Top Twenty-Five: Books to Understand Being Black in America

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme was a freebie!


Michael Eric Dyson’s Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America came out last week and, let me just tell you, it is making me woke af to my privilege as an upper-middle-class white lady, living in a liberal part of a liberal state. In an interview for The New York Times Magazine, Dyson states that the book’s ideal audience is “the ocean of white folk I encounter who are deeply empathetic to the struggles of minorities — they are the ones who ask me, “What can I do, as a white person?” This is my attempt to address them in the most useful and, hopefully, edifying manner.” As one of those white folk, it’s my job to seek out and listen to black and POC voices, to hear what they are saying and understand. With me? Here are twenty-five books* I need to read asap about being black in America.


America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America by Jim Wallis // The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley // The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson // Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine // The Crunk Feminist Collection by Brittney C. Cooper, Susana M. Morris, and Robin M. Boylorn, eds.


The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin // Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis // The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist // I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou // Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching by Mychal Denzel Smith


Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty by Dorothy Roberts // Known and Strange Things: Essays by Teju Cole // March: Book One by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin // The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae // The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander


Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique Morris // Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva // Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America by Melissa V. Harris-Perry // The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America by Tamara Winfrey Harris // Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon


The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois // They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery // This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherríe L. Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa, eds. // We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation by Jeff Chang // You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

* This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a good place to start. And, I am always looking for more suggestions!!!

Five Favorite: Novels by Black Authors

“Five Favorite” is a feature on thewasofshall where I lay out my five favorite “x”. Sometimes they’re relevant to a season or holiday, mostly they’re not. It’s an all-around fun excuse to give my 100% amazingly awesome opinion. To see previous (and future) topics, click here. To participate, scroll all the way down.

In case you didn’t know (but I hope you knew), February is Black History Month here in America (and also Canada). Since I can’t think of five novels off the top of my head by black authors about their black experience, I’ve instead listed five on my tbr list – because it’s 2015 and this is long overdue.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

BelovedBeloved by Toni Morrison

InvisibleManInvisible Man by Ralph Ellison

MisadventuresOfAwkwardBlackGirlThe Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

XX by Ilyasah Shabazz

Have your own five favorite novels by black authors? Share them! Post them to your blog, link back to this post, and then comment letting me know!