Intimidating Reads

I’ve been thinking a lot about what constitutes an intimidating read lately.

I’m currently in a reading slump and right now, I would consider most things to be intimidating. This isn’t to say that there aren’t books that I find interesting or exciting or that I want to read, it’s just that there is no motivation, desire, or ability to actually read anything. I just reread a book that I loved this year, Beach Read, because I had the audiobook from my library and I wanted to participate in a bit of an escape. This escape was initially because of Covid and feeling out of sorts… but things have changed since I had an enjoyable time reading about people falling in love.

Normally, I would consider a big book (a lot of pages, long chapters) intimidating. The idea of there just being so. much. book. overwhelming. Add a high fantasy or hard sci-fi setting and that just makes it more intimidating. Hi Priory of the Orange Tree, I promise I will read you one day, I really really want to. I also think really hyped or disliked books can be intimidating. Everyone loves this book? Oh man, I hope I do too. Everyone hates this book? But what will that mean if I love it? Nonfiction books can also be intimidating to me. Will they be full of jargon that I don’t know or understand? Will the content of the book go over my head and it will just make me feel embarrassed for not understanding or knowing what it’s saying? These questions can be enough to turn me away from perfectly good books, and books that I could very well love and enjoy.

As of this moment, I think there is another type of book that can feel intimidating. Books written by black authors. Specifically books about the black experience and systemic racism in America. I’ve read a few in the past and found them powerful and full of eye and heart opening experiences. I’ve read even more articles and blog posts and tweets about the black experience and have gained a large amount of empathy and understanding and an education that I never had from my schooling at any level.

As a white person, it is my duty to educate myself on my privilege and learn to fight against the systems in place that give me favor over people with darker skin. I’ve been on that journey my whole life, with different levels of intensity and awareness, and it will be a lifelong journey that I will be on. I can never become complacent with where I’m at in my education process because that’s me falling back on privilege, using it as a way out to not confront the things about myself, my friends, my family, my community, my workplace that are wrong. White people cannot rely on black people to educate us on racism, inequality, and privilege, that’s not their job. Our job is to do the work, the hard work, and listen when we misunderstand or get something wrong. BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) individuals are not tour guides on the journey to enlightenment. Their stories however are essential, vitally important to understanding the personal impact of the systems of abuse.

This is where memoirs, novels, essays, vlogs, and blogs come into play. There are a few resources out there written by white people that can bring you into the journey if you’re resistant, scared, uncertain, or struggling with accepting your personal privilege, White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo is one I would recommend. But I urge and insist that you read from black authors to truly understand what it is that they go through every single day. I’m going to provide links to lists of books that you can read and you can either buy them from black owned bookstores (I will provide that information as well) or you can rent them from your library digitally. If you cannot afford to donate money, donate your time to understanding why all of this is happening. This is peaceful protesting in response to repeated police violence. It is important to know why it’s happening and what we can do to prevent any more deaths of innocent black people.

And remember, Pride is a riot that was started by a trans black woman, we owe all the amazing things we have now to Marsha P. Johnson and her bravery for standing up against the police who brutalized her and other members of the queer community. She didn’t do it alone and neither should the people protesting today.

Lists of books to read

Published by keelinrita

A Chicago girl with a lot of feelings about fictional people.

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