I am foregoing a normal post this week because the events of the past two weeks mean that now is not the time for me to fill the air with anecdotes from my reading life.
Last night I was talking with my partner about the limits of truly understanding what it means to live as a person of color within a violently racist system. And it’s a good reminder. But I realized that I do believe in the power of books to increase empathy and knowledge, whether that be through picking up a practical read such as How to Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, a memoir such as The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom, or a novel such as Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler. And so I filled our social media this week with books by black authors that have shaped and changed me. I urge everyone to read some of those books or others, purchased if a book by a living author, ideally from a black-owned or other independent bookstore.
And I close with these words from James Baldwin, which should be a call to empathy for white people in particular:
“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was Dostoevsky and Dickens who taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who ever had been alive. Only if we face these open wounds in ourselves can we understand them in other people.”