Newsletter editor Lily here.
One of the bright spots over the past week or so has been the fact that anti-racism books are not only selling out right now, but they’re also outselling a number of the biggest literary releases of the year, such as the Hunger Games prequel.
There are mixed emotions associated with this uptick. On the one hand, it’s important that so many people (particularly white people) are taking an interest in how they can help combat systemic racism and racist institutions like law enforcement.
On the other hand, culture critic and academic Lauren Michele Jackson points out a problem with the never-ending reading recommendations: These books often don’t actually get read. “As a friend pointed out on Twitter, George Zimmerman was acquitted seven years ago. Donald Trump was elected four years ago. Black History Month happens every year. Cops kill all the time,” she writes. “The books are there, they’ve always been there, yet the lists keep coming, bathing us in the pleasure of a recommendation. But that’s the thing about the reading. It has to be done.”
Additionally, Jackson explains that the odd thing about all of these anti-racism reading lists popping up is that they don’t necessarily offer a complete or holistic education. (Not to mention, some of the most popular books right now have some issues.) Racism can’t be solved within the confines of a few books that you read once; it’s a more all-encompassing and ongoing practice, and one that requires many modes of active and uncomfortable education.
Moreover, nonfiction work by Black writers discussing the trauma created at the hands of white people isn’t the be-all, end-all of becoming more informed about what Black people experience in America and abroad. It’s just as important to read fiction by Black writers in a variety of genres—including romance, fantasy, science fiction, and others—to get a full range of moments and emotions. Black love, Black curiosity, and Black joy are just as important, and unfortunately, they’re starting to get overlooked as people sprint to pick up a few very specific books.
Lots of folks are trying to figure out the plethora of ways to be part of this movement in this moment and going forward. For white people, we have to keep checking that our actions aren’t creating their own limitations.
Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:
- Should I feel shame about not protesting this week, due to my Covid fears?
- How do you deal with shame surrounding your anxiety?
- Is networking as we knew it DONE and is that a good or bad thing?