Reading as Resistance

Jun 10, 2020

As a librarian, it’s been heartening to see so many people sharing reading lists in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. For those who identify strongly as readers, the act of reading is more than entertainment; it can be a path to understanding and sense-making.  

Reading diversely is also one way to amplify black voices. For those of you wondering where to start, Tulsa’s soon-to-open Fulton Street Books is offering an Ally box subscription. Each box includes two books, curated resources, and suggested action steps for allies and those seeking to become allies. I’ve placed my order, and I am looking forward to reading these titles and engaging with others around the conversations that they spark. 

I’ve been facilitating a book club for the last two and half years, and our stated purpose is to read books that encourage us to see beyond our own perspectives, confront our biases, and explore the complex, and multi-layered nature of identity. We’ve tried to create a space for honest, brave conversations that allow for transformation. No doubt, it is the epitome of privilege to be able to read about injustice rather than to experience it. But my hope is that through reading and discussions, we take action steps toward social change. 

It may seem odd to list reading as a way to make change. After all, reading is typically done in solitude. But I’m not sure I’ve met anyone who hasn’t been changed from reading James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Colson Whitehead, or Jessmyn Ward. Reading can begin powerful internal transformation. It also makes us own the responsibility to do our own homework.

Class is always in session. When you’re ready to enroll, here are a few lists that my amazing Tulsa City-County Library colleagues put together. 

Tear it down: White privilege, implicit bias, and racial profiling

Anti-racism and Activism: When They Call You a Terrorist

1921 and Today: Building Empathy Through Fiction

Listening and learning: Anti-racism

Children’s books for anti-racist activism