I intentionally held off on sharing this post. It’s one thing to post when it’s the popular thing to do, but it’s very easy to let things go back to normal as things calm down. When that happens, it’s all too easy to fall back into old patterns – and by old patterns, I mean neglecting to recognize your own white privilege and failing to support groups that will solve issues of racial injustice. When we start ignoring a problem it doesn’t go away; it sits there below the surface. It manifests itself in insensitive jokes, unfair hiring practices, and police brutality. Everyone is going back to “business as usual” on Instagram, but recognizing and working against discrimination should still be happening behind the scenes, even if you don’t see it on your feed.
The best thing to do is educate yourself and your family. There are so many resources. Hopefully, I’m not regurgitating lists you’ve been seeing everywhere. I’m guessing you already know about “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo, for instance. Instead, I’d like to share some of the other content I’ve enjoyed that helped shift my world view. Diversity in the content we consume should extend beyond the classroom and often it’s those books I read/movies I watched for pleasure that evoked a change in my perspective. By seeing different faces and hearing different voices, acknowledging and appreciating our differences becomes much easier.
I maintain a fairly diverse bookshelf and believe it’s VITAL to incorporate characters of all races and ethnicities in your reading. This list, however, is focused on books that bring race issues front and center.
- Thick – These essays take individual moments and analyzes them, backing everything up with facts.
- You Can’t Touch My Hair – This essay collection is incredible and hilarious and everyone needs to read it. (I’m Judging You is also a great collection of humorous essays, several of which cover race.)
- The Hate U Give (I also really enjoyed Angie Thomas’ other book, “On The Come Up”) – This may fall into the YA category, but is easily enjoyed by readers of all ages. I read it 3 years ago and talked about it non-stop.
- Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: [linking to purchase since my review will be posted after this post] And Other Conversations About Race – If you’re a fan of Freakanomics, this one’s for you. I read several sections as part of a school assignment decades ago, but felt it was time to read the whole thing and get a little refresher. This one is on the longer side, but it’s not a novel so don’t approach it as something to read in one sitting. Read some, digest it, come back in a bit.
- The Nickel Boys – I can’t find any fault in this book. Bravo to Colson Whitehead. It’s perfect.
- The Other Wes Moore – A true story of two boys with similar, troubled backgrounds and the same name. One became a Rhodes Scholar and the current CEO of Robin Hood Foundation; the other is serving a life sentence for murder. As you evaluate opportunity and pressure, you’ll find a deeper understanding of systemic racism.
- How To Be Black – This satire just may help you better understand how to be an ally.
- As mentioned, I wanted to highlight books that specifically address racial issues. If you’re looking for books with black protagonists, some top suggestions include “The Mothers,” “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” “Decoded,” “On The Come Up,” “The Vanishing Half,” “Leaving Atlanta,” and “Dapper Dan: Made In Harlem.”
Because it’s imperative that understanding and education starts at home and starts young
- Books with Characters of Color that are about race
- Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History (and all of Vashti Harrison’s books)
- Same Same But Different
- The Day You Begin
- My Hair is a Garden
- Something Happened in Our Town – This one deals directly about a black man being shot by police. This is a tough topic, but one your child should hear about. I understand wanting to shield your child from something so terrible, but I promise they can handle it and this book is written for children as young as 4.
- Books with Characters of Color that aren’t about race
- Anything on Unbothered – This is a sub-brand of Refinery29 that is a celebration of Black millennial women. If you don’t identify as a Black millennial woman, start with “Before You Check In On Your Black Friend, Read This“
- Remember, No One Is Coming to Save Us by Roxanne Gay
- 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism is Real by Ben & Jerry’s – Yes, the ice cream company laid it all out. Like their products, this article is very easily digestible and makes it impossible to ignore the reality. Also, their plan of attack against white supremacy is on point and a great read for anyone asking “but what can I be doing to help?”
- Why I’m Using My Privilege as a White Rabbi to Join the Black Lives Matter Protests by Rabbi Emily Cohen
- The 30-day anti-racist challenge on @lovekindcure
- When They See Us – This deserved all the awards. I can’t explain how important this was and how it must be watched.
- Fruitvale Station – I feel like this film doesn’t get as much recognition, but I really enjoyed it.
- Explained: The Racial Wealth Gap
- Hair Love – It’s only 6 minutes and is absolutely beautiful
- Dear White People – I loved the movie but haven’t watched the tv series yet so I can’t speak to that
- 1619 – Such a great listen (and each episode is the perfect length) that shows how that one move – a ship carrying enslaved Africans landing in America – has impacted every aspect of our lives, from music to healthcare. Also, this show has been wonderfully produced – I know that’s not the important thing here, but as someone who works in podcasting, I can’t help but notice when people really get it right.
- Toure Show – As a well established journalist, Toure has been able to secure the most impressive list of guests and really gets them to open up in a beautiful way in his interviews. I particularly recommend episode 76, where Toure interviews Dr. Yusef Salaam and Raymond Santana, two members of the Central Park 5 (now The Exonerated 5).
- Inappropriate Questions – I wrote about my new fave podcast last month and while it does not revolve specifically around the black experience it does address problematic speech (and the thoughts that speech is rooted in). The February 5, 2019 episode tackles the cringe-y “What are you?” question asked to a mixed-race person.
- Go Off, Sis – This podcast comes from the Refinery29 Unbothered brand (see: Essays, above)
- The Stoop – These stories about what it means to be black are beautiful glances into identity. Also, co-host Leila Day has the most soothing voice that was made for podcasting.