Books may not have the answers we seek to confronting and understanding racism and anti-black violence. But maybe they can help. That’s why I asked Lottie Joiner, the editor of The Crisis, for some suggestions.
She referred me to lists already compiled by Esquire, Time and Bustle and said her favorites on those lists include:
James Baldwin –“ The Fire Next Time”
Jesmyn Ward –“The Fire This Time” (compilation of writers on race)
Ta-Nehisi Coates –“Between the World and Me”
Michelle Alexander- “The New Jim Crow”
Tom Corddry, my Post Alley colleague, said his suggested reading list would include:
Amiri Baraka (as LeRoi Jones) “Blues People: Negro Music in White America”
Amiri Baraka (as LeRoi Jones) “Dutchman” (a play)
Langston Hughes, “Simple’s Uncle Sam”
Langston Hughes, “The Ways of White Folks”
Richard Powers, “The Time of Our Singing”
Margaret Walker, “Jubilee”
“The Kerner Report”
Toni Morrison “Song of Solomon” (and basically everything she ever wrote)
The links I inserted to these works are not to bookstores but to reviews and articles that perhaps offer additional insights and context.
I’m seeing new lists almost hourly on social media and elsewhere (including on Post Alley) featuring more books, films, music, podcasts and other materials. Sometimes making a list makes us feel good, like we’ve actually done something. But making this list does not make me feel good. It makes me feel sad. I know it’s not enough.
I also know that I am in no position to lecture other privileged white people on what to do or not do and how to be an ally. That’s something we each are struggling to figure out, and it probably will take a lifetime. But maybe starting with a book is one step.