It’s Black History month and I thought I’d share some books that have come across my path over the last year. Some are more analytical and some are very heart-felt. As we all put energy into healing this collective wound, this impacts all of our physical, mental, and spiritual health in a profound and positive way.
When it comes to being more anti-racist, I find it’s easy to get overwhelmed when I reflect on how far I still need to go. At the same time, I have some compassion for myself, as becoming anti-racist doesn’t happen in the course of a month.
As Resmaa Menakem writes,
“Consider Malcolm Gladwell’s observation that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to become highly proficient in almost any serious endeavor. By the time African Americans reach adulthood, many have spent 10,000 or more hours learning how to navigate the dangers, constrictions, and contradictions of white-body supremacy. They have done this not by choice, but as a matter of survival. In comparison, most white Americans have spent zero time in such endeavors, for the obvious reason that they haven’t needed to navigate white-body supremacy, but have received support and assistance from it. White people who want to grow out of white-body supremacy now need to put in a similar amount of time and effort in order to change themselves and create new culture.” (p. 267, Manekem – My Grandmother’s Hands)
Committing to 10,000 hours of anti-racist work isn’t the goal (although can you imagine if we all did that?), it’s more the idea that it’s important to start or keep learning, growing, and making changes in parallel with the rest of our life. 1 hour is better than 0 hours. If you were to do one thing this month, what might you do?
Three books that I’ve picked up in 2022 and continue to read and refer to this year include:
- Me and White Supremacy – Layla F. Saad
- My Grandmother’s Hands – Resmaa Menakem
- It was Dark There all the Time – Sophia Burthen and the legacy of slavery in Canada – Andrew Hunter
Me And White Supremacy
If you are a person who holds white privilege and love the idea of journalling and reflecting, this might be the book for you. She gives readers four weeks worth of daily reflections. Even better, she has a guided journal where you can go through the 28 day reflection process.
It Was Dark There All The Time
Andrew Hunter is a white Hamiltonian who has written specifically about local connections to slavery. If you’re from Ontario, I’d recommend this read. Otherwise, I’d encourage finding something local about your own geographic area.
The Skin We’re In
This book is a few years older, yet if you’re looking for something more current than looking at our past history, I’d recommend Desmond Cole’s The Skin We’re In. Desmond Cole is a black journalist, activist and author based in Toronto, Canada. Canadians can get a bit smug about living in Canada and thinking we’re less racist than our American counter-parts. Desmond shares his reality and the reality of many other black Canadians. On my list is to also watch his documentary about the creation of this book on CBC Gem.
My Grandmother’s Hands
Menakem’s book is both for BIPOC and white individuals. This book is exceptional. It has heart and soul. Resmaa brings guidance about going beyond understanding racism and healing through reflections and also connecting to our bodies. He delves into the evolution of racism and encourages white individuals to reflect on their own trauma as bridge towards healing. He describes how the trauma of racism is collective for all people. He gives a lot of exercises to try out that can help release past trauma and also reflective questions for all readers. He’s also involved in a variety of online courses with Education for Racial Equity.
If you want a recommendation for one book to read, I’d choose My Grandmother’s Hands. As always, if you have any books that you’ve loved about anti-racism, please share!
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