Virtual Book Club – Difficult Topics – Race and Racism

In light of everything going on in the world right now, we’ve decided to pivot from choosing just one book to discuss for a whole month to sharing curated lists of books on difficult topics. Every Sunday, we’ll be linking books to help start kick-start discussion on challenging topics, as well as including links to local organizations that need your support.  We know that these conversations will be hard, and they will make people uncomfortable, but we believe that they are important to have.

To start, we’ll be looking at race and racism, especially racism that predominantly affects Black people in America. All of the items below can be  checked out right now from Hoopla with your library card and PIN – just click on the book cover!

Books to start the discussion:

Local organizations to support: 

Questions to consider: 

  • What is privilege? Who has it? Who doesn’t? Why do some people have privilege while others don’t?
  • Name some examples of White Privilege.
  • Where do these privileges come from? What can people with privilege do that people without privilege can’t?
  • What is the cost of White Privilege for persons of color? What is the cost of White Privilege for white people?
  • How are issues like education, healthcare, poverty, housing, and economic status relate to White Privilege?
  • How are societal challenges like drugs, crime, failing schools, high drop out rates, and food deserts related to White Privilege?
  • Why is it challenging for white people to think about (and do something about) White Privilege?
  • When did you first realize you were white?
  • How do you see White Privilege demonstrated in media daily?

Questions from Chicago Theological Seminary. Click that link to find their White Privilege Glasses Discussion Guide, which has many helpful links to further reading and discussion.

Your Library Staff at Home-Racism In the News

As regular readers of my ramblings know, my focus during this quarantine has been on anxiety and uncertainty. As we are slowing transitioning back to library for some of our shifts there will still be anxiety and uncertainty, but I am looking forward to seeing familiar faces in a familiar setting. So I want to use my final Your Library Staff at Home post to present readers with a list of books that I have found helpful in my own personal quest to learn more about race and racism in America. It is by no means a comprehensive list, but I have found them to be easily accessible.

If you only have time for one book, I highly recommend it be White Fragility: Why it’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Dr. Robin DiAngelo. DiAngelo coined the term white fragility to refer to the tendency for white people to become defensive when confronted with their racial advantage. I appreciated this book so much that after listening to it I ordered a print copy to have to refer back to. It IS hard to talk about racism. This book can help make it easier.

So, you’re ready to talk about race. That’s a great start. Yes, it’s just a start. This next book was an eye-opener for me. How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi is another fantastic social justice read. Kendi asks readers to think of what an antiracist society looks like. He digs into history and science as he outlines many different types of racism. He thoughtfully examines his own past thoughts and behaviors that he deemed to be racist. This is an engaging look at race and provides many excellent topics of discussion as well as practical ideas to implement in order to create an antiracist society.

Finally, I recommend Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson. Dyson, a professor of sociology at Georgetown University, argues “The time is at hand for reckoning with the past, recognizing the truth of the present, and moving together to redeem the nation for our future. If we don’t act now, if you don’t address race immediately, there very well may be no future.”

These are just a few of the nonfiction titles that have had a profound effect on me. One of the things I love about books is that they are a safe way to confront tough topics and they can give us the tools we need to grow.

We are all in this together. Let’s be kind to one another.

~Megan