Still in my house, still reading. The lack of social interaction makes me feel like I’ve lost my ability to speak and hold logical conversations with other people. When you spend all your time with your spouse and kid, there’s a family shorthand that doesn’t translate well when talking to those outside our little trio. Writing helps.
Over the last few years, I’ve tried to become better — a better person, a better mom, a better citizen. Donald Trump winning the election in 2016 hit me hard, I realized that at least half the electorate does not care about facts and there are more racists in this country than I ever imagined.
I’m a Librarian. Facts are important to me. Good sources are important to me. Seeking out information is one of my favorite ways to pass the time. Current events and my job tend to sway my reading selections when it comes to non-fiction, The murder of George Floyd lit a fire in my soul. I am so disappointed in myself for not doing more sooner, which is why part of my summer reading will be spent on learning how to be an AntiRacist and educating myself on how we dismantle systemic racism in America.
There are many books that speak to the plight of people of color and I’m ashamed that I haven’t read more of them. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to fill your timelines with people and point of views that are from a different perspective than your own. I am trying my hardest to identify my own bias and to be better. To DO MORE. To act. To speak up. I hope you’re working on it, too.
I read JUST MERCY by Bryan Stevenson in December 2016. It is a powerful memoir of Stevenson’s career as an attorney advocating for those with no voice and no hope. By the end, Stevenson had changed my view of the death penalty. I remember reading sections to Jesse, outraged at our (in)justice system that punishes Black children at the same level they would punish an adult. CHILDREN receiving sentences for LIFE IN PRISON. I still think about all the time taken away from Walter McMillian and the many, many innocent Black men placed in prison for the rest of their lives. Stevenson is an incredible human being and JUST MERCY should be required reading in high schools. If you’re in a book club, you MUST suggest JUST MERCY for your next discussion.
I’m about 75% into SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE by Ijeoma Oluo. I wouldn’t say I’m ready to talk about race, I still have much to learn, but I’m more ready than I was before. Oluo clearly defines many of the terms that I thought I understood, but did not really UNDERSTAND. I’d read articles, posts, and comments about culture appropriation, intersectionality, and microaggressions and think, “OK…sure, I get that!”. but I really didn’t get it. This is a book I know I’ll revisit many times to remind me of where and how I can do better.
I’ve purchased a few more books that I plan on reading because the systemic oppression of people of color must stop. Here’s what I’m planning to read (and listen to):
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo
- How to be an AntiRacist by Ibram X Kendi
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
- Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty by Dorothy Roberts
- 1619 podcast via The New York Times
- Public Address On Revolution and The Great Unlearn by Rachel Cargle
Please do not expect people of color to do the work for you. DO YOUR OWN DAMN RESEARCH. Many kind people have put together incredible resource lists. Like this national resource list from @botanicaldyke available via Google Docs. Or this list of national community bail funds organized by state. And many, many amazing reading lists:
- Do the work: an anti-racist reading list by Layla Saad via The Guardian
- Several Antiracist Books Are Selling Out. Here’s What Else Black Booksellers and Publishers Say You Should Read via TIME
- An Antiracist Reading List by Ibram X Kendi via The New York Times
- Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
- Antiracist Reading List via Bookshop
This is lifelong learning. I have so much to un-do and so much to re-learn. What are you reading so you can be better?