Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Anti-racism Reading

This evening I went, for the first time, to a book group that's been around for a year and a half, sponsored by the local group Whites for Racial Equity. We discussed Michael Eric Dyson's Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America. I am only halfway through, so I couldn't speak to everything, but some good points were made, and it was a lively discussion. Though I have to say, it was a little strange to be in a room of half a dozen white folks, talking about a sermon to . . . white folks. (Granted, one is married to an African American woman, and together they are the parents of past NAACP president Benjamin Jealous; and the book group's leader is a Unitarian pastor.)

But we are living in strange times, where white supremacy is on the rise, and ugly nationalism just keeps getting uglier, and Black Lives Matter becomes "all lives matter" because of amnesia and denial and a refusal to just sit and listen to the 400 years of white people putting black people down in this country.

It's all very complicated. This book group is trying to tease out how to approach the big knot that race relations in this country are.

I will post my report on Tears We Cannot Stop shortly, once I've finished. But I have to say, the more I read ("educate myself," as Dyson urges us white folk to do), the stupider I feel.

Or perhaps I should say, the more entitled I feel—and wanting to make amends. Somehow.

Anyway, for now, here's a list of the readings the group has considered since it began in June 2016. I've read a few on my own. I'd like to go after some of the titles I haven't encountered yet.

Chris Crass, Towards the “Other America”: Anti-Racist Resources for White People Taking Action for Black Lives Matter
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (a favorite of mine)
Chimananda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (selected in 2013 as a NYT top 10 notable book)
Carol Anderson, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide
an essay: Summer Brennan, "Notes from the Resistance: A Column on Language and Power"
Wesley Lowery, They Can't Kill Us All: The Story of the Struggle for Black Lives
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain
Eula Biss, Notes from No Man's Land: American Essays
Claudia M. Steele, Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do
Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give
Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric
James Baldwin, "Letter from a Region in My Mind" 

I would add Ibram X. Kendi's National Book Award winner Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. Except I haven't read it (though of course I have it). But maybe I'll pick that up soon, and if it draws me in, I'll suggest it to the book group ringleader. It might be worth considering.

1 comment:

  1. STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING is on the reading list for a book club to which I belong. Let's compare notes once we both get it read.