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“There is enormous amounts of energy directed at the streets, and I’m just so thankful for it,” said Lazard. Credit: Pete Rosos

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.

How to Be Anti-Racist, by Ibram X. Kendi 

The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime and the Making of Modern Urban America, by Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics and Big Business Re-Create Race in the Twenty-First Century, by Dorothy Roberts

Notes of a Native Son, by James Baldwin

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, by Ibram X. Kendi 

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

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Azucena Rasilla

Azucena Rasilla is an East Oakland native, a bilingual journalist reporting in Spanish and in English, and a longtime reporter on Oakland arts, culture and community. As an independent local journalist, she has reported for KQED Arts, The Bold Italic, Zora and The San Francisco Chronicle. She was a writer and social media editor for the East Bay Express, helping readers navigate Oakland’s rich artistic and creative landscapes through a wide range of innovative digital approaches.