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As protests and conversations about police violence and systemic racism continue, many Oaklanders are looking to get more informed about the issues. Oakland Public Library branches have been physically closed since March thanks to the coronavirus—though a few branches will start offering sidewalk pickup on June 19—but OPL is still here to help.
The library offers over 600 e-books or audiobooks related to the Black Lives Matter movement, and a small selection of books available online categorized as being related to “anti-racism and white supremacy.”
We asked Dorothy Lazard, the head librarian of the Oakland Public Library’s History Center who’s beloved by many, to share her own curated list of books related to the current protest movement. Lazard’s family moved to Oakland in the 1960s, and she’s observed how protests have pushed for political change through the decades.
“This has been a long time coming. I can believe that this is long overdue, but every generation has its moment where they are completely fed up. Whether it’s Rodney King, or Martin Luther King, or Michael Brown, or Trayvon Martin, or Oscar Grant, where people are just fed up not only with the status quo but the ongoing violence directed at the African-American community,” she said. “In the context of this pandemic, there is enormous amounts of energy directed at the streets, and I’m just so thankful for it.”
Here is Lazard’s list of recommended reading for this moment in history. Other than How to be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi, all of her suggestions can be reserved as an e-book through the Oakland Public Library, and as of June 19, sidewalk pickup.
The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime and the Making of Modern Urban America, by Khalil Gibran Muhammad
Notes of a Native Son, by James Baldwin
Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Stamped: Racism, Anti Racism, and You, by Jason Reynolds (young adult version of the above title)
The Autobiography of Malcolm X (as told to Alex Haley)
Citizen: an American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo
The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
White Like Me: Race, Racism, and White Privilege, by Tim Wise
So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
Locking up our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, by James Forman, Jr.
Origin of Others, by Toni Morrison