Expanding My Horizons

I finally reached a point in my evolution that I realized the issue of racism is an area that where I was HUGELY ignorant. I’ve worked with my friend Lexxi McBride and others to develop a reading list to broaden my horizons on the issue of racism and how to increase my understanding and knowledge of other cultures in general. Reading about racism has made me realize how ignorant I am in multi-ethnic reading and am trying to read more from authors that are not white men! Disclaimer: This is NOT a reading list for young readers, these books are not necessarily certified G or PG-12.

I’ve talked to several people that were interest in this list so here it is. I’d love for you to drop your recommendations in the comments.

*Books I’ve actually read – the others are on my list!

Book List

  • A Dream Called Home, Reyna Grande*
  • A House of Broken Angels, Luis Alberto Urrea
  • A Human Being Died That Night: Confronting Apartheid’s Chief Killer, Gobodo-Madikizela
  • A Lucky Man, Jamel Brinkley
  • A Raisin in the Sun, Loraine Hansberry
  • Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader, Ibarro Hermania
  • After Life: A Novel, Julia Alvarez
  • Air Traffic: A Memoir of Ambition and Manhood in America, Gregory Pardio
  • Akata Witch, Nnedi Okorafor
  • Americanah, Chimanda Ngozi Adichie
  • An American Marriage, Tayari Jones
  • Beloved, Toni Morrison
  • Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation, LaTasha Morrison*
  • Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think and Do, Jennifer Eberhardt
  • Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina, Raquel Cepeda
  • Born a Crime, Trevor Noah
  • Casi Una Mujer, Esmerelda Santiago
  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, Isabel Wilkerson
  • Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, Ross Gay
  • Charcoal Joe, Walter Mosley
  • Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi
  • City of Beasts, Isabell Allende
  • Clap When You Land, Elizabeth ACevedo
  • Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of the Law, Preet Bharara
  • Dreams of My Father, Barack Obama
  • Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less, Tiffany Dufu
  • Five Carat Soul, James McBride
  • For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow was Enuf, Ntozake Shange
  • Fruit of the Drunken Tree, Ingrid Rojas Contreras
  • Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, Ben Carson, MD
  • Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evarista
  • Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys Into Race, Motherhood. and History, Camille T. Dungy
  • Heavy: An American Memoir, Kiese Laymon
  • Heros in Black History, Dave and Neta Jackson (Recommended by Chase Bowers)
  • Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
  • How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Julia Alvarez
  • How to Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi*
  • I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness. Auston Channing Brown
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Autobiography #1, Maya Angelo*. (Anything written by Maya Angelo!!) This is the first of her five autobiographies — I’m on 3 of 5, they are wonderful!!
  • Insider Outsider: My Journey as a Stranger in White Evangelicalism and My Hope for Us All, Bryan Loritts*
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Bryan Stevenson
  • Kindred, Octavia Butler
  • Letter to My Daughter, Maya Angelou*
  • Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, James Forman, Jr.
  • Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
  • Lost Children Archive, Valeria Luiselli
  • Lovesong: Becoming a Jew, Julius Lester
  • Malcom and Me, Ismael Reed (only on Audible.com)*
  • Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare
  • Minority Leader: How to Lead from the Outside and Make Change, Stacey Abrams
  • My Bondage and My Freedom, Frederick Douglass
  • Off the Reservation, Paula Gunn Allen
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Oneness Embraced, Tony Evans (recommended by Chase Bowers)
  • Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell
  • Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler
  • Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams
  • Reading with Patrick, Michelle Kuo*
  • Red at the Bone, Jacqueline Woodson
  • Right Color, Wrong Culture: The Type of Leader Your Organization Needs to Become Multiethnic, Bryan Loritts
  • Running, Natalia Sylvester
  • Same Kind of Different as Me, Ron Hall and Denver Moore* This book started my journey to realizing how white-washed my worldview is.
  • Saving the Saved: How Jesus Saves Us from Try-Harder Christianity into Performance-Free Love, Bryan Loritts
  • Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Nabeel Qureshi
  • Silver Sparrow, Tajari Jones
  • Spirit Run, Noe Alvarez
  • Stamped from the Beginning, Ibram X. Kendi
  • Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid
  • Take This Stallion, Anais Duplan
  • The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X*
  • The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell
  • The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism, Jemar Tisby
  • The Color of Law, Richard Rothstein
  • The Color Purple, Alice Walker
  • The Cross and the Lynching Tree, James Cone
  • The Distance Between Us, Reyna Grande
  • The Fifth Season, NK Jemison
  • The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, Jesmyn Ward
  • The Girl Who Smiled Beads, Wamriya Clementine*
  • The Girl With the Louding Voice, Abi Dare
  • The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
  • The House of Mango Charlie, Sandra Cisneros
  • The Light of the World, Elizabeth Alexander
  • The Measure of a Man, Sidney Poiter
  • The Mis-Education of the Negro, Carter G. Woodson (recommended by Eric Mason)
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander
  • The Race Whisper: Barack Obama and the Political Uses of Race, Melanye Price
  • The Sun is Also a Star, Nicola Yoon
  • The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, Isabel Wilkerson
  • The Watson’s go to Birmingham, Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
  • Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
  • Unbowed, Wangari Maathai
  • Under Our Skin, Benjamin Watson*
  • Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, Emmanuel Acho*
  • When I was Puerto Rican, Esmerelda Santiago
  • White Awake: An Honest Look at What it Means to be White, Daniel Hill
  • White Fragility: Why It’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, Robin DiAngelo*
  • White Lies: Nine Ways to Expose and Resist the Racial Systems that Divide Us, Daniel Hill
  • Wild Seed, Octavia Butler
  • Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice, Eric Mason*
  • Workin’ Our Way Home, Ron Hall*
  • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD

I’ve also read some great articles listed as references in the back of several books I’ve read!


I struggle with podcasts, but these have been recommended to me

  • White Lies, NPR
  • 1619

The Origin and Impact of Black History Month

I’m not going to spend the entire month on Black History Month, although I easily could, I hope that these little tidbits I’ve learned will peak your curiosity and get you to want to learn more.

I’m so ignorant and arrogant that I thought “Black History Month was developed as a token gesture by the white establishment”2 and since I actually read that in an article, I must not be the only one who thinks that. I did not know that Black History Month traces its roots back to 1926 and one man, Carter Godwin Woodson (1875-1950). Woodson was a self educated son of slave that got to attend high school at the age of 20. He finished high school in two years, earned a degree in literature and was the second African American to earn a doctorate at Harvard University.2 He went on to be a teacher, principal and supervisor of schools where he realized that that the history of African Americans was not a part of school curriculum so he founded the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History in 1915. He would then start Negro History Week that evolved into Black History Month during the Black Consciousness Movement in the 1960’s. Woodson’s goal was to “reinvigorate the self-esteem, sense of power and hunger for justice of a long-oppressed people.”2 Woodson’s second goal for Negro History Week was racial reconciliation, if whites learned about the contributions of Blacks to American History “this awareness would engender respect.”2 I am ashamed to admit that it’s 2021, almost one hundred years later and many of us have yet to get the memo!

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History(the same organization Mr. Woodson started in 1915) establishes a theme for Black History month every year. This year’s theme is: The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity. The flyer this year states, “Not only are individual black families diasporic, but Africa and the diaspora itself have been long portrayed as the black family at large.” I know about the diaspora of the Jews, I never thought about how what happened to those sold into slavery was also a diaspora and the impact it has on the community and family.

“The breakdown of the black community, in order to maintain slavery, began with the breakdown of the black family. Men and women were not legally allowed to get married because you couldn’t have that kind of love. It might get in the way of the economics of slavery. Your children could be taken from you and literally sold down the river.” 1 When you consider this reality of the family of slaves, the poverty many of them were thrust in to with “freedom”, you can see the impact on the family would last for generations. I’ve worked with a couple of kids who were trying to start out with nothing and it’s so overwhelming. We take so for granted the advantage of our support system. It seems so hopeless, but these are just a few examples give me hope:

“…A son of my late father, who was a pastor, a veteran, and a small businessman, and my mother who was a teenager growing up in Waycross, Georgia, used to pick somebody else’s cotton.  But the other day, because this is America, the 82 year old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States Senator.” January 6, 2021 Raphael Warnock upon his election to the US Senate.
“Shed some tears just now when I saw they were thinking about speeding up the process of putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. I have 4 daughters who in their lifetime have seen a president and vice president who looks like them. And soon they will could see a face like theirs on a $20 bill. I could not have imagined any of this in my childhood. Their dreams and goals are amplified to a level I could never have imagined when I was a kid. My dad always said if you put your mind to it you could do anything but I would never have dared to dream such things. Does not seem real.” Stolen from our own Chris Stephens Facebook post January 25, 2021, 10:48 p.m. (used without permission)

It has to leave you wondering, “How can I make a difference and continue to support and encourage our black brothers and sisters?” You have to continually educate yourself, continually step out of what you know, spend time with people who don’t look like you, who don’t think like you, who don’t believe like you, read, read, read! I am constantly amazed by how little I actually know, I think you may be amazed too! I end with my favorite quote:

1 Washington, K. (2021). Picking Up the Pieces: The Black Family Struggle. In Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Man (p. 129). S.l.: FLATIRON BOOKS.

2Novelli, J. (2009, July 7). The History Behind Black History Month. Retrieved January 21, 2021, from https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/the-history-behind-black-history-month