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Black Liberation 101: Read These 19 Books to Understand Racism and the Black Experience in America

This is not the time to revel in ignorance. Nor is it the time to rest on "not knowing" or "not understanding" what is happening in the world. Black people are dying, and systemic anti-Black racism and white supremacy is our killer. It is not enough to be silent, or to be “colorblind,” or to consider yourself "not racist." We must all be completely and utterly anti-racist. It is the only way dismantle the oppressive caste systems in America.

I see myself the quintessential book lover. A true zealot of the written word, I'm one who uses literature like others use Netflix: as an escape, a way to see myself, and a way to explore new worlds. But there is also a time for literature as activism. Literature as resistance. Literature as radical self-love. Literature as a way to see beyond yourself and to help in realizing the part you play in other people's oppression. For me, that time is now.

I consider these books to be critical, must-read texts, and most of these are staples on my personal shelf. They have helped me grow into my identity as a Black individual and as a Black person who strives to be an ally to those who live further in the margins, such as other Black women and my Black queer, trans, and gender non-conforming family whose intersections often result in historical erasure.

I hope you see some familiar faces in this book list; I hope you discover some new works. I hope you are enlightened, inspired, uncomfortable, angry, and ready for radical change. Knowledge is how we get free.

Please consider purchasing from small, Black-owned bookstores. Indiebound.org, Bookshop.org, and Libro.fm are great places to start your search and support.

Black Liberation 101: Read These 19 Books to Understand Racism and the Black Experience in America

“Ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” — James Baldwin

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