Here are some book recommendations for those of you who are already woke or getting there but want more:
Ain’t I A Woman: black women and feminism by bell hooks:
bell hooks is pretty much who I want to be, someday. In the meantime, I’ve made due reading what she’s written. This one is considered to be the one that put her on the map. It chronicles the experiences of black women in the U.S., at the intersection of race, class, and gender. It’s not long and you learn a great deal, especially the fissures that formed during the suffrage movement where southern white women placated to racist whites and ignored women of color.
Deepa Iyer is a renowned activist and lawyer, and has been a major voice for progressive POC causes and coalition-building. If you are interested to learn more about the experiences of Desi and Arabs in the U.S., this is the perfect introduction. And if you are someone who already has a good sense, still pick up a copy and like me, use it for your research.
Nico Slate proves, through his work, that yes, there are white dudes who “get it.” Slate is a historian and has been writing on the ways POC across the world have forged bonds against imperialism and racism. For this, he focuses on the solidarity between black Americans and South Asian Indians. And he doesn’t romanticize it either, by showing how complex it was, given India’s own crisis of caste discrimination.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler:
So, ever sat and watched a dystopian movie and wondered, “Why are there only white people? Wait, did something happen to us? OH CRAP! WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN TO US?!” If that thought ever ran through your mind, then this book is perfect for you. Octavia Butler is an icon. She wrote mainly sci-fi but it’s not your average alien meet human crap. Butler, who was African American, incorporated issues of race, class and gender into her work. The Parable of the Sower is an example of how she manages to write a story that’s entertaining and yet, meaningful. The main character is a young woman of color and she, along with survivors, must learn to adapt in a world ruined by humanity’s excesses. It is one of my favorite novels, ever, and Butler is one of Junot Diaz’s favorite authors too. And if you don’t know who Junot Diaz is either, god have mercy on your soul.
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin:
I started reading James Baldwin when I was in junior-high, and although I wasn’t at the intellectual level to understand everything he was trying to convey, I still felt an urge to keep exploring, and to try and comprehend each and every word. The Fire Next Time is a non-fiction piece by him and is written as part lesson about American racism and life to his nephew and part meditation on what it means to be a black man, especially someone trying to understand one’s place at the height of the civil rights movement.
The Making of Asian American: A History by Erika Lee:
Again, if you’re unfamiliar with Asian-American history, this is the perfect option. Erika Lee is an amazing historian and she somehow manages to convey the complexity of the Asian and Asian-American experience in just under 400 pages. She does this by dedicating separate chapters for different groups, i.e. a chapter on South Asians and another on Southeast Asians. But none of the chapters are disjointed. In fact, while you learn about the partial histories of each group, you begin to see the bigger picture: what it means to be Asian-American is constantly evolving.