While Black History Month is in February, this work should not be left to simply one month a year. It’s far too important and we consider ourselves among those that have so very MUCH to learn.
2020 brought us many things! As a family, we moved from our home of 23 years, COVID hit 5 days later. Seven days later we were woken up by an earthquake. Utah doesn’t have them very often, but HELLO! Then toilet paper shortages and all the grocery store staples we never thought we needed until we couldn’t find them.
Enter late May/June. Eyes WIDE OPEN, anyone else!? Black Lives front and center. We realized just how much there was to learn and are literally broken with all the racial stories, hidden history, fake history (aka stories we tell each other to feel less guilty,) deep seeded white supremacy, etc. You get it right? Heart breaking, unbelievable and gut wrenching.
We are learning and we hope that you may join us.
Our dear friend and former neighbor, Tracey, is an avid reader and hails from Adelaide, Australia. She is now a US citizen and her perspective on learning about the history of Black Lives in our country is most welcome. She put together an amzing list of books (30+) that she has read. She graciously put them all together with a little review of each book. Blown away by her goodness, she’s a gem and we miss living by her so much. Tracey is also a very talented artist, find her work on Instagram @TRACEYTOYS please check her out.
“I put Child/teen not to turn people off reading these (because I think all books are relevant for adults) but that these would be appropriate for younger readers. I didn’t rate them because I loved all of these books. They are basically in the order I read them. Not all are Black authors but they all are worthy. They are all books I want to read again. I have been learning so much especially as an Australian who knew very little about American history.”
We felt like having a picture of each book would be helpful as well as purple text indicating what genre each one falls into. We already have a few of these books and have seen a couple that are now movies. Are there some tough reads here? You betcha!
There are also a few links from a couple of our friends on Instagram for accounts that provide valuable information about Black History. They have very relevant and current information.
Lean into being uncomfortable, let’s do the work shall we?
BLACK HISTORY & informative Instagram accounts:
- @emmanuelacho – Host of “Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Man” about race that many white people have never been able to have
“History is meant to be remembered, but not all history is meant to be celebrated.” Emmanuel Acho
Dear Martin – Nic Stone
Dear Justyce (Martin #2) – Nic Stone
Children/Teen. Fiction. Two stories of different opportunities but living as a Black young man in a white world. One with support and one in a desperate situation. Both with struggle. Loved them.
A Promised Land – Barack Obama
Memoir. A long read but so interesting with all things politics, marriage and family and being America’s first Black President. So glad the story will continue in another hefty volume.
Mormonism and White Supremacy: American Religion and the Problem of Racial Innocence – Joanna Brooks
Non-fiction. A tough read for me given my faith and trust in the church I love. My takeaway – Black lives Matter is indeed an eternal doctrine but policy gets decided by those in the big seats complete with their own biases.
Caste: The origins of Our Discontents: Isabel Wilkerson
Non-fiction. Amazing book. Looks at the concept of caste as being the true underlying issue behind racism. So well written. Compares the caste systems of India, Nazi Germany and Black America.
Such a Fun Age: Kiley Reid
Fiction. Great story that shows the privileged life of one family and the life of Emira their Black
babysitter. The contrasts and chasms shown in this contemporary novel definitely opened my eyes.
Between the World and Me: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Non-fiction. Such a beautiful writer! I listened to this book and it was mesmerizing. Impactful
message from a father to his son and the differences in the worlds they live in and the different ways he is trying to raise his son.
Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation – LaTasha Morrison
Non-fiction. How to navigate through church and racism. How to be a person of reconciliation. I was so moved I joined the Facebook group to continue my work on anti-racism.
Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America – Ibi Zoboi
Teen/YSA.Non-fiction. I loved the variety of all the teen authors and their experiences of being Black and American.
The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
Historical Fiction. Beautifully written. Cora is enslaved and approaching womanhood and knows she’s in terrible danger for what comes next. She decides to escape instead of awaiting her fate.
The Nickel Boys – Colson Whitehead
Historical Fiction. Jim Crow era. This book broke my heart. I didn’t know it was fiction until the end but then learned that such an awful reformatory school did exist for 111 years in Florida.
Black Like Me – John Howard Griffin
Non-fiction. In 1950 in the Deep South a journalist decides to see what life is like as a Black man and medically changes his skin color. A lot of lessons are learned.
A Black Women’s History of the United States – Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross
Non-fiction. An amazing timeline that centers on Black women and their role in America. The
strength and resilience of Black women in their communities and sphere of influence is both
empowering and heartbreaking.
So You Want to Talk About Race – Ijeoma Oluo
Non-fiction. Maybe don’t read this book first if you want to tackle how as a white person you can be anti-racist. Ijeoma is hard-hitting and brutally honest. Her passion and wit as she tackles the questions you don’t want to ask are brilliant!
The Hate You Give – Angie Thomas
Fiction. A story of Starr, a young girl’s juggle between the worlds of her own Black neighbourhood and the privileged white school she attends. Her best friend is killed by police. Honest perspective.
Stamped: Racism, Anti Racism and You – Jason Reynolds and Imbram X. Kendi
Non-fiction. A condensed history of Kendi’s book on racism and how Black Americans have been systematically oppressed and discriminated against for more than four hundred years.
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Race – Robyn DiAngelo
Non-fiction. A book for white folks from a white woman. A great read to challenge your biases so you can get past your feelings and get on with being anti-racist.
Just Mercy: A True Story of the Fight for Justice – Bryan Stevenson
Non-fiction. The laws of America baffle me and the sad tales of the incarcerated who are poor and lack proper representation in the legal system break my heart. Attorney Bryan Stevenson is my hero. Watch the HBO special on YouTube about systematic racism. His work with others at the Equal Justice Initiative is so important for underrepresented incarcerated children, youth and adults. “Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”
Becoming – Michelle Obama
Memoir. An amazing telling of the lives of the Obama’s from before the presidential race through
President Obama’s presidency. Candid and just so good. My favourite first lady!
Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the Selma Voting Rights March – Lynda Blackmon Lowery
Child/Teen. Non-fiction. Amazing non-fiction account of the youngest march. Jailed 9 times before she was 15 she really brings things into sharp focus.
Ghost Boys – Jewell Parker Rhodes
Children/Teen. Fiction. Such a poignant story from the perspective of a young boy shot by a police officer. Beautifully showing lots of perspectives.
Booked – Kwame Alexander
Rebound: Kwame Alexander
Children/Teen. Fiction. Beautifully written poetry that moves you though the family story in Booked and then takes you back to the Dad’s young life in Rebound. Warning: fun plus teen stuff plus tough tough times. In both books.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 – Christopher Paul Curtis
Children/Teen. Historical fiction. A fun family adventure from Michigan that certainly takes a turn when they are in Birmingham. Poignant.
The Crossover – Jason Reynolds
Ghost (Track#1) – Jason Reynolds
Patina (Track #2) – Jason Reynolds
Sunny (Track #3) – Jason Reynolds
Children/Teen. Fiction. Amazing stories told through the rhythm and rhyme of basketball and running as only Jason Reynolds can tell them. Best on audiobook in my opinion. Some stories are meant to be listened to.
There are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America – Alex Kotlowitz
Non-fiction. If your idea of America is that everyone can pull themselves up by their bootsraps and be self-sufficient, then this is the book to change your mind.
Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case – Patricia Hruby Powell
Non-fiction. Poetry. If I didn’t already know the outcome it would have been so hard to read this story for all the frustrating roadblocks in the way of two people trying to get married in the state of Virginia to finally legally be able to live together as a married couple 12 years after they fell in love.
Brown Girl Dreaming – Jacqueline Woodson
Children/Teen. Non-fiction. Amazing poetry about what life is like for a Black girl growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Hypnotic.
Hidden Figures – Margot Lee Shetterly
Non-fiction. If you’ve seen the movie then this book will fill in the gaps and make you even more aware of the amazing people that worked in the NASA space program.
Bud, Not Buddy – Christopher Paul Curtis
Children/Teen read. Historical fiction of a boy’s adventure in Depression era Flint, Michigan.
One Crazy Summer (Gaither Sisters #1) – Rita Williams-Garcia
Children/Teen read. Historical fiction. When a visit to the mother you hardly know turns into a summer of activism for these sisters.
Chains (Seeds of America #1) – Laurie Halse Anderson
Forge (Seeds of America #2) – Laurie Halse Anderson
Ashes (Seeds of America #3) – Laurie Halse Anderson
An amazing historical fiction series of enslaved Africans in America.
The Blind Side – Michael Lewis
Non-fiction. I saw the movie then years later read the book. The story of Michael Oher’s journey from homelessness to NFL footballer. I’d still like to read the book Michael Oher wrote himself.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou’s Autobiography #1) – Maya Angelou
Non-fiction. Honest and raw and beautifully written.
Parable of the Sower (Earthseed #1) – Octavia E. Butler
Fiction. Gripping science fiction fantasy story