Books on Race in the United States

Tears We Cannot Stop:  A Sermon to White America (5*) by Michael Eric Dyson (a very personal call to help for fighting racism in the United States that admittedly is difficult to read.  An emotional and powerful call that cannot be ignored, with specific actions identified)

How to be an Antiracist (5*) by Ibram X. Kendi (an excellent well-researched and referenced book combining history, policy, and thoughts on race with the author’s own journey through racism to anti-racism.  A call to be better.)

The Black Friend:  On Being a Better White Person (5*) by Frederick Joseph (one of the best and toughest books I have read.  I hurt for the author, I cried, and despite having good intentions, I definitely learned of moment I could have done and been more.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the Black experience in the US and be a better White person)

The Hate U Give (5*) by Angie Thomas (although written as a young adult book, I highly recommend this book to give insight into the life of an African-American teen.  While it is tough to read, it is great insight)

My Time Among the Whites:  Notes from an Unfinished Education (5*) by Jennine Capó Crucet (gives great insight to the experience of a first generation Cuban immigrant on navigating American society.  Uncomfortable, but a necessary read to improve)

The Vanishing Half (5*) by Brit Bennett (fictional story of very pale African-American twins who went different pathways, one to live undetected in great wealth in Southern California, the other returning from Washington DC after an abusive relationship to live in rural Louisiana.  It was a powerful novel about identity and the role of race)

South to America (4*) by Imani Perry (organised by cities or regions, this book introduces both history and the author and her family’s experience as African-Americans throughout the South. I struggled a little with the order, as the organization by city/region rather than chronological made it a bit harder to follow, which is the reason it isn’t a 5. The insights and the combination with historical perspective to today are excellent.)

Memorial Drive:  A Daughter’s Memoir (4*) by Natasha Trethewey (an exploration of race and loss in the US Deep South)

An American Marriage (4*) by Tayari Jones (a fictional but undeniably real story of the tragic outcomes of American racism and the crime of skin colour as a professional young couple’s American Dream is ripped apart by the husband being falsely accused and convicted of a crime)

The Help (5*) by Kathryn Stockett (a fictional and much less romantic version of the American South and slavery, giving insight to the pain and atrocities lived by the slaves at the will of their owners)

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek (5*) by Kim Michele Richardson (this was a great book to show the power of bias, particularly when it comes to race. It is also quite interesting from a historical context of the public works value during the American Great Depression. The main character has blue skin, due to genetic factors, and the story is of her life as a traveling librarian in rural Kentucky. I found this book particularly insightful in feeling empathy for individuals encountering bias.)

Finding Fish (4*) by Antwone Quenton Fisher (an autobiography of the author’s experience in growing up poor and Black, in the foster care system in the Cleveland Ohio area. After a short stint being homeless, he joined the Navy which put him on a path to be a successful Hollywood screenwriter. Interesting and insightful journey.)

Kamala’s Way (3*) by Dan Morain (a biography of America’s first woman and African-American Vice President. The book was factual but lacked soul)

Discovering Prosperity by Jerry Lane (an interesting compilation of short stories by an author I met at a gas station near the Palmetto Trail segment from Peak to Prosperity. Insight to the African American culture in South Carolina.)

Native Speaker (4*) by Chang-Rae Lee (the journey of a Korean-American in the United States that I quite enjoyed. Insightful to the experience of being part of the “model minority”)

Eat a Peach (4*) by David Chang (incredibly insightful on race and “model minority”, mental health, and success in life as a chef. At times it was a bit too self-deprecating, but I found the 33 tips for chefs generally insightful and applicable to life.)