By: Jasmine Cochran
Thanks to the racially-charged events of recent years, and the exhaustion the Black American population is experiencing with the various systems that seem designed to stifle our progression, there has been a resurgence of black pride throughout the nation and the world. They say that if you want to hide something from a man, put it in a book. Fortunately, people are no longer willing to passively allow powerful information to elude them. The following book list is for those who are ready to begin to learn who they are, how systems are arranged, and what we can do to dismantle broken structures and mindsets for the good of us all. If there are people in your life of other races who are grappling for answers and looking to affect positive change, this is also a good place for them to start.
Black Like Me
John Howard Griffin
This is the real life account of a white man, whose curiosity of what it’s like to live as a black man in the south during the mid-1900s, drives him to quite literally become a black man. Griffin, against the wishes of his wife, sought the assistance of a dermatologist, underwent pill-taking and skin-darkening treatments, and travelled to five southern cities to see the differences between life as a white man and life as a black man. He learned that there was a difference, indeed. Griffin finished the experiment with a new, thorough perspective of prejudice and racism.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Malcolm X with Alex Haley
This book is an undeniable classic and a household name within black families. It is the compelling account of X’s life from his wild youth to the moments during and after his tragic, untimely death. We see Malcolm evolve from a convict to one of the most alluring leaders of the nation of islam, but even more than that, a leader for civil rights and pride during America’s Civil Rights Movement. If you want to read the words of a man who didn’t spare feelings, yet spoke with unmatched intelligence and leadership, The Autobiography of Malcolm X is a must.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
The New Jim Crow exploded when it hit bookshelves in 2010. Author Michelle Alexander eloquently articulates the concept of the school-to-prison pipeline, a term used to define the failure of the American public school system to the black community, that leaves its members incarcerated instead of properly educated. The New Jim Crow, a play on words referring to the old Jim Crow laws of the 1900s that enforced segregation, proves the old adage, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
The Miseducation of the Negro
Carter G. Woodson
My all time favorite is Carter G. Woodson’s The Miseducation of the Negro, which is as relevant today as it was when it was written in 1933. Woodson, the man we can thank for Black History Month, breaks down the failures and mindsets among black Americans that keep us in a position of inferiority. Woodson touches on a range of concepts, including education, religion, subpar business practices, and acquisition of wealth. It is a page-turner, whose concepts we need to grasp and turn on their heads, if we are to realize our capabilities to their fullest capacities.
Jasmine loves people, food, culture, fitness, and nature. She wants you to find what you love and live it until you die, because if you don’t do that, you’re not truly living, anyway.