As a way to continue my education, I’ve been trying to read books that showcase POC experiences and racial issues in America. I’ve already recommended some “starter pack” books, but please don’t stop there. Here are three more reads you can add to your list:
1. How To Be An AntiRacist by Ibram X. Kendi
I gained a lot of perspective from this book and had some really insightful discussions as a result. Kendi’s philosophical approach shows the layers and depths that exist and he’s able to shed light in ways that holds every single person accountable for coming to solutions. He urges people to admit that “racial inequality is a problem of bad policy, not bad people,” and identifies all its intersections and power. While this book may not give the absolute answers for how to rid the world of racism, it absolutely shows you how to open your mind in a way that promotes racial equality. This not only means respecting others and working towards policy change, but also understanding that being antiracist is a continuous process that requires constant self-awareness and criticism. This book is not an intro-level book, but is absolutely something everyone should be reading.
2. I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
This is a quick/short book but a super impactful one. I mostly appreciated that this was a recount of the author’s experience of being a black woman. Every story is different, and I’m thankful that she wrote hers down for me to read. Since Austin Brown writes this as a story, it’s very easy to read and follow. Her viewpoint is unique, being given a presumably white man’s name and having to navigate the assumptions that came as a result. She also grew up in differently populated areas, creating a mix of culture that was often confusing to her growing up. I will say that her Christian viewpoint did get a little too Jesus-y for me at a few points, but I still think this is a wonderfully insightful read.
3. How The Irish Became White by Noel Ignatiev
Okay, can I just start by saying that objectively speaking, this is one of the worst book covers I have ever seen in my life. Not only is the title so small that it seems his last name could be mistaken for the title, but it’s also supposed to be a picture of dark beer. This does not necessarily read as beer, and is a weird Irish stereotype to be leaning on considering he didn’t mention anything related in the book. So, I hate the cover. Now that we are past that, the book as a lot of great information. However, this is the most dense book I have read so far this year (and I read a 1,000+ page book on Andy Warhol last month…). Even though it’s only about 200 pages, it reads very scholarly and textbooky rather than as a story or something more easily digestible. If you can hang in through all that, it’s got some really great content. It highlights how the Irish immigrants were literally used as a tool to oppress freed slaves. Through some wild propaganda, white America was successfully able to gatekeep opportunities from both Irish- and Afro-Americans, create uneven distribution of job opportunities, displace POC, and pin the two groups against each other to distract them from the real enemy. It goes deep and the history is pretty dark and ridiculous of course, but important to know.