If you are struggling with what to say or how to process current events, here is a list of books that may help shape your thoughts. Zeba Blay, who writes for Black Voices put this list together and published it on HuffPost a few years back. All are available in one format or another at your Abilene Public Library.
The first book to consider is The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace. You can read this book about a young man from Newark who attended Yale University only to die after he graduated. We have this in physical format and on Hoopla in audiobook format.
The next book to consider is the New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. This book is a powerful description of describing mass incarceration in the United States. We have this book on Hoopla and Overdrive in Ebook format. Slavery by Another Name: the Re-enslavement of Black people in America from the Civil War to World War II is by Douglas Blackmon. He exposes the aftermath of the Civil War where arrests and forced labor mimicked slavery. This title is available as a book and on Hoopla as a documentary.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is his first book written to his teenage son about what it means to be black in America. He was nominated in 2016 for the Pulitzer for this work. Coates has gone on to write several other books as well, the latest being on the 2019 Oprah book club list entitled The Water Dancer. Both books can be read on Overdrive in either Ebook or Audiobook format and book format. The Water Dancer can also be found as a spoken word.
The following books are seen uniquely through female perspective. To Kill a Mockingbird and Go set a Watchman by Harper Lee can be found on all formats in the library. Another topic of feminism is not often in the forefront when racism is mentioned, but women of color experience life differently as highlighted in Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks. This book can be downloaded on Hoopla audio. Negroland is a memoir by Margo Jefferson who grew up in the 1960s in Chicago in a well to do suburb. This book can be read or listened to as an audiobook on Hoopla.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison is a book about racism and colorism and how an 11 year old with low self-esteem wants blue eyes. This book is available in every format. Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a book about a woman whose cells were used without permission to advance scientific research. This book can be read on Overdrive on ebook or audiobook format, read as a book or watched as a movie.
Welcome to Braggsville is a novel by T. Geronimo Johnson about four University of California, Berkeley students who protest a Civil War enactment by staging a mock lynching. Welcome to Braggsville is available to read in Ebook on Hoopla and in physical format as well. Race Matters by Cornel West bluntly takes on topics and what solutions there might be. This book is available as an Ebook and regular book format. In 1952, Ralph Ellison wrote Invisible Man lamenting about his anonymity from the people unable to see the depths of the soul. Invisible Man is available in Ebook and regular book format. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? is a book by Bevery Daniel Tatum and she is a psychologist that explains how racial identity develops. This book is available in physical format at the Abilene Public Library.
Three more books have come to prominence since Ms. Blay wrote her article that should be mentioned as well. How to be Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, White Fragility by Robin Di Angelo and So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. How to be Antiracist is available on Overdrive. We have a copy of White Fragility on Overdrive and Hoopla has an audiobook summary. So You Want to Talk About Race is available on Overdrive as an ebook.
Uncomfortable books can make for uncomfortable talks, but these are uncomfortable times. If you wish to broaden your outlook, or just find out more about a topic you know very little about, as always, your Abilene Public Library can help.
Article Contributed by Janet Bailey, Technical Services Manager, Main Library