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Resources for anti-racist publishing and pedagogy

This week’s newsletter will take a different form this week. We will dedicate most of this space to amplify work, best practices, actions, and resources that promote equality and dismantle racism in higher education and publishing.

Please see the Rebus Foundation statement on systemic racism which includes our strategy to fight racism.

The rest of this newsletter is dedicated to actions that you can take to fight racism and resources that can help us in this fight. For more resources, please review our living list of resources for fighting racism in publishing and pedagogy.

Start Here: “White Academia: Do Better” by Jasmine Roberts

The Open Education movement has been pretty late to call out systemic racism in our movement and the institutions with which we interact. This includes the Rebus Foundation, and we’re currently working to rectify that. We encourage our peers to do the same, and recommend Jasmine Roberts’s “White Academia: Do Better,” as a starting point. Jasmine’s work was foundational to a lot of the thinking and planning that Rebus has been doing. 

“You can take 3 hours to read about what it means to be Black or a person of color in a society built on White supremacist ideologies. Black people spend their entire lives adjusting and policing their actions, words, and bodies to fit into Whiteness in order to make White people feel comfortable.”

Follow Jasmine Roberts on Twitter. Watch her TedTalk. Read and cite her openly licensed book, Writing for Strategic Communications Industries. 

Take the initiative to learn about the racism that’s close to home

Racism didn’t start with the murder of George Floyd and it isn’t confined to the United States.  Racism is pervasive. It can be found in every institution, every town, and, to a certain extent, in every person. When we say “take the initiative to learn about the history of racism that’s close to home,” we mean to take some introspective time to analyse how the organizations, institutions, and ideologies privilege white people while oppressing people of colour. 

For our part, we’re looking with a very critical eye at Quebec, the province where our headquarters is located. We could dedicate an entire newsletter to the history of racism in Quebec and the systems in place that are definitely racist. Yet, our premier, Francois Legault, has explicitly denied the existence of racism in Quebec, despite significant and well-documented evidence to the contrary.  For more information on the racism in Quebec’s history, please read this excellent opinion piece by Dorothy Williams.

Educate yourself on the Black experience of the academy #BlackInTheIvory

It is safe to assume that if you are reading this newsletter, you interact with an institution of higher education. It is not safe to assume that you understand the Black experience of the academy. You might, if you are Black and confronted with aggressions, whether micro or more explicit, in your place of work. Or you might not, if you are white and not confronted with your race in the way that many people of colour are. In which case, we recommend educating yourself so that you can work to dismantle the systemic racism in higher education. To do this, we recommend you search #BlackInTheIvory on Twitter. This hashtag reveals a collection of stories from Black lives in the academy, stories that provide important insight into the micro and explicit acts of racism that are very much real. 

Thank you to Joy Melody Woods, MA and  Dr. Shardé M. Davis for starting this hashtag.


If you are able to donate to causes that fight racism and support people of colour, please do so. We recommend donating not only to big organizations doing excellent work (e.g. the Southern Poverty Law Center), but to organizations in your community (e.g. the Festival of Literary Diversity in Brampton, Ontario or Maison d’Haiti in Montreal, Quebec). Do a little research and find an organization that is close to your heart and your home.

Use Inclusive Images

When adding images to the content you create, make sure those images reflect the diversity of humanity. Many stock photo image banks feature almost exclusively white people, but there are an increasing amount of image banks with Creative Commons licenses that feature QTBIPOC people. Here are some resources to get you started. Please remember to attribute correctly. 
  • #WOCinTech: a collection of photos of women of colour in technology
  • nappy: “Beautiful, high-res photos of black and brown people”

Diversify your Citations

When we cite a source, we give credence to that source, fortifying it as a foundational element of knowledge. When we cite only sources by white people, we ensure that canonical knowledge privileges the white perspective, which is a form of white supremacy. That is why it is important to diversify your sources. Incorporating the work of people of colour in your bibiographies and informing your work with a diverse array of perspectives strengthens your work while supporting the work of people of colour, and, ultimately, contributing to a stronger knowledge commons.

The Cite Black Women Collective provides a series of arguments, podcasts, and literature about the importance of citing people of colour. Their site is a good place to start if you’re trying to diversify your citations. 

Learn how and when to talk about race

Talking about race can be uncomfortable, but in that uncomfortability lies complexity, guilt, pride, mistakes, triumph, and nuance. As people who work in academia, it is important that we engage with that uncomfortability to learn, teach others, dismantle stereotypes and racist systems, and grow as individuals and as a community.

But as we talk about race, it is important to take a moment to think about how the discourse affects people’s emotions and to learn how to approach the topic in an empathetic way. Here are some resources to help you do that:

Read this thread on Twitter by @eveewing.

Read So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Attend "Addressing Anti-Blackness on Campus"

Featuring Dr. Frank Harris III, Dr. Regina Stanback Stroud, Dr. J. Luke Wood, and Lasana Hotep, this webinar will address "tangible strategies for addressing anti-Blackness in schools, colleges, and universities." 

A previous webinar "Webinar: Addressing Racial Bias and Microaggressions in Online Environments," featuring Drs. Harris and Wood, is viewable now on YouTube. We highly recommend watching the recording of this webinar.

Thank you to the organizers and sponsors of these events. They are immensely valuable to the discourse we need to have on racism in higher education

Check yourself!

Understand that mistakes will happen. There is a lot to learn, a lot to do, a lot to dismantle, and a lot to build. Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s really important to reflect on those mistakes, apologize to anyone affected by those mistakes, and grow.

At the Rebus Foundation, we recognize that we make mistakes too. Please feel free to let us know if you catch something that is problematic. You can email us any time at We read every email we receive. 

A Living List of Resources

Many of the resources are listed on our living list of Resources for Fighting Racism in Publishing and Pedagogy. If you are looking for more information about anti-racism in higher ed, this is a great place to start. And if you feel like contributing, please do. 
Copyright © 2020 The Rebus Foundation, All rights reserved.

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