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Doug's White Privilege Listening Project

Updated: Oct 24, 2020

I’m dubbing this "the white privilege listening project" because reading, after all, can be a form of listening. It is a need we all have, and, it would seem listening is not valued, and is a skill that begs for intensive nurture at this time. My first exposure to what my parents would have dubbed “radical ideas” came during the period I was in boarding school in Mass. One positive aspect of attending that particular religious academic institution was that we were integrated even before many public schools. Some of us would hitchhike to Worcester for movies and a bookstore where we could nab “underground newspapers.” The summers spent working in Boston also contributed as I hung out inconspicuously during demonstrations and concerts on The Commons. Then, when we’d go home on leave, I rode the bus with the crew from NYC and Baltimore, and felt more at home than I was at home. Strangely, the books Oscar Chudinowsky, proprietor of our Huntington book shop started handing me were no longer considered classics in the academic world of the time as others were he had recommended in the past. It was during that period I read The Autobiography of Dick Gregory, Black Like Me, Malcom X, Langston Hughes’ poetry, the work of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, a couple of James Baldwin’s books and stories, and of course, To Kill a Mockingbird, and others. The Vietnam War raged outside in the world as an inner awakening occurred and I became aware of my parents’ opinions. Mom railed against activists during Huntley and Brinkley, and the news with Walter Cronkite, while my kind father stood quietly by saying nothing. I realized that I could never go along with any view of racial hatred no matter what elusive euphemisms were used. Though I was repulsed by ma’s words, it occurs to me now that I adopted some of my father’s restraint and distance. I’m certain my own frustration has always been about not speaking up enough for the oppressed. What about your story? We all have ego-myths fifty years on, but who were you and are you, really? Part of listening is reading good books but perhaps it is also about listening to your real, inner self, as you reflect on the journeys of others. Back to earth: this is my livelihood so I won’t fib about intent: I dare you to buy, or borrow (mostly buy), and READ any or all of the following:

I’d hand everyone I know a copy of Diangelo’s

book if I could afford it! Re-reading it myself.

Kendi lays down the facts as you never learned them in school in his historical masterpiece Stamped. Hey, it’s never too late to get acquainted.

Then, Kendi gets personal and takes risks in his book How to be an Antiracist by offering new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other.

Stirring and poignant. This is the nineteenth-century slave escape story at last brought fully into the light. Blight could only have written it at this moment in history. His acquaintance with little known sources is reflected in this biographical page- turner.

Ready for more shocks? These stories keep

surfacing– the Lost Cause and neoslavery advocates have played them down while keeping their heroic statues of hate mounted in over 700 town squares. Pulitzer prize-winning journalist David Zucchino brings it.

This one is a little older than the rest, but seems sadly overlooked. I became acquainted with this author via a Sun magazine interview eight years after her book was published. You can read that article here.

Brand new, awesome reviews, and next on my white privilege listening project menu!

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