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KDL Blog

What to Read Next: How to Be an Antiracist

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You’ve likely seen the recent news coverage of protests against racial injustice nationwide. Perhaps you have even participated in activism efforts right here in Kent County. Right now, many people are wondering what they can do to help beyond marching and silent protesting. Volunteering with or donating to organizations such as the Grand Rapids Urban League and Grand Rapids NAACP is one such way to get involved. Another way to commit to the ongoing fight against racism -- a way that we at KDL can help you with -- is to educate yourself on the history of how we got here and what we can do better going forward. Check out the following books to get started.

At the top of most book lists regarding the fight against racism is Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be Anti-Racist. Dr. Kendi uses a mix of personal experiences, history, and science to show how a person can go from being racist to anti-racist, and how we can all build a new anti-racist society. While you’re waiting for your digital or physical hold of this book to become available, you might consider reading some personal stories about BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) experiences.

In Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates addresses two essential questions: 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? In a letter to his teenage son, Coates answers these questions and more through personal experiences and stellar reporting. Austin Channing Brown shares her experience in I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness. Brown’s first encounter with a racialized America came at the age of seven, when her parents told her they named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. Growing up both Black and Christian, she shares how the promises even well-meaning institutions make around equality can often fall short. She encourages us to confront apathy and practice inclusion in our daily lives and choices.

Maybe you want to start sharing what you’ve been learning, but aren’t sure where to start. The following books can help prepare you for having tough conversations. Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race gives readers -- both white people and people of color -- the language to engage in clear, constructive, and confident dialogue with each other about how to deal with racial prejudices and biases. In Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? Beverly Daniel Tatum argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about communicating across racial and ethnic divides. 

To find more titles about the history and fight against racism, visit our Racism in America book lists.