Give 5: Anti-Racist Books to Diversify Your Reading

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give fiveRochester Mom is starting a brand new resource series called Give Five. The idea of Give Five is simple. We are inviting you to Give Five minutes to read through each of these posts. The series will provide you with ideas, resources, lists, and suggestions on specific topics. We acknowledge that giving five minutes is just the start…a small step in a bigger journey we can all take to become allies to our BIPOC friends, family, and neighbors.

This series is intended to be a resource for YOU and your families. Topics will vary but all will be helpful as we work towards anti-racism and expand and diversify our understanding of race and diversity. Some resources will be collaborative with Rochester Mom writers, and for others, we’ll look to YOU! We want to know what you have learned on your own journeys and what resources have helped you along the way. Our goal with this series is to be a conduit of information: pulling together resources to help one another. We are learning ourselves and it’s been a challenging yet beautiful process. Will you join us?


Here, we are introducing some books, many of them written by people of color, and a short explanation of why they are a great addition to your anti-racism work.

As a reminder, this is in no way a comprehensive list–just a starting point!

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

I’m Still Here is a powerful account of how and why our actions so often fall short of our words. Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice, in stories that bear witness to the complexity of America’s social fabric–from Black Cleveland neighborhoods to private schools in the middle-class suburbs, from prison walls to the boardrooms at majority-white organizations.” (austinchanning.com)

How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

“In his memoir, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science–including the story of his own awakening to antiracism–bringing it all together in a cogent, accessible form. He begins by helping us rethink our most deeply held, if implicit, beliefs and our most intimate personal relationships (including beliefs about race and IQ and interracial social relations) and reexamines the policies and larger social arrangements we support. How to Be an Antiracist promises to become an essential book for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step of contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.” (ibramxkendi.com)

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.” (bookshop.org)

Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad

“Based on the original workbook, Me and White Supremacy leads readers through a journey of understanding their white privilege and participation in white supremacy, so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on Black, Indigenous and People of Color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too. The book goes beyond the original workbook by adding more historical and cultural contexts, sharing moving stories and anecdotes, and includes expanded definitions, examples, and further resources.” (meandwhitesupremacybook.com)

Our Time is Now by Stacey Abrams

Our Time Is Now draws on extensive research from national organizations and renowned scholars, as well as anecdotes from her life and others’ who have fought throughout our country’s history for the power to be heard. The stakes could not be higher. Here are concrete solutions and inspiration to stand up for who we are now.”  (barnesandnoble.com)

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall

“In her searing collection of essays, Mikki Kendall takes aim at the legitimacy of the modern feminist movement, arguing that it has chronically failed to address the needs of all but a few women. Drawing on her own experiences with hunger, violence, and hyper-sexualization, along with incisive commentary on politics, pop culture, the stigma of mental health, and more, Hood Feminism delivers an irrefutable indictment of a movement in flux.”  (penguinrandomhouse.com)

Heavy by Kiese Laymon

“Heavy recounts growing up in a ferociously intellectual household — the only child of a single mother — as a black boy who struggles with weight. It is about the jagged, uneven road to becoming a writer and a man; it is a chronicle of daily confrontations with the twin assaults of American racism and America’s weight-obsessed culture. Heavy is a compelling record of American violence and family violence, and the wide, rutted embrace of family love.” (npr.org)

We Too Sing America – Deepa Iyer

“In the American Book Award–winning We Too Sing America, nationally renowned activist Deepa Iyer shows that this is the latest in a series of recent racial flash points, from the 2012 massacre at the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, to the violent opposition to the Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and to the Park 51 Community Center in Lower Manhattan. Iyer asks whether hate crimes should be considered domestic terrorism and explores the role of the state in perpetuating racism through detentions, national registration programs, police profiling, and constant surveillance.” (thenewpress.com)

The New Jim Crow -Michelle Alexander

“Her clear-eyed assessment, published in the UK almost a decade after it first stunned America, is an indictment of a society that, since the 1980s, has been complicit in the explosion of its prison population from around 300,000 to more than 2 million. Drug convictions have largely fueled the increase, and an extraordinary number of those new felons have been black. This is not coincidental. The Reagan administration’s “war on drugs” shifted the legal goalposts, Alexander asserts, so that mass incarceration “emerged as a stunningly comprehensive and well-designed system of racialized social control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow”.” (theguardian.com)

Carry – Toni Jensen

“In Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Land, author Toni Jensen uses a series of interconnected personal essays to spotlight the other 99 percent of shootings to challenge how we talk and think about gun violence. In addition to tackling America’s addiction to guns, Jensen’s book touches on a slew of other issues, including indigenous rights, the transmission of trauma, and the racist imaginary in MFA programs. It is an odd confluence of issues not many would place in conversation, but they arise naturally from Jensen’s life.” (shondaland.com)

This is by no means a comprehensive list! What are you reading?

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Blair is a wife to Rodney and mommy to Kyus (2016). She grew up in Red Wing and has lived in Rochester for 15 years. Blair works full-time at the Mayo Clinic as a Psychometrist (she tests people’s thinking). She finds mental health and psychology extremely interesting and loves learning about wellness. In her spare time Blair likes to do all things relaxing. This includes, but is not limited to: napping, going for walks, taking baths, and watching reality television. On the weekends you can find her thrift shopping, and attending fun events around town with her family of 3. Blair loves to make people laugh with her sarcastic and blunt personality, and she doesn’t take life too seriously.

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