Last summer there was an increase in the purchase of books about races. Since then, many of these writings have gathered dust, but the black experience lingers. Our movement is not a trend.
If you want to continue your work in social justice, investing time, energy, and care is a common and ongoing practice – small steps are still progress. We will have to make every effort to break down a permanent system. And this process begins with awareness.
The leveling of social order needs to be built into the fabric of ourselves, our communities and our feeds. Allied and anti-racist work are the bookends.
Read five books on racing to keep your bookshelf at eye level. They consist of beautiful stories, profound prose, bold integrity, and humble vulnerability. When you first read it, you may experience a variety of emotions. You will likely bookmark, underline, and share the words you reach. And above all, you should read every literary work again, because these words are evergreen.
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Claudia Rankin calls this book-length poem about race an attempt “to pull poetry back into its reality”. What I love about her style is that she looks at topics from different angles. Prose, poetry, non-literary examples (like a journal entry), and almost a legal perspective reveal the realities of racial relations in the United States. Instead of telling a new story, Rankine keeps it real and historical. What sets her book apart is that it is digestible, readable and accessible. Citizen is a powerful, provocative portrayal of the individual and collective effects of racism in our modern world, all too often referred to as “post-race” society.
“Context doesn’t mean.” – Claudia Rankine
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Ghanaian-American author Yaa Gyasi holds a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA from Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she received a Dean’s Graduate Research Fellowship. She brings with her a multi-layered perspective, which she has received several awards for at the young age of 26 for her legendary book Homegoing.
I will never forget standing in the door of no return as a teenager on Goree Island, Senegal. Millions have been drawn from their homes through this door to build a civilization for oppressors in a distant land. I could feel the screams of my ancestors.
Homegoing shows the slave trade and the effects it had across generations, from 18th century Africa to today’s United States. How could one pursue such an arduous, complex, painful journey? Gyasi rises to the challenge. She paints the open wound of slavery as she beautifully depicts narrative episodes and clearly defines a protagonist that we care immensely about. One of my realizations: love is not without a struggle.
“You want to know what weakness is? Weakness treats someone like they’re yours. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves. “- Yaa Gyasi
James Baldwin is one of my favorite moguls of all time. He created an incredible collection of fiction, non-fiction, dramas and verses that speak against discrimination of any kind while illustrating the interracial dynamics. His writings are elaborate, cerebral, and honest.
The Fire Next Time immerses itself in the perpetual presence of the American race. Although it poses the danger of engagement, it is equally committed to the merging of races to understand and accept one another with love. This book will challenge you to question your place in society while challenging you to think deeply about the interplay of self-awareness and responsibility. You will find that the problems blacks face affect us all. Originally written as a letter from Baldwin to his nephew, you can use this book as a guide.
“The impossible is the least one can ask for.” – James Baldwin
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Audre Lorde, a black lesbian poet and feminist writer, offers messages of hope in this determined, lyrical collection of fifteen essays and speeches. She speaks to multiple discriminatory acts and advocates change through social differences. Hence, intersectionality is vital. Your bite-sized one-liners pack a punch. Every time I read them I am motivated, motivated and supported.
“If we define ourselves, if I define myself, the place where I am like you and the place where I am not like you, I am not excluding you from joining, I am expanding joining.” – Audre Lorde
I heard Born a Crime last spring and passionately recommended it to everyone I’ve come in contact with since then. It’s one of my all-time favorite books. Trevor Noah is an incredible storyteller and speaker who, despite painful stories and difficult realities, has the ability to create comedic relief. His memories made me remember my own childhood. I found myself in a few minutes, laughing, crying and passing out.
Raw, alarming and lifelike, Trevor Noah’s account of life during apartheid tells deeply personal, unwritten memories. He often speaks of his experience of being half black and half white in a country where his birth was essentially an offense. In this way, language became his invisible cloak and often even his path to freedom. Noah is a biracial person himself and has the need to be a chameleon. Furthermore, I was deeply touched by his deep love for his mother – a zealous woman who sacrificed so much for her son.
His mother, Noah writes, gave him the name Trevor on purpose, with “no meaning in South Africa, no precedent in my family. It’s not even a biblical name, ”he writes. “It’s just a name. My mother wanted her child to have no fate. She wanted me to be free to go anywhere, to do anything, to be anyone. “
What books on races have you read that have influenced you a lot? Let us know below along with your favorite quote!