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Books on Empowering African Americans

“For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs – to the larger aspirations of all Americans — the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.” Obama Rally in Detroit, Michigan, July 23, 2008

Martin Luther King had a dream. That dream inspired and strengthened African Americans around the globe. Barack Obama is walking the walk Martin Luther King Jr. had also dreamed about—for African Americans to finally walk into the future like they walked into the past. As African Americans make our way into the future, we must prepare ourselves for the walk.

While African Americans are celebrating the recent victories of Senator Obama, which include the greatest number of African Americans ever in the US Senate, the reality of the African American struggle remains a major problem for black families and African Americans as a group. A recent report by the Congressional Joint Economic Committee found that for an African American household heading a household, the net worth is equivalent to a white family with over 42 years of median income. Black unemployment and African American poverty rates are at least twice the rates of whites and Latinos. We as a people are going backwards instead of forward. We are moving toward what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said were “creatures of despair” as opposed to moving toward “creatures of hope.”

Many of our young people are becoming more and more cynical about the issues and opportunities that are afforded to them. In this environment of despair there has been a great focus on selling toys and making commercials but not on real issues that face the African American community such as access to quality schools, jobs and the elimination of the negative socio-economic effects of the War on Drugs. It is clear that the time has come for us to begin to focus our attention on the issue of putting our community on the path of hope instead of the path of despair.

A Solution to Real Life

We need to tell African American stories that connect us to these hopes even when they can seem to be far fetched or hard to talk about. I am not talking about our being or becoming a part of a euphoric or utopian vision. I am rather talking about real life solutions to real life issues.

If we teach young people how to read a map, how to apply for a job, how to open checking account or how to invest for retirement before they read a single paragraph from a book by a black author, their lives would likely be very different.

If we teach young African Americans that the first dog and the first dog owner were both African Americans, and that Dr. King’s first dog was named Gabriel, their lives would likely be different.


Ways To Empower African Americans


1. Teach African American history

 I grew up in a time when studying African American history was about as interesting as watching my fingernails grow. That kind of study made me feel bad for African Americans and I wanted nothing to do with it. The typical way of teaching African American history presented African Americans in a very negative and second class light. The history was generally taught as a series of events in which African Americans played a very minor role.

Most of the time African American history was being taught in an Anglo-centric way. It was nothing more than a series of events like the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Great Depression—all of which involved whites in the mian role. In order to truly liberate African Americans, our children must learn the history of blacks in this country as they played the leading roles. One cannot be liberated from something from which they have never learned. It’s like asking someone to jump out of an airplane without a parachute if they have never been taught how to use one. It would be the same with African Americans without teaching them African American history.

If we teach our young people who we are and how we got here, they will be taking a journey that has never been taken before. Most African Americans have little idea of our history. In my many travels to schools I have met many African Americans in the Chicago area who have never learned about their history. When I ask African American students how many have been taught that Dr. King was a major force in the creation of Labor Day, I am usually met with low scores. This could be because many teachers find African American history boring. Think about this for a second. How could any child be interested in a history of people to whom they do not feel connected. If our history cannot muster the interest of African American children, then there’s something wrong with our history.

2. Teach African American literature

One of the things I love about cooking is the way that you can taste some things and smell some things and know exactly what you are doing. It’s the same way with playing the piano. You can hear what you are playing, and you can feel what you are doing. It’s the same way with listening to some novels and short stories. You can hear the ripeness of the rural characters. You can smell the smoke of the outdoor cooking during the summer. You can feel the jump and jolt in your head and in your body that comes with the quick line of sharper words that many of us try to have in our everyday language. It’s the same way with some of the poetry you hear.

 


Keepin’ It Real By Professor Elwood David Watson

This product was recommended by David B. Grinberg from Grinberg Global PR

All audiences can benefit from Dr. Watson’s astute analysis and important insights on recent controversial issues involving racial equality and social justice, especially due to the current national dialogue on race-related issues per the success of the Black Lives Matter movement. Watson deftly chronicles racism in contemporary society with a no-holds-barred approach which provides much needed transparency in today’s overly saturated digital and social media space. Watson strongly explains why most African Americans feel the way they do on contentious racial topics, ranging for white supremacy to reparations for slavery.


The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

This product was recommended by Nerissa Zhang from The Bright App

Truth, depth, struggle, and the story of how someone overcame is the basis for many empowering memoirs and The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish has all those elements. However, this book has something that many like it do not—hilarity that’ll have you deep belly laughing as you read. Tiffany Haddish tells the story of growing up in the foster care system, struggling in school, and how comedy helped her survive it all and ultimately find incredible success. Told in her own joyous and unapologetic voice, this memoir from Tiffany Haddish is a must-read book that will leave you feeling empowered and ready to live life on your own terms.


Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This product was recommended by Aaron Simmons from Test Prep Genie

Between the World and Me is a book-long essay about being black in America. The author Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote it for his teenage son to forewarn him of the plight that comes with facing white supremacy. He provides a detailed account of witnessing violence and police brutality while growing up in Baltimore, reflects on his time studying at historically black Howard University, and asks the hard questions about the past and future of race in America.


Sightseeing with Sandy by Shambrekia Wise

This product was recommended by Shambrekiá Wise from Sightseeing with Sandy

Sightseeing with Sandy is here to be your child’s telescope to the world. We know how important traveling is, but it’s not always attainable. We break this barrier by incorporating history, culture and most importantly, travel through this book series. We believe that children can be the pilot of their own journey, but some kids need a little help with how to dream. Sandy and Zooma are here to do just that!


The Souls of Black Folk By Dubois

This product was recommended by Jessica Miller from Bike Inquire

A landmark text charting the arc of Black life in America from the time of slavery to the early 20th century. Having been released over a century ago, the collection’s obviously dated, but it’s hard not to admire the way in which Du Bois swiftly cycles between social, cultural, political, and personal history, weaving together many threads into a compelling narrative.


Flygirl by Sherri Smith

This product was recommended by Faizan Fahim from Bookaapi

The book is set in the 1940s, and the protagonist wants to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots program. So she has to choose between abandoning her dreams or to lie about her race. She decides to lie about her race and pass as a white person. In the beginning, the book talks about race, but later, the protagonist struggles to be taken seriously as a woman. A woman lying about her race to join the air force to fight against Hitler is a compelling tale to read.


101 STEM Jokes By Orion Razat

This product was recommended by Imani Razat from rocketshipsquid

101 STEM Jokes, written by 10 year old Orion Razat, an African American boy, and a lover of STEM education, is a testament to the excellence that is possible when children are encouraged and supported in tandem by family and educators. Orion began writing his book in 2nd grade when his teacher asked him to write his jokes down instead of telling them during class. She agreed to provide a safe space for him to share his jokes with the class. 101 jokes and three years later he has produced a work that is inspiring to children everywhere. His mission was to make STEM more fun. The book features witty STEM puns, fun facts and activities. His Journey and book Have been celebrated By The Seattle Times Ignite Education Lab, Parent Map, Red Tricycle, STEM Spark, Black Girls Rock, Tacoma Public Library, among others.


The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Dubios

This product was recommended by Samantha Moss from Romantific

The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Dubios is the cornerstone of African American literature that contains essays on race. Its release has been used in the field of sociology because of its relevance to how the African American people see themselves and how they are perceived by others. Dubois creatively starts every chapter with a lyric to a song or a poem depicting the struggle of his race in the 20th century. I recommend this book for its thorough illustration of how the African American people struggled with getting an education, having a position in the society, and their values which connote how nation and race intersect. An intriguing book that was written in 1903 had condescending reviews but became the epitome of empowerment of race.


Love from the Vortex & Other Poems by Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz

This product was recommended by Yael R Rosenstock Gonzalez from Kaleidoscope Vibrations

Sealey-Ruiz’s collection of poetry is vulnerable, powerful, relatable, and hopeful as she charts the finding and losing of love over three decades. Her words lead to reflection, connection, and empowerment for those who fall into the vortex as is evident in the hundreds of reviews and testimonies across the internet.


Becoming by Michelle Obama

This product was recommended by Sonya Schwartz from Her Norm

In this book, the former first lady, who is the first African-American to ever have the title, has transparently described how it is for a woman of color to live. She describes moments of her life in great detail which will more than likely take you to an emotional trip, resulting in a better understanding of the predicament of people of color, no matter what status they have. I liked this a lot because I feel like I have really felt her while reading this book. This is because one might think that someone with a high status like Michelle Obama would live a life full of good things when in reality, she is just like every one of us.


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This product was recommended by Jeremy Ong from HUSTLR Inc.

What’s the point of having a voice if you are gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be. That was one of my favorite quotes from the book which adapted into a movie in 2018. When reading this book, you will experience the whole confused emotions that someone feels when he or she takes a decision against silence. The book reveals the cruel fact of Human beings who are always afraid of everything strange or different of them so they reject them unless they behave like us otherwise we will hate them or at least look down on them!! and that’s why Starr modified her behavior to have a steady relationship with her white friends at her private school. It also spotlights on racism which is a critical and tough issue in the world that doesn’t just affect black people but also, every single human who is weaker than us as women and children or different of us with his or her shape, skin color, thoughts, religion or even the accent they speak with just like Starr Carter in the book.


Faith Under Fire by LaJoyce Brookshire

This product was recommended by Maria M. Barlow from The Law Offices Of Maria M. Barlow LLC

This book is a very inspirational book. It covers topics including religion, faith, homosexuality, marriage, betrayal. It takes you on a roller coaster from happy, sad, crying and praying though out the book. This books addresses many issues within the African American community. This is a story of an inspiring woman who found the faith to stand by her husband knowing he had Aids and his goal was to give it to her.


Keepin’ It Real By Professor Elwood David Watson

This product was recommended by David B. Grinberg from Grinberg Global PR

All audiences can benefit from Dr. Watson’s astute analysis and important insights on recent controversial issues involving racial equality and social justice, especially due to the current national dialogue on race-related issues per the success of the Black Lives Matter movement. Watson deftly chronicles racism in contemporary society with a no-holds-barred approach which provides much needed transparency in today’s overly saturated digital and social media space. Watson strongly explains why most African Americans feel the way they do on contentious racial topics, ranging for white supremacy to reparations for slavery.


The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

This product was recommended by Nerissa Zhang from The Bright App

Truth, depth, struggle, and the story of how someone overcame is the basis for many empowering memoirs and The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish has all those elements. However, this book has something that many like it do not—hilarity that’ll have you deep belly laughing as you read. Tiffany Haddish tells the story of growing up in the foster care system, struggling in school, and how comedy helped her survive it all and ultimately find incredible success. Told in her own joyous and unapologetic voice, this memoir from Tiffany Haddish is a must-read book that will leave you feeling empowered and ready to live life on your own terms.


Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This product was recommended by Aaron Simmons from Test Prep Genie

Between the World and Me is a book-long essay about being black in America. The author Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote it for his teenage son to forewarn him of the plight that comes with facing white supremacy. He provides a detailed account of witnessing violence and police brutality while growing up in Baltimore, reflects on his time studying at historically black Howard University, and asks the hard questions about the past and future of race in America.


Sightseeing with Sandy by Shambrekia Wise

This product was recommended by Shambrekiá Wise from Sightseeing with Sandy

Sightseeing with Sandy is here to be your child’s telescope to the world. We know how important traveling is, but it’s not always attainable. We break this barrier by incorporating history, culture and most importantly, travel through this book series. We believe that children can be the pilot of their own journey, but some kids need a little help with how to dream. Sandy and Zooma are here to do just that!


The Souls of Black Folk By Dubois

This product was recommended by Jessica Miller from Bike Inquire

A landmark text charting the arc of Black life in America from the time of slavery to the early 20th century. Having been released over a century ago, the collection’s obviously dated, but it’s hard not to admire the way in which Du Bois swiftly cycles between social, cultural, political, and personal history, weaving together many threads into a compelling narrative.


Flygirl by Sherri Smith

This product was recommended by Faizan Fahim from Bookaapi

The book is set in the 1940s, and the protagonist wants to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots program. So she has to choose between abandoning her dreams or to lie about her race. She decides to lie about her race and pass as a white person. In the beginning, the book talks about race, but later, the protagonist struggles to be taken seriously as a woman. A woman lying about her race to join the air force to fight against Hitler is a compelling tale to read.


101 STEM Jokes By Orion Razat

This product was recommended by Imani Razat from rocketshipsquid

101 STEM Jokes, written by 10 year old Orion Razat, an African American boy, and a lover of STEM education, is a testament to the excellence that is possible when children are encouraged and supported in tandem by family and educators. Orion began writing his book in 2nd grade when his teacher asked him to write his jokes down instead of telling them during class. She agreed to provide a safe space for him to share his jokes with the class. 101 jokes and three years later he has produced a work that is inspiring to children everywhere. His mission was to make STEM more fun. The book features witty STEM puns, fun facts and activities. His Journey and book Have been celebrated By The Seattle Times Ignite Education Lab, Parent Map, Red Tricycle, STEM Spark, Black Girls Rock, Tacoma Public Library, among others.


The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Dubios

This product was recommended by Samantha Moss from Romantific

The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Dubios is the cornerstone of African American literature that contains essays on race. Its release has been used in the field of sociology because of its relevance to how the African American people see themselves and how they are perceived by others. Dubois creatively starts every chapter with a lyric to a song or a poem depicting the struggle of his race in the 20th century. I recommend this book for its thorough illustration of how the African American people struggled with getting an education, having a position in the society, and their values which connote how nation and race intersect. An intriguing book that was written in 1903 had condescending reviews but became the epitome of empowerment of race.


Love from the Vortex & Other Poems by Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz

This product was recommended by Yael R Rosenstock Gonzalez from Kaleidoscope Vibrations

Sealey-Ruiz’s collection of poetry is vulnerable, powerful, relatable, and hopeful as she charts the finding and losing of love over three decades. Her words lead to reflection, connection, and empowerment for those who fall into the vortex as is evident in the hundreds of reviews and testimonies across the internet.


Becoming by Michelle Obama

This product was recommended by Sonya Schwartz from Her Norm

In this book, the former first lady, who is the first African-American to ever have the title, has transparently described how it is for a woman of color to live. She describes moments of her life in great detail which will more than likely take you to an emotional trip, resulting in a better understanding of the predicament of people of color, no matter what status they have. I liked this a lot because I feel like I have really felt her while reading this book. This is because one might think that someone with a high status like Michelle Obama would live a life full of good things when in reality, she is just like every one of us.


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This product was recommended by Jeremy Ong from HUSTLR Inc.

What’s the point of having a voice if you are gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be. That was one of my favorite quotes from the book which adapted into a movie in 2018. When reading this book, you will experience the whole confused emotions that someone feels when he or she takes a decision against silence. The book reveals the cruel fact of Human beings who are always afraid of everything strange or different of them so they reject them unless they behave like us otherwise we will hate them or at least look down on them!! and that’s why Starr modified her behavior to have a steady relationship with her white friends at her private school. It also spotlights on racism which is a critical and tough issue in the world that doesn’t just affect black people but also, every single human who is weaker than us as women and children or different of us with his or her shape, skin color, thoughts, religion or even the accent they speak with just like Starr Carter in the book.


Faith Under Fire by LaJoyce Brookshire

This product was recommended by Maria M. Barlow from The Law Offices Of Maria M. Barlow LLC

This book is a very inspirational book. It covers topics including religion, faith, homosexuality, marriage, betrayal. It takes you on a roller coaster from happy, sad, crying and praying though out the book. This books addresses many issues within the African American community. This is a story of an inspiring woman who found the faith to stand by her husband knowing he had Aids and his goal was to give it to her.

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