Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Antiracist Reading List

From the Boswell Book Company Newsletter:

As you've seen in newsletters and on your social media feeds, several bookstores, individuals, and organizations have published excellent lists of literary resources in the wake of nationwide protests of the police killing of George Floyd. Some of these books have flown off our shelves, and indeed many are currently backordered as publishers reprint to meet the demand. We want to share information about these titles with you.

One of two of the most requested titles is Ibram X Kendi's How to Be an Antiracist, which has appeared on several recent reading lists. This New York Times bestseller, from the National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning (another great choice, also backordered), offers a groundbreaking approach to understanding and uprooting racism and inequality in our society-and in ourselves.

Currently tied with Antiracist in sales at Boswell is White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo. In a book that Michael Eric Dyson, author of Tears We Cannot Stop, calls "vital, necessary, and beautiful," DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, by Austin Channing Brown is an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female in middle-class white America. It looks at how white, middle-class Evangelicalism has participated in an era of rising racial hostility and invites the reader to confront apathy, recognize God's ongoing work in the world, and discover how blackness - if we let it - can save us all.

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. A hard-hitting but user-friendly examination of race in America. How do you explain white privilege to your white, privileged friend? Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to "model minorities" in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. From Bruce Smith of the Colorado State University Bookstore, as quoted in the Indie Next list: "Michelle Alexander tirelessly researches both the legal history of America's Jim Crow past and the current legal policies that contribute to the mass incarceration of black people. The text adds significantly to scholarship that contextualizes rates of incarceration among blacks and critiques of social and economic inequality."

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla Saad is another New York Times bestselling book about which Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility, says, "Saad moves her readers from their heads into their hearts, and ultimately, into their practice. We won't end white supremacy through an intellectual understanding alone; we must put that understanding into action."

More books for which we've seen increased demand include Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin, The Color of Law, A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, by Richard Rothstein, Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race, by Reni Eddo-Lodge, and How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide by Crystal M Fleming.

Please note that while many of these titles are sold out at Boswell and backordered, we are happy to take orders and will fulfill them as soon as the books arrive at our store. Do note, we are prioritizing prepaid orders. We will fill all prepaid orders in the order they were placed and then will go through the unpaid hold requests. We've also discounted several of these titles 20% off their list price to help get them into the people's hands.

We've been fortunate to have opportunities to host and cosponsor events - some currently postponed due to the Covid-19 epidemic - with authors whose work addresses the history and present day realities of life for black citizens in America.

This fall we sponsored an event at America's Black Holocaust Museum featuring Candacy Taylor, author of Overground Railroad: The Green Book & Roots of Black Travel in America. Boswellian Tim McCarthy says, "Taylor has done America a great service. More than any book I've read, Overground Railroad made me understand the endless, malicious obstacles put in the way of basic living, solely because of skin color. It's a powerful book. I'm already eager to read it again."

Melissa V Harris-Perry's event for DMEF is postponed until 2021, but her book is Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America. Using analysis, theory, and experimental research, Harris-Perry seeks to understand more deeply black women's political and emotional responses to pervasive negative race and gender images and to shed light on the unique political issues of black women which are often ignored and marginalized.

An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago, by Alex Kotlowitz. From Daniel Goldin's staff rec: "Journalist Kotlowitz weaves together 15 narratives of the violence that Chicagoans must deal with every day. An American Summer does an amazing job of showcasing these individuals, noting how many of these kids and young adults would, under other circumstances, be not just productive members of society but high-achieving ones like Marco, whose destiny teeters between two very desperate futures. Kotlowitz has written a powerful and important work of journalism, one so filled with empathy and hope that it's likely to inspire many readers to search for new answers to a long-existing problem."

We're still working on rescheduling several of the wonderful events we were planning, including Gabriel Bump and Faith Pennick. Hope to have more in a future newsletter. We've also had requests for books about antiracism for children and young adults.

Ibram X Kendi collaborated with Jason Reynolds on Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning for young readers. A timely, crucial, and empowering exploration of racism - and antiracism - in America.

This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work, by Tiffany Jewell, illustrated by Aurelia Durand. With this book, young adults will be be empowered to actively defy racism and xenophobia to create a communities large and small that truly honors everyone.

Watch Us Rise, by Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Renée Watson and poet Ellen Hagan, is a YA feminist anthem about raising your voice. The two dynamic, creative young women at the center of this novel stand up and speak out in a novel that features their compelling art and poetry along with powerful personal journeys that will inspire readers and budding poets, feminists, and activists.

Picture books bring the concepts of antiracism, equality, and empowerment directly to the youngest readers.

You Matter, by author/illustrator Christian Robinson. We've been fortunate enough to host different events with the Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honoree Robinson over the years and are big fans of his work. His latest picture book is no different, as he brings his joyful illustrations to a sensitive, empathetic, and impactful story about seeing the world from different points of view.

All Are Welcome, by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman. Celebrate diversity and inclusion with this New York Times bestselling picture book about a school where all are welcome. Spend a day in a school where kids in patkas, hijabs, and yarmulkes play side-by-side with friends in baseball caps, and where students grow and learn from each other's traditions.

Finally, coming out on June 16th is Ibram X Kendi's latest work, a brand new picture book, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky, called AntiRacist Baby, which encourages children to make their first steps for building a more equitable world. Providing the language necessary to begin critical conversations at the earliest age, Antiracist Baby introduces the youngest readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concept and power of antiracism.

Black lives matter. Black voices matter.

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