’s new book explores racial prejudice through three perspectives: Ruth, a black nurse charged with the murder of a white supremacist’s baby; Turk, the white supremacist; and Kennedy, Ruth’s white public defender who, while well-intentioned, harbors racial biases of her own.
After last week's fiction and nonfiction pairing post, I couldn't stop thinking about how relevant this book is right now to our country and what nonfiction books would follow Picoult's book nicely.
Here are my picks:
Between the World and Me
by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Between the World and Me speaks to issues of race at a time when young black men continue to die at the hands of police officers with disturbing regularity. In this sense, Coates's book is quite timely. Moreover, his central thesis is deeply disturbing: "There is nothing uniquely evil in these destroyers or even in this moment. The destroyers are merely men enforcing the whims of our country, correctly interpreting its heritage and legacy." Some readers may shrink from such language, but his argument is as rhetorically sound as it is passionately delivered. "I cannot hide the world from you," Coates explains to his young son. Between the World and Me is an unrelentingly frank work expressed so perfectly that the truth of it resonates with every word.
Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead
by Frank Meeink
Frank’s violent childhood in South Philadelphia primed him to hate, while addiction made him easy prey for a small group of skinhead gang recruiters. By 16 he had become one of the most notorious skinhead gang leaders on the East Coast and by 18 he was doing hard time. Teamed up with African-American players in a prison football league, Frank learned to question his hatred, and after being paroled he defected from the white supremacy movement and began speaking on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League. A story of fighting the demons of hatred and addiction, Frank's downfall and ultimate redemption has the power to open hearts and change lives.
Waking Up White
by Debby Irving
By sharing her sometimes cringe-worthy struggle to understand racism and racial tensions, she offers a fresh perspective on bias, stereotypes, manners, and tolerance. As Irving unpacks her own long-held beliefs about colorblindness, being a good person, and wanting to help people of color, she reveals how each of these well-intentioned mindsets actually perpetuated her ill-conceived ideas about race. She also explains why and how she's changed the way she talks about racism, works in racially mixed groups, and understands the antiracism movement as a whole. Exercises at the end of each chapter prompt readers to explore their own racialized ideas. Waking Up White's personal narrative is designed to work well as a rapid read, a book group book, or support reading for courses exploring racial and cultural issues.
The New Jim Crow
by Michelle Alexander
With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a "call to action."