HMDT staff share books and articles by black and mixed-race voices that they have been reading. With topics including the history of the British Empire and personal testimony of anti-black racism, this selection of writing offers opportunities to better understand the experiences of black people.
A Black Lives Matter protest in London, June 2020. Credit: Katie Crampton (WMUK) (CC BY-SA).
The Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd have sparked renewed conversations about anti-black racism and the steps we must all take to create a fairer, more equal world.
But whilst the conversation has been reinvigorated, the issues themselves are far from new. Systemic, insidious racism against black people has poisoned our world for centuries. On Holocaust Memorial Day, for example, we remember the persecution of black people by the Nazis in the 1930s.
In the face of large-scale, systemic prejudice, we can all take a practical and important step and educate ourselves, and be better allies to black people facing prejudice and discrimination.
With topics including the history of the British Empire and personal testimony of anti-black racism, here are a selection of books and articles by black and mixed-race voices which members of the HMDT staff team have read and would like to share.
My White Friend Asked Me on Facebook to Explain White Privilege. I Decided to Be Honest – Lori Lakin Hutcherson
Recommended by Rachel
‘It is so important to hear from black people, rather than trying to guess (or worse assume I know) how they are feeling or what they’ve experienced. This article is written by Lori Lakin Hutcherson in an open, honest, and helpful way. It’s incredibly sad how much she’s faced that her non-black peers haven’t, and don’t. An eye-opening article.’
Beloved – Toni Morrison
Shared by Claudia
‘This is a heart-breaking novel, set in the USA in 1873, which focuses on a mother and daughter rebuilding their lives after escaping slavery. It explores themes of grief, love and trauma in a community where families were violently broken up for generations.’
Natives: Race & Class in the Ruins of Empire – Akala
Shared by Laura
‘Akala explains Britain’s racist history and how it is erased and ignored by our education system, unacceptably creating ignorance as adults. He highlights that we read and regurgitate descriptive language that may be seemingly neutral but is informed by deep-held conscious and unconscious assumptions based on how we perceive someone’s race.’
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
Shared by Gen
‘I love Maya Angelou’s poetry, and am currently reading the first part of her memoir. It opens with memories of her childhood in a deeply racist and segregated town in Arkansas in the 1930s. As well as the recent articles and contemporary books about black history, this deeply personal account of one black woman’s experiences is an important read. While lots of widely recommended books (like Reni Eddo-Lodge’s brilliant Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race) are currently out of stock at most bookshops, Angelou’s moving and beautifully written memoir can be found fairly easily and cheaply.’
Girl, Woman, Other – Bernadine Evaristo
Shared by Eva
‘I recently finished Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo. The book is centred on twelve mostly black female characters. The interlinking stories feature twelve very different women, with distinct struggles and lives. Each of the stories presents an alternative experience of feminism and race identity but finds common threads to link them all.
‘I also reread this piece by Gary Younge from a few months ago, which resonates now more than ever.’
In articles on the HMDT website we highlight topics relevant to our work in Holocaust and genocide education and commemoration. We hear from a variety of guest contributors who provide a range of personal perspectives on issues relevant to them, including those who have experienced state-sponsored persecution and genocide. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of HMDT.