Who We Are
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at MHS

Reads for Racial Justice

In response to Head of School Julia Heaton’s call to every member of the MHS community to do our part to dismantle systems of inequality and oppression, Director of Library Services Vicky Biancolo offered this essential reading list.
 
“I believe that reading can be one doorway to understanding, empathy, and ultimately change. As long as it is accompanied by action.” - Ms. Biancolo.






Backlash: What Happens When We Talk Honestly About Racism in America
by George Yancy, foreword by Cornel West, 2018

When George Yancy penned a New York Times article entitled 'Dear White America,' he knew that he was courting controversy. Here, Yancy chronicles the ensuing blowback as he seeks to understand what it was that created so much rage among so many white readers. He challenges white Americans to develop a new empathy for the African American experience.


 

Becoming
by Michelle Obama, 2018


In her memoir, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms.



Between the World and Me
by Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2015 


For Ta-Nehisi Coates, history has always been personal. At every stage of his life, he's sought in his explorations of history answers to the mysteries that surrounded him--most urgently, why he, and other black people he knew, seemed to live in fear. What were they afraid of?

Coates takes readers along on his journey through America's history of race and its contemporary resonances through a series of awakenings--moments when he discovered some new truth about our long, tangled history of race, whether through his myth-busting professors at Howard University, a trip to a Civil War battlefield with a rogue historian, a journey to Chicago's South Side to visit aging survivors of 20th century America's 'long war on black people,' or a visit with the mother of a beloved friend who was shot down by the police.



Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice that Shapes what We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt, 2019

Unconscious bias can be at work without our realizing it, and even when we genuinely wish to treat all people equally, ingrained stereotypes can infect our visual perception, attention, memory, and behavior. This has an impact on education, employment, housing, and criminal justice. In Biased, with a perspective that is at once scientific, investigative, and informed by personal experience, Jennifer Eberhardt offers us insights into the dilemma and a path forward. Eberhardt works extensively as a consultant to law enforcement and as a psychologist at the forefront of this new field. Her research takes place in courtrooms and boardrooms, in prisons, on the street, and in classrooms and coffee shops. She shows us the subtle--and sometimes dramatic--daily repercussions of implicit bias in how teachers grade students, or managers deal with customers. It has an enormous impact on the conduct of criminal justice, from the rapid decisions police officers have to make to sentencing practices in court. Eberhardt's work and her book are both influenced by her own life, and the personal stories she shares emphasize the need for change.


 

The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in America's Law Enforcement
by Matthew Horace and Ron Harris, 2018

During his 28-year career, Matthew Horace rose through the ranks from a police officer working the beat to a federal agent working criminal cases in some of the toughest communities in America to a highly decorated federal law enforcement executive managing high-profile investigations nationwide. Yet it was not until seven years into his service- when Horace found himself face down on the ground with a gun pointed at his head by a white fellow officer-that he fully understood the racism seething within America's police departments. Horace presents an insider's examination of archaic police tactics. He dissects some of the nation's most highly publicized police shootings and communities to explain how these systems and tactics have hurt the people they serve, revealing the mistakes that have stoked racist policing, sky-high incarceration rates, and an epidemic of violence.
 


Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on America's Campuses by Lawrence Ross, 2016

This book looks at the racism that is still found on college campuses across the United States and how that racism makes colleges a hostile place for African American students.
 

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine, 2014

Claudia Rankine's bold book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person's ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named "post-race" society.



The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein, 2017

White historian Rothstein shows how government policies led to the creation of officially segregated public housing and the demolition of previously integrated neighborhoods, including public housing, racial zoning, private agreements, government enforcement, white flight, state-sanctioned violence, suppressed incomes, and more.

The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America by Khalil Gibran Muhammad, 2012

How did we come to think of race as synonymous with crime? A brilliant and deeply disturbing biography of the idea of black criminality in the making of modern urban America, The Condemnation of Blackness reveals the influence this pernicious myth, rooted in crime statistics, has had on our society and our sense of self. Black crime statistics have shaped debates about everything from public education to policing to presidential elections, fueling racism, and justifying inequality. How was this statistical link between blackness and criminality initially forged? Why was the same link not made for whites? In the age of Black Lives Matter and Donald Trump, under the shadow of Ferguson and Baltimore, no questions could be more urgent.

Dreams from my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
by Barack Obama, 2004

President Barack Obama tells the story of his life as the son of a black African father and a white American mother, searching for a workable meaning to his life as an African American.

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper,
2018

So what if it's true that Black women are angry? They have the right to be. In the Black feminist tradition of Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper reminds us that anger is a powerful source of energy that can give us the strength to keep on fighting.
 

The Fire this Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race
edited by Jesmyn Ward, 2016

National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward takes James Baldwin’s 1963 examination of race in America, The Fire Next Time, as a jumping-off point for this groundbreaking collection of essays and poems about race from the most important voices of her generation and our time. In the fifty-odd years since Baldwin’s essay was published, entire generations have dared everything and made significant progress. But the idea that we are living in the post-Civil Rights era, that we are a “post-racial” society, is an inaccurate and harmful reflection of a truth the country must confront.
 

The Half has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist, 2014

White historian Edward Baptist reveals how the expansion of slavery in the first eight decades after American independence drove the evolution and modernization of the United States.

Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon, 2018

Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about the physical manifestations of violence, grief, trauma, and abuse on his own body. He writes of his own eating disorder and gambling addiction as well as similar issues that run throughout his family. Through self-exploration, storytelling, and honest conversation with family and friends, Heavy seeks to bring what has been hidden into the light and to reckon with all of its myriad sources, from the most intimate--a mother-child relationship--to the most universal--a society that has undervalued and abused black bodies for centuries.
 

How to Be an Antiracist
by Ibram X. Kendi, 2019

"The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it -- and then dismantle it." Ibram X. Kendi's concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America -- but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it. In this book, Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, bringing it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism.
 

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
by Austin Channing Brown, 2018

The author's first encounter with a racialized America came at age seven when her parents told her they named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. She grew up in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches, and has spent her life navigating America's racial divide as a writer, a speaker, and an expert helping organizations practice genuine inclusion. While so many institutions claim to value diversity in their mission statements, many fall short of matching actions to words. Brown highlights how white middle-class evangelicalism has participated in the rise of racial hostility and encourages the reader to confront apathy and recognize God's ongoing work in the world.
 

Just Mercy: A True Story of the Fight for Justice
by Bryan Stevenson, 2018

In this young adult adaptation of the acclaimed bestselling Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson delves deep into the broken U.S. justice system, detailing from his personal experience his many challenges and efforts as a lawyer and social advocate, especially on behalf of America's most rejected and marginalized people. In this very personal work--proceeds of which will go to charity--Bryan Stevenson recounts many and varied stories of his work as a lawyer in the U.S. criminal justice system on behalf of those in society who have experienced some type of discrimination and/or have been wrongly accused of a crime and who deserve a powerful advocate and due justice under the law.
 

Killing Rage: Ending Racism by Bell Hooks, 1996

Highlighting the female voice in the public discourse on race, a collection of twenty-three of bell hooks' most significant and recent writings addresses the difficulties of racism and envisions a world without racism.
 

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor
by Layla Saad, 2020

Based on the viral Instagram challenge that captivated participants worldwide, Me and White Supremacy takes readers on a 28-day journey, complete with journal prompts, to do the necessary and vital work that can ultimately lead to improving race relations. Updated and expanded from the original workbook, this critical text helps you take the work deeper by adding more historical and cultural contexts, sharing moving stories and anecdotes, and including expanded definitions, examples, and further resources, giving you the language to understand racism and to dismantle your own biases.
 

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
by Michelle Alexander, 2010

In this incisive critique, former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander provocatively argues that we have not ended racial caste in America: we have simply redesigned it. Alexander shows that, by targeting black men and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness. The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community--and all of us--to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.
 

On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope by DeRay Mckesson, 2019

Drawing from his own experiences, DeRay Mckesson, the civil rights activist and organizer, offers ways for all Americans to work to dismantle the legacy of racism and to take responsibility for imagining and building a better world.
 

Racism Without Racists: Color-blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, 2018

The book documents how, beneath our contemporary conversation about race, there lies a full-blown arsenal of arguments, phrases, and stories that whites use to account for-and ultimately justify-racial inequalities. This fifth edition features new material on our current racial climate, including the Black Lives Matter movement; an examination of the Obama presidency; the 2016 election and the Trump presidency; and a chapter on what readers can do to confront racism, both personally and on a larger structural level.

Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton, 2017

Five years after his tragic death, Travyon Martin's name is still evoked every day. He has become a symbol of social justice activism, as has his hauntingly familiar image: the photo of a child still in the process of becoming a young man, wearing a hoodie, and gazing silently at the camera. But who was Trayvon Martin, before he became, in death, an icon? And how did one black child's death on a dark, rainy street in a small Florida town become the match that lit a civil rights crusade? Rest in Power, told through the compelling alternating narratives of Martin's parents, answers, for the first time, those questions from the most intimate of sources. It s the story of the beautiful and complex child they lost, the cruel unresponsiveness of the police and the hostility of the legal system, and the inspiring journey they took from grief and pain to power, and from tragedy and senselessness to meaning.
 

Say Her Name by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Love is Wise, 2020

Inspired by the #SayHerName campaign launched by the African American Policy Forum, these poems pay tribute to victims of police brutality as well as the activists insisting that Black Lives Matter.

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde, 1984

At once a searing indictment of a racist, patriarchal society and a manual for claiming an intersectional identity, Sister Outsider is a comprehensive collection of the lauded poet and writer Audre Lorde's most famous and influential works of nonfiction prose. Sister Outsider depicts the idea of "difference"--whether through race, gender, or sexuality--as a powerful tool for empowerment that can be used as a catalyst for change.

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, 2018

A current, constructive, and actionable exploration of today's racial landscape, offering straightforward clarity that readers of all races need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide. In So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, microaggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement and the "N" word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions readers don't dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans.



Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi, 2016

A comprehensive history of anti-black racism focuses on the lives of five major players in American history, including Cotton Mather and Thomas Jefferson, and highlights the debates that took place between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists.

Stolen Justice: The Struggle for African American Voting Rights by Lawrence Goldstone, foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 2020

Following the Civil War, the Reconstruction era raised a new question to those in power in the US: Should African Americans, so many of them former slaves, be granted the right to vote? In a bitter partisan fight over the legislature and Constitution, the answer eventually became yes, though only after two constitutional amendments, two Reconstruction Acts, two Civil Rights Acts, three Enforcement Acts, the impeachment of a president, and an army of occupation. Yet, even that was not enough to ensure that African American voices would be heard, or their lives protected. White supremacists loudly and intentionally prevented black Americans from voting -- and they were willing to kill to do so. In this vivid portrait of the systematic suppression of the African American vote, author Lawrence Goldstone traces the injustices of the post-Reconstruction era through the eyes of incredible individuals, both heroic and barbaric, and examines the legal cases that made the Supreme Court a partner of white supremacists in the rise of Jim Crow. Though this is a story of America's past, Goldstone draws direct links to today's creeping threats to suffrage in this important and, alas, timely book.



Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr, 2019

A profound new rendering of the struggle by African-Americans for equality after the Civil War and the violent counter-revolution that resubjugated them, as seen through the prism of the war of images and ideas that have left an enduring racist stain on the American mind. Through his close reading of the visual culture of this tragic era, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. reveals the many faces of Jim Crow and how, together, they reinforced a stark color line between white and black Americans. Bringing a lifetime of wisdom to bear as a scholar, filmmaker, and public intellectual, Gates uncovers the roots of structural racism in our own time, while showing how African Americans after slavery combatted it by articulating a vision of a "New Negro" to force the nation to recognize their humanity and unique contributions to America as it hurtled toward the modern age.

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Eric Michael Dyson, 2017

As the country grapples with racist division at a level not seen since the 1960s, one man's voice soars above the rest with conviction and compassion. In his 2016 New York Times op-ed piece "Death in Black and White," Michael Eric Dyson moved a nation. Now he continues to speak out in Tears We Cannot Stop―a provocative and deeply personal call for change. Dyson argues that if we are to make real racial progress we must face difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted.

They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America's Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery, 2016

Conducting hundreds of interviews over the course of more than one year of reporting on the ground, Washington Post writer Wesley Lowery traveled from Ferguson, Missouri, to Cleveland, Ohio; Charleston, South Carolina; and Baltimore, Maryland, and then back to Ferguson to uncover life inside the most heavily policed, if otherwise neglected, corners of America today. By posing the question "What does the loss of any one life mean to the rest of the nation?" Lowery examines the cumulative effect of decades of racially biased policing in segregated neighborhoods with failing schools, crumbling infrastructure, and too few jobs. They Can't Kill Us All offers a historically informed look at the standoff between the police and those they are sworn to protect, showing that civil unrest is just one tool of resistance in the broader struggle for justice. As Lowery brings vividly to life, the protests against police killings are also about the black community's long history on the receiving end of perceived and actual acts of injustice and discrimination.



This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Blac, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins, 2018

In her collection of linked essays, Jerkins takes on perhaps one of the most provocative contemporary topics: What does it mean to "be"--To live as, to exist as-- a black woman today? Doubly disenfranchised by race and gender, often deprived of a place within the mostly white mainstream feminist movement, black women are objectified, silenced, and marginalized with devastating consequences, in ways both obvious and subtle, that are rarely acknowledged in our country's larger discussion about inequality. Jerkins exposes the social, cultural, and historical story of black female oppression that influences the black community as well as the white, male-dominated world at large.
 

Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving, 2014

White author Debbie Irving tells the story of growing up sensing racial tensions, and why her diversity efforts never gained traction, until adulthood, when she realized insights into her own identity that shifted her worldview and upended her life.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson, 2010
 
Chronicles the decades-long migration of African-Americans who fled the South for northern and western cities between 1915 and 1970, discussing how they altered the cities of America and the African-American community.
 

We Are Not Yet Equal: Understanding Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson, 2018

When America achieves milestones of progress toward full and equal black participation in democracy, the systemic response is a consistent racist backlash that rolls back those wins. We Are Not Yet Equal examines five of these moments: The end of the Civil War and Reconstruction was greeted with Jim Crow laws; the promise of new opportunities in the North during the Great Migration was limited when blacks were physically blocked from moving away from the South; the Supreme Court's landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision was met with the shutting down of public schools throughout the South; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 led to laws that disenfranchised millions of African American voters and a War on Drugs that disproportionately targeted blacks; and the election of President Obama led to an outburst of violence including the death of black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri as well as the election of Donald Trump.
 

We Can't Breathe: On Black Lives, White Lies, and the Art of Survival by Jabari Asim, 2018

In eight wide-ranging and penetrating essays, Jabari Asim explores such topics as the twisted legacy of jokes and falsehoods in black life; the importance of black fathers and community; the significance of black writers and stories; and the beauty and pain of the black body. What emerges is a rich portrait of a community and culture that has resisted, survived, and flourished despite centuries of racism, violence, and trauma.
 

Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves: An Anthology edited by Glory Edim, 2018

An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature. Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging remains with readers the rest of their lives—but not everyone regularly sees themselves in the pages of a book. In this timely anthology, Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black women writers to shine a light on how important it is that we all—regardless of gender, race, religion, or ability—have the opportunity to find ourselves in literature. Contributors include Jesmyn Ward, Jacqueline Woodson, Gabourey Sidibe, Zora Neale Hurston, and Toni Morrison.

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2017

Coates's iconic essays first published in The Atlantic, including Fear of a Black President, The Case for Reparations and The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration, along with eight fresh essays that revisit each year of the Obama administration through Coates's own experiences, observations, and intellectual development, capped by a bracingly original assessment of the election that fully illuminated the tragedy of the Obama era.
 

What Does it Mean to Be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy by Robin DiAngelo 2012

What does it mean to be white in a society that proclaims race meaningless yet is deeply divided by race? In the face of pervasive racial inequality and segregation, most whites cannot answer that question. Robin DiAngelo argues that a number of factors make this question difficult for whites miseducation about what racism is; ideologies such as individualism and colorblindness; defensiveness; and a need to protect (rather than expand) our worldviews. These factors contribute to what she terms white racial illiteracy. Speaking as a white person to other white people, Dr. DiAngelo clearly and compellingly takes readers through an analysis of white socialization. She describes how race shapes the lives of white people, explains what makes racism so hard for whites to see, identifies common white racial patterns, and speaks back to popular white narratives that work to deny racism.





When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele, 2018

A memoir by the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement explains the movement's position of love, humanity, and justice, challenging perspectives that have negatively labeled the movement's activists while calling for essential political changes
 

White Fragility: Why it's So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo, 2018

White author Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility. 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 explores how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.
 

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson, 2017

Since 1865 and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, every time African Americans have made advances towards full participation in our democracy, white reaction has fueled a deliberate and relentless rollback of their gains. The end of the Civil War and Reconstruction was greeted with the Black Codes and Jim Crow; the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision was met with the shutting down of public schools throughout the South while taxpayer dollars financed segregated white private schools; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 triggered a coded but powerful response, the so-called Southern Strategy and the War on Drugs that disenfranchised millions of African Americans while propelling presidents Nixon and Reagan into the White House. Carefully linking these and other historical flashpoints when social progress for African Americans was countered by deliberate and cleverly crafted opposition, Anderson pulls back the veil that has long covered actions made in the name of protecting democracy, fiscal responsibility, or protection against fraud, rendering visible the long lineage of white rage.



Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum, 2017

Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. These topics have only become more urgent as the national conversation about race is increasingly acrimonious.

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, 2017

In 2014, award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote on her blog about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren't affected by it. Her words hit a nerve. The post went viral and comments flooded in from others desperate to speak up about their own experiences. Galvanised, she decided to dig into the source of these feelings. Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge has written a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary examination of what it is to be a person of color in Britain today.



All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, 2015

When sixteen-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend.

Anger Is a Gift by Mark Oshiro, 2018
 
Six years ago, Moss Jefferies' father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media's vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks. Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals in their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration. When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.



Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America edited by Ibi Zoboi, 2019

Black Enough is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America. Black is...sisters navigating their relationship at summer camp in Portland, Oregon, as written by Renée Watson. Black is…three friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing and everything, in a story by Jason Reynolds. Black is…Nic Stone’s high-class beauty dating a boy her momma would never approve of. Black is…two girls kissing in Justina Ireland’s story set in Maryland. Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—because there are countless ways to be Black enough.

The Color Purple
by Alice Walker, 1982

Set in the deep American South between the wars, it is the tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the man she calls 'father', she has two children taken away from her, is separated from her beloved sister Nettie and is trapped into an ugly marriage. But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer, and magic-maker - a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually, Celie discovers the power and joy of her own spirit, freeing her from her past and reuniting her with those she loves.
 

Dear Martin
by Nic Stone, 2017

Writing letters to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., seventeen-year-old college-bound Justyce McAllister struggles to face the reality of race relations today and how they are shaping him.
 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, 2017

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does-or does not-say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.


 

How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon, 2014

When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson is shot to death, his community is thrown into an uproar because Tariq was black and the shooter, Jack Franklin, is white, and in the aftermath, everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events agree.

I am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina, illustrated by Stacey Robinson and John Jennings
, 2017

The ghost of fifteen-year-old Alfonso Jones travels in a New York subway car full of the living and the dead, watching his family and friends fight for justice after he is killed by an off-duty police officer while buying a suit in a Midtown department store.

I'm Not Dying with You Tonight
by Kimberly Jones, 2019

Told from two viewpoints, Atlanta high school seniors Lena and Campbell, one black, one white, must rely on each other to survive after a football rivalry escalates into a riot.

Monster by Walter Dean Myers, illustrations by Christopher Myers, 1999

While on trial as an accomplice to a murder, sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon records his experiences in prison and in the courtroom in the form of a film script as he tries to come to terms with the course his life has taken.

This Side of Home by Renée Watson, 2015

Twins Nikki and Maya Younger always agreed on most things, but as they head into their senior year they react differently to the gentrification of their Portland, Oregon, neighborhood, and the new--white--family that moves in after their best friend and her mother are evicted.

Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward, 2017

Living with his grandparents and sister on a Gulf Coast farm, Jojo navigates the challenges of his mother's addictions and his grandmother's cancer before the release of his father from prison prompts a road trip of danger and hope.
 

Tyler Johnson was Here by Jay Coles, 2018

When Marvin Johnson's twin brother, Tyler, is shot and killed by a police officer, Marvin must fight injustice to learn the true meaning of freedom.
 

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, 2016

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, the #1 New York Times bestseller from Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South.
 

Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan, 2019

Frustrated by the way women are treated--even at their progressive New York City high school--two best friends start a Women's Rights Club, post their essays and poems online, and watch it go viral, attracting positive support as well as trolls.

The Water Dancer: A Novel by Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2019

Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage, and lost his mother and all memory of her when he was a child--but he is also gifted with a mysterious power. Hiram almost drowns when he crashes a carriage into a river, but is saved from the depths by a force he doesn't understand, a blue light that lifts him up and lands him a mile away. This strange brush with death forces a new urgency on Hiram's private rebellion. So begins an unexpected journey into the covert war on slavery that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia's proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the deep South to dangerously utopic movements in the North. Even as he's enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, all Hiram wants is to return to the Walker Plantation to free the family he left behind--but to do so, he must first master his gift and reconstruct the story of his greatest loss.
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