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Riveting New Books to Read in 2021 About Race in America

Riveting New Books to Read in 2021 About Race in America

.This seems like an auspicious moment to engage in reflection, conversation and active listening about race in America. Every time we think we’ve reached a peak in terms of urgency for this to occur, a new incident reminds us that there is a lot of really difficult work ahead of us. Difficult days. Tough conversations. Hard lessons to learn – or re-learn. In that spirit, our correspondent Abbie Martin Greenbaum has curated a list of riveting new books to read in 2021 about race and the black experience in America, including memoirs, essays, histories and novels.. So much has already been said – and yet this new crop of books has lessons and wisdom that we all really need.

Riveting New Books to Read in 2021 About Race in America

Race and racial justice are topics at the forefront of the national conversation right now. We are less than a week away from Martin Luther King Jr. Day and two weeks from the beginning of Black History Month. The first black woman will be sworn into office as Vice President in just a few days. And we are all grappling with the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol last week, and what it says about who we are as Americans. And who we want to be.

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With all of these factors in mind, we thought it was important to share some newly-published books about race in America. You don’t need us to tell you about the first volume of Former President Barack Obama’s memoirs, A Promised Land. But you may not have heard about some of these other new releases.

May they help us all re-commit to continuing the work. To making a difference. To getting just a little bit closer to the nation we want to be.

1. Time to Teach by Julian Bond.

 

We begin our list of recommended new books to read about race in America with  lessons from one of the legends of the Civil Rights Movement. Horace Julian Bond was a professor, a politician, and one of the significant leaders of the fight for racial justice in America. Having helped establish the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he also acted as the chairman of the NAACP. He served multiple terms in both the Georgia House of Representatives and the Georgia State Senate.

Time to Teach: A History of the Southern Civil Rights Movement is comprised of the lecture notes from his class at the University of Virginia on the civil rights movement. Read to experience a piece of his brilliant teachings, and see his words on the Civil Rights Act, Selma, the March on Washington, and many other momentous events – Publication date: January 12, 2021

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2. You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar.

 

Amber Ruffin is a writer and performer with Late Night with Seth Meyers. Her sister, Lacey Lamar, still lives in their home state of Nebraska. Together, in You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism, they share the “entertainingly horrifying” incidents of racism Lacey endures on a regular basis. They account for the ridiculousness of these scenarios, while never downplaying the significance of them. Whether the contents read as shocking or as relatable, this co-authored work has something of value to share – Publication date: January 12, 2021

3. Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas.

 

The bestselling novelist revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give in Concrete Rose. In this new novel about race in America, we experience a searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood – Publication date: January 12, 2021

4. The Devil You Know by Charles M. Blow.

 

The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto is the latest from the acclaimed New York Times columnist. It was years in the making, informed by the distant past and by the unimaginable events of the past 12 months. He uses his own experiences and political observations to correct misunderstandings about race and the black experience in America. The book is Blow’s call to action, laying out a comprehensive road to equality as he sees it – Publication date: January 26, 2021

5. Four Hundred Souls by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain.

 

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 is slated to become one of the most significant books of the year. Ninety writers come together to share the task, each of them taking on a different five-year period from the last four hundred years.

The perspective shifts from writer to writer, looking at history through the lens of historic icons. Important places. Laws passed. And through the eyes of ordinary people. Together the sum of these parts tells the history of African-Americans through the past four centuries, while also rejecting the notion of a monolithic experience – Publication date: February 2, 2021

6. The Three Mothers by Anna Malaika Tubbs.

 

The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation is the untold stories of Alberta King, Louise Little, and Berdis Baldwin. It’s a celebration of Black motherhood, and an account of how these three extraordinary women, born at the beginning of the 20th century, managed to raise three such extraordinary sons – Publication date: February 2, 2021

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7. The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee.

 

Economics expert McGhee has written a book that is destined to break new ground. In The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper, she examines the ways in which racism is at the root of nearly all of America’s economic failures, ranging from the financial crisis to student debt. In order to demonstrate her point, she travels from Mississippi to California. And counts the ways in which racism has cost both white and non-white people more than they ever could have imagined – Publication date: February 16, 2021

8. #SayHerName by Kimberlé Crenshaw.

 

With a forward by Janelle Monae, #SayHerName: Black Women’s Stories of State Violence and Public Silence is a powerful collection. In it, you’ll find the stories of Black women who have been brutalized by law enforcement officers and judicial system. Among the names are Breonna Taylor, Tanisha Anderson, Shantel Davis, and so many others. This feminist text expands on the #SayHerName movement. And offers guidance on community mobilization towards racial justice – Publication date: February 16, 2021

9. Punch Me Up to the Gods by Brian Broome.

 

In his memoir Punch Me Up to the Gods, Brian Broome lays bare what it was like to come of age as a not-straight, dark-skinned Black boy in Ohio. Readers should look forward to Broome’s essays dissecting race, masculinity, and addiction. It is a book that works to capture the trials of his youth – Publication date: May 18, 2021

10. How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith III.

 

How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America guides the reader through a written tour of landmarks and monuments. Illuminating the way each does and does not tell the true story of history. In doing so, he illustrates the way the past is visible in every part of the present. And the way slavery’s legacy is apparent in places we may see every day – Publication date: June 1, 2021

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11. Chasing Me to My Grave by Winfred Rembert, as told to Erin I. Kelly.

new books about race 2021

New books about race in America, including memoirs, essays, histories and novels.

Chasing Me to My Grave: An Artist’s Memoir of the Jim Crow South is a must-read. Using words and paintings, this memoir captures the story of Winfred Rembert’s life. We hear his stories about growing up in a family of field laborers in Georgia.  Joining the Civil Rights Movement. And surviving a near-lynching. Rembert’s art can be viewed at galleries around the country, and here it adds a vivid realism to the narrative of his life – Publication date: August 3, 2021

12. How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America by Kiese Laymon.

 

new books about race 2021

New books about race in America, including memoirs, essays, histories and novels.

In How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, the author of Heavy has published a revised collection with thirteen essays. It includes six new to this edition and seven from the original publication.

13. Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho.

 

new books about race 2021

New books about race in America, including memoirs, essays, histories and novels.

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man builds on the author’s hit video series. In it, he takes on tough questions that many Americans who are not Black are afraid to ask. In his own words, he provides a space of compassion and understanding for tough and vital discussions about racism in America.

14. The Black Church by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

 

new books about race 2021

New books about race in America, including memoirs, essays, histories and novels.

We finish our suggested list of new books to read about race in America with a new release from a widely acclaimed author. About a core element of life in the Black community. In The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song, the acclaimed professor of African-American Studies shares a new history of the Black church in America. The church has stood as the Black community’s abiding rock and its fortress for generations. In this companion book to the PBS series that will run in February, we learn why – Publication date: February 16, 2021

Riveting New Books to Read in 2021 About Race in America

That’s our roundup. Some of the best new books to read in 2021 about race and the black experience in America, including memoirs, essays, histories and novels. What’s at the top of your reading list, dear reader?

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Abbie Martin Greenbaum grew up in New York City and currently lives in Brooklyn, where she drinks a lot of coffee and matches roommates together for a living. At Oberlin College, she studied English and Cinema, which are still two of her favorite things, along with dessert and musical theater. She believes in magic.

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