People / Resolutions

7 things to read and watch to better understand racism

Roxane Gay

George Floyd was murdered by the police on May 25. Breonna Taylor was murdered by the police on March 13. Ahmaud Arbery was murdered while on a jog on February 23. These names are just a few to add to a very long list of POC whose lives have been taken at the hands of racism.

It's hard to even know what to write in a time like this. I know I'm not the only one struggling to find the right words to share. When you hear of so much senseless murder, and the grief and pain the world is feeling, what can you say?

But maybe that's because this is not the time to talk. This is not the time to be the loudest voice. This is a time to listen and learn. And look for ways to be actively anti-racist.

Below are the essays, plays, movies and more that have helped us gain a deeper view into racism and race relations. If you're looking for some sources to help you better understand the deep complexity of overt and covert racism, these are a place to start.

And please, if you have something to add or share to this conversation, we would love for you to please get in touch with us on Instagram.


13th by Ava DuVernay

This is an academy award winning documentary that delves into the complexities of the prison system and history of slavery in America. Ava DuVernay explores the 13th amendment - “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction" - and it's continued impact on the shape of society in the past and into the future.

You may have seen it before. But it's certainly worth a rewatch. It's one of those bodies of work you can get something new from on every viewing.


Roxane Gay is a source of inspiration. She always seems to have the right words, and knows how to use them so elegantly. I follow her on Twitter and you should too. Her article on Alton Sterling and the Black Lives Matter movement on The New York Times is particularly moving. Alton Sterling was shot down while selling CDs in front of a convenience store. She shares her grief upon watching the video of his death and how it would be possible to move forward when the police are militarised.


Fear by Bob Woodward

This is not a text purely focused on racism, but it contributes to a deep understanding of the systems in place that prohibit progress. Bob Woodward's window into the early Trump administration paints a grim picture. The wealthy and influential continue to amass power and the wealth gap - which disproportionately affects migrant POC communities - continues to grow. It shows how the current administrations lack of historical knowledge and distaste for norms of the political system are contributing to one of the tumultuous times in our history.


Wonderlands by Katherine Thomson

This is a remarkable play that addresses Indigenous native titles in Australia. We in Australia have our own history of racism to grapple with and this is a piece of work uses non-linear storytelling to show how history has an impact on our present and future. It touches on topics like reconciliation, division and the idea of identity.


Serial season 3

This time Sarah Koenig dives into the American justice system. This podcast takes place at a courthouse in Cleveland. Instead of examining on story like the other iterations of Serial, this season looks at the stories of many. We hear about individual cases currently being presented at court - and we hear the unique back stories that proceed them. We hear the circumstances that exacerbate criminal situations and tales of how dangerous it is to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when you're a person of colour.


12 Years a Slave directed by Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen is not afraid to give audiences an unflinching picture. His films are not a comfortable watch. But they're not supposed to be. While Shame and Hunger built up his profile, it was 12 Years a Slave that catapulted him into the public consciousness - for a reason. A biographical look at the life of Solomon Northup, a musician and free African-American man. He was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the south. The story is based on Northup's real memoir, which was carefully researched and concluded to be accurate. It's an extremely important film to watch.


Stolen by Jane Harrison

Jane Harrison is an Indigenous Australian playwright. In her play, Stolen, she tells the story of five Indigenous children who are forcibly removed from their parents and taken to a repressive children's home. Here they are trained to be domestic servants for white families. It's a story of desperation and pain. We read from the perspective of the children who are told to forget their families, their language and identity. It's an important read for Australians who cannot afford to forget the Stolen Generations and how the government at the time attempted to extinguish Indigenous Australian culture and "breed out" the oldest living civilisation on this planet.


There are so many other important texts that can help to make this story a fuller picture. We have plans to share many more with you over the days, weeks and months. These are just some of the stories that have meant something to us, in the past and today too. But there are so many more. We are learning everyday and will continue to learn everyday.

We urge our community to share with us. If you have a piece you would like to contribute to this conversation, we would love to hear from you on Instagram.

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