The African American Experience: A Reading List for Antiracism

The African American Experience blog photo

What is antiracism? What does it mean to be antiracist in America? The following list contains works focused on recognizing, acknowledging, and addressing racism and white supremacy. 


How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves. This is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond the awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a just and equitable society.


So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

How do you tell your roommate her jokes are racist? Why did your sister-in-law take umbrage when you asked to touch her hair–and how do you make it right? How do you explain white privilege to your white, privileged friend? Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to “model minorities” in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they impact almost every aspect of American life.


Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad

When Layla Saad began an Instagram challenge called #meandwhitesupremacy, she never predicted it would become a cultural movement. She encouraged people to own up and share their racist behaviors, big and small. She was looking for truth, and she got it… Thousands of people participated in the challenge, and over 80,000 people downloaded the supporting work Me and White Supremacy. Updated and expanded from the original edition, Me and White Supremacy teaches readers how to dismantle the privilege within themselves so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too


Continue reading

The African American Experience: Science Fiction and Fantasy for Adults

The African American Experience blog photo

“If you don’t write science fiction that includes black people in America and elsewhere, then we don’t have a future. The future that gets created is one we don’t live in and we don’t imagine and don’t create.”  – Walter Mosley in conversation with Mia Birdsong 


Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

The time is 2025. The place is California, where small walled communities must protect themselves from hordes of desperate scavengers. Lauren Olamina, an 18 year old black woman, sets off on foot along the dangerous coastal highways, moving north into the unknown. As she travels, she begins to gather a band of followers, devoted to her belief in a new religion of her own design.


Binti series by Nnedi Okorafor

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach. (Binti: Home and Binti: The Night Masquerade)


How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?: Stories by N.K. Jemisin     

In the first collection of her evocative short fiction, Jemisin equally challenges and delights readers with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption. In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination.   

Continue reading

The African American Experience: Poetry for Adults

The African American Experience blog photo

Explore the creative voices of African American writers in verse. From the 1919 Chicago Race Riots to the rural and Appalachian south to a sci-fi look at the future, the following collections of poems explore the diverse experiences of African Americans.


The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop

The first anthology of poems by and for the hip-hop generation. It includes more than four decades of poets and covers the birth to the now of hip-hop culture and music and style. The BreakBeat Poets is for people who love Hip-Hop, for fans of the culture, for people who’ve never read a poem, for people who thought poems were only something done by dead white dudes who got lost in a forest, and for poetry heads. This anthology is meant to expand the idea of who a poet is and what a poem is for.


The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic

Black Girl Magic continues and deepens the work of the first BreakBeat Poets anthology by focusing on some of the most exciting Black women writing today. This anthology breaks up the myth of hip-hop as a boys’ club, and asserts the truth that the cypher is a feminine form.


There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce by Morgan Parker

Morgan Parker stands at the intersections of vulnerability and performance, of desire and disgust,of tragedy and excellence. Unrelentingly feminist,tender, ruthless, and sequined, these poems are an altarto the complexities of black American womanhood inan age of non-indictments and deja vu, and a time ofwars over bodies and power.


Citizen: an American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

Award-winning collection of essays, poetry, and images that expose the racial tensions in twenty-first century life, highlighting the slights, slips of the tongue, and intentional offensives that pervade the home, school, and popular media.


Wild Beauty by Ntozake Shange

In a collection of more than 60 original and selected poems in both English and Spanish, a poet, novelist and award-winning playwright, drawing from her experience as a feminist black woman in America, shares her utterly unique, unapologetic and deeply emotional writing that has made her one of the most iconic literary figures of our time.


1919 by Eve Ewing

The Chicago Race Riot of 1919, the most intense of the riots that comprised the “Red Summer” of violence across the nation’s cities, is an event that has shaped the last century but is widely unknown. In 1919, award-winning poet Eve L. Ewing explores the story of this event―which lasted eight days and resulted in thirty-eight deaths and almost 500 injuries―through poems recounting the stories of everyday people trying to survive and thrive in the city. Ewing uses speculative and Afrofuturist lenses to recast history, and illuminates the thin line between the past and the present.


Incendiary Art by Patricia Smith

A National Book Award finalist and the author of six critically acclaimed volumes of poetry presents a compelling new collection that envisions, re-envisions and ultimately reinvents the role of witness with an incendiary fusion of forms, including prose poems, ghazals, sestinas and sonnets.

Continue reading