Those who know me well know that I love reading. It is a pastime that I’ve enjoyed since before middle school and ironically my work now allows me access and the ability to read more than I ever. This year most of my reading was centered around non-fiction themes including; social justice, dismantling white supremacy, public policy, racism, and history. I also read my share of fun loving and witty memoirs from first time authors. One of my 2019 goals is to double the amount of books I read and add in more fiction to my repertoire. Here’s my recap of my top reads of the year (1 = top pick 10 = least top pick).
by Bruce A. Jacobs
Description: Talking about race relations in America is never easy. Bruce A. Jacobs has written a book that shows us how we can begin not with lofty abstractions or policy arguments, but with practicality and directness. Over the past six years, Jacobs, an indefatigable promoter, has traveled the country, learning and listening as people react to his book and add their own comments. The result is a completely revised work, bringing this increasingly important subject up to date, and to a much larger audience. (Source: Amazon)
Why I love this book: This book is my top antiracism read of the year. What strikes me the most is that although originally written in 1999 and edited in 2006 the themes and suggestions are perhaps more appropriate now than they were 12 years ago. This book is a must read for anyone interested in race relations and learning how to intrapersonally dismantle systemic racism in 2019.
by Michael Arceaneux
Description: In I Can’t Date Jesus; Michael eloquently writes about coming out to his mother; growing up in Houston, Texas; being approached for the priesthood; his obstacles in embracing intimacy that occasionally led to unfortunate fights with fire ants and maybe fleas; and the persistent challenges of young people who feel marginalized and denied the chance to pursue their dreams. Perfect for fans of David Sedaris, Samantha Irby, and Phoebe Robinson, I Can’t Date Jesus tells us—without apologies—what it’s like to be outspoken and brave in a divisive world. (Source: Amazon)
What I love this book: Over the last few years we’ve seen an influx of POC millenial authors writing memoirs and essays that speak to the black experience through the lens of being an 80’s and 90’s babies and those of us who grew up on 90s R&B, mixtapes, the internet boom, and twitter. I Can’t Date Jesus is at the top of the list of this genre with Michael’s wit, savvy and personality shining through.
by DeRay Mckesson
Description: Honest, courageous, and imaginative, On the Other Side of Freedom is a work brimming with hope. Drawing from his own experiences as an activist, organizer, educator, and public official, Mckesson exhorts all Americans to work to dismantle the legacy of racism and to imagine the best of what is possible. Honoring the voices of a new generation of activists, On the Other Side of Freedom is a visionary’s call to take responsibility for imagining, and then building, the world we want to live in. (Source: Amazon)
What I love this book: DeRay Mckesson for better or worse became one of the faces of the national Black Lives Matter movement and Ferguson protests. His poignant memoir is a powerful experience of his life up until her went to Ferguson and the things that came after and shaped and changed the trajectory of his life. This book is excellent and really has gems and learning beyond DeRay’s personal narrative making it a must real for all interested in social justice.
by Toby Neal
Description: Grab this fast paced mystery with a twist of romance, and take a trip to Hawaii with the series that’s sold more than a million copies. (Source: Amazon)
What I love this book: I am a huge fan of mystery thrillers and Toby Neal’s Le Crime Series is one of my top picks. This is the 12th and final book in the series and it does not disappoint.
by Joy A. DeGruy
Description: What do repeated traumas, endured generation after generation by a people produce? What impact have these ordeals had on African Americans today? Dr. Joy DeGruy, answers these questions and more. With over thirty years of practical experience as a professional in the mental health field, Dr. DeGruy encourages African Americans to view their attitudes, assumptions, and behaviors through the lens of history and so gain a greater understanding of how centuries of slavery and oppression have impacted people of African descent in America (Source: Amazon).
What I love this book: Dr. Degruy’s book has long been on my to do list and I am so happy that I finally bought out the time to read it this year. I consider the Bible or holy grail in understanding the generational and genetic affects of American slavery on Blacks in present day. A powerful sometimes challenging but necessary read.
by Luvvie Ajayi
Description: With a lighthearted, razor sharp wit and a unique perspective, I’m Judging You is the handbook the world needs, doling out the hard truths and a road map for bringing some “act right” into our lives, social media, and popular culture. It is the Do-Better Manual. (Source: Amazon)
Why I love this book: What I love this book: Laugh out loud funny is the best way I can described Luvvie’s first book. Part memoir, part do better manual, Luvvie hilariously teaches you how to navigates life’s most challenging every .day struggles; race related or otherwise with wit and humor.
by Peter Moskowitz
Description: Peter Moskowitz’s How to Kill a City takes readers from the kitchen tables of hurting families who can no longer afford their homes to the corporate boardrooms and political backrooms where destructive housing policies are devised. Along the way, Moskowitz uncovers the massive, systemic forces behind gentrification in New Orleans, Detroit, San Francisco, and New York. (Source: Amazon)
Why I love this book: This year my delve into the complex concept of gentrification, race, policy and more was intense. Part of that intensity involved digging deep into books that are centered on this issue. How to Kill… was one of those texts that shaped a lot of my personal perspective as well as the curriculum at 540WMain.
by Robin DiAngelo
Description: In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively. (Source: Amazon)
Why I love this book: What I like most about Robin’s book is that it is written by a White person mainly for other white people. She makes it clear that the concepts and information she is presenting is not new and many black academics have been leading the charge in this education for decades. What makes her book different is that it is written simply and in plain language to help all white people understand their part in upholding white supremacy, how to recognize that without being defensive, and how to talk about race.
by Monique Morris
Description: In a work that has rapidly become “imperative reading” (Lisa Delpit) on education, gender, and juvenile justice, Monique W. Morris (Black Stats, Too Beautiful for Words) chronicles the experiences of Black girls across the country whose intricate lives are misunderstood, highly judged—by teachers, administrators, and the justice system—and degraded by the very institutions charged with helping them flourish. (Source: Amazon)
Why I love this book: Pushout is a very deep and challenging book that centers black women and how public education sets them up for failure and criminalizes their behavior to the point of mass incarceration. I consumed via the audiobook and learned so much. This book is a must read.
by Matthew Desmond
Description: Evicted, Princeton sociologist and MacArthur “Genius” Matthew Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Hailed as “wrenching and revelatory” (The Nation), “vivid and unsettling” (New York Review of Books), Evicted transforms our understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving one of 21st-century America’s most devastating problems. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible. (Source: Amazon)
Why I love this book: Another gentrification gem, Evicted centers both sides of the urban rental housing institution and how landlords are complicit in perpetuating systemic poverty and a system that disparages black and people of color and ravages urban neighborhoods. The narrative does become repetitive but the text is essential for understanding those of us who are anti displacement.
Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race