This year has shown a massive rise in support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the greater fight for equality, reflecting the growing opinion that the United States may not be so free after all. Protests exploded across the nation after George Floyd, an African American male, died at the hands of police officers in Minnesota.
Floyd, however, hasn’t been the only person to experience the use of excessive force used by law enforcement; the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and Jayne Thompson are a few of the ones to follow.
Racism in the U.S. has led to hate crimes throughout the nation’s history. Schools teach students about Emmet Till, a boy was lynched in 1955 over false claims that he sexually assaulted a white woman in the grocery store.
Yet, minority groups continue to be the most likely to be the victim of a hate crime.
In February, Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, was killed in a South Georgia neighborhood while on a jog. According to the New York Times, case documents show that Gregory and Travis McMichael allegedly pursued Arbery, attacked him physically and verbally, and ended the assault with three fatal shots to end Arbery’s life. The McMichaels have not been convicted.
Reflecting the experiences of minorities throughout American history, authors across the country aim to serve as a voice for the voiceless, and bring justice for any that are killed unjustly.
The following three books will provide a deeper view of systematic racism, racial discrimination, and white privilege, highlighting the experience of facing prejudice in America.
“Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult
Tackling themes like ethics, racism, hate, fear and grief, the reader is initially introduced to a black labor and delivery nurse, Ruth, when she faces accusation of killing white supremacists’ baby. With the parents choosing to press charges against Ruth, she must fight to prove her innocence and stay alive.
“Sometimes, things are spun to put the blame on a single group of people, which is completely unfair. Truly, this is a book that will make you rethink everything you used to think about race, and how you view it,” Camillia Dass, writer and contributor for the Youth.SG. Wrote.
Dass refers to the book as engaging, mentioning the text’s ability to allow readers to place themselves in the shoes of the various characters, question their thoughts, or consider how they would act if faced with the same problems.
“The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas” by Anand Giridharadas
“The True American” deals with racism, patriotism, faith, perseverance, forgiveness and death.
The book starts off by submerging the reader into the life of a Bangladeshi immigrant, Raisuddin “Rais” Bhuiyan, and his journey to the United States. It then shifts to tell the life story of an American white supremacist, Mark Stroman. Although both come from distinctively different worlds, their lives collided in an instant of confrontation.
Following the terrorist attacks on World Trade Center in New York City on Sept.11, 2001 Stroman nearly kills Rais at his work due to his ethnicity. The book then details the distinctive lives of both men after the hate crime.
“It’s a story of how American freedom and individuality comes with both costs and benefits, and how American society continues to fail those born at a disadvantage, offering them far too few options for escaping their circumstances,” Matthew Duss, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace in Washington, DC, wrote.
“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas
Focusing on issues including racism, police brutality, power, loyalty and poverty, the book was made into a major motion picture for its stance on the reoccurring deaths of unarmed people of color by police.
Following 16-year-old Starr Carter, the story tells the aftermath of Starr witnessing a police officer shoot her childhood friend for holding a hair brush. Starr is then put through the pressure of having to testify in court on behalf of her friend’s memory, conducting interviews, and navigating the world as a young Black girl in a town that had erupted in protest and unrest.
Starr must decide what she believes in and stand up for what is right, ultimately learning to face confrontation as she navigates living in both the “hood” and attending a school for rich white teens.
“Those who read ‘The Hate U Give’ will be right beside Starr, grappling with understanding entrenched prejudice, where it comes from, and what role she, and those at home, have in exposing and combatting it,” Anna Diamond, a former editorial fellow at The Atlantic, wrote.
As tension continues to grow in the U.S., these are only a handful of texts that aim to help readers develop a deeper understanding of the experiences of people of color living across the nation today.