The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis following the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery (three names in a long line line of people who have been wrongfully killed or subjected to police (or other) brutality) has brought the lived realities of African Americans and racism to an important critical mass.
A lot of us who are nonBlack and admittedly live within our own privilege of not recognizing what our own biases may be and all we just do not know are working to learn and understand better. Asking Black people (who we may know or reach out to) to educate us, as many have pointed out, only adds to their emotional and mental trauma and exhaustion.
Many nonBlack Muslims are getting more on board with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, but Black Muslim youth still feel that too many don’t “get it” and behave in ways that disrespect and discriminate against black Muslims.
As iterated in this Bklyner article, protest organizer Esraa Elzin says, “I get it, you’re not racist. But how do we get you to hate racism the way Black people hate racism? … We’ve moved on from the idea that solidarity is someone who has Black Lives Matter in their bio, to what are you doing, where are you donating … and more importantly, what are the discussions you’re having in your home?”
One of the ways we can move beyond posting and performative acts to a deeper base of learning and understanding is to invest in self-education about Black history, literature and experience. With that in mind, here is a list of books to get us all started. My thanks to my friend and fellow HH blog writer Layla Abdullah-Poulos for editing this list and suggesting so many wonderful books. As always, please add your reading suggestions in the comments, so we can continue to educate ourselves.
1. Native Son by Richard Baldwin
2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
3. Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
4. Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes
5. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
6. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
7. Black No More by George Schuyler
8. Tried and Tested by Umm Juwayriyah
9. If I Should Speak by Umm Zakiyyah
10, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
11. The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley
12. We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
13. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
14. Ain’t I A Woman by Bell Hooks
15. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
16. The Eve of Destruction: How 1965 Transformed America by James T. Patterson
17. So You Want to Talk About Race? by Ieoma Oluo
18. Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
19. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
20. I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
Black Muslim History and Experience
21. Women of the Nation: Between Black Protest and Sunni Islam by Dawn-Marie Gibson with Dr. Jamillah Karim as contributor
22. Muslim Cool by Su’ad Khabeer
23. Polygyny by Debra Majeed
24. Black Pilgrimage to Islam by Robert Dannin
26. A History of Islam in America: From the New World to the New World Order by Kambiz Ghaneabassiri
27. African American Islam by Aminah McCloud
28. Five Classic Muslim Slave Narratives by Muhammad A. Al-Ahari
29. Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas by Sylviane A. Diouf
30. Illuminating the Darkness: Blacks and North Africans in Islam by Habeeb Akande
31. Centering Black Narrative by Ahmad Mubarak and Dawud Walid
32. Black Seeds: The Poetry and Reflections of Tariq Toure
33. Black Muslim Reads edited and curated by Layla Abdulah-Poulos
Please add your reading suggestions in the comments below, so we can continue to educate ourselves.