I don’t know the right words to say during a time like this.
But I do know that if people, particularly white people like me, want to be a part of the solution, we need to educate ourselves on the history of racism and how we are contributing to it, even unwittingly. We can’t be bystanders in the efforts to undo centuries of structural racism and white supremacy in the United States.
Books have always been where I turn to be educated and challenged.
I’ve included below some that I have enjoyed and that have helped me, as well as a few I’ve reviewed. There also are links to articles I’ve been reading this week.
One of them, by Lauren Michele Jackson, has this line that stuck with me:
The books are there, they’ve always been there, yet the lists keep coming, bathing us in the pleasure of a recommendation. But that’s the thing about the reading. It has to be done.
Yes, the books are all out there, and have been. They are a starting point. What we do next is up to us.
Do this: Purchase books from Black-owned independent book stores. Here is a nationwide list. Here are four in New York City:
Sisters Uptown Bookstore in Manhattan. The oldest Black and family-owned book store in upper Manhattan seeks to nourish the ‘minds, hearts and souls of the community.’ You can shop its online store here.
Grandma’s Place in Harlem. This store sells toys and books, but it doesn’t appear to have much of an online presence.
Read these: Here are some books I read prior to starting Books on GIF:
‘Between the World and Me’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates
‘The Autobiography of Malcolm X’ as told to Alex Haley
‘Race Matters’ by Cornel West
‘Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention’ by Manning Marable.
Read these, too: Here are some books I’ve reviewed:
‘Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”’ by Zora Neale Hurston
‘Salvage the Bones’ by Jesmyn Ward
‘The Autobiography of Gucci Mane’ by Gucci Mane
‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’ by Jesmyn Ward
‘Moses, Man of the Mountain’ by Zora Neale Hurston
‘Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City’ by Matthew Desmond
‘Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions’ by Valeria Luiselli
‘Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations’ by Mira Jacob
Books I’m reading:
I just finished ‘Mean’ by Myriam Gurba.
I just started ‘They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us’ by Hanif Abdurraqib. (If you have a preference for which book I review next week, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Articles I’m reading:
‘What Is an Anti-Racist Reading List For?’ by Lauren Michele Jackson in Vulture.
‘I Don’t Need “Love” Texts From My White Friends’ by Chad Sanders in The New York Times.
‘Fiction By Contemporary Black Authors About Navigating White Supremacy’ by Electric Literature.
‘How White Crime Writers Justified Police Brutality’ by John Fram in The New York Times.
‘Remember, No One Is Coming to Save Us’ by Roxane Gay in The New York Times.
‘America Returns to Its Violent Normal’ by Hanif Abdurraqib in Gen.
‘How to Report Police Misconduct—and What to Expect If You Do’ by Rachel Holliday Smith and Reuven Blau of The City.
Racism must be defeated. ‘It has to be done.’ Let’s get to it.