I feel like my brain has been in space the last couple of weeks.
It’s hard to stay focused on anything other than all the work we need to be doing for racial justice. There are so many great conversations happening online right now and an ever growing list of important actions we all need to be taking to overhaul the unjust systems we’re living under. I’m trying to keep up as much as possible while also meandering through all the other life stuff I have going on.
Luckily, one thing I have been able to accomplish is making my usual monthly playlist. My playlist themes always revolve around the season and what I’m feeling each month. So obviously, I’m here to present to you: Black Voices Matter—a collection of some of my favorite black artists I’ve been listening to lately.
Continuing on the theme of books from my last post, I wanted to talk about some nonfiction books that I’m excited to read. I’ve seen these books recommended repeatedly over the last couple of weeks, so they seem like the right place to start my anti-racist reading.
I’m going to have to break my longstanding trend of not buying new books (usually opting for the library instead, which is sadly still closed) so I can pick up some of these titles. And when I do break that trend, I’ll be buying from a black-owned bookstore. Check out this list for a rundown of black-owned bookstores around the US where you can place online orders.
“In So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to “model minorities” in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life.”
“Ibram X. Kendi’s concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America–but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. Instead of working with the policies and system we have in place, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it.”
“The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement.”
“This eye-opening book challenges you to do the essential work of unpacking your biases, and helps white people take action and dismantle the privilege within themselves. Based on the viral Instagram challenge that captivated participants worldwide, Me and White Supremacy takes readers on a 28-day journey, complete with journal prompts, to do the necessary and vital work that can ultimately lead to improving race relations.”
“Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.”
This series is so good and so well-written. Jemisin combines sci-fi and fantasy to create a richly detailed world where ecological disaster and racially-based genocide have built a future in which apocalypse is a regular occurrence. It’s bleak, beautiful, and unforgettable.
The Legacy of Orïsha Trilogy by Tomi Adeyemi
So far, only the first two books have been released, but I CANNOT wait for the last installment. Set in an alternate, fantasy version of Africa where the magically gifted, who have been hunted and oppressed by a cruel king, fight for the promise of a return to their power. It’s a thrilling adventure all the way through.
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
This book makes everything feel off-kilter while dealing with real issues of race, identity, and family secrets. Oyeyemi places you in a darkly whimsical world where reality and fantasy brush up against each other enough to make you lose your bearings a little. It’ll make you question what you think is real.
Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom
This book of essays is a heavy read, but so valuable. Cottom has a singular way of narrating her experiences that is ruthlessly honest, moving, and smart. I didn’t expect this book to challenge me so much, but I’m really pleased that it did. It’s a book to take in slowly and probably read more than once.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
If this book doesn’t break your heart and open it up to a new perspective, I simply can’t help you. It’s a very heavy read that follows the life of a young black girl and the inherent trauma she and her family experience simply from being black in the 1940s. It should be required reading, especially for anyone who is not black.
We’re in the middle of a surge of anti-racist action right now, due to the recent horrific murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other black lives. It has been a full 8 years since Trayvon Martin was murdered—setting off the founding of the Black Lives Matter movement—and this trend of devaluing black lives and police abuse of black bodies has not slowed. It’s heartening to see how active so many people are getting right now, while also completely heartbreaking that it’s taken so many tragic deaths for us to get here. We need to keep up this momentum so that we can begin to end this cycle. White folks like myself especially need to step up. We need to educate ourselves and take any and all action we can—speaking with our loved ones and neighbors, attending protests, donating, and more.
Follow along with the week of action organized by the Movement for Black Lives that’s happening now. For each day they’re sharing a variety of big and small ways to take action and resources to help. They also have really in depth descriptions of what they’re specifically fighting for and why—take a moment to familiarize yourself with these goals.
Let me be clear: our stating that black lives matter doesn’t insinuate that other lives don’t. Of course all lives matter. That doesn’t even need to be said. But the fact that white people get so upset about the term black lives matter is proof that nothing can center the wellbeing and livelihoods of black bodies without white people assuming it is to their demise.