Reading & Movie Suggestions to Stretch your Heart and Mind around the Issue of Race
Small Great Things – Jodi Picoult
With richly layered characters and a gripping moral dilemma that will lead readers to question everything they know about privilege, power, and race. “[Picoult] offers a thought-provoking examination of racism in America today, both overt and subtle. Her many readers will find much to discuss in the pages of this topical, moving book.”—Booklist (starred review)
The Other Wes Moore – Wes Moore
From Publishers Weekly - Starred Review. Two hauntingly similar boys take starkly different paths in this searing tale of the ghetto. Moore, an investment banker, Rhodes scholar, and former aide to Condoleezza Rice, was intrigued when he learned that another Wes Moore, his age and from the same area of Greater Baltimore, was wanted for killing a cop. Meeting his double and delving into his life reveals deeper likenesses.
Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates
In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?
Waking Up White and Finding Myslef in the Story of Race - Debby Irving
Irving’s personal and moving tale takes us on an adventure to a world utterly new to her as she wakes up to the reality of how, without her knowledge or active pursuit, she lives in a society which is set up to reward her at the expense of people of color. I cannot imagine a more understandable and compelling invitation to learn about how racism lives on in our homes, communities, and nation. – Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson
The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother - James McBride
The Color of Water tells the remarkable story of Ruth McBride Jordan, the two good men she married, and the 12 good children she raised. Jordan, born Rachel Shilsky, a Polish Jew, immigrated to America soon after birth; as an adult she moved to New York City, leaving her family and faith behind in Virginia. Jordan met and married a black man, making her isolation even more profound. The book is a success story, a testament to one woman’s true heart, solid values, and indomitable will. Ruth Jordan battled not only racism but also poverty to raise her children and, despite being sorely tested, never wavered.
Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
To the women in the hair-braiding salon, Ifemelu seems to have everything a Nigerian immigrant in America could desire, but the culture shock, hardships, and racism she’s endured have left her feeling like she has “cement in her soul.” Smart, irreverent, and outspoken, she reluctantly left Nigeria on a college scholarship. Her aunty Uju, the pampered mistress of a general in Lagos, is now struggling on her own in the U.S.
The Grace of Silence: A family Memoir - Michele Norris
A profoundly moving and deeply personal memoir by the co-host of National Public Radio’s flagship program All Things Considered. While exploring the hidden conversation on race unfolding throughout America in the wake of President Obama’s election, Michele Norris discovered that there were painful secrets within her own family that had been willfully withheld. These revelations—from her father’s shooting by a Birmingham police officer to her maternal grandmother’s job as an itinerant Aunt Jemima in the Midwest—inspired a bracing journey into her family’s past, from her childhood home in Minneapolis to her ancestral roots in the Deep South.
Just Mercy: A story of Justice and Redemption – Bryan Stevenson
What is the one commonality of people on death row? If the victim is white, the perpetrator is 11 times more likely to be condemned to die than if the victim is black. When Stevenson was a 23-year-old Harvard law student, he started an internship in Georgia where his first assignment was to deliver a message to a man living on death row. This assignment became his calling: representing the innocent, the inadequately defended, the children, the domestic abuse survivors, the mentally ill—the imprisoned. This fast-paced book reads like a John Grisham novel.
Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of “the Brotherhood”, and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.
March: Books One, Two and Three – This is a graphic novel series by John Lewis accessible for middle school through adult his lifelong journey and struggle for civil and human rights.
The Help – Kathryn Sockett – fiction set in 1962 Mississippi.
My Beloved World – Sonia Sotomayor (autobiography)
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison
Race Matters – Cornel West
Hidden Figures The American Dream and the Untold Story of The Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win The Space Race – Margot Lee Shetterly (also coming out as a movie soon)
Citizen An American Lyric – Claudia Rankine
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
The Short & Tragic Life of Robert Peace – Jeff Hobbs
From Kyle Parsons:
From Laurie Beckman Yetzer:
A member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America