Since the George Floyd incident I have, like many other, thinking a lot about race. I have also since then been trying to educate myself on race issues, especially the race issues in America. I have done this by reading a lot of books and articles about race. I want to go beyond the short infographics on Instagram and really try to understand the systemic racism in America. However, during this time I have started to think back on previous books that I have read that bring up race thematically. These are three books that I read before the recent resurgence of the BLM movement, that have made me critically think about race:
Can I first just say that Adichie does not get the recognition she deserves, all her pieces of work are relevant and beautifully written. I have read a few pieces by her, but for some reason it is 'Purple Hibiscus' that stands out in my mind. When you mention Adichie and race, many will automatically think ‘Americanah’ (which is also a brilliant commentary on racial injustice) but for some reason my mind keeps falling back to ‘Purple Hibiscus’, particularly one line. Without giving anything away, there is a black professor who looks back at her time at Cambridge and she said they treated her as though she ‘was a monkey who had developed the ability to reason’. It was this line that really struck me, that this professor couldn’t even command respect from her white counterparts. Although this is a work of fiction, it has just made me think about the subtle biases in educational and professional life in relation to race.
I bought this book after attending a talk by the author, and when I read it I was not disappointed. Forewarning, this is a science book, it is meant to be about genetic research and it is. But, the way he argues about the honest stupidity of thinking there is some sort of ‘genetic difference’ between races, is just something I think everyone should read. It supports the science behind the anti-racist movement, and I think that alone means that it is worth a read.
This is also another work of fiction, but one that I can imagine is grounded in true stories. To me it just showed the subtle racism that needs to be combated. It is not an extraordinary story, and that’s the point, it shows follows two women in society, one white and the other black and how their interactions. It is well written and Ried does a fantastic job of showing some of the problems related to race in America.
I am so glad that this topic is getting the recognition it deserves, let me know what you think of the books.