Books I’m Reading to Educate Myself on Racism

I’ve been trying to pay more attention to the different ways that racism show up today in America and how that affects me on an individual level and on a systemic level. Since I love to read I figured I could pick up a few books that would educate me on the matter. 

I am currently reading Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body, and Spirit by Mary-Frances Winters. I didn’t realize until I started reading this book just how tired I am of everything going on. This book made me realize how fed up I am by the stagnant mentality of our country in regards to how Black people are treated. It also made me realize how emotionally exhausted I am. This past year has been terrible in terms of watching Black men and women murdered by the law enforcement entities that are supposed to protect us. I honestly don’t even like watching the news because it’s depressing and just always delivers bad news. The writer started writing this book in 2019 and then was pushed to publish fast in light of the issues we have been suffering lately and I feel like there couldn’t have been a more perfect time for all readers Black and White alike to read to educate themselves about the injustice in the world today. 

I am planning to read the following books soon (in no particular order):

  • Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi. The title of this book comes from a speech that a Mississippi senator named Jefferson Davis gave on April 12, 1860 on the floor of the US senate. According to Kendi “[Davis] objected to a bill funding Black education in Washington, DC. ‘This Government was not founded by negroes nor for negroes,’ but ‘by white men for white men,’ Davis lectured his colleagues. The bill was based on the false notion of racial equality, he declared. The ‘inequality of the white and black races’ was ‘stamped from the beginning.’ Basically saying that Black people are biologically distinct and inferior to White people. I think this book will help me understand how we as a country have come to this place that we are at in terms to how race and racism is regarded. 
  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. This book is basically a guidebook for anyone that needs to understand how racism has affected different systems and values within our world: class, culture, geography, self-esteem. But it doesn’t just teach you about racism it also teaches you how to take the next step to fight racism. I think that’s what I’m most excited about for this book. Becoming more equipped with the tools to fight a system of oppression that has been in place for centuries. 
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This book forms as a letter to the authors son to answer the questions: “What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?” As the book description states, “Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our president, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.” I’m excited to read this one because during an English class I attended in community college we were assigned a reading from an excerpt of this book. I’ve tried editing the excerpt down or trying to summarize it’s meaning but it is so powerful in the way that it is written exactly that I want to include it here: 

“And you know now, if you did not before, that the police departments of your country have been endowed with the authority to destroy your body. It does not matter if the destruction is result of an unfortunate overreaction. It does not matter if it originates in a misunderstanding. It does not matter if the destruction springs from a foolish policy. Sell cigarettes without the proper authority and your body can be destroyed. Resent the people trying to entrap your body and it can be destroyed. Turn into a dark stairwell and your body can be destroyed. The destroyers will rarely be held accountable. Mostly they will receive pensions. And destruction is merely the superlative form of a dominion who prerogatives include frisking, detaining, beatings, and humiliations. All of this is common to black people. And all of this is old for black people. No one is held responsible. 

“There is nothing uniquely evil in these destroyers or even in this moment. The destroyers are merely men enforcing the whims of our country, correctly interpreting its heritage and legacy. It is hard to face this. But all our phrasing — race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy — serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You myst never look away from this. You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body. “

So there are a few other books that I want to buy soon to add to list of books I want to read soon to educate myself on racism. I actually reached out to an old professor of mine from an African American studies course I took and asked him for some book recommendations. The ones he sent me that I was most drawn in by are:

  1. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
  2. Erasing Racism: The Survival of the American Nation by Molefi Kete Asante
  3. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum

I was thinking of picking up the above books soon but I will probably hold off until I finish the others because these are some heavy reads. 

What books are you reading to educate yourself on racism or to equip with the knowledge to fight racism?


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