DULUTH, Minn. -- For Northlanders looking to educate themselves about racism, privilege and equity, there’s a sea of titles to choose from — but there could be a delay on some.
Titles such as “White Fragility” and “How to Be An Antiracist” are holding steady in the New York Times best seller list in nonfiction. And, local book sellers are seeing a similar demand locally.
It’s common to pull together titles and a display that mirrors current events and rites of passage, such as graduation season or the anniversary of the Duluth lynchings, said Anna Stangl, The Bookstore at Fitger’s assistant manager
Currently, customers are asking for books to educate themselves and to help them talk to their kids about race.
Stanglrecently re-read “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo. It’s a relatable and approachable book that creates an avenue to talk about something as deep and heavy as race and racism.
A big takeaway for her: “It’s not a black person’s job to tell us white people what to do or how to fix the systemic racism that we benefit from. You have to find your own way.”
Stangl shared these other helpful titles and top sellers.
“A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota” by Sun Yung Shin.
“Slavery's Reach: Southern Slaveholders in the North Star State” by Christopher P. Lehman.
“The Lynchings in Duluth” by Michael Fedo.
“Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race” by Debby Irving.
“The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America” by Richard Rothstein.
Teen and young adults
“Stamped from the Beginning” by Ibram X. Kendi.
“Genesis Begins Again” by Alicia D. Williams.
“Blended” by Sharon Draper.
“Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” by Beverly Daniel Tatum.
“Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights” by Rob Sanders and Jared Andrew Schorr.
“A Ride to Remember: A Civil Rights Story” by Amy Nathan and Sharon Langley. “It’s a fun one to read with kids to get really into the discussion of why people are protesting,” Stangl said.
Learn more about the bookstore online at fitgersbookstore.com.
In West Duluth, there was always sort of a general interest in titles regarding race education, but Zenith Bookstore has seen the surge.
The New York Times nonfiction best seller list has been predominantly black authors for the past few weeks, and these books are already in their multiple reprintings because so many people are looking for them.
“It’s blown my mind,” said Zenith Bookstore manager Nikki Silvestrini.
The first books Silvestrini read about race were “Stamped” and “How to Be an Antiracist,” both by Ibram X. Kendi. These works laid out ways to process and have conversations about race and racism, she said.
Other standouts address the intersectionality of race, “Sister Outsider” by Audre Lorde and “The Tradition” by Jericho Brown, along with Jacqueline Woodson’s books “Red at the Bone” by “Harbor Me.”
“Most of the books I’ve read are really about empathy, respecting other people and respecting their struggle. It’s also about listening and identifying your blind spots and how to move on from them to help promote anti-racism,” Silvestrini said.
Learn more about the bookstore online at zenithbookstore.com.
“Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge.
“Citizen: An American Lyric,” by Claudia Rankine.
“Big Black: Stand at Attica” by Frank "Big Black" Smith.
“Don't Call Us Dead” by Danez Smith.
“The End of Policing” by Alex Vitale.
“An African American and Latinx History of the United States” by Paul Ortiz.
“My Grandmother's Hands” by Resmaa Menakem.
“I'm Still Here” by Austin Channing Brown.
“How We Fight for Our Lives” by Saeed Jones.
“When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Memoir” by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele.
Teen and young adults
“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning” by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds. This looks at historical and current systemic oppression of black people in America, how to identify it within yourself and what you can do from there, Silvestrini said. “It’s really digestible, easy to read, one that’s selling well and a good start for kids. … It’s hopeful in addition to being educational.”
“Dear Martin” by Nic Stone is a good companion piece to “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, Silvestrini said.
“This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work” by Tiffany Jewell. Silvestrini recommends this for teens because it encourages introspection and empowerment.
“Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice” by Elizabeth Acevedo, Mahogany L. Browne, and Olivia Gatwood is a collection of works by different women of color on dissemination, empathy and activism.
“I Am Alfonso Jones” by Tony Medina.
“Genesis Begins Again” by Alicia D. Williams.
“The Undefeated” by Kwame Alexander.
“A is for Activist” by Innosanto Nagara. It’s an ABC book that talks about community, justice and activism on a basic level — and the illustrations are so much fun, Silvestrini said.
“Let's Talk About Race” by Julius Lester is a solid primer to introducing children to these concepts, Silvestrini said.
“Sulwe” by Lupita Nyong'o looks at colorism from the lens of a young girl who has really dark skin. It touches on bullying, prejudice, how that can be internalized — along with the message self-love and celebrating uniqueness, she said.
“Ghost Boys” by Jewell Parker Rhodes illustrates the aftermath of a policeman’s shooting death of a young black boy through the perspective of the boy as a ghost. It follows the ripple effect of the murder to the officer’s family and the community, and it traces back to the death of Emmett Till. “I love how she approaches these subjects and creates a point of entry for discussion for kids,” Silvestrini said.
Introducing APRES zine
On Monday, Jordon Moses and Terresa Moses of Blackbird Revolt released APRES Zine.
The digital guide lists ways to support, organize and move toward social change in your community. Suggestions run the gamut from building meaningful relationships with your neighbors and how to become an abolitionist.
Blackbird Revolt is a social justice-based studio offering work in branding, graphic design, videography and more.
The 60-page zine was originally in honor of Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie, three black circus workers who were accused of rape and lynched by a mob 100 years in downtown Duluth. After the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the zine changed, according to Blackbird Revolt’s website.
APRES, meaning “after” in French, shifted gears to content “for those who may be stuck, lost, curious, and ready to move. … for folks who may not yet be embedded in work dedicated to continuously shifting our communities to places of healing and shared power."