Responding to This Movement (not moment) by Reading and Buying Books
I’m a white woman. And, that means I exist with a tremendous amount of privilege that allows me to tune in and out of social justice concerns on my own schedule. Said another way, I get to actively choose to care about things that effect BIPOC on the daily, whether they want them to or not. They don’t get that same choice. It feels kinda gross to lay it out there so starkly, but anything less would be disingenuous.
Recent news and #BLM rallies, marches and protests have caused me to examine my role in systemic racism, the harm I do with silence, and my responsibilities going forward. This isn’t the first time I’ve thought about these issues (or voted about them), but it has certainly been the most carefully and intensely I’ve done so. And, since I believe many of us are doing this active learning, I thought I’d share some of the voices I’ve been listening to, the books I’ve been reading, and the spaces where I’ve been watching closely.
However, I want to make clear: this learning is NOT the actual WORK of becoming anti-racist. This is the step BEFORE the work. In my case, it’s been humbling how much time I’ve needed to spend in this learning phase (I’ve had a lot of unlearning to do!). It’s another form of privilege to be able to take this time to get up to speed, to become less blind, to grow my compassion and empathy, and to examine and reshape my beliefs.
But, I am not stuck here, nor am I ONLY listening, reading and thinking.
- Where I’ve felt certain I would not do harm (aka: in largely white-only spaces), I’ve been speaking up.
- When I’ve seen an opportunity to invest real dollars in causes supporting equality or directly to Black owned businesses, I’ve done so gratefully.
- I sought out and found opportunities to amplify the voices of WOC.
- I’ve become aware of, and am now minimizing, the harm and energy-draining that my own fragility causes the BIPOC in my life.
- And, maybe most importantly, I’ve been actively seeking to examine and eliminate whenever possible my own microagressions, racist beliefs and tendencies, and unexamined privileged habits that perpetuate harm. So many of these have been unconscious and unintentional, but no less harmful.
For example, one behavior pattern that I immediately noticed upon critical examination was the lack of Black authors on my fiction shelves. (My nonfiction was more balanced, but still needs improvement.) My reading choices have been largely driven by authors I am recommended (mostly by white people) and by my habits for finding my next #tbr in the same ways I always have (again, mostly white friends, mostly white bloggers, mostly white book store owners, etc.). Familiarity. Comfort. Ease. Laziness. Privilege. These unexamined habits have kept my author pool limited to mostly white authors.
It was such an easy fix. I adore reading, and one super quick google search gave lie to any belief I might have held about the scarcity of options! The richness and positive outcomes were literally immediate. Obviously, I love financially supporting fellow authors whenever I can, but in this instance, the joy was compounded, because it’s bringing a new and different lens to the experience of pleasure reading. And, as I’ve been able, I’ve been purchasing them directly from the authors, or from Black-owned independent book stores. #winwinwin
Anyway, I just thought I share a little of what I’ve been reading, and where I’ve been learning. I’m SO open to other suggestions, so don’t be afraid to drop recommendations in the comments (even, and maybe even especially, if they are your own!),
In love and learning,
Some Resources (where possible, I’ve linked to the author directly if you’d like to purchase the book):
Fiction books by Black authors:
- The Proposal, by Jasmine Guillory
- Happiness in Jersey, by Jacinta Howard
- Queenie, by Candice Carty-Williams
- The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
- Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid
Blogs and IG feeds by BIPOC: (note, these are learning spaces, not places for free labor)
- Yaba Blay, @fiyawata
- Ava DuVernay, @ava
- The Conscious Kid, @theconsciouskid
- Adult History Lessons from Marcie Alvis-Walker, @blackcoffeewithwhitefriends and @mockingbirdhistorylessons
Nonfiction books by Black authors that I’ve found helpful:
- The Body is Not An Apology, by Sonya Renee Taylor
- Ready to Rise, by Jo Saxton
- How to Be Less Stupid About Race, by Crystal M. Fleming
- Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You, by Ibram X. Kendi
- They Were Her Property, by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers
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