How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child, by Sandra Uwiringiyimana and Abigail Pesta, is a memoir about Sandra Uwiringiyimana’s experience with war, genocide, refugees, immigration, discrimination, mental health issues, and healing, among other things.
I won’t spoil the book for you (go read it!), but I do want to talk about how we can try to grow and change after we read it.
This blog post talks about news coverage in Africa and of black America, and I’m a white American woman, so remember that I am not an expert, just another voice trying to point you toward sources that know things.
I definitely invite the corrections, comments, and perspectives of Africans, black Americans, and other black people.
Awareness of World Events
Uwiringiyimana talks about how after she immigrated to the United States, she realized that no one had heard about the genocide committed against her people and her family. While changing systems of oppression requires more than just awareness, awareness is the first step.
In fact, the memoir is part of Uwiringiyimana’s activism. The book informs people about the horror she experienced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the continued suffering of her people.
Like most Americans, I had never heard of the massacre that changed Uwiringiyimana’s life until I read the book. This was partly because I wasn’t an adult at the time but mostly because in the United States, you have to seek out news involving anything other than white America.
For example, of the Huffington Post, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, the Post is the only one with a newsletter alert focused on world news. Sure, all of them sometimes report on events abroad, but the majority of the content is focused on the United States, especially white people in the United States.
We find some better results with CNN, which has CNN International and CNN Africa.
European coverage is a bit more global.
Similar to CNN, the BBC has coverage of things in Africa, though I have yet to find a way to get either organization to send their updates to my inbox.
Le Monde (a leading French newspaper), is a bit easier to learn from. It has Le Monde Afrique as well as coverage of some events and perspectives from Africa in the general French coverage. You can get their posts in daily emails, like you can with newspapers like the New York Times.
Still, news about African nations and people from organizations owned by white people from the nations that colonized and destabilized said African nations is inherently problematic, so let’s move on to sources more closely tied to Africa.
African News Sources
I confess that this is an area I’m definitely still working on. Africa has dozens of countries and even more newspapers in many languages, and I don’t know yet which ones are reliable. (If anyone reading this has suggestions, I am all ears.)
In the meantime, I’d recommend two general sources that I’ve followed, the Africa Report and African Arguments, both of which send regular email newsletters and seem to have a good number of stories from African reporters.
Lately I’ve learned a little about the upcoming Nigerian elections. Also, people from the US, the UK, and other European countries stole blood from patients with Ebola, and some Dutch guy tried to patent teff (which is an iron-rich grain).
Al Jazeera English also has some news coverage written by African reporters (though the company is owned by the government of Qatar).
Awareness of Black America
Once she gets to the United States, Sandra Uwiringiyimana learns that the US has a race war of its own — it’s just slower.
And while racism is a system that needs to be dismantled through many means, the fight against anti-blackness requires white people in the United States to become aware of the issues that black Americans have to deal with.
Here are some sources I’ve found helpful in my ongoing attempts to break out of my whiteness bubble:
- News One (which has an email briefing)
- The Root (which I follow on Facebook)
- So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
- Safety Pin Box
You can also join various education classes about racism and Facebook groups committed to racial equality, such as “The Start: A Forum for Radical Social Change” or more specific groups, such as “Kidlit Alliance,” which focuses on inclusivity in kidlit.
And of course we can always do better at supporting #ownvoices authors and professionals.
And to my fellow white people, please remember that these sources are great if you listen and learn, so please don’t harass the people of color involved if you disagree with them. In most cases, you don’t want to say anything. Just give yourself time to learn another perspective and process the information.
If you care to, let me know what sources you’d recommend for education about racism. And Happy Black History Month! Here’s to a brighter future.