Black History Month: Reading List

I recently learned that each year since 1928 the Association for the Study of African American Life and History has assigned a theme to Black History Month.

According to the organization, the themes reflect “how people of African descent in the United States have viewed themselves, the influence of social movements on racial ideologies, and the aspirations of the black community.”

The 2023 theme is Black Resistance.

African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms, and police killings since our arrival upon these shores. These efforts have been to advocate for a dignified self-determined life in a just democratic society in the United States and beyond the United States political jurisdiction… Black people have had to consistently push the United States to live up to its ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice for all.

One way I’m educating myself on the Black experience in America, the historical and present-day racism embedded in our society, and how I can extend my privilege as a member of a dominant/majority group to those in marginalized groups is by reading works by Black authors. I know it’s a passive way to serve as an ally, but I still have a lot to learn and I want to do the work.

Brief aside: Speaking of allyship, check out this great resource from the University of Pittsburgh that outlines the do’s and don’ts of allyship, five tips for being an ally, and links to more resources.

In a prior post, I mentioned a few of the books I’ve read to gain more knowledge and understanding. I’ve added several more this past year and wanted to recommend the following for anyone else seeking resources. I found all of these insightful in different ways, and several certainly helped me have a better understanding for the ongoing need for Black Resistance in America today.

Books (non-fiction) about racial discrimination and systems of oppression

  • Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein
  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

Books (non-fiction) about the Black experience in America

  • Black Oak: Odes Celebrating Powerful Black Men by Harold Green III
  • Black Roses: Odes Celebrating Powerful Black Women by Harold Green III
  • A Little Devil in America: In Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib
  • Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
  • I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
  • The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty

Books (fiction) about the Black experience in America

  • Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
  • The Personal Librarian by Victoria Christopher Murray and Marie Benedict
  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  • The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Books (non-fiction) by Black allies

  • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
  • The Trouble with White Women: A Counterhistory of Feminism by Kyla Schuller

Next on my list is James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird, which I’m reading along with the Laramie County Library adult book club.

Please let me know of books, articles, movies or other forms of content I should add to my list – all recommendations welcome.

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