In one of the many writing groups I am in, someone was complaining about the lack of antiracist resources for freelance writers. Now, to be honest, I wasn't surprised to hear that there weren't many resources available. The vast majority of writers aren't racist.
And in my mind, it clicked like this: the antiracist resources are needed for racist people...to combat their racism. So if nonracist people don't need them, the low demand would facilitate the low supply.
But then, as is usual for an INTJ like myself, I started thinking deeper.
Writing, as a profession, is extraordinarily introspective. We spend so much time alone with our thoughts, running over them over and over again, that we know more about ourselves as people and as business owners than most.
Unlike other businesses, freelance writers have the freedom to choose who they will or won't work with. We all have our lines that we draw in the sand. For example I will not work with:
- Companies that donate to racist causes or organizations (here is an incomplete list of such organizations)
- Companies that donate to anti-liberal or anti-gay causes
- Companies that permit racism to go unchecked among their staff or employees
- Companies whose personnel tell racist (or any bigoted) jokes
- Companies that actively work for or donate to causes that strip a woman of her reproductive or healthcare rights
These are choices that I have made for myself, and I made them a long time ago. It's my way of supporting the causes that are near and dear to me: feminism, human decency, human rights.
And then this week happened: a second Civil Rights movement. And it became abundantly clear that "not being racist" and even doing my best to not support companies that were openly racist, really did not do anything to fix the real problem: the need to break down the system that was keeping racism alive.
How Can I Stop from Being "Accidentally Racist?"
I have heard this question over and over again this week from clients, from authors, and from other freelance writers. And, to be honest, this question threw me for a loop because as a white, cisgender woman...who am I to speak about how to stop racism? Who am I to be able to talk about what needs to happen to help Americans of Color or what Black Americans need from us?
And I was angry. I was angry at the number of coaches who jumped to be "leaders" when Covid-19 hit and they wanted people to buy their programs and learn how to work online, yet these same coaches seemed to ignore the call coming from Black Lives Matter when it came to leading their community toward real change for antiracism and ending systemic racism.
But my clients were trying, they were trying so hard to take a good look at the books and blogs they were writing and trying to - in the very least - make sure that they weren't contributing to the problem.
How You Can Help
So, in gathering these antiracist resources for freelance writers, I hope to arm more freelance writers to be actively antiracist - to help tear down the oppressive system that keeps black Americans -- and Americans of color -- from being able to live in the same freedom and safety that I enjoy. I hope that when your clients approach you and ask you how they can be antiracist, how they can be more inclusive, how they can make sure they aren't being accidentally racist, that you can help them through it.
Antiracist Resources for Freelance Writers
- Race, Work, and Leadership: New Perspectives on the Black Experience by Laura Morgan Roberts, Anthony J. Mayo, and David A. Thomas
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
- The Person You Meant to Be by Dolly Chugh
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt
- Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-Create Race in the Twenty-First Century by Dorothy Roberts
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race by Derald Wing Sue
- White Rage by Carol Anderson
- How to Make this Moment the Turning point for Real Change by Barack Obama
- Toward a Racially Just Workplace by Laura Morgan Roberts and Anthony J. Mayo
- Why So Many Organizations Stay White by Victor Ray
- Writing Inclusive Documentation by Google
- Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life by Derald Wing Sue, et al.
- For our White Friends Desiring to be Allies by Courtney Ariel
- Inclusive Writing by the University of Leicester
- Talking About Race by the National Museum of African American History and Culture
- Race Haven - Community Dialogue on Facebook by Dr. Sundiata
- Uncle Bobbies
- Key Bookstore
- Mahogany Books
- Loyalty Bookstore
- Marcus Books
- Semicolon Bookstore
- Beyond Barcodes Bookstore
- Revolution Books
- Harriett's Bookshop
Writers Are, in Many Respects, our Best Weapon Against Racism
And because writers are our best weapon against racism, it's more important than ever to take a good, deep look at our own white privilege and see how that is manifesting into a racist system and what we can do to change that.
The words we write, whether for ourselves or for our clients, will help shape the future for everyone. They will either be inclusive and loving or they will be riddled with microaggressions and racist undertones.
Did you enjoy this article? Here are some more posts on freelance writing you may like:
- Love Writing? Start Getting Paid to Write Articles
- How to Handle a Negative Nelly Client: 3 Steps to Diffusing a Negative Client
- End Writer's Block for Good: 10 Triggers and Their Solutions
- No, you May Not Ask for a Writing Sample
- How to Become a Freelance Writer (6-step startup guide)