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Francis, Conseula (ed). Conversations with Octavia Butler. (University Press of Mississippi, 2010). “Int: reading Parable of the Talents, I imagined you being inspired by news accounts of modern-day slavery in the Sudan, or the kind of disintegration taking place in Colombia or Somalis. OB: No, what I did was I looked at our own country. I also looked a Nazi Germany. I was interested to see how a country goes fascist. Because it concerned me that in some ways we could head down that pathway. And I was also interested in all the things we weren’t paying attention to in a useful way. These things are used to play politics but they’re not really used in any useful way most of the time. I was thinking of education and the economy and the ecology, and the various things that, if we don’t pay attention to, are going to lead us to living in a world that we really don’t want to live in. This is not about the past. This is about the present and the future.” (p.198).
“I did the two Parable books, and I wanted to do a third but I realized I was kind of written out for a while. The Parable books came out of reading the news. They’re books that warn us that if we’re not careful, we’re going to end up living in a fairly nasty world in the not-too-distant future.” (p.202). Available at Better World Books.

Oluo, Ijeoma. So you want to talk about race. (Seal Press, Hatchette Book Group, 2018). As a grew-up-liberal-I-don’t-think-I’m-racist white person, I found this book to be eye-opening. There were a couple places that were tough to read, but I just kept breathing and reading and now I have a new understanding and a new humility. I’m peeling back layers of the onion, wondering if they ever really all go away. I highly recommend this book. Buy it here.

Bennett, Michael and Dave Zirin. Things That Make White People Uncomfortable. (Haymarket Books, 2018). From the front flap: “Michael Bennett is a Super Bowl champion, a three-time Pro Bowl defensive end, a fearless activist, a feminist, a grassroots philanthropist, and organizer, and a changemaker. He’s also one of the most scathingly humorous athletes on the planet, and he wants to make you uncomfortable. Bennett adds his unmistakable voice to discussions of racism and police violence, Black athletes and their relationship to powerful institutions like the NCAA and the NFL, the role of protest in history, and the responsibilities of athletes as role models to speak out against injustice.” On Better World Books

Washington-Williams, Essie Mae and William Stadiem. Dear Senator: A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond. (HarperCollins Books, 2005). From the front flap: “In Dear Senator, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, daughter of the late Senator Strom Thurmond, breaks her lifelong silence… Her mother was Carrie Butler, a black teenager who worked as a maid on the Thurmond family’s South Carolina plantation…” On Better World Books

Woodfox, Albert. Solitary. (Grove Press) From the back cover: “… a chronical of rare power and humanity: the unforgettable life story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement in notorious Angola prison in Louisana – for a crime he did not commit…That he was able to emerge with his humanity and sense of hope for the future intact is a triumph of the human spirit…” Find it on Better World Books

Holmes, Seth. Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies. Migrant Farmworkers in the US. (University of California Press, 2013) From the back cover: “.. an intimate examination of the everyday lives, suffering, and resilience of Mexican migrants whose labor is indispensable to our contemporary food system…” Available at Better World Books.

DiAngelo, Robin. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism. (Beacon Press 2018). I’m finding it very insightful and thought-provoking, in a good way. I like how the author asks the reader to stop and think for a moment, and gives a bunch of questions for you to consider. So rather than just reading the questions and continuing, I’m actually closing the book for a moment and thinking. What a concept: thinking. We should all try to do more of that. Available at Better World Books.

Fleming, Crystal. How to be Less Stupid about Race (Beacon Press 2018). It’s real, funny, sad, historical, and practical. From Martin Luther King Jr: “It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn.” Available at Better World Books.

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