Sheridan Library Black History Month Reading List

Non-Fiction

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
By Robin Diangelo

The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality. In this “vital, necessary, and beautiful book” (Michael Eric Dyson), antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and “allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people’ (Claudia Rankine). Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. 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.


How to Be an Antiracist
By Ibram X. Kendi

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * From the National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning comes a “groundbreaking” (Time) approach to understanding and uprooting racism and inequality in our society–and in ourselves. “The most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind.”–The New York Times NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review * Time * NPR * The Washington Post * Shelf Awareness * Library Journal * Publishers Weekly * Kirkus Reviews Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and reenergizes the conversation about racism–and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. At its core, racism is a powerful system that creates false hierarchies of human value; its warped logic extends beyond race, from the way we regard people of different ethnicities or skin colors to the way we treat people of different sexes, gender identities, and body types. Racism intersects with class and culture and geography and even changes the way we see and value ourselves. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas–from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities–that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves. Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science with his own personal story of awakening to antiracism. This is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond the awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a just and equitable society.

Praise for How to Be an Antiracist “Ibram X. Kendi’s new book, How to Be an Antiracist, couldn’t come at a better time. . . . Kendi has gifted us with a book that is not only an essential instruction manual but also a memoir of the author’s own path from anti-black racism to anti-white racism and, finally, to antiracism. . . . How to Be an Antiracist gives us a clear and compelling way to approach, as Kendi puts it in his introduction, ‘the basic struggle we’re all in, the struggle to be fully human and to see that others are fully human.’ “–NPR

“Kendi dissects why in a society where so few people consider themselves to be racist the divisions and inequalities of racism remain so prevalent. How to Be an Antiracist punctures the myths of a post-racial America, examining what racism really is–and what we should do about it.”—Time


So You Want to Talk About Race
By Ijeoma Oluo

In this New York Times bestseller, Ijeoma Oluo offers a hard-hitting but user-friendly examination of race in America Widespread reporting on aspects of white supremacy — from police brutality to the mass incarceration of Black Americans — has put a media spotlight on racism in our society. Still, it is a difficult subject to talk about. How do you tell your roommate her jokes are racist? Why did your sister-in-law take umbrage when you asked to touch her hair — and how do you make it right? How do you explain white privilege to your white, privileged friend? In So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to ‘model minorities’ in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life.

‘Oluo gives us — both white people and people of color — that language to engage in clear, constructive, and confident dialogue with each other about how to deal with racial prejudices and biases.’– National Book Review

‘Generous and empathetic, yet usefully blunt… it’s for anyone who wants to be smarter and more empathetic about matters of race and engage in more productive anti-racist action.’– Salon (Required Reading)


Black Fatigue
By Mary-Frances Winters

Black people, young and old, are fatigued, says award-winning diversity and inclusion leader Mary-Frances Winters. It is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining to continue to experience inequities and even atrocities, day after day, when justice is a God-given and legislated right. And it is exhausting to have to constantly explain this to white people, even–and especially–well-meaning white people, who fall prey to white fragility and too often are unwittingly complicit in upholding the very systems they say they want dismantled.


Rude: Contemporary Black Canadian Cultural Criticism
By Rinaldo Walcott

Rude is an anthology of critical writing on Black Canadian culture. The anthology is meant to convey the idea of a burgeoning response to Black Canadian cultural expression and what it means both for various Black communities and the Canadian nation. The anthology departs from uncritical celebration to critically engage with Black Canadian expressive cultures. The essayists do more than celebrate Canadian nationalism: they attempt to cast a complex analysis of its limits and its possibilities through the examination of Black lives, cultures and events in Canada and abroad. Rude fills a void in the Canadian cultural landscape, where Black responses to the nation are always framed in terms of anti-racism. It attempts to open debate among and across Black communities in Canada, to uncover the complexities of Black life and Black living. Rude moves beyond the sentimental and the romantic to usher in the era of a forceful Black public cultural criticism, unlike anything that’s come before it.


Canadian History and Perspectives

The Promised Land: History and Historiography of the Black Experience in Chatham-Kent’s Settlements and Beyond
By Boulou de b’Beri, Nina Reid-Maroney, and Handel K. Wright

Eschewing the often romanticized Underground Railroad narrative that portrays southern Ontario as the welcoming destination of Blacks fleeing from slavery, The Promised Land reveals the Chatham-Kent area as a crucial settlement site for an early Black presence in Canada. The contributors present the everyday lives and professional activities of individuals and families in these communities and highlight early cross-border activism to end slavery in the United States and to promote civil rights in the United States and Canada. Essays also reflect on the frequent intermingling of local Black, White, and First Nations people. Using a cultural studies framework for their collective investigations, the authors trace physical and intellectual trajectories of Blackness that have radiated from southern Ontario to other parts of Canada, the United States, the Caribbean, and Africa. The result is a collection that represents the presence and diffusion of Blackness and inventively challenges the grand narrative of history.


Razing Africville: A Geography of Racism
By Jennifer Nelson

In the 1960s, the city of Halifax razed the black community of Africville under a program of urban renewal and ‘slum clearance.’ The city defended its actions by citing the deplorable living conditions in Africville, ignoring its own role in the creation of these conditions through years of neglect and the refusal of essential services. In the 1980s, the city created a park on Africville’s former site, which has been a place of protest and commemoration for black citizens since its opening. As yet, however, the city has not issued a formal apology to Africville residents and has paid no further compensation. Razing Africville examines this history as the prolonged eviction of a community from its own space. By examining a variety of sources – urban planning texts, city council documents, news media, and academic accounts – Jennifer J. Nelson illustrates how Africville went from a slum to a problem to be solved and, more recently, to a public space in which past violence is rendered invisible. Reading historical texts as a critical map of decision-making, she argues that the ongoing measures taken to regulate black bodies and spaces amount to a ‘geography of racism.’ Through a geographic lens, therefore, she manages to analyse ways in which race requires space and how the control of space is a necessary component of delineating and controlling people. A much needed re-examination of an important historical example, Razing Africville applies contemporary spatial theory to the situation in Africville and offers critical observations about the function of racism.


Race and Well-Being: The Lives, Hopes and Activism of African Canadians
By Akua Benjamin, David Este, Carl James, Bethan Lloyd, Wanda Thomas Bernard, and Tana Turner

Through in-depth qualitative and quantitative research with African Canadians in three Canadian cities – Calgary, Toronto and Halifax – this book explores how experiences of racism, combined with other social and economic factors, affect the health and well-being of African Canadians. With a special interest in how racial stereotyping impacts Black men and boys, this book shares stories of racism and violence and explores how experiences and interpretations of, and reactions to, racism differ across a range of social and economic variables. Rejecting the notion that Black communities are homogeneous, this book gives a detailed examination of three distinct communities: Caribbean, immigrant African and Canadian Black. The authors also explore how individuals, families and communities can better understand and challenge racism.


Fiction

Black Writers Matter
By Whitney French

Black Writers? African, Bluesy, Classical, Disrespectful, Erudite, Fiery, Groovy, Haunting, Inspiring, Jazzy, Knowing, Liberating, Militant, Nervy, Optimistic, Pugnacious, Quixotic, Rambunctious, Seductive, Truculent, Urgent, Vivacious, Wicked, X-ray sharp, Yearning, Zesty. And so, they matter!’—George Elliott Clarke An anthology of African-Canadian writing, Black Writers Matter offers a cross-section of established writers and newcomers to the literary world who tackle contemporary and pressing issues with beautiful, sometimes raw, prose. As editor Whitney French says in her introduction, Black Writers Matter “injects new meaning into the word diversity [and] harbours a sacredness and an everydayness that offers Black people dignity.” An “invitation to read, share, and tell stories of Black narratives that are close to the bone,” this collection feels particular to the Black Canadian experience.’Reading these stories gave me both joy and grief.’—Afua Cooper’Collected in these pages are voices that need to be urgently heard, engaged and reckoned with. Black life, Black Canadian life, Black Canadian diasporic life in full colour and full of desire is on offer in Black Writers Matter.’—Rinaldo Walcott, professor at University of Toronto and author of Queer Returns: Essays on Multiculturalism, Diaspora and Black Studies’Black Writers Matter is an extraordinary achievement, a bold and loving gathering of Black writing in its sublimity; its stylistic and thematic complexity; its regional, cultural, generational, and experiential differences; its fiercely constellated energy. Whitney French and the talented contributors to this book offer us vital new writings within a two-hundred-year legacy of yearning and truth-telling. Please read this book.’—David Chariandy, author of Soucouyant and Brother

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