joanna.

    Big hugs from Chile.

  6. Alex H. says...

    Thank you for linking “50 Conversations Starters”. Even as a college student now, I occasionally have a difficult time trying to figure out what to say to my family who I stay with on the weekends since I’m so far away from home. Usually, we talk about sports or things that happened during the week but it doesn’t seem to keep the conversation going. But this article has given me some ideas about what to ask them even though the article is mostly designed for conversation starters for kids.
    Also, the article “White people assume niceness is the answer to racial inequality. It’s not” reminded me of a class that I took last semester. The article and class made me think about how I had been treated because I look white (I am half white and half Asian), and how people treated my Asian mother because of the color of her skin. I saw a trend in the way that white people thought of me as one of their own because I look white, but whenever they would look at my mother, they tended to fake their smile and act polite to her face. I am a generally nice person to people I meet, but I’m not going to go out of my way to fake niceness for a person who might not be the same race or have the same views as me. All people deserve respect no matter what race they are. But that respect shouldn’t be faked just because their skin is a different color.

  7. Sharon says...

    Thank you Joanna for choosing to use your blog to share important topics about race. As a white woman, who lives in a conservative and mostly segregated community, this blog continues to help me learn and grow. I am certainly not perfect, but I see more of my blind spots and am motivated to try and do better. Your gentle and gracious communication style makes it so easy to listen to what you have to say. You have an amazing platform; thank you for using it thoughtfully. I loved the article, ‘White People Assume Niceness is the Answer to Racism.’ I’ve shared it with my husband and it’s helped me articulate the idea of white privilege in a new way.

  8. RB says...

    Thank you for your courage to post honest comments and links about race. As a Black woman of a certain age, it’ refreshing to find a forum where we can embrace discomfort, and contemplate without judgment.

    Indeed, and an apple a day, and a cup of Jo!

  9. Hallie says...

    I missed the comments where perhaps we should look at our system and how it puts us against each other in our every days lives. Take action, vote local, support local businesses, boycott Amazon and Walmart, recognize your words have meaning and be intentional. Stop thinking our educational system is beneficial. You are the guardian of your child, not the state. Take back your freedom from our oppressive system. Do you even know what that means? Everybody wake up. The world is changing all around us, it is going to affect everyone, stop focusing on telling one race they are racist. Just be. Find your purpose, live in harmony. Kick out the beaurocracy! With love.

    • Sasha L says...

      I need to know if I’m being racist. I want someone to tell me. I do my best, but I’m a white woman, in a white town, in a white state, in a country founded on white supremacy, and I know enough to know it’s not possible that I hold no racist beliefs. If someone is brave enough to tell me, I’ll say thank you. I’m also reading and listening and taking responsibility for learning myself. And letting go of my knee jerk reaction (no I’m not!) when someone points out my racism. *Calling* me a racist, my words racist, my actions or intentions racist is no where near as harmful as my actually harming others with my racism.

    • For Sasha L, you touched on something that is drastically important in discovering and dealing with our inherent racism: humility.
      Yours is exactly the kind of attitude needed in moving through this process of uncovering and dismantling the system and our own personal biases of racism.
      Keep moving forward through this process, listening to your intuition and know you’re on the right track with your open and honest and humble perspective taking. Seek out support in those of us also on this path. My hope is that enough of us coming together, speaking out on issues of racism and white supremacy and lifting up the voices and stories of people of color, we can make real change in how this country thinks about race and inequality.
      Some good resources: SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice)- chapters in many cities nationwide, a group for white people working to be good allies (http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/); Indivisible- chapters in many cities nationwide, race is just part of the conversation (https://indivisible.org/)
      If you aren’t living in areas with these groups, there is tons of information on social media- start following black and brown and women and listening to their stories. You will learn so much. Much love,

    • Sasha L says...

      Thank you Kate, for the resources and kindness. Here’s to trying our best.

    • karen says...

      An eye-opening book:
      White Fragility by Robin DeAngelo

  10. Caitlin says...

    Just finished “If Beale Street Could Talk” by James Baldwin in anticipation of the Barry Jenkins movie I now cannot wait to see. Beautiful, sentimental writing from a thoughtful author that I surprisingly was not exposed to in a single English class growing up (and I was an American lit major in college! It’s tragic.)

  11. I love the first article. I want to print it out on leaflets and hand it out to everyone I see.

  12. Anne W Cater says...

    I don’t think I’ve seen anyone mention Scene On Radio’s “Seeing White” series. I just finished it today and it was such an education for me – I wish I had someone to listen along with. I highly recommend it!

  13. T says...

    shasta- my hero!

  14. Courtney says...

    Recipe for garlic shrimp?? will you share?! :)

    • Jess K. says...

      My favorite (and easiest) recipe for garlic shrimp is to mix defrosted raw, deveined, tail-less shrimp with a splash of olive oil and salt, pepper, and garlic to taste. In my opinion, the more garlic the better, but I know that’s not for everyone. Then spread them on a baking sheet and bake them for 10 minutes at 400F. Quick, easy, and delicious. You can toss them with pasta, put them on a salad, whatever you fancy.

  15. Natasha says...

    Thank you so much for linking to the Where I’ve Lived Story! I would love for your readers to know about the amazing organization CASA (there are chapters around the country), which trains and supervises people to be volunteer Court-Appointed Special Advocates for children in foster care. For a kid in the system who is lucky enough to get a CASA, it means having a caring adult who consistently shows up for them in the court hearings that decide their fates. The CASA gets to know the child and everyone involved in their life (foster parents or group home supervisors, teachers, doctors etc) and reports to the court and makes recommendations regarding placement, services they should receive, medications, activities, etc. The CASA makes sure that the child’s feelings and wishes are taken into account in the report, and is valued by the court for their “outside-the-system” perspective. In many cases, a CASA will be the only person in a child’s life who is not paid to take an interest in them. I was compelled to become a CASA because of a concern for the welfare of defenseless children of course, but also because of the pipeline that the foster system creates to homelessness and incarceration. The outcomes of children like Logan have a HUGE impact on society. I was thrilled to read that he was adopted – so many kids are not so lucky to find that permanency. And I was thrilled to find CASA because it gives people like me, who are not interested in becoming a foster parent, an opportunity to really make a difference in children’s lives.

    • EE says...

      Thank you so much for posting this! I am just finishing up my CASA training. It seems like such an important organization and I am excited and nervous to start work on my first case.

    • Ali says...

      Thank you so much for sharing this! I grew up with foster siblings, and my siblings participate in respite care for foster children. I’ve wanted to involve myself in the foster system, but I’m not in the right stage of my life to bring a child into my home. My city has a chapter – I’ll be looking into this to see if its the right way to get involved now!

    • Claire says...

      Thank you for this information! I’ll be looking into it.

    • Vee says...

      Wow, this sound like a really amazing organization. I’m so glad to know it exists and that you’re a part of it!

    • t says...

      I unfortunately had a different experience as a CASA. I spent 5 years going to all the hearings, meetings, etc and repeatedly provided my feedback to the judge and social worker and felt completely ineffective. The foster child had a loving family who was willing to adopt her but instead the courts repeatedly opted for reunification over what is actually best for the child. The parental rights are more important than the child’s rights even though the parents had shown over and over again that reunification is not the right decision. I recently ended my time as a CASA because of this.

  16. SR says...

    Some of my favorites:
    “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a good place to start.
    “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo is great (holy cow)!

    Great for Educators/Parents:
    “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race” by Beveryly Daniel Tatum
    “Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education” By Özlem Sensoy and Robin DiAngelo (**should be required reading for educators**)

    And a complete history lesson:
    “Stamped from the Beginning: The definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” by Ibram X. Kendi

    Amazing podcast Episodes:
    This American Life, Episode 562: “The Problem We all Live With – Part One”
    This American Life, Episode 563: “The Problem We all Live With – Part Two”
    https://www.thisamericanlife.org/562/the-problem-we-all-live-with-part-one

  17. Nigerian Girl says...

    Great books on race:
    The Fire Next Time – James Baldwin
    Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    An American Marriage – Tayari Jones
    Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi

    • Aya Costantino says...

      YES! I heartily second!
      I was going to suggest your bottom three books, which in addition to being amazing novels, are powerful discussions on race. Homegoing has really stuck in my mind–thinking about African diaspora and the legacy of slavery. I’ll add your top one to the list.

      Also, following folks like Rachel Cargle and Layla f. Saad on Instagram. Check our Saad’s downloadable “Me And White Supremacy Workbook”. I initially didn’t think it was for me as a WOC, but realized that we all have a relationship with white supremacy and I need to do the work.

      Ear Hustle is a wonderful podcast about life in prison and in addition to breaking down many of my stereotypes got me thinking about prison as today’s chain gangs.

  18. Peggy says...

    Thank you for talking about this extremely important day, and important issue we should be talking about all year long.

    A book I read (as a white woman) that I appreciated was So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo.

  19. Katie says...

    White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo
    This is a very thought provoking book about why we need to stop feeling uncomfortable about discussing racism in order to make real change in society. It is going to take white people talking to other white people about the issue and push the uncomfortable until we can start to make headway. As my dear friend said, “ I am tired of talking to white people about how what they say is wrong or offensive. You do it.”

  20. Paige says...

    I hope Clara (the tuba player) lives near a Tuba Christmas event. Nothing is more joyful than an hour of carols played en masse on tuba. Please join in, Clara!

  21. Casey says...

    The Gate U Give, Selma, The Help – all movies, 2 are books. Highly recommend each.

  22. Jessica says...

    EmbraceRace is a great resource for parents and educators to learn how to talk about race with kids. I love their resources for reading picture books through a race conscious lens, which changed the way I purchase, read, and discuss children’s books, and how I respond to kids while reading aloud. Check out this webinar about how kids learn about race on Tuesday the 22nd: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_LW8hSaYZSVedp8mZznQRZw

  23. Missy says...

    I´d recommend looking up Latasha Morrison and her organization Be The Bridge… great example of grassroots racial reconciliation:)

  24. Kendall says...

    Yes to Halloumi! For whatever reason it’s very popular here in Sweden. The vegetarian option at our fast food burger joint of choice — Max — is a Halloumi burger! It’s common at BBQs and great fried up with some veggies and fish. So much cheaper than in the US too! Our friends call it “squeaky cheese” because it squeaks when you chew it. It’s a meaty cheese! ;)

    • Irene says...

      Halloumi is indeed delicious. What I want to know is why it is described as “not exactly good for you.” Have we all drunk the vegan Kool-Aid?

  25. Jane says...

    Thank you so, so much for the link to the awesome conversation starters! I looked them up, translated them into German, changed a few (“cartoon characters” to “characters from books” because I am a nerd 😉), printed and laminated them, cut little strips, put them into a tall glass, told the girls I had a dinner surprise for them, and we have never enjoyed dinner with our 2 and 5 year old girls that much! Simple, easy, and endlessly effective.

  26. Sarah says...

    Rachel Cargle’s work is a necessary read, particularly for white or white-passing women who are trying to understand and dismantle their own role in racism. She is a write and activist who facilitates discourse on the intersections of race and gender. She has written a few pieces for Harper’s Bazaar that are well worth reading (https://www.harpersbazaar.com/author/220412/rachel-cargle/). She is incredibly active on social media and hosts a lot of lecture series and workshops around the country. So, there are countless opportunities to engage in difficult conversation every day thanks to her work.

    Ericka Hart is also a must!
    http://www.ihartericka.com/

  27. Rose says...

    Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe has the best last paragraph I have ever read. In literature, and about the white perspective.

    • Sasha L says...

      I love that book so much. Putting on my 2019 list for a reread. Thanks for the reminder.

  28. patricia blaettler says...

    “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson tells the story of the great migration north of African Americans. It’s her first book and it is EXCELLENT.
    It is easy to read and you will probably learn a lot.

    • anne says...

      This book was amazing!

  29. Brooke says...

    Congressman John Lewis, who marched along with Martin Luther King Jr, said this so poignantly in an interview about how they responded to violence in the civil rights movement and it floors me:

    “And you live as if you’re already there, that you’re already in that Beloved community, part of that sense of one family, one house. If you visualize it, if you can even have faith that it’s there, for you it is already there. And during the early days of the movement, I believed that the only true and real integration for that sense of the beloved community existed within the movement itself. Because in the final analysis, we did become a circle of trust, a band of brothers and sisters.“

  30. Brooke says...

    It’s so encouraging to have conversations about systemic issues like race here. It was one of my resolutions a few years ago to move from being very anxious/ quiet to being more engaged and learning and part of transformation. I’ve learned so much from racial equity educators like David Campt, Robin D’Angelo and Eduardo Bonillo-Silva over these last years. This 3-minute video from Eduardo is really pithy and moving –
    https://www.trinitywallstreet.org/video/racism-without-racists

  31. Sasha L says...

    Another book, Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, about growing up in South Africa. Hugely informative about apartheid, which we in America don’t know enough about (for example, the architects of the apartheid system based it on America’s system of white supremacy and segregation, in part), but also so insightful about larger issues of racism and he thoughtfully compares what he’s known in both SA and America in ways that will make one think deeper.
    Also a beautiful (and funny) personal memoir.

  32. L says...

    Rachel Cargle has an extremely strong instagram presence and I’ve learned so much from reading her anti-racism work that she shares. She has shown me the importance of financially supporting the work of women of color in their anti-racism work and activism, and it’s something I’m spending more of my discretionary income on this year. I’ve also learned a lot about performance allyship and how it can be just as destructive as blantant racism which I didn’t really understand before. Lots of white women attack her online for not “being inclusive” and working from a “place of love,” but Rachel really just calls out white feminist fragility and it is badass!

    I would love to see Rachel featured on COJ this year, she’s amazing!

  33. Sasha L says...

    Mari, YOU and the way you see the world and bring it to our eyes as well, is magical. Thank you so much! Made my Saturday morning!

    Racism. My husband and adult kids and I have been talking about this idea, that nice doesn’t =not racist, that no Klan membership doesn’t= not racist. We’ve been trying to unload the term racist, and to become comfortable saying “I am racist”. I think it’s only when we, nice white progressive non Klan people, can confront our own racism, that the really ugly subtle deeply ingrained racism that underpins EVERYTHING here in America will ever get better. Acknowledge, confront, dismantle. Can’t do any of the above if all you do is argue how not racist you are. I’m reading POC and WOC and listening. And when ideas pop into my head about what I’m listening/reading I’m actively labeling, that’s racist, and doing my best to take it apart. We can’t just sit back, enjoying our relative white safety and white privilege and pat ourselves on the backs for not using the n word.

  34. Lisa says...

    The “Things I’ve Seen in NYC” series makes me choke up. I love this city, and it makes me want to be much more aware of what’s happening around me in my every day rush. Great reminder.

    • rach says...

      seriously…ive never been to NY…any of it. its shamefull! I want to visit so badly but i feel like id need like a year to really see and experience everything!

  35. b says...

    As a former teacher, I so wish kids had to go to school on days like MLK day and presidents’ day, etc so that time could be spent teaching them about those people and what they did instead of just an excuse to have yet another day off. I live in Northern Nevada and the kids (not mine because I don’t have any, but you know what I mean) JUST went back to school on Monday after three plus weeks of winter break. And now they have a long weekend for a thing that is loaded with teachable moments.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I hear you! Our kids’ schools talk, read and learn about Martin Luther King Jr leading up to the long weekend. I wonder if other schools do the same?

    • Sasha L says...

      Where I live kids do go to school on MLK day, but not President’s day. I believe some preschools take both off. I wish schools would stay open for them as well, for the reasons you mention, and also because it’s very burdensome for parents to find childcare when school is closed. Almost no parents will have those days off. I wish school and work schedules coincided better.

    • b says...

      I hope so! I did when I was in the classroom.

    • KC says...

      I see your point; however, I love that MLK is a day for my son to be home with his dad and I and WE can teach him about MLK and how he shaped the future for us Black Americans.

  36. Sasha L says...

    Books: Ta-Nahisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, and She Would Be King by Wayetu Moore. For children, Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport.

    • Kelly says...

      Yes! I listened to the audiobook of Between the World and Me, which was read by the author, and it was beautiful.
      I also enjoyed So You Want to Talk About Race.

  37. Rue says...

    hold the phone — are there arguments AGAINST halloumi???

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Hahahaha

  38. Emily Singer Chapman says...

    The perfect weekend to watch King In The Wilderness, streaming on HBO. It’s an incredible documentary which premiered at the Sundance Film Fest last year. It powerfully portrays the last three years of the life of Martin Luther King, Jr and the work he was doing as told by the friends who surrounded him. My favorite moments are actually with Coretta Scott King, who I hadn’t known enough about- an incredible activist in her own right who sacrificed daily. Full disclosure- my husband was an editor on the project, but we don’t recommend all of each other’s work and this one was really special!

  39. Emily says...

    Black Dignity In a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown and Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson are must reads!! (Both nonfiction but so engrossing.) American Marriage by Tayari Jones is a great fiction pairing to Stevenson’s book.

    • Caitlin says...

      Second the recommendation for Just Mercy. Hands down one of my top reads of all time.

  40. Marie says...

    I have been reading your blog for over a decade and for some reason felt compelled to leave my first comment ever on any blog this morning! Your Saturday links are something I look forward to with a cup of coffee in bed each weekend. They always seem to hit home for me, and this morning’s links were especially thought provoking and lovely. Thanks for being such a wonderful part of my Saturday ritual. Xo.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Thank you so much, Marie. That means a lot to me! So glad you wrote. Xo

  41. Tori says...

    Thank you for only having one product recommendation link!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Thanks! Many people request design finds too but we like to mix it up! Xo

  42. Chrissie says...

    Thank you so much for including the article about Logan and the homes he’s lived in while he’s been in foster care. I work with teenage boys in foster care. Some of whom have been in between 30-40 different placements. I’ll often talk the boys back to the towns they used to live in- we drive by their old schools and their old foster homes and talk about what life was like in those places. Seeing this article makes maybe we should take pictures of each places and have them write down their memories. What a life these kids have lived. I’m always in awe about how they keep showing up, despite everything. The keep laughing, joking, trying. It’s truly amazing.

    • T says...

      this just breaks my heart. how do we help?! I have been a CASA (court appointed special advocate) for foster children which was a complete waste of time. No one with power is advocating for them IMO. How do we make the suffering of children less painful??

  43. Naima says...

    A classic —The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Brilliant and honest insights on race, class, and life in America at an important time in our history. I was in tears at the end.

  44. Kelly Y. says...

    A great picture book on racism:
    Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham.

  45. Mouse says...

    Love the ice cube count in 5 magical things about NYC. When I lived there I found the city full of these kinds of moments. I guess NYC gets such bad (and often lazy) press that we are surprised by moments like these.

    I would add citizens gleefully and responsibly directing traffic during the blackout as if it was the culmination of their childhood dreams.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Mouse, I love that :)

  46. ‘Small Great Things’ by Jodi Picoult.

    I felt very white and very privileged reading this book, and it made me uncomfortable – in a good way.

  47. Lorna says...

    Thank you for bringing attention to “where I’ve lived”. Kids in foster care are both overlooked and stigmatized in our society. This is a reminder that they’re just kids, and they deserve loving, attentive, PERMANENT parents like everyone else. Thank you.

    • JenniferfromAustin says...

      Saw your post last night and came back to thank you for sharing the link. I’ve been binge listening all morning! It’s superb.

  48. Lisa says...

    I found recently an article in The Cut called “What the black church taught me about lipstick”. I loved the article. The strength of the black women resonated with me as did the anthem “you don’t look like what you’ve been through.”

  49. Kate says...

    We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates is the most powerful and illuminating book about race in America I’ve encountered.

  50. JenniferfromAustin says...

    Yes to all of this:
    “White people assume niceness is the answer to racism. It’s not. “Most white people continue to conceptualize racism as isolated and individual acts of intentional meanness. This definition is convenient and comforting, in that it exempts so many white people from the system of white supremacy we live in and are shaped by.””

    I’m about 3 years into “my recovery” from this way of thinking and viewing the world. It’s a process. Every. Day. And once you begin the shift your mindset and see the ways in which system white supremacy is literally embedded in every aspect of our culture, you really can’t unsee it. It. Is. Everywhere. I highly recommend following and learning from the work of Layla Saad and Rachel Cargle. They are brilliant women who can teach you tons if you’re willing to dig deep and do the work.

    • L says...

      Also came down to the comments to recommend reading and fiscally supporting Rachel Cargle’s work! And yes to everything you said, Jennifer!

  51. P says...

    Thank you for this post, Joanna. I identify as a white woman, and for other white women I cannot recommend enough the book Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving (https://www.amazon.com/Waking-White-Finding-Myself-Story/dp/0991331303). The author describes her process of unpacking all the ways in which she and her family, generations back, have benefitted from their whiteness; realizing that being white comes with all kinds of privilege that many white people have not examined; and coming to terms with the reality that, as The Guardian article that you shared says, it’s not enough for us white people to be well-intentioned and “nice” – or to have voted for Obama. It really packs a punch. A must read. And re-read.

  52. Amy says...

    Mari Andrews! She’s pure genius. I’m sitting in a cafe, drinking my morning coffee alone, laughing and wiping away tears as a I read her words.

  53. Ramona says...

    I can relate ‘a bit’ of Logan’s journey. I grew up with both of my parents in the same house but we moved so much. We moved nine times in my first 17 years of life. There were financial difficulties, dependency issues and six children. Hard to make/keep friends. It has carried over into my adulthood. I don’t have many really close friends. I never felt ‘home’ until I married. We’ve only lived in 3 locations. And 32 (of these 38 years we’ve been married) have been in our current house. I am so happy Logan has found his home. God bless all foster/adoption families!

  54. I couldn’t put Homegoing down when I read it a year ago. Each chapter is a different generation going back and forth between two sisters-one who was brought as a slave to America and the other who stayed in Africa. It was such an eye opener and so sad in how it barely got better through the decades. For nonfiction, Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime made me realize the severity of apartheid. As a nineties baby who growing up thought “racism didn’t exist anymore”, it was shocking to see what took place in my lifetime. Now I am much more aware of all the injustices people of color face daily and how racism is sadly far from over.

    • Jess says...

      I second this. This is a crucial novel in understanding intergenerational racism.

  55. Maria says...

    Joanna, you turned me on to Catastrophe (thank you!), and I was excited to watch this interview with the show’s Rob Delaney today. I thought it was going to be light and funny, but it turns out to be about the death of his young son last year. Devastating, super honest, and imminently worth watching – thought you’d be interested…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8S7VhG-Wuw

    • Jade says...

      what a great interview. Thanks for sharing. I really LOVE this show and the dynamics of the non perfect relationship. Heartbreaking on baby Henry

  56. Johanna says...

    Thanks for the links regarding whiteness, white supremacy and racism in America. I appreciate it when MLK day isn’t made into a sentimental (and therefore gross) “Kumbaya” session where we talk about how we just need to get along. I’d like to think we’re all smarter than that. Also Happy Weekend!

  57. Lindsay says...

    Britt Hawthorne’s instagram (@britthawthorne) has abundant resources, tools, insights, links, etc. She’s a teacher, and although I am not, I find her feed immensely helpful and always a great check for understanding as I navigate my own racial biases and racism. She saved some of her stories “MLK Donts” that white people should check out.

    • Deni G says...

      I have to second Britt Hawthorne’s instagram @britthawthorne for checking racial bias, along with Liz Kleinrock’s @teachandtransform who just became quite famous for teaching about consent (to touch/sharing/secrets–extremely kid appropriate!) to kids. Both are teachers, which is how I found them, but their ig is about so much more.

  58. Eloise says...

    I ❤️ the “Five Magical Things” post. I commute to NYC daily and it’s become a dridge-fest, making reminders of the City’s magical humanity always welcomed.

  59. KL says...

    A great small (but mighty!) trilogy on race that I felt was super important for me, as a white woman, to read was March by Rep. John Lewis. And not that the book is necessisarily on race, but one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read is Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi which, in part, shows the impact of racism through 250 years worth of generations. I sometimes get teary thinking of how beautiful the book is.

  60. Chandra says...

    Happy long weekend and MLK day on Monday! Thx again COJ for being vocal abt race and actually a lot of issues that we all face day to day.

  61. Abesha1 says...

    I read the “niceness” article a couple days ago, and while I understood the general point, I felt a bit like asking, “So… do you want people to be mean instead? What exactly is it that you DO want people to do, going about in their daily lives?”

    I try to be “nice” to everyone I meet in the course of my day… it’s not always possible to make radical changes in the world while you’re grocery shopping and dropping the kids at school… It is, however, possible to try to be deliberately nice to everyone you meet in your day.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Oh I think the point is different —- not at all that people should be mean, but that people shouldn’t JUST be nice and think that’s enough. There is such huge systemic racism and small/large racist acts, and we need to talk about this and more, and address things in a real way. It’s not enough for white people to be friendly and smile at people of color and think therefore they are allies and nor racist. The whole cultural setup needs to change and hard conversations are definitely part of that. I’m not the expert in any way here, but fwiw that’s what I gleaned from this article. What do other people think? Thank you so much for your thoughts.

    • Shirley says...

      I agree with Joanna. There is a huge difference between cordiality and how you treat others day to day, and truly understanding that racism is embedded in American society. It may not affect how you acknowledge someone in a grocery store, but it may give you a better understanding of how our society makes that very same grocery store out of reach for so many Americans (both geographically and financially). I just finished my masters in counseling, and took a social justice course that changed my life. I highly recommend the book, A Race is a Nice Thing to Have by Dr. Janet Helms. (https://www.amazon.com/Race-Nice-Thing-Have-Second/dp/0917276132). Unpacking race and white privilege is a very very difficult thing to do- I saw that with my white classmates- but getting on that journey will open up your eyes in ways that you can not imagine. I myself am a person of color, but not Black, and although I was very familiar with many of the concepts and terms discussed in the book due to experiencing my own incidents of racism throughout my life, it really opened up my eyes to the everyday lived experiences of African Americans. The book is uncomfortable, but can give you an honest assessment of where you stand in your own understanding of White privilege, and more importantly, what you can do about it. It can help you become more educated and a true ally (which is what all people of color can really use right now).

    • Shirley says...

      Also, I forgot to mention in my earlier comment that there are micro-aggressions and things said that may be well-intentioned, but end up being extremely hurtful to the other person. Many of these comments are said with a smile on the other person’s face. If you have not yet dove into understanding institutional racism, you too, may be someone making these micro-aggressions and not even aware of it. So yes, just smiling is not enough if we want to tackle these large issues, especially for those who have children and do not want to pass on the lack of awareness.

    • Meredith says...

      Yes, I read this similarly to Joanna. Maybe DiAngelo’s point about the difference between “niceness” and “kindness” is helpful. I read her as suggesting that actions that actually DO something is needed, and white people hide behind niceness in order to opt out of the harder work. She also explicitly says she’s not saying we should be mean–of course niceness is better than meanness.

      I wouldn’t underestimate the power of grocery shopping. :) Choosing where and how we spend our money is always important! As is having conversations with kids, paying attention to racial dynamics at their school, noticing who our friends are…

      I work in education, and have been teaching on race at a PWI, and it’s been illuminating, sometimes shocking, how little white people (myself included) are equipped to pay attention to and understand the realities of the kind of behaviors that DiAngelo’s describing here. I’m working to educate myself, listen to my students & colleagues of color, and take appropriate action with them. There’s always something that can be done.

      DiAngelo’s work on ‘white fragility’ is also worth reading, in my opinion!

      Thanks for posting these, Joanna, it’s so important.

    • Abesha1 says...

      Oh, I do agree that niceness won’t fix it! Niceness alone can’t alter systemic racism and segregated schools and police brutality to POC and redlining and on and on…. It is much much larger than that. But, on a daily basis, I think my question still stands… the author seemed to me to just be complaining about the one thing we all CAN do moment to moment, without offering anything better.

      My brown skinned son wants to know what Whites Only meant. I can explain that, but the only action he can take, for now, is to be kind. Deliberate kindness, is my, and his, day to day weapon. I do see the author’s attempt at distinction between kindness and niceness, and my criticism was specifically related to this article, not the wider issues.

      Thank you all for thoughtful discourse!

    • Amanda says...

      Starting with looking at yourself and how you view issues of race and ethnicity are a good place to start. We all have unconscious biases about certain groups of people, which I guess is natural, but it’s not always good. (E.g., I’m Korean-American and I cannot tell you how many well-intentioned white people have complimented me on my English–I am a fifth-generation American and have a degree in English literature, so…). Not that you shouldn’t be nice to people, but that is maybe the baseline for being a decent human being in this world. There are loads of well-meaning, “nice” people who are also racist AF, so as the article says, “being nice” is not enough. Niceness can be a cover for not wanting to be confrontational or to do the hard work of working against racist attitudes in yourself. (Which we all have! Myself included!)

      And also we can try to learn about how racism is systemic, not just a person-to-person thing or a blatantly hateful act like burning a cross in someone’s yard–and then try to do something about it. It doesn’t have to be radical; it can be voting or volunteering or calling your representatives or making small changes in how you live. It can be as little and as big as recognizing your own wrong attitudes toward race.

    • Em says...

      I agree, Abesha1. Niceness is the basis by which we should all live because it’s what we can do to have a direct impact on day to day life. If every single person were nice or kind, there wouldn’t be a lot of the problems that exist. I wholeheartedly believe that. And I’m not always perfect. Sometimes I yell at dumb drivers. Sometimes I roll my eyes at people taking too long in line, irrespective to their identity. I think the problem is that the people who are the problem aren’t going to read that article. A lot of this talk of racism is written and read by people who aren’t the problem. I want to know- how do I talk and act to people who are the problem so that we can start to see some legitimate change?! What is something concrete that I can do beyond voting?

  62. Miranda says...

    The 2 most recent books I read, neither of which I could put down – The Mothers and An American Marriage. Highly highly highly recommend :)

  63. Lesley says...

    “And she is so little!” Tears.