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Antiracist Reading List

Posted on Aug 25, 2020

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As an organization, we've always been dedicated to creating a culture that celebrates and empowers people of all backgrounds. But as protests against anti-Black racism and police violence broke out across the globe at the end of May, we realized we have a lot more work to do when it comes to being actively antiracist.

Since then, we've been thrilled to be able to put our money where our mouth is through our Fuck Racism collection which has raised over $30K and counting for Black-focused charities and initiatives, but that’s not enough. We’ve also focused on bettering ourselves in other ways, particularly through education.

Over the past couple of months, we've implemented mandatory antiracism training for all employees. We've been fortunate to have journalist and author Eternity Martis lead these incredibly educational and thought-provoking discussions.

Here, Eternity has put together the ultimate antiracist reading list for our team and for all of you, our Inkfam. Humbly enough, she didn't include her own bestselling memoir They Said This Would Be Fun: Race, Campus Life, and Growing Up, so please consider checking that one out, too. 

 

On Coming-of-Age

 "Growing up as a Black young person is an experience that is both beautiful and harrowing. This next generation of Black young people have documented what it means to be Black in North America today, and how their intersecting identities (gender, race, class) play a role in the adults they’ve become today." - Eternity Martis

 

How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones

Lambda Literary Award-winner and former LGBT editor at BuzzFeed, Saeed Jones’ memoir is a searing and, at times, heartbreaking look at what it means to grow up as a Black gay man in the South, nurture relationships with family, friends and lovers, and to find your place in America.

 

This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins

A moving book of personal essays, this New York Times bestseller explores what it means to grow up as a Black woman in white supremicist America. The debut book from Morgan Jerkins also discusses pop culture, feminism, black history, misogyny and racism, relating each back to the author’s own experiences.

 

I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé by Michael Arceneaux

Michael Arceneaux’s collection of personal essays share his stories of growing up gay in the South, and trying to navigate his identities as a gay Black man, an aspiring writer, and a Catholic.

 

Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta

Danuta Gleed Literary Award-winner Zalika Reid-Benta’s short story collection about a young girl living in Toronto who struggles to strike a balance between her Canadian nationality and Jamaican heritage gained critical acclaim for its examination of race, class, and identity. 

 

Shut Up You're Pretty by Téa Mutonji

Trillium Book Award-winner Téa Mutonji’s disarming collection of short stories follow the life of Loli, a young Congolese woman growing up in the suburbs of Scarborough, and trying to navigate friendship, love, and identity.

 

Angry Queer Somali Boy by Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali

This searing coming-of-age memoir by Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali is engrossing. Taken to the Netherlands from Somalia by his stepmother, then brought to Toronto, Ali navigates queerness, religion, addiction, and poverty all while trying to fit into this new city.

 

On Black and Queer Feminism

 "To know our greatness, we have to know our history. When it comes to civil rights movements, Black, queer and feminist writers have historically helped create change through their activism, education, and writing. These are five feminists and womanists who paved the way for Black and queer feminism, a powerful reminder that femimism is for everyone." - Eternity Martis

 

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When The Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange

This choreopoem and play is a heartbreaking reminder of all that Black women endure in society, but also an uplifting look at the power of sisterhood. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When The Rainbow Is Enuf weaves together the interconnected stories of seven unnamed women navigating love, empowerment, struggle, and loss.

 

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

Many of us know Audre Lorde’s infamous quote “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Her words are just as relevant today as they were in 1984, when this book of essays was first published. Sister Outsider is an unflinching look at sexism, racism, homophobia, and class.

 

Black Looks: Race and Representation by bell hooks

Scholar bell hooks has never shied away from telling it like it is. In this book, she highlights the often racist representations of Black people in literature, pop culture, film, and music (spoiler alert: it’s not pretty) before analyzing how Blackness is viewed through a lens of white supremacy and ultimately exploring new ways of representation.

 

Women, Race and Class by Angela Davis

Activist and scholar Angela Davis’ book was published in 1983, yet its discussions about race, class and gender are just as relevant today. Studying some of the United States’ biggest social justice moments—from the women’s liberation movement to abolitionist days—Davis shows that these ‘progressive’ moments have always been hampered by racism and sexism.

 

Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins

The holy grail of Black feminism, this book explores the historical and contemporary stereotypes of Black women that contribute to the way society perceives them, while uplifting Black women’s voices (including some of the legends on this list) and experiences.

 

On Being Black in Canada 

"As we find ourselves once again discussing police brutality and anti-Black racism in America, it’s important to remember that state violence and racial discrimination are also prevalent in Canada. Under the guise of multiculturalism and politeness (and the dreaded “it isn’t so bad here”), Canada has remained uninvolved in larger conversations about anti-Black racism — but its inhabitants haven’t. Here are 5 books on being Black in Canada, from the history of Black Canadians, personal experiences, and analyses of institutional and systemic racism." - Eternity Martis

 

Policing Black Lives by Robyn Maynard

This book by scholar and educator Robyn Maynard takes a comprehensive look at anti-Black racism in Canada—from slavery to the present day—and explores how this anti-Black racism specifically affects Black women, Black LGBTQ and undocumented communities, and Black people with disabilities.

 

Black Berry, Sweet Juice by Lawrence Hill

From acclaimed novelist Lawrence Hill—who also wrote The Book of Negroes—this book explores the author’s experience navigating his identity as a biracial man living in a predominantly white Ontario suburb. The book also highlights how Hill’s personal experiences are in fact shared experiences, by including dozens of interviews with other multiracial Canadians.

 

Until We Are Free edited by Rodney Diverlus, Sandy Hudson and Syrus Marcus Ware

Following the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012, Black Lives Matter gained momentum in the US, but the movement’s message also resonated elsewhere, including in Canada. Explaining why, this book—a collection of writings from generations of Black Canadian activists—discusses the long-held systems of discrimination and state violence against Black communities in Canada.

 

Black Writers Matter edited by Whitney French

In this award-winning anthology compiled by Whitney French—who alongside poet Alannah Johnson recently launched Hush Harbour, Canada’s first Black queer feminist press—emerging and established writers share the triumphs and struggles of being Black in Canada today.

 

BlackLife by Rinaldo Walcott & Idil Abdillahi

Even in the era of Black Lives Matter, so many of us continue to deny and ignore the injustices facing Black Canadians. How can we change this? In BlackLife, scholars Idil Abdillahi and Rinaldo Walcott expose these injustices and the systems and ideologies that sustain them, and present ways to affect the kind of change that would lead to meaningfully better lives for Black Canadians.

 

Stand with us in supporting Black lives and check out our Fuck Racism collection. 100% of profits from the collection will be donated to charities and initiatives supporting the fight against anti-Black racism.

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