It’s Black History month, a time to remind myself that I am a white middle-aged, middle-class, male. I live in a rural suburb of one of the whitest states in the U.S. I am the embodiment of white privilege.
I would not say that I struggle with the guilt of my position, but I do struggle to understand other perspectives. An African American friend of mine, (really he was born in Nigeria, but his parents both are US citizens) explained it to me like this.
“You have the optimism of a white guy because in your head your default setting is that everything will work out in the end. Because for you, it always does, and historically always has. The personal narrative genetically encoded in your pigment has reinforced that forever. That is not an optimism that works for me/us. The narrative I am wired to hear is a cautionary tale at its best.”
However scientifically questionable, I like the idea of genetically encoded narratives and absolutely believe that we are shaped by the stories we live. So, in an effort to adding broader spectrum to the stories we share with our students, here is an updated list of GREAT books that focus on lives of those with a narrative of a different color.
What is not listed here are the books that I read with more adult eyes.
- The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Go Set the Watchman by Harper Lee