Thought-provoking fiction and nonfiction books to read or listen to, in print and online for teens and adults.
YA fiction book, and e-audiobook. Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi and featuring some of the most acclaimed, bestselling Black authors writing for teens today, this is an essential collection of captivating coming-of-age stories about what it's like to be young and Black in America. Age: 14+
Adult nonfiction book. Traces the evolution of the author's views on social justice, from his youth in the civil rights era to his current role as a cultural commentator on topics ranging from race and economic inequality to music and the influence of the media. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book. 'This collection of short meditations, written from a prison cell, captures the past two decades of police violence that gave rise to Black Lives Matter while digging deeply into the history of the United States. This is the book we need right now to find our bearings in the chaos'--Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book, e-book, and e-audiobook. "A civil-rights lawyer's disturbing view of why young black men make up the majority of the more than two million people now in America's prisons. In this explosive debut, Alexander (Law/Moritz College of Law and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity) argues that the imprisonment of unusually large numbers of young blacks and Latinos--most harshly sentenced for possession or sale of illegal drugs, mainly marijuana--constitutes "a stunningly comprehensive and well-designed system of racialized social control." --from Kirkus Reviews Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book. “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. Compelling and dramatic in the unimpeachable history it relates, White Rage will add an important new dimension to the national conversation about race in America."-- Provided by publisher. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book. "White women are one of the most influential demographics in America; we are the largest voting bloc, with purchasing power that exceeds anybody else's and when we unify to demand change, we are a force to be reckoned with. Yet, so many of us sit idly on the sidelines, opting out of raising our hands to do, learn, and engage in ways that could make a difference. Why? White American women are no monolith. Yet, as Women's March national organizer Jenna Arnold has learned over the past few years criss-crossing the US in conversations with white women about their identity and role in the country, we do possess common characteristics; ones that get in the way of us becoming more engaged as citizens." -- from the publisher. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book, e-book, and e-audiobook. At once a powerful evocation of his early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice to both the individual and the body politic, James Baldwin galvanized the nation in the early days of the civil rights movement with his eloquent manifesto. The Fire Next Time stands as one of the essential works of our literature. Age: 15+
Adult nonfiction book, and e-book. In June 1966, an African-American man named James Meredith set out to walk through his home state of Mississippi, intending to fight racism and fear with his feet. The next day, he was shot and wounded in a roadside ambush. Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokely Carmichael, and other civil rights leaders then took up Meredith's cause, determined to overcome this violent act and complete Meredith's walk. This is an account of those events and their impact on the Civil Rights Movement and American society. Age: 12+
Adult nonfiction book. “What is a book club but an excuse to talk to friends? The Toni Morrison Book Club brings that experience to life by telling the story of four friends who turn to Toni Morrison as they search for meaning in their lives. In this startling group memoir, the writers--black and white, gay and straight, immigrant and American born--allow Morrison's words, like music, to make them feel, confess, and discover. The result is a collection of deeply personal conversations about everything from first love to Soul Train to police brutality, all told with an ever present lens on race in America.”— Provided by publisher. Age: 16+
Adult nonfiction book, and e-book. Michael Bennett is a Super Bowl Champion, a three-time Pro Bowl defensive end, a fearless activist, a feminist, a grassroots philanthropist, an organizer, and a change maker. 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. Following in the footsteps of activist-athletes from Muhammad Ali to Colin Kaepernick, Bennett demonstrates his outspoken leadership both on and off the field. Written with award-winning sportswriter and author Dave Zirin, Things that Make White People Uncomfortable is a sports book for our turbulent times, a memoir, and a manifesto as hilarious and engaging as it is illuminating. Age: Adult.
Child nonfiction book, and e-book. Presents a young reader's adaptation of Bennett's memoir and manifesto that uses humor to discuss racism and violence, denounce the NFL's abuses, and encourage black athletes in the NCAA and NFL to speak out against injustice both on and off the field. Age: 12+
Adult nonfiction book, and e-audiobook. Discusses the persisting racial inequality in the United States and challenges color-blinding thinking. Age: Adult.
Child nonfiction book, and e-book. “In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. This is the heartbreaking and relatable story of her four months thrust into the national spotlight and as a trailblazer in history. Based on original research and interviews and featuring backmatter with archival materials and notes from the authors on the co-writing process."-- Provided by publisher. Age: 10+
Adult nonfiction book. “Jericho Brown's daring new book The Tradition details the normalization of evil and its history at the intersection of the past and the personal. Brown's poetic concerns are both broad and intimate, and at their very core a distillation of the incredibly human: What is safety? Who is this nation? Where does freedom truly lie? Brown makes mythical pastorals to question the terrors to which we've become accustomed, and to celebrate how we survive. Poems of fatherhood, legacy, blackness, queerness, worship, and trauma are propelled into stunning clarity by Brown's mastery, and his invention of the duplex--a combination of the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues--testament to his formal skill. The Tradition is a cutting and necessary collection, relentless in its quest for survival while revelling in a celebration of contradiction." -- Goodreads.com Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book. “After a video showing the death of her son, Eric Garner, at the hands of New York City police officers on Staten Island went viral, Gwen Carr's life changed forever. The illegal chokehold that took Eric's life has been seared into the public consciousness as the large Black man struggled to breathe while a White policeman held him down on a hot concrete sidewalk. His death set the tone for a new normal in which young Black men and women now automatically document police interactions with their cell phones for fear of brutality and even death. As one of the Mothers of the Movement, Carr, a retired transit train operator, now dedicates her time to fighting for racial equality, focusing on the treatment of Blacks by law enforcement in the United States. In This Stops Today, Carr shares the tragedies she's faced, recalls her son's life and death, and recounts her newfound role as an activist in the fight for racial equality. More than the story of a single moment, her book recounts a life of family, community, and a woman who now speaks for those who no longer can. She has to do it for her firstborn. She has to do it for Eric." -- Dust jacket.
Adult nonfiction book. “Unapologetic is a 21st century guide to building a Black liberation movement through a Black queer feminist lens"-- Provided by publisher. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction. “A timely, stirring, and confident examination of mixed- race identity, violence, and history skillfully rendered through the lens of motherhood. In Hybrida, Tina Chang confronts the complexities of raising a mixed-race child during an era of political upheaval in the United States. She ruminates on the relationship between her son's blackness and his safety, exploring the dangers of childhood in a post-Trayvon Martin era by invoking racialized roles in fairy tales. Meditating on the lives of Michael Brown, Leiby Kletzky, and Noemi Álvarez Quillay--lost at the hands of individuals entrusted to protect them--Chang creates hybrid poetic forms that mirror her investigation of racial tensions. Hybrida is a twenty-first-century tale that is equal parts a mother's love and her fury, an ambitious and revelatory exploration of identity."-- Provided by publisher. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book, e-book, e-audiobook, and large print. In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation's history and current crisis. Age: 15+
Adult nonfiction book, e-book, audiobook on cd, and e-audiobook. “We were eight years in power” was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. In this sweeping collection of new and selected essays, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America’s “first white president.” But the story of these present-day eight years is not just about presidential politics. This book also examines the new voices, ideas, and movements for justice that emerged over this period—and the effects of the persistent, haunting shadow of our nation’s old and unreconciled history. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book, and audiobook on cd. So what if it’s true that Black women are mad as hell? 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. Far too often, Black women’s anger has been caricatured into an ugly and destructive force that threatens the civility and social fabric of American democracy. But Cooper shows us that there is more to the story than that. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book, e-book, and e-audiobook. Groundbreaking book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when discussing racism that serve to protect their positions and maintain racial inequality. In this groundbreaking and timely book, antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility.--Amazon.com Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book, e-book, and e-audiobook. When first published in 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk struck like a thunderclap, quickly establishing itself as a work that wholly redefined the history of the black experience in America, introducing the now famous "problem of the color line." In decades since, its stature has only grown, and today it ranks as one of the most influential and resonant works in the history of American thought. This centennial edition contains a landmark Introduction by historian David Levering Lewis that brilliantly demonstrates how The Souls of Black Folk remains indispensable not only to an understanding of the history of race and democracy in America but to considerations of the future of racial and cultural comity in the twenty-first century. Age: Adult
Adult nonfiction book, e-book, and e-audiobook. You don't have to be racist to be biased. 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. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book. “William Evans, the award-winning poet and cofounder of the popular culture website Black Nerd Problems, offers an emotionally vulnerable poetry collection exploring the themes of inheritances, dreams, and injuries that are passed down from one generation to the next and delving into the lived experience of a black man in the American suburbs today."-- Provided by publisher. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book, and e-book. Touching on subjects like first love, lost love, individuality and the passing of time, each poem captures the fleeting moments we all experience and which stick with us, shaping us into the people we become. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction, and e-book. “Recounts the tragic role that some African Americans--as judges, prosecutors, politicians, police officers, and voters--played in escalating the war on crime."-- Provided by publisher Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book. An intimate portrait of Trayvon Martin shares previously untold insights into the movement he inspired from the perspectives of his parents, who also describe their efforts to bring meaning to his short life through the movement's pursuit of redemption and justice. Age: Adult.
Nonfiction adult book, and e-book. “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. The abolition of slavery in the aftermath of the Civil War is a familiar story, as is the civil rights revolution that transformed the nation after World War II. But the century in between remains a mystery: if emancipation sparked 'a new birth of freedom' in Lincoln's America, why was it necessary to march in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s America? In this new book, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., one of our leading chroniclers of the African-American experience, seeks to answer that question in a history that moves from the Reconstruction Era to the 'nadir' of the African-American experience under Jim Crow, through to World War I and the Harlem Renaissance.“ —provided by the publisher. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book. “A polemic on the state of black America that argues that we don't yet live in a post-racial society"-- Provided by publisher. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book, e-book, and e-audiobook. “In the Deep South of the 1950's, a color line was etched in blood across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Journalist John Howard Griffin decided to cross that line. Using medication that darkened his skin to deep brown, he exchanged his privileged life as a Southern white man for the disenfranchised world of an unemployed black man. What happened to John Howard Griffin--from the outside and within himself--as he made his way through the segregated Deep South is recorded in this searing work of nonfiction. His audacious, still chillingly relevant eyewitness history is a work about race and humanity every American must read.“ —from the publisher. Age: 14+
Adult nonfiction book. “Lopez (White by Law) examines the intersections of declining economic opportunities and race affiliation as expressed by political parties. He defines "dog-whistle politics" as coded racial appeals that invite hostility toward a target group, a practice employed by both major parties but far more extensively by the Republican Party. Lopez discusses how some members of a middle class that benefited from the opportunities provided by a growing liberal federal governmental system have been swayed into polarized GOP voter groups, a deciding factor in many political contests.” —From Library Journal. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction e-audiobook. Jezebel's sexual lasciviousness, Mammy's devotion, and Sapphire's outspoken anger--these are among the most persistent stereotypes that black women encounter in contemporary American life. Hurtful and dishonest, such representations force African American women to navigate a virtual crooked room that shames them and shapes their experiences as citizens. Many respond by assuming a mantle of strength that may convince others, and even themselves, that they do not need help. But as a result, the unique political issues of black women are often ignored and marginalized. Age: Adult.
Child nonfiction book, e-book, audiobook on cd, and e-audiobook. “Examines the events and forces leading up to 1919 race riots in Chicago."--Provided by publisher. Age: 12+
Adult nonfiction book, and audiobook on cd. “A powerful, timely, dazzling collection of sonnets from one of America's most acclaimed poets, Terrance Hayes, the National Book Award winning author of Lighthead. In seventy poems bearing the same title, Terrance Hayes explores the meanings of American, of assassin, and of love in the sonnet form. Written during the first two hundred days of the Trump presidency, these poems are haunted by the country's past and future eras and errors, its dreams and nightmares. Inventive, compassionate, hilarious, melancholy, and bewildered--the wonders of this new collection are irreducible and stunning."-- Provided by publisher. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book. Presents the life of the Alabama teenager who played an integral but little-known role in the Montgomery bus strike of 1955-1956, once by refusing to give up a bus seat, and again, by becoming a plaintiff in the landmark civil rights case against the bus company. Age: 11+