Weekend Reads #107

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This week… but let's be honest, it was like any other week in America, it just happened to be caught on camera.  We're beyond saying our heart hurts, this is nothing that can be solved with tweeting thoughts and prayers.  This is on us, fellow white people, and it's not enough to be a person who thinks they aren't racist and who supports people of color.   It's on us to step in when we see a person of color being treated differently; to not just discuss it with friends or on social media but to put our actual white bodies into the situation.  It's on us to confront our uncle who makes racist jokes, our neighbor who mutters the neighborhood is going down when a black family moves in, our friend who says she won't drive through “the ghetto” on the other side of town.  It's on us to get outside our bubble, get uncomfortable, and get involved.  No pretty graphic shared on social media, no matter how many likes it gets, will make change.  Nothing will change if we white people don't.  

How to Help

I know my entire audience isn't white, but I have access to Google Analytics and other tools to see my audience's demographic and know a major percentage of you are like me, a white American woman.  And we white American women are privileged. We're privileged even if we've had an incredibly hard and painful life.  As American women, our government keeps trying to take away our right to choose what to do with our bodies, we make less on the dollar than men, we're not believed, and we walk at night with our keys between our fingers in an attempt to feel safe. But you know what?  We can go for an afternoon jog, enjoy birdwatching in Central Park, and get pulled over for a broken taillight and not fear for our life.  If we told someone to leash their dog we'd be called a Karen, we wouldn't have 911 called.  So this week's how to help is dedicated to us, the white women reading this who need to step up.

Let's start with this piece on Medium that offers 75 things white people can do for racial justice. Some of these may feel scarier than others to do.  Start with one that feels doable now for you; maybe place an order for your kid's teacher with a bunch of age-appropriate books that have people of color as the heroes and protagonists.  But don't stop there.  Let that be your first step.  

Are you in a book club? Instead of choosing the next beach read, consider choosing a book from one of these lists.  Consider a book by Ta-Nehisi Coates for your first month if you're not sure where to start; both The Water Dancer and Between the World and Me are powerful and beautifully written.  While the latter is nonfiction it reads like a novel; the former is historical fiction. 

Do you have Instagram?  It's a great way to learn about people, cultures, and communities beyond your own.  Some suggestions:

Crafting/Sewing/Art: callmedwj | ericabunker | macmakespace | mimigstyle | ohhappydani 

Writing/Activism/Body Image: valerieeguavoen | aminatou | luvvie | mspackyetti | journey_to_wellness | bitchesgottaeat | nedratawwab | brokeymcpoverty 

Fitness: iamchrissyking | themirnavator | diannebondyyogaofficial | mynameisjessamyn

Plus-Sized Fashion: heartprintandstyle | jenesaisquoithe | kellyaugustineb | stylishcurves | policyandfashion | itsmekellieb | iamfabellis | tyalexander  

Over 40 Fashion and Lifestyle: grownandcurvywoman | squarepearls | kimair | therealchiclife  

Motherhood/Lifestyle: jenjeanpierre | thedudemom | thebeverlyadams | ruthieridley | tonya.rapley | lashawnwiltz | lovebrownsugar 

Beauty: afrobella | theglossier | crwnmag | jackieaina | drmichellehenry | stylenbeautydoc | cleanfreshbeauty 

Sustainability/Minimalism: lindseygene_ | naturallykam | consciousnchic | dominiquedrakeford | clothedinabundance | msjasminerose | ajabarber

Lifestyle/Food: iamtabithabrownstovetopkisses | jessicainthekitchen | hillhousevintage | thekitchenista | unlikelymartha | kelawalker | iamericabarrett

Business/Finance/Marketing: mrsbrittanyhennessey | seekwisdompcw | thebudgetnista | blackmarrieddebtfree | richandregular  

Fashion: economyofstyle | freddieharrell |  simplycyn | tiffanymbattle | awedbymoni | signedblake | colormecourtney | asiyami_gold  

I encourage you to share those who I may not have included in the comments.  Watch their stories.  Swipe up to read their blog posts and the articles they share.  Especially if you live in a very homogenous community, it's a great way to open up your perspective and connect.

You can always make a donation.  Every week I make a donation to a nonprofit.  Whether it's $5 or $500, it's a way to support those who are on the frontlines making a difference, who are skilled and prepared to do so.  When you can't be there, you can financially support others to be there in your place.  This week I am donating to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, a community based nonprofit that combats the harms of incarceration by paying bail for low-income individuals who cannot otherwise afford it. Did you know that the United States and the Philippines are the only two countries in the world where individuals may have to put up cash to prevent being imprisoned before their trial? People of color and immigrants face higher rates of arrest, harsher sentencing, and disparities in the setting of bail compared to white citizens.  Click here to learn more about the Minnesota Freedom Fund and to make a donation.

Lindsey, a reader in Minneapolis has offered a list of organizations that can make a difference right now:

And finally, whether it feels like it right now or not, we live in a democracy.  Our leaders are in their positions because we vote them in, and they need our support to keep their jobs. This link to house.gov will help you find out who your representatives are to contact them and let them know how you feel about what is going on and how they are handling it. On the NAACP website, this form makes it easy to contact your representatives regarding multiple ways to provide equal support for black Americans, especially during the pandemic. This link has links to guide you through signing petitions, contacting representatives, plus resources to stay informed.  

I know this is only a small number of ways we can start to change our perspective and the perspective of our country. I look forward to reading your additional suggestions in the comments.

Weekend Reads

The loneliness of video calls. (Vox)

Mary J. Wilson, first African American senior zookeeper at the Baltimore Zoo, dies of the coronavirus. (Baltimore Sun)

Hell hath no fury like a financial magazine scorned.  The Kardashian Klan worked really hard, using Forbes, to show that Kylie Jenner was a billionaire.  Come to find out, it's not true and Forbes is spilling the tea. (Forbes)

The 9:30 Club is 40 years old, it's closed, and it's more important than ever. (NPR)

I'm looking forward to seeing ‘The High Note' with Tracee Ellis Ross, and appreciate this article breaking down some of the fashion in the movie. (Fashionista)

Is transparency in fashion a dead end? (Vogue Business)

A DC shopkeeper's humble opinion on when to reopen for business. (PBS News Hour)

‘I do not have the luxury of staying home’: 30 days as a domestic worker in New York City. (The Lily)

That jacket or those boots were field tested… but what does that mean? (Fashionista)

Have you heard of or seen this “Signal for Help” for abuse victims to use during video calls? (Vogue)

Family separation returns under cover of the coronavirus. (LA Times)

Some of Ms. Magazine's most iconic covers. (W Magazine)

The secret to successful search terms on eBay, Etsy, and more. (Man Repeller)


This was a tough week, and one that we spent numbing out on TV.  Last week I mentioned I started the Netflix series, Never Have I Ever and this week I finished it.  This is a cute series without it being bubble gum.  Highly recommend.

This week we also finished the second season of Sex Education, also on Netflix.  Gosh, we loved this show.  We savored episodes as we did with Schitt's Creek, knowing it would eventually come to an end.  Highly highly recommend.  

We also finished the series High Fidelity, available on Hulu.  At first, we loved it.  Zoe Kravitz is charming, the music was awesome, the interpersonal relationships engaging.  And then… well we came to hate the protagonist.  I think if I were a decade younger and didn't have a kid I would have enjoyed this series, but I just left not seeing her as some antihero but just a sh*t. I have no desire to see another season if it comes out; my husband is curious to see where the story goes. If you saw it I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday night I finished work a bit early so K and I decided to get all crazy and watch a movie.  He suggested The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.  I hadn't heard of this movie, but it was a Terry Gilliam film starring Adam Driver, I was down.  The movie was free to use through our Xfinity plan via Crackle. This movie is 2 hours, 12 minutes long which is pretty standard; it felt like it was twice as long.  We still have 40 minutes left but I tapped out because I was exhausted and uninterested.  Adam Driver is excellent, but he has grown on me and I think he could be excellent in most any role.  Jonathan Pryce was phenomenal as Don Quixote, I loved him so much.  But even with these two amazing actors, the movie was so disjointed and exhausting I didn't end up caring how it turned out.  K may finish it this weekend, but I have better things to do.

I am still reading Sigh, Gone but thanks to one of you who suggested it (I can't find the comment right now), I also picked up The Year of Living Danishly.  Both books I am only a bit into them; I haven't had the focus to read maybe a half a chapter at a time which is frustrating because I enjoy both books. 

For Your Entertainment

Yeah, after reading Jessica Simpson's memoir I am not the biggest John Mayer fan, but I do love Leon Bridges.  And I love this song by Bridges where he collabs with Mayer. It's a pretty appropriate slow jam for the inside world we're currently living in.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Pauline at @sewuthinkucan is also worth a follow in the crafting/making sphere – she sews her own clothing but all inspired by high fashion designers. She’s exceptionally talented.

  2. Thank you, Alison. Once again, I am glad I follow your site and Instagram posts. You use your platform for good, and I appreciate that. Other fashion influencers have followed suit and made an effort to lend their voice to speak out against injustice–and I will continue to support them. Others have not–although they “loved” the posts left by those who did, but that is not enough. I have unfollowed them. They don’t deserve my support if they won’t get into the trenches and speak out on behalf of people who look like me. You have a big heart! Thank you!

  3. thank you for your honesty, including resources for people to be more informed and help, and for including me as someone to follow. we all need to actively work together to create meaningful change.

  4. I’m another white female reader and really appreciate these resources. I’ve been making an effort in the last few years to read more books by black writers, particularly those on anti-racism, and am always looking for more. However, I wanted to do more this weekend in addition to donating (can’t go to the protests: I’m in public health and still working 7 days a week on the pandemic response). You helped me realize that my social media feed is still overwhelming white. I just followed many of the accounts you shared.

  5. I almost forgot to say–we formed a neighborhood book club this year, and the first read was Ta-Nehisi Coates’ The Water Dancer. We loved it so much! Can’t recommend it highly enough.

  6. Yeah, I am one of your white women readers. I haven’t even read through the links yet, let alone the comments people have already made, but I deeply appreciate all the passion you put into this post–and I look forward to reading all this and making a contribution to many of those links, even if I am spreading out small amounts of money or focusing it more on a few spots. The gestures count not only financially but on emotional and spiritual levels. I am also planning to share this information with as many people as I can think of.

    Thank you so much for all you do and say, Alison!!!!!!!!!!

  7. I find the most helpful thing in understanding privilege is honest conversations with black friends or acquaintances. It is really, really hard to grasp what it feels to walk in someone else’s shoes and angry tirades or memes are just not helpful. I wish it were easier to open up those conversations.

  8. Thank you for this excellent collection of resources. I value your bright and honest voice tremendously. I’ve linked to this post on my FB page and hope if provides inspiration to many.

  9. Alison, thank you so much for this post. I am an African American woman with 3 sons. The struggle is real! The fear when they leave our home to go for a run or to Target to shop. I have followed you for some time now…I am not surprised about your true character..I could just tell! Thank You for this post..well done.

  10. The best thing you and other influencers can do is start hiring POC and start working with brands owned by POC. Start looking outside your own experience and featuring that of others different than you. You have a great platform here that you can use to help those who are often overlooked.

  11. Thank you for your thoughtful post, Alison. Expected nothing less.

    I liked High Fidelity a lot. I had read Nick Hornby’s novel when it first came out and re-read it a couple times later, so I was already familiar with the story. I had also enjoyed the 2000 Stephen Frears adaptation with John Cusack, Tim Robbins, and a career-making performance by Jack Black (who went on to do the highly enjoyable and equally rockin’ School of Rock) and rewatched that one as well.
    They refreshed the premise and story by changing Rob into a black woman, who was really well played by Zoe Kravitz. I was already crushing on Kravitz before, but wow, she is a really good actress (better than her mother, who I’m very fond of and also appeared in the 2000 movie). I get it why you think Rob’s character is a sh*t, but that character is really that. A narcissistic, navel-gazing sh*t. I think it just tapped into how I and many of my friends felt in our 20s into early 30s. I guess, that reflects poorly on us. We were all liberal arts majors who were super obsessed with pop culture and music, and we would judge people based on their tastes in movies and music. Yep. We’ve all developed and evolved from that, but we understand it. The somewhat open-ended and tentative ending of the series (no spoilers) is showing the real beginning of Rob’s consciousness and self-awareness expanding.

    I just thought it was super refreshing to make that kind of character (stereotypically and typically a man) a woman — a woman who doesn’t conform to the typical norms for women characters, esp. in a rom-com genre. I’ll just leave this one Vulture review that I really agreed with. Another Slate (woman) reviewer thought that Rob’s character was super un-realistic, on the other hand — but solely based on the fact that she’s just never encountered any women like her.

    1. I know the character is a sh*t I saw the movie and at the time I liked the movie. And I really like Kravitz, but maybe it’s being in my 40s now and remembering myself being a shi*t like that in college and soon after that I was just like… I don’t want to see that. I get it, I appreciate it, I would love others to watch it, and too found it refreshing they made the character female, but yeah, I don’t need to relive. Thank you for this article!

      1. You’re welcome and I totally get that. I’ve had the same reaction to other similar narratives.
        BTW, I loved Sex Education as well and can’t wait for the next season, whenever that’ll be.
        Sorry, if you’ve mentioned it, but did you watch Shrill on Hulu? I enjoyed that too — even if it wasn’t super consistent from episode to episode, it was entertaining, amusing and thoughtful.

  12. Thanks for this post. One small thing: I think you flip-flopped your descriptions of the Ta-Nehisi Coates titles. The Water Dancer is fiction and Between The World And Me is non-fiction.

  13. Great content as always. Thank you for the Minneapolis links. Our city is in so much pain right now.

  14. So many thoughts fill my mind as the evil of white supremacy continues to destroy the lives of our black and brown brothers and sisters. Thank you for being willing to post about this; I expected nothing less. I want to be an ally and will work hard to be just that. We have to fight this.

  15. Thank you so much for this. Following women (and a few men) who don’t have the same skin color that I do has honestly been one of the most eye opening and perspective changing things I did in terms of viewing my privilege as a white woman. I always thought I knew my privilege, but that helped me see that I didn’t (and never will) know the true extent of my privilege just because of the color of my skin. I encourage everyone to find and follow a few poc who have similar interests. You left out one of my favorites, Shavonda Gardner (sgardnerstyle on ig). She’s an LGBTQ interior designer and gardener and just an all around awesome person.

  16. “.” with Zoe Kravitz? Did you mean “High Fidelity?” I think I liked it more than you did. We can agree that the music was awesome.

    Also, great post in general! I’ve always appreciated that as a white woman blogging, you don’t fetishize your black friends.

  17. “Did you know that the United States and the Philippines are the only two countries in the world where individuals may have to put up cash to prevent being imprisoned before their trial? ”

    I did not know that we are 1 of only 2 countries to require cash bail.

    I do know that we have DA candidates running who include eliminating cash bail in their platforms. Once such is Larry Krasner who is now the Philly DA & he has implemented this.

    I’m pretty sure there are a few more such candidates who have won.

    So this is a reminder that while we’re focused on the presidential election this year, the down ballot local races are equally important.

    1. I didn’t know that either. Anyone know the average bail amount for a protester in Minneapolis? …to help make appropriate donation amount.

  18. Thanks. This is so important. Unfortunately battle lines seem to be hardening in the white community. I see a lot of mental gymnastics and victim blaming. On the other end, which is terribly small and yet has their heart in the right place, I see a tiny cadre of white women scolding other white women for not being woke enough. A white person saying they are not racist is not always good enough but it is better than the alternative. I have kept up on the news and am heartbroken and infuriated. I recognize my privilege allows me to take a break. The current president has given voice and confidence to the most racist among us. Their anger and empowerment will not go away no matter who wins in November.

  19. I just have no words for the state of our Union these days. But do not mistake my silence for indifference. This is a time to speak carefully and with purpose. I do not wish to invite more miseducation and chaos.

    I’m no a supporter of anything related to Kardashian/Jenner. To learn that everything is just marketing and pushing an agenda is satisfying. Alas, few will genuinely care about their ethics and people will continue buying in to their inauthenticity.

    This edition of Reads was heavy. This week is heavy. May the coming week be lighter.

  20. Thanks from Mpls. Totally a systemic problem brought to life by an on camera murder. I love my city, I understand the issues, and want change, but home feels a bit like a war zone after night 4. Worried what increased military force will look like tonight. How do we bring calm to a situation?

  21. Dearest Alison, thank you so much for your thoughtful post. Our family has lived in what would be considered the “bad” side of town for many years. My in-laws lived and died here, and my husband and I will as well. As I sit here, I’m tearing up. Our family is extremely privileged in terms of color and socioeconomic status, and it has been a tremendous blessing to be surrounded by those who are often perceived as less valuable because they are not privileged in the same way. I wish I had the words to explain the blessing, but it is a soul blessing. It is a gift to stand as witness for those who have less voice.

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