A short anti-racism reading list

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.

What’s on your to-read list right now?

SYWTTAR

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

“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.”

HTBAA

How To Be An Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

“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.”

TNJC

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
by Michelle Alexander

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.”

MAWS

Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad

“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.”

WF

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, PhD

“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.”

Spring>summer mental health check in

Summer turned on over the weekend. It miraculously happens every year during Memorial Day weekend. Our chilly and overcast days became hot and sunny overnight.

Incidentally, my mood also made a major switch. I felt GOOD this weekend. Like, the best I have in months. I felt happy and had plenty of energy to do a bunch of stuff on what would normally be a lazy weekend day. It’s all tied to the sun, I’m sure. I feel like an extra fussy houseplant. I need plenty of direct sunlight or I wilt.

It really makes no sense that I live in one of the top 10 cloudiest states in the US.

The nice weather has meant I’m spending a lot more time outside, which is a mood booster for me even in less sunny weather. I’ve been either going for a run or a walk every day this month, and spending tons of time out on the front porch reading, scrolling on my phone, or just hanging out with a cup of coffee.

This is good for me. I need to keep it up so I can get the most out of these short summer months.

What I read in April

I’m doing surprisingly well in quarantine, but one thing I’m really missing—that there isn’t a good substitute for—is the library. I can still see friends and family through zoom, and I like cooking enough that I’m not really missing restaurants just yet, but there’s a hole in my life where the library used to be.

I can’t read a book on my phone or computer. I just can’t do it. So even though my library lets me check out ebooks for free with Libby, it’s not helping. I’m trying not to buy more books at this point either. I’d end up spending all my money and would quickly run out of storage space since my book shelves are already stacked.

So I’m stuck with actually reading the books I own. Which happens to be quite a lot. The problem is, I bought most of those books YEARS ago and let them gather dust until I eventually lost interest. A LOT of them are written by long-dead white guys, which doesn’t exactly spark my interest like it used to.

One thing I do like about those old dead white guys is the way they use language. Here are some choice quotes from what I read in April.

Walden

As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.

from Walden and Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

thestranger

I looked up at the mass of signs and stars in the night sky and laid myself open for the first time to the benign indifference of the world.

from The Stranger by Albert Camus

saul-bellow-mr-sammlers-planet

Everybody needs his memories, they keep the wolf of insignificance from the door.

from Mr. Sammler’s Planet by Saul Bellow