Hello dear readers! Today I want to let you in on a little secret about breaking down barriers for having difficult conversations, getting to know the people you love better and educating yourself on white supremacy and systemic racism in the United States and world wide all under the guise of a seasonal book club.
When quarantine began, my sister and I decided to start a book club to read the very popular “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle this summer with some of our closest friends and family. We met for a few hours each week and talked about our thoughts, opinions and other relevant content to grow and empower each other. You can go as fast or slow as you want through the book but we’ve found a sweet spot of about 6 weeks long.
Throughout the experience our small group has really opened up about the struggles we face being women in a society that teaches us to silence ourselves and be people pleasers. I’ve learned loads about my sisters, mother, and friends this way, but also about myself.
Here's the little invitation we put together for some inspiration!
While this is already great, helpful, and just pretty darn fun; we can harness the summer book club, 6 week fall read, springtime picnic style book club to have difficult conversations about racism and oppression of Black communities. We can open the floor for healing and expressing our personal journeys if systemic racism affects us or as a teaching moment for ourselves and those we love about challenges we haven’t experienced but benefit from daily.
If you are the type of person who buys a book and then procrastinates reading it…. (looking at you!) then a book-club will give you the social support you need to prioritize learning and growing, especially now, when we need white people and non-black POC to educate themselves and others to become better allies and anti-racist activists.
This kind of discussion each week will keep us conscious of our unconscious biases as we go through our daily lives, it will give us the information we need to grow and inspire us to take action to dismantle white supremacy in our lives, a chance to work together on projects, to motivate each other; to keep the momentum going.
After the first book it’s likely your group will want to pick another book and keep doing the work, especially during quarantine when everyone is feeling disconnected and perhaps disengaged.
One way to implement this and make sure the book club activism sticks is to have a group discussion about half way through the first book about what the next book should be. I think people will find it easier to set a date to start the next one even if it’s a month or two later and commit to being part a continuing club. If you have a larger group, selecting a few choices and presenting them as a vote will prevent “let’s think about it and come back to it later”.
To finish off let me give you a few suggestions that would be great to order and start for your book club! And don’t forget to factor in about a week or so into your timeline to allow people enough time to buy the book.
(pro tip: this will go easier if you send the website links, prices or availability at local libraries for your book club members)
So here are some suggestions of books by Black authors and activists that seem like good choices to me (in no particular order). I haven’t read most of these yet but I think I have a plan for the rest of my reading schedule this year now. Of course there are so many more to choose from and you should do some looking around. If you have a group of people that don’t do tons of reading in their free time then I would definitely recommend choosing a book that is a collection of essays because you can read a 10 page chapter, put the book down and when you pick it up later you get a new topic. If you can’t get your friends and family on board with a book club, you could do something really similar with a podcast or movie club!
Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
"Me and White Supremacy teaches readers how to dismantle the privilege within themselves so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of colour, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.
When Layla Saad began an Instagram challenge called #MeAndWhiteSupremacy, she never predicted it would spread as widely as it did. She encouraged people to own up and share their racist behaviors, big and small. She was looking for truth, and she got it. Thousands of people participated in the challenge, and over 90,000 people downloaded the Me and White Supremacy Workbook (Synopsis from goodreads.com).
How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
"Ibram X. Kendi's concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America--but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. InHow to be an Antiracist, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it.
In this book, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, bringing it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism.How to Be an Antiracistis an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society" (Synopsis from goodreads.com)
by Roxane Gay
Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to becool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I readVogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.
In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.
Bad Feministis a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better. (Synopsis from goodreads.com)
by Jennifer L. Eberhardt
"From one of the world's leading experts on unconscious racial bias, a personal examination of one of the central controversies and culturally powerful issues of our time, and its influence on contemporary race relations and criminal justice.
We do not have to be racist to be biased. With a perspective that is both scientific, investigative, and also informed by personal experience, Eberhardt offers a reasoned look into the effects of implicit racial bias, ranging from the subtle to the dramatic. Racial bias can lead to disparities in education, employment, housing, and the criminal justice system--and then those very disparities further reinforce the problem. InBiased, Eberhardt reveals how even when we are not aware of bias and genuinely wish to treat all people equally, ingrained stereotypes can infect our visual perception, attention, memory, and behavior" (Synopsis from goodreads.com).
So you want to talk about race
by Ijeoma Oluo
"In this breakout book, Ijeoma Oluo explores the complex reality of today's racial landscape--from white privilege and police brutality to systemic discrimination and the Black Lives Matter movement--offering straightforward clarity that readers need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide
InSo You Want to Talk About Race,Editor at Large of The Establishment Ijeoma Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the "N" word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions readers don't dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans"(Synopsis from goodreads.com)
by Brittney Cooper
"Far too often, Black women’s anger has been caricatured into an ugly and destructive force that threatens the civility and social fabric of American democracy. But Cooper shows us that there is more to the story than that. Black women’s eloquent rage is what makes Serena Williams such a powerful tennis player. It’s what makes Beyoncé’s girl power anthems resonate so hard. It’s what makes Michelle Obama an icon.
Eloquent rage keeps us all honest and accountable. It reminds women that they don’t have to settle for less. When Cooper learned of her grandmother's eloquent rage about love, sex, and marriage in an epic and hilarious front-porch confrontation, her life was changed. And it took another intervention, this time staged by one of her homegirls, to turn Brittney into the fierce feminist she is today. In Brittney Cooper’s world, neither mean girls nor fuckboys ever win. But homegirls emerge as heroes. This book argues that ultimately feminism, friendship, and faith in one's own superpowers are all we really need to turn things right side up again" (Synopsis from goodreads.com).