“Now is the time for you to be listening more, talking less, spend time observing, taking in media and art created by people of color, researching, and unlearning the things you have been taught about this country. You should be reading our books and understanding the roots of racism and white supremacy. Listening to our speeches.
You should be drowning yourselves in our poetry.”
-ShiShi Rose: https://www.instagram.com/p/BOkvckuDi1j/
Black Lives Matter first scared the hell out of me in 2012. While I knew I should be trying to understand what was happening, I didn’t have the courage to try hard. It should not have taken me five years to start actively unlearning the things I have been taught about this country. Hell, it shouldn’t have taken Black Lives Matter to tell me there was unlearning to do in the first place.
Nevertheless, here we are. Donald Trump has been elected, Steve Bannon is on the National Security Council, Jeff Sessions is in the Justice Department, and I am a white citizen of the United States who heard ShiShi Rose. This year, I am taking in media and art created by and starring people of color.
Here is what I’ve loved most so far:
It seems silly to say I loved a show about superheroes, but god, I did. It shouldn’t be so new and glorious to see great representations of men and women of color. My hope is that this, and other things like it, work on my unconscious bias while I’m focused on other things. Like action sequences. And great music.
The New Jim Crow (Michelle Alexander) + The Corner (David Simon and Edward Burns)
I know the authors of The Corner are white. If there’s another good look at a similar place that’s written by non-white people, please tell me so and I’ll read it next. The New Jim Crow blew the top of my head off.
I also read Between the World and Me, and while I cannot say I was comfortable with it, it’s one of maybe 10 books I’ve kept out of boxes in the move so I can go back to it again and again. As a white person I am accustomed to being the center of things, or at least to being overtly addressed, but Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote this for his son. He didn’t seem to consider me at all. This confounds me. I believe that’s to the good.
I’ve asked trusted friends for recommendations. Here’s my current list:
We Should All Be Feminists (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
Homegoing (Yaa Gyasi)
The Sellout (Paul Beatty)
Boy, Snow, Bird (Helen Oyeyemi)
And After Many Days (Jowhor Ile)
Negroland (Margo Jefferson)
How Should a Person Be? (Sheila Heti)
This Bridge Called My Back (Cherríe Moraga, Gloria Anzaldúa)
I have also discovered Powell’s Black Lives Matter Recommended Reading list, which you can find here: http://www.powells.com/post/lists/black-lives-matter-recommended-reading
What about you? What are you reading? What are you watching? I am a neeeewb, y’all. No suggestion is too remedial. I’ve missed a lot of TV, but if it’s on Netflix or if it’s worth tracking down someone with On Demand capabilities, lemme know.
Also, obviously, I have no poetry on my list. Please fix that for me.
Thanks and love,