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Disarm White Supremacy

August 23, 2017

This is a guest post by Becky Jaffe.

One way to disarm the dangerous ideology of white supremacy is to teach and learn Black history inside and outside of the classroom. Here is a personal list I compiled from my own collection of books and documentaries I would like to share with you. I have arranged the order of the titles into a poem in homage to these freedom writers. The first version of the poem omits the authors, while the second version includes authors and clickable links for more information on each title and author.

Please add your own inspirational thinkers in the comments below. Let us not give an ideological inch to the white nationalists in the white house.

A Black History Curriculum in Poem Form:

Country of My Skull
Things Fall Apart
How Europe Underdeveloped Africa
Cry, The Beloved Country
An African Elegy

Life Upon These Shores
To Be a Slave
To Kill a Mockingbird
My Bondage and My Freedom
Black Skin, White Masks
Their Eyes Were Watching God
The Half Has Never Been Told
Tales of Tenderness and Power
The Poisonwood Bible
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Weep Not, Child
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Parting the Waters
Up From Slavery
Native Son
Invisible Man
Hidden Figures
Ain’t I a Woman?
I Am Not Your Negro

Between the World and Me
Eyes on the Prize
You Must Set Forth At Dawn
Long Walk to Freedom
Long Night’s Journey Into Day
The Audacity of Hope
Naming Our Destiny
Astonishing the Gods
I, Too, Am America
A Raisin in the Sun
The Souls of Black Folk
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight

We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For
Anything We Love Can Be Saved

Here is the same poem with the authors included and clickable links for each title:

Kindred by Octavia Butler
Roots by Alex Haley
Country of My Skull by Antje Krog
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney
Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
An African Elegy by Ben Okri

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi
Life Upon These Shores by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
To Be a Slave by Julius Lester
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass
Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fanon
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
The Half Has Never Been Told by Edward E. Baptist
Tales of Tenderness and Power by Bessie Head
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs
Weep Not, Child by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch
Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington
Native Son by Richard Wright
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Ain’t I a Woman? By Sojourner Truth
I Am Not Your Negro – James Baldwin documentary

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Eyes on the Prize documentary
You Must Set Forth At Dawn by Wole Soyinka
Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
Long Night’s Journey Into Day – documentary
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
Naming Our Destiny by June Jordan
Astonishing the Gods by Ben Okri
I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
Unbowed by Wangari Maathai
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller

We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For by Alice Walker
Anything We Love Can Be Saved by Alice Walker

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Halit Nebi Gursoy
    August 23, 2017 at 10:55 am

    Excellent! Job well done.


  2. August 23, 2017 at 11:10 am

    It hurts to not see any James Baldwin. My favorite is either Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone or Another Country.


    • Becky Jaffe
      August 23, 2017 at 11:19 am

      I Am Not Your Negro is a documentary film about James Baldwin. He’s indispensable in any curriculum. Thanks for your addition.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Becky Jaffe
        August 23, 2017 at 11:20 am

        My two favorites of Baldwin’s are The Fire Next Time and Giovanni’s Room.


  3. August 23, 2017 at 11:53 am

    I would add a lot more books to that.

    (if you don’t want to read all the ones listed below, just read CLOTEL which is a truly fascinating novel, based on the story of Thomas Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemmings, originally published in England in 1853. This is the first novel every published by an African American. I also highly recommend The Hidden Wound by Wendell Berry.)


    Clotel, Or, The President’s Daughter by William Wells Brown, originally published 1853 – This is the first novel published by an African American (it was published in England because no one would publish it in the US.) There were several versions of this book, some watered down later so that people would publish it in the U.S.

    Clotel summary is here – http://www.upress.virginia.edu/content/clotel-william-wells-brown-electronic-scholarly-edition

    Clotel – I recommend this edition – https://www.amazon.com/Presidents-Daughter-American-History-Literature/dp/1563248042

    Our Nig, or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, by Harriet E. Wilson, originally published 1859 – https://www.amazon.com/Our-Nig-Sketches-Life-Black/dp/0307477452

    The Bondswoman’s Narrative, A Novel, by Hannah Crafts (edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.), this novel dates back to to the 1850’s but it was never published at that time. It’s first publication was in 2002. It’s the only known novel written by an African American woman and is possibly the first novel ever written by a black woman – https://www.amazon.com/Bondwomans-Narrative-Hannah-Crafts/dp/0446690295

    David Walker’s Appeal (To the Colored Citizens of the World, but in particular, and very expressly, to those of The United States), originally published 1829. This edition has an excellent intro – https://www.amazon.com/David-Walkers-Appeal-Particular-Expressly/dp/0809015811/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1503501181&sr=8-2&keywords=david+walker%27s+appeal

    Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, originally published 1845 – https://www.amazon.com/Narrative-Life-Frederick-Douglass/dp/0486284999/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1503501276&sr=1-1&keywords=narrative+of+the+life+of+frederick+douglass

    The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Eqiano, or, Gustavus Vassa, The African; originally published 1789 – https://www.amazon.com/Interesting-Narrative-Olaudah-Gustavus-African/dp/1499629605/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1503501811&sr=1-1&keywords=the+interesting+narrative+of+the+life+of+olaudah+equiano


    ***CAUTION on the FOLLOWING which are retellings of slave stories transcribed by others. The writers biases are sometimes subtle and sometimes more apparent. REQUIRES deeper reading***

    The History of Mary Prince, originally published 1831. This is the first narrative of a black woman published in England – https://www.amazon.com/History-Mary-Prince-Penguin-Classics/dp/0140437495/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503501431&sr=8-1&keywords=the+history+of+mary+prince

    Narrative of Sojourner Truth, originally published 1850 – https://www.amazon.com/Narrative-Sojourner-Truth-Penguin-Classics/dp/0140436782/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1503501665&sr=1-2&keywords=narrative+of+sojourner+truth

    God Struck Me Dead; Voices of Ex-Slaves – https://www.amazon.com/God-Struck-Me-Dead-Ex-Slaves/dp/1610970470/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1503500914&sr=1-1&keywords=god+struck+me+dead


    The Hidden Wound, by Wendell Berry, originally published 1970 – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/227313.The_Hidden_Wound


    Middle Passage, by Charles Johnson, originally published 1990. Winner of the National Book Award – https://www.amazon.com/Middle-Passage-Charles-Johnson/dp/0684855887

    One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life — A Story of Race and Family Secrets, published 2008 – https://www.amazon.com/One-Drop-Fathers-Life-Secrets/dp/0316008060

    I could go on and on and on, but I have to get back to work…


  4. Lulu Cafe
    August 23, 2017 at 11:54 am

    Family by California Cooper (novel), The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe (play) – Have used both for high school.


  5. August 23, 2017 at 11:55 am

    EDIT on Bondswoman’s Narrative, my write-up should read “…it’s the only known novel written by an African American woman who was a slave”


  6. dmf
    August 24, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    the nascent field of cognitive-biases at least complicates this (as does examples like Stephen Miller current whitehouse troll) as pushing such materials (good stuff for sure) on people already predisposed to think otherwise is generally ineffective and often counterproductive (see all the attempts at teaching evolution, global warming, and or sex ed for example), when you see the how most civil rights have been gained in this country (US) it has been hard fought for political victories where minorities (or in the case of women the disenfranchised but still not a majority of women at the time they one modern rights) have leveraged courts and elected officials to force majorities to come around, not perfect of course (see how segregated schools, neighborhoods, etc remain) but in a deeply racialized crony capitalist system like we (see for example the excellent book Merchants of Doubt) have one does what one can.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. September 11, 2017 at 1:27 am

    I met Octavia Butler by accident at a book signing that was scheduled during a canceled rockumentary…She was wonderful to listen to. Glad I met her. I was sorry to hear how she passed.


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