Books become a window to other worlds. We can travel a hundred kilometers away from our home. We can become the shadows of characters that somehow become a part of us. But books can also become magnifying glass and make a radiography of our own world. They can help us to make visible the invisible and to denounce the injustices that surround us. March 20 2021 is UN Anti-Racism Day. Here we suggest some books that can help us fight racism and become more aware of this reality:
1. Roots: The Saga of an American Family – Alex Haley
This book tells the story of Kunta Kinte, an 18th-century African, captured as an adolescent, sold into slavery in Africa, transported to North America. The story follows his life and the lives of his descendants in the United States down to Haley. The book was originally described as “fiction,” yet sold in the non-fiction section of bookstores. It spent forty-six weeks on The New York Times Best Seller List, including twenty-two weeks at number one.
2. Twelve Years a Slave – Solomon Northup
Twelve Years a Slave is the autobiography that Northup wrote and published when he became free. The memories of the mistreatment suffered were still vivid in his mind: this allowed him to give a strong and detailed testimony. He was in bondage for 12 years in Louisiana before he was able to secretly get information to friends and family in New York, who in turn secured his release with the aid of the state.
3. Black Feminist Thought – Patricia Hill Collins
In spite of the double burden of racial and gender discrimination, African-American women have developed a rich intellectual tradition that is not widely known. In Black Feminist Thought, originally published in 1990, Patricia Hill Collins set out to explore the words and ideas of Black feminist intellectuals and writers.Collins provides an interpretive framework for the work of such prominent Black feminist thinkers as Angela Davis, bell hooks, Alice Walker, and Audre Lorde. Drawing from fiction, poetry, music and oral history, the result is a superbly crafted and revolutionary book that provided the first synthetic overview of Black feminist thought and its canon.
4. The Help – Kathryne Stockett
This novel, set in 1962, in the middle of the mobilizations for the assignment of full rights to people of color. The attention of the author focuses exclusively on female characters with a strong character, in particular marks the difference between black maids at the service of white masters. The story is about African Americans working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960s.
5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
This novel has become a classic of modern American literature, winning the Pulitzer Prize. The plot and characters are loosely based on Lee’s observations of her family, her neighbors and an event that occurred near her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, in 1936, when she was ten. Despite dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality, the novel is renowned for its warmth and humor.
6. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath is an American realist novel written by John Steinbeck and published in 1939. The book won the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and it was cited prominently when Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962. Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on the Joads, a poor family of tenant farmers driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, agricultural industry changes, and bank foreclosures forcing tenant farmers out of work.
7. This book is Anti-Racist – Tiffany Jewell
This book is Anti-Racist is filled with 20 lessons of Antiracsim. It is beautifully illustrated and therefore also really nice to read with your children. It explains everything in an easy language and you can still learn a lot. Especially a good start for people who are just starting to educate themselves about the topic.
8. Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Americanah is a 2013 novel by the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for which Adichie won the 2013 U.S. National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Americanah tells the story of a young Nigerian woman, Ifemelu, who immigrates to the United States to attend university. The novel traces Ifemelu’s life in both countries, threaded by her love story with high school classmate Obinze.