"PSPL" refers to books you can borrow from the Paul Sawyier Public Library.
The Black Experience is an annotated booklist curated by Shannan Hicks, Director of Library Services, William F. Laman Public Library System, North Little Rock, Arkansas. This Google Sheets based list is regularly updated and includes both non-fiction and fiction. (Note: there is a tab for Adults and a tab for Children's/Young Adult)
A History of Race and Racism in America, in 24 Chapters by Ibram X. Kendi. Here’s a booklist selected by Kendi who describes it as: the most influential books on race and the black experience published in the United States for each decade of the nation’s existence — a history of race through ideas, arranged chronologically on the shelf. (In many cases, I’ve added a complementary work, noted with an asterisk.) . . . No list can ever be comprehensive, and “most influential” by no means signifies “best.” But I would argue that together, these works tell the history of anti-black racism in the United States as painfully, as eloquently, as disturbingly as words can. In many ways, they also tell its present.
The ZORA Canon is "a list of 100 masterworks, spanning 160 years of African American women’s literature, divided into sections from pre-emancipation to the present, including fiction and nonfiction, novels, plays, anthologies, and poetry collections and ranging in subject matter from the historical to the personal (and sometimes both at once). Taken together, the works don’t just make up a novel canon; they form a revealing mosaic of the Black American experience during the time period. They’re also just great reads.”
We Were Eight Year in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates. "We were eight years in power" was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multicultural democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. In this collection of new and selected essays, Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time. PSPL, 973.932 COAT - Book, eBook, & Audio Book formats
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. Referring to defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behavoirs including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. Here, DiAngelo explores how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively. PSPL, 305.8 DIAN
How to Be Less Stupid about Race by Crystal M. Fleming. Combining no-holds-barred social critique, humorous personal anecdotes, and the latest scholarship on systemic racism, sociologist Fleming provides a fresh and irreverant take on everything that's wrong with our "national conversation about race." Fleming explains how systemic racism socializes all of us to absorb racially stupid ideas, and she shares concrete steps for detecting and dismantling racial oppression.
Waking Up White by Debby Irving. For twenty-five years, Irving sensed ineplicable racial tensions in her personal and professional relationships. As a colleague and neighbor, she worries about offending people she dearly wanted to befriend. As an arts administrator, she didn't understand why her diversity efforts lacked traction. As a teacher, she found her best efforts ro reach out to students and families of color left her wondering what she was missing. Then, In 2009, one "aha" moment launched an adventure of discovery and insight that drastically shifted her worldview.
The cross and the lynching tree are the two most emotionally charged symbols in the history of the African American community. In a work that spans social history, theology, and cultural studies, theologian James H. Cone explores the message of the spirituals and the power of the blues; the passion and engaged vision of Martin Luther King, Jr.; he invokes the spirits of Billie Holliday and Langston Hughes, Fannie Lou Hamer and Ida B. Well, and the witness of black artists, writers, preachers, and fighters for justice. And he remembers the victims, especially the 5,000 who perished during the lynching period. Through their witness he contemplates the greatest challenge of any Christian theology to explain how life can be made meaningful in the face of death and injustice.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Explores the complex reality of today’s racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the "N" word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions readers don't dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude many Americans.
From 1915 to 1970, almost six million black citizens fled the South for northern and western cities in search of a better life. Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson chronicles how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves. PSPL 304.80 WILK, Audiobook - CD 304.80 WILK
I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. An eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female in middle-class white America. In a time when nearly all institutions (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claim to value "diversity" in their mission statements, I'm Still Here is a powerful account of how and why our actions so often fall short of our words. Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice, in stories that bear witness to the complexity of America's social fabric--from Black Cleveland neighborhoods to private schools in the middle-class suburbs, from prison walls to the boardrooms at majority-white organizations. PSPL, Biography - B BROW
Trouble I've Seen: Changing the Way the Church views Racism by Drew G. I Hart. What if racial reconciliation doesn't look like what you expected? The high-profile killings of young black men and women by white police officers, and the protests and violence that ensued, have convinced many white Christians to reexamine their intuitions when it comes to race and justice. In this provocative book, theologian and blogger Drew G. I. Hart places police brutality, mass incarceration, antiblack stereotypes, poverty, and everyday acts of racism within the larger framework of white supremacy. Leading readers toward Jesus, Hart offers concrete practices for churches that seek solidarity with the oppressed and are committed to racial justice. What if all Christians listened to the stories of those on the racialized margins? How might the church be changed by the trouble we've seen? PSPL, 277.3 HART
The Autobiography of Malcolm X : as told to Alex Haley. Through a life of passion and struggle, Malcolm X became one of the most influential figures of the 20th Century. In this riveting account, he tells of his journey from a prison cell to Mecca, describing his transition from hoodlum to Muslim minister. Here, the man who called himself "the angriest Black man in America" relates how his conversion to true Islam helped him confront his rage and recognize the brotherhood of all mankind. PSPL, Biography - B LITT, book & ebook formats
White Awake: An honest look at what it means to be white by Daniel Hill. Hill will never forget the day he heard these words: "Daniel, you may be white, but don't let that lull you into thinking you have no culture. White culture is very real. In fact, when white culture comes in contact with other cultures, it almost always wins. So it would be a really good idea for you to learn about your culture." Confused and unsettled by this encounter, Hill began a journey of understanding his own white identity. Today he is an active participant in addressing and confronting racial and systemic injustices from a Christian perspective.
The New Jim Crowe: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander This book directly challenges the notion that the presidency of Barack Obama signaled a new era of colorblindness. Legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control--relegating millions to a permanent second-class status--even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. PSPL 364.973 ALEX - book & ebook
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson. From the Civil War to our combustible present, an acclaimed historian reframes our continuing conversation about race, chronicling the powerful forces opposed to black progress in America. PSPL, 305 ANDE
Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust World by Rev. Dr. Jennifer Harvey offers age-appropriate insights for teaching children how to address racism when they encounter it and tackles tough questions about how to help white kids be mindful of racial relations while understanding their own identity and the role they can play for justice. Listen to a podcast episode with this author.
The Racial Healing Handbook: Practical Activities to Help You Challenge Privilege, Confront Systemic Racism, and Engage in Collective Healing offers practical tools to help you navigate daily and past experiences of racism, challenge internalized negative messages and privileges, and handle feelings of stress and shame. You’ll also learn to develop a profound racial consciousness and conscientiousness, and heal from grief and trauma. Most importantly, you’ll discover the building blocks to creating a community of healing in a world still filled with racial microaggressions and discrimination. Written by: by Anneliese A. Singh PhD LPC A handout from the book.
I Am Not Your Negro by James Baldwin (a Companion Edition to the Documentary Film edited by Raoul Peck). In his final years, Baldwin had envisioned a book about his three assassinated friends, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. His deeply personal notes for the project have never been published before. Weaving together texts from James Baldwin’s published and unpublished books, essays, letters, notes, and interviews Peck imagines the book that Baldwin never wrote, juxtaposing Baldwin’s private words with his public statements, in a blazing examination of the tragic history of race in America. PSPL, 323.1196 BALD
Forward Together: A Message for the Nation by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II (with Barbara Zelter) shares the theological foundation for the Moral Monday movement, serving as a proclamation of a new American movement seeking equal treatment and opportunity for all regardless of economic status, sexual preference, belief, race, geography, and any other discriminatory bases. The book will also serve as a model for other movements across the country and around the world using North Carolina as a case study, providing useful, practical tips about grassroots organizing and transformative leadership.
Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism by Derrick Bell. Civil rights activist and legal scholar Derrick Bell uses allegory and historical example to argue that racism is an integral and permanent part of American society. African American struggles for equality are doomed to fail so long as the majority of whites do not see their own well-being threatened by the status quo. Bell calls on African Americans to face up to this unhappy truth and abandon a misplaced faith in inevitable progress. Only then will blacks, and those whites who join with them, be in a position to create viable strategies to alleviate the burdens of racism.
The Guide for White Women who Teach Black Boys edited by Eddie Moore, Ali Michael, and Marguerite W. Penick-Parks. Schools that routinely fail Black boys are not extraordinary. In fact, they are all-too ordinary. If we are to succeed in positively shifting outcomes for Black boys and young men, we must first change the way school is "done." That’s where the eight in ten teachers who are White women fit in . . . and this urgently needed resource is written specifically for them as a way to help them understand, respect and connect with all of their students. The book brings together research, activities, personal stories, and video interviews to help readers embrace the deep realities and thrilling potential of this crucial American task.
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson. A Baptist minister argues that if we are to make real racial progress we must face difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted. PSPL, 305.8 DYSO – book & eaudiobook format)
Fights for Rights by Ronald W. Eades. As Americans, we often take our many freedoms for granted. It is easy to forget the difficulties many of our ancestors faced when fighting for the rights we now enjoy. Because the United States is a "nation of laws and not of men," these people were able to challenge unfair laws in hope of a better future. Fights for Rights explains our everyday rights of free speech, religion, the rights of the accused, and how our Constitution guarantees these rights for all people.
Bigotry by Kathlyn Gay traces the history of various forms of bigotry, the effects it has on society, and ways of combating it.
Bigotry and Intolerance: The Ultimate Teen Guide by Kathlyn Gay looks at the various reasons why people of all age levels and backgrounds feel the need to disparage others. This book also offers help to teens who are the object of fear and hatred by showing them how to combat such behavior. Aimed at young adults who are interested in fighting bigotry and intolerance, this book will help teens who suffer from the small-mindedness of others. It might also help those who are less tolerant find some common ground with those who are different from them--and lead to a better understanding of how diversity makes for a richer, more interesting world. PSPL, Young adult - Y 305.8 GAY
“And don’t call me a racist!” selected and arranged by Ella Mazel. A treasury of quotes on the past, present, and future of the color line in America.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson, who was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. Just Mercy provides a window into the lives of those Stevenson has defended and calls us to fix our broken system. PSPL, ebook
Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice by Bryan Stevenson. In this young adult adaptation of the acclaimed bestseller Just Mercy, Stevenson delves deep into the broken U.S. justice system, detailing from his personal experience his many challenges and efforts as a lawyer and social advocate, especially on behalf of America's most rejected and marginalized people
Race Matters by Cornel West contains powerful essays on the issues relevant to black Americans today: despair, black conservatism, black-Jewish relations, myths about black sexuality, the crisis in leadership in the black community, and the legacy of Malcolm X. And the insights that he brings to these complicated problems remain fresh, exciting, creative, and compassionate. Now more than ever, Race Matters is a book for all Americans, as it helps us to build a genuine multiracial democracy in the new millennium. PSPL, 305.8 WEST)
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Stamped from the Beginning uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to offer a window into the contentious debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists. From Puritan minister Cotton Mather to Thomas Jefferson, from fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to brilliant scholar W.E.B. Du Bois to legendary anti-prison activist Angela Davis, Kendi shows how and why some of our leading proslavery and pro-civil rights thinkers have challenged or helped cement racist ideas in America. Winner, National Book Awards 2016 for Nonfiction. PSPL 305.8 KEND
In Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America Tim Wise argues that far from any culture of poverty, it is the culture of predatory affluence that deserves the blame for America's simmering economic and social crises. He documents the increasing contempt for the nation's poor, and reveals the forces at work to create and perpetuate it. With clarity, passion and eloquence, he demonstrates how America's myth of personal entitlement based on merit is inextricably linked to pernicious racial bigotry, and he points the way to greater compassion, fairness, and economic justice.
A History of Blacks in Kentucky: From Slavery to Segregation, 1760 - 1891 by Marion Brunson Lucas traces the role of blacks from the early exploration and settlement of Kentucky to 1891, when African Americans gained freedom only to be faced with a segregated society. Making extensive use of numerous primary sources such as slave diaries, Freedmen's Bureau records, church minutes, and collections of personal papers, the book tells the stories of individuals, their triumphs and tragedies, and their accomplishments in the face of adversity. PSPL 976.9 LUCA
A History of Blacks in Kentucky: In Pursuit of Equality, 1890 – 1980 by George C. Wright describes the struggle of blacks in the twentieth century to achieve the promise of political, social, and economic equality. From the rising tide of racism and violence at the turn of the century to the civil rights movement and school integration in later decades, Wright describes the accomplishments, frustrations, and defeats suffered by the race, concluding that even in 1980 only a few blacks had actually achieved the long-sought goal of equality.
Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist by Eli Saslow. From a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, this book tells the powerful story of how a young prominent white supremacist, raised to become a white nationalist leader, changed his heart and mind.
Backlash: what happens when we talk honestly about racism in America by George Yancy. When George Yancy wrote a New York Times op-ed titled, “Dear White America” asking white Americans to confront the ways they benefit from racism, the back lash took every form possible. In this book he expands upon his original article and chronicles the ensuing controversy as he seeks to understand what it was about the op-ed that created so much rage among so many white readers. He challenges white Americans to rise above the vitriol and develop new empathy for the African American experience. PSPL 305.8009 YANC
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. In 2014, award-winning British journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote a blog piece about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren’t affected by it, titled “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race.” It hit a nerve, went viral, and comments flooded in, revealing a hunger for open discussion. In this book she provide a wake-up call to a nation in denial about the structural and institutional racism occurring at its heart, and she offers a framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism today. PSPL 305.8 Eddo
America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America by Jim Wallis. In this book, Jim Wallis, an author, activist, preacher, teacher, and pastor tells the truth of America’s original sin of racism and challenges white Christains to act more Christian than white, by working to understand how our nation embraced its original sin of racism, and by accepting responsibility and taking on the work to create an America in which “our racial diversity and social pluralism are a great strength and gift for our future, because our primary identy is as the children of God – all of us are created in God’s image.” PSPL 305.8 WALL
Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor In this book, Layla F. Saad presents a 28-day challenge that leads readers through a journey of understanding their white privilege and participation in white supremacy, so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on black, indigenous and people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.
In How to Be an Antiracist, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science--including the story of his own awakening to antiracism--bringing it all together in a cogent, accessible form. He begins by helping us rethink our most deeply held, if implicit, beliefs and our most intimate personal relationships (including beliefs about race and IQ and interracial social relations) and reexamines the policies and larger social arrangements we support. How to Be an Antiracist promises to become an essential book for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step of contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society. PSPL 305.8009 KEND
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