How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi: This, by far, is one of the most challenging books I have ever read. The language used, the perspectives shared, and the unpacking of the historically engrained stories we tell ourselves to be found un-true. If I am to be completely honest I must say that I struggled to complete this book. I found the need to investigate each sentence in an attempt to fully understand the thoughts being conveyed. Even when finished I feel like I did not give this book the attention it deserved. Whereas, White Fragility, was a wakeup call this book is the follow-up that dives deep into how we got to where we are today in a racist North American culture which offers some strategies to shift perspectives if we wish to undo all of the bad we have done over the years.
A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler: A must read. A book about race, neighbours, family, lovers, and the relationships which exists among all of these intertwined elements. An intense and moving fictional image, which seems all too real given how society is unfolding daily around us. Although I can’t remember why I picked up this book, I am thankful that I did. Upon finishing the book I found myself contemplating some of the more important questions surrounding my everyday existence and how I interact with those I engage with. A highly recommended read.
Brother by David Chariandy: This book was the, OneBookOneLondon, read from a few years back. Had I read this work back when the rest of the community was I’m not certain I would have appreciated as much as I did today, or that it would have had the same impact as it has. While it is a work of fiction, it reads in many ways like a memoir of a young black man who great up in a suburb of Toronto. With all of the recent, race related, actions creating a watershed moment in society—both in North America and around the world—I couldn’t think of a better time to read this book. It’s themes are subtle but the realities that I can only imagine young black men face, and the challenges their mothers and families must overcome, are nothing but vivid and in some ways scary how real they feel. While not my favourite of all of the OneBookOneLondon reads, this one is worthwhile to read none the less.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo: Another race related read. What I struggle with most when I read books on this topic is what I can do, as a white male, to better the conditions of society for all BIPOC people, and society at large, without it coming across as tokenism. I’m still working on this. I appreciated that Oluo brought her personal experiences as a mother and the interactions she has with her children into the book. These examples helped to make the arguments in the book even more real.
They Said This Would Be Fun: Race, Campus Life, and Growing Up by Eternity Martis: One women’s commentary on life in London, Canada, and at Western University and all the racism it includes. Being from London myself, this read hit close to home and really resonated. While I am not a black woman, the challenges, fights, and indignities the author documents facing while a resident of my city and a student at my alma mater was hard for me to swallow but I couldn’t deny that what she outlined was anything but the truth. An important read for anyone that isn’t a visible minority, or visible minority alike. If anything, what I took away from this read is that I need to be more aware of the words I use and the actions I take—even if I do not have racist intentions, or believe that my words and actions are anything but genuine in intentions, there are likely to be some entrenched micro-aggressions within them and I need to be attentive to these while understanding not only their origins but how to remove them as best I can from all I do. If I have any criticism of this work it would be that it wasn’t long enough and didn’t go into adequate depth to have more of an impact.
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo: I’m not certain I have the words to express what I feel now that I have completed this read. The authors approach to putting such a charged and historically entrenched topic into perspective may not sit well with some. However, it’s an important topic regardless of opinion. Making a distinction between—being a racist and being complicit in racism—caught my attention early on in the book. While I would never label myself as a racist (does anyone actually call themselves this?) I certainly can see some of the ways which I contribute to ongoing racism. I still haven’t processed all of the thoughts I’ve had since reading this book, but know that this work certainly deserves another, closer read, with some guidance to fully unpack and appreciate what its offering.
The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline: The 2018/2019 pick for the One Book One London, collaborative reading campaign—The Marrow Theives is an easy, and unfortunately uneventful young fiction read. Although the themes throughout the book, about: belonging, community, culture, identity, race, relationships, and the unfortunate history which our current nation (Canada) was built upon, are important for their own reasons and the collective at large, I found the story line a repetitive at times and without the depth I would have like to have read. Given that this is a young adult read perhaps I shouldn’t hold much against it, and given that I haven’t been all that impressed with the previous year’s picks for the One Book One London campaign, it’s probably in-line with what I should have expected.