NAACP Detroit executive director: Here's how to educate yourself on racism in America

Posted at 2:37 PM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 14:37:16-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — A movement that has taken over social media is encouraging people to be silent and listen.

To amplify Black voices and devote time to expanding your personal knowledge of race in America. For many of us, the first step may be acknowledging the difficult truth that our race impacts the way society responds to us, which impacts the way we experience the world, and those experiences are very different.


Race is often not considered a socially accepted topic of conversation.

“That’s one of the reasons there’s so much misconception across our nation about African Americans,” says Kamilia Landrum with the NAACP in Detroit.

Seeking to understand more deeply experiences other than our own is vital to putting an end to racial injustices in our society.

Set aside what you think you know. Acknowledge that there is a lot you don’t know. Open your mind and open your heart.


How then can we begin to understand the experience of being Black in America?

Landrum suggests researching organizations like:

Detroit Urban League -
Black Lives Matter Detroit -
The Detroit Justice Center -
Focus Hope -
People’s Action Detroit -
Discover why each of these organizations was founded.

“A lot of times, it's because we are filling the void of a government where we have not felt protected,” Landrum says.

The NAACP, for example, was formed, in part, in response to lynchings in the South. Research why these organizations were formed and how it has shaped what they currently do. Follow these organizations on social media to stay informed on current issues.


Landrum also suggests starting a short story club or book club with a group of your family or friends.

“Let’s read African American literature. Let’s read Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou. Let’s read these historic African American authors that often talk about racism in this country and what it means to be Black in America,” Landrum says.

Current books like “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” discusses the root of challenging topics.

“It helps to break down a layer for you to internalize what your cultural experience is. Why is my community all white? Why are there no African Americans that live on my block, why didn’t I go to school with any African Americans or with anyone with any other culture? Why is my world so white when the world is so diverse? It breaks down some of those layers so you can understand the systematic racism that has existed to keep our organizations, to keep our people to keep us separated, “ Landrum says.

Other book suggestions (not a complete list):

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (There is a movie based on this book)
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt
Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America by Jennifer Harvey
Racism Without Racists by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward
This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa


If books aren't your thing - there are also many films and mini-series like “When They See Us” on Netflix that can give you a glimpse into systematic racism. This particular series now has a free discussion guide you can download to go with it here:

Suggestions (not a complete list):

“When They See Us” Netflix
“Mudbound” Netflix
“Becoming” Netflix
“Teach Us All” Netflix
“Just Mercy” Amazon Prime
“I Am Not Your Negro” Amazon Prime
“The Hate You Give” Amazon Prime
“Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise” Amazon Prime
“Whose Streets” Hulu
“Black Stories Presents: Your Attention Please” Hulu
“If Beale Street Could Talk” Hulu
“Sorry to Bother You” Hulu


NPR’s The Code Switch
The Nod
The Stoop
Identity Politics
All My Relations
Still Processing
Yo, Is This Racist?


“If you’re not willing to talk about it, then you’re not willing to learn,” Landrum says.

Admittedly, talking about race is uncomfortable, at best.

“When I say don’t be afraid to talk about it, start with your family, start with your friends,” Landrum says.

“We are fearful when we have to have these conversations with our family. But we have to push through that fear. We don’t have the privilege of walking away from it because we’re trying to save our child’s life. We need our White allies to have conversations with your own family. That’s where we need you to start.”


Call out racism wherever you see it.

“If you’re at the dinner table, if you’re at a party, if you’re out and about and you see racist behavior, you hear racist language, we need you to take a stand right there. Say, 'I do not condone what you are saying, that is wrong what you are saying. What you are saying is not truthful, what you are saying is hurtful.' That’s one of the very first steps that anyone can take to address racism in our country,” says Landrum.

Though insecurities or fears can get in the way of speaking up, Landrum points out that African Americans can’t avoid racism even when they are scared.

“You can’t say, 'I don’t know how to do it so I’m just going to back away and start ignoring it,' that in itself is white privilege,” Landrum says.


Purposefully seek out opportunities to interact and build relationships outside of your current circle of friends. Whether it’s joining a recreational activity in a more diverse neighborhood, attending events at a diverse church or volunteering. Building friendships with people who have different life experiences.

“Detroit has the potential to be the model for the country in everything that we do. We’ve done it with automobiles, we’ve done it with music, we’ve done it with businesses, we’ve done it with bringing back economic power," Landrum says.

She says she is confident we can lead the way in this, too.

These links include resources to talk to kids about race and include podcasts, more books and movies .*e6pMtLoiXW3tgVKPM8XZqQ