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Books To Read So That You Can Be A Better Ally Of The Black Lives Matter Movement

During this time of so much unrest and pain, you might be feeling relatively powerless but it’s important to know that there are ways to help. There are petitions to sign, groups to support and people to hug. But perhaps one of the most empowering things you can do to help right now is to educate yourself. To be a true ally to the Black Lives Matter movement you have to educate yourself about the history of systemic racism in our country.

To help, we’ve put together a reading list of books and poems by African-American writers to check out.

Freedom Is A Constant Struggle by Angela Davis

Amazon.com

Activist Angela Davis was a pioneer of her time and while you might see her various quotes about racism and race circulating around the internet in the wake of George Floy’s death, there is far more to learn from her. Freedom Is A Constant Struggle, which was published in 2016, shows her thoughts and insights on civil rights, racism, and feminism through a series of essays.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter will light up how you see the ways in which racism affects Black people of various classes. Carter lives in a poor neighborhood and goes to school at fancy suburban prep school where she juggles having to blend in and stay ahead of the educational curve. Starr’s life is thrown out of balance when the fatal shooting of her childhood friend Khalil occurs at the hands of a police officer.

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

Written in 1962, this classic about the Civil Rights Movement is divided into two parts both of which give a powerful reflection on Baldwin’s time Harlem. In his novel, writes “If we – and I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of others – do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world.”

They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, And A New Era In America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery

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As a reporter for The Washington Post, Wesley Lowery spent much of President Obama’s second term in office traveling from city to city, covering the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers, including Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray. They Can’t Kill Us All begins with his own aggressive arrest during the Ferguson protests after allegedly “failing to disperse” quickly enough when police officers cleared out a McDonald’s – then goes on to recount the evolution of the Black Lives Matter movement from the front lines. In short, it’s essential reading right now.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

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For this story that sheds light on the collective trauma felt by slaves and their descendants, Morrison won a Pulitzer Prize. Morrison’s novel was inspired by a true reported piece written in the American Baptist in 1856 and follows a woman who escaped as a slave from a fictional plantation to live in the free state of Ohio. Despite her escape, she remains haunted by the ghosts of her pays.

Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde

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Everyone needs to read every piece by this poet who has described herself as a black, lesbian, mother, and warrior. In this collection of essays, speeches, and poems by Lorde there’s so much to learn from this brilliant keynote speaker and writer.

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