Posted on June 19, 2020 at 9:49 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Juneteenth is not a new holiday, but it has taken on much more prominence this year.

For those of you – like us — who are recognizing our own shortcomings and/or blind spots and looking to remedy them, we’d like to offer some reading material.

We don’t pretend to have all the answers or the right words, so that’s why we once again turn to literature.

Henry Louis Gates Jr., a literary critic and scholar, wrote an article a few years back explaining what Juneteenth is and what it means to Black Americans.

Gates is also featured in Literary Hub’s roundup “Juneteenth Should Be a National Holiday: Readings in Black History and Joy,” along with Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Robin Coste Lewis, Fred Moten, and more.

“How We Juneteenth” from the New York Times includes a number of personal essays but also “The Stuff of Astounding: A Poem for Juneteenth” by award-winning poet Patricia Smith.

The NY Times also notes that Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations about Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum, written in 1997, is back on the bestseller list again, in an interview with the author.

NPR recently interviewed several writers whose works ring especially relevant: William Darity Jr., author of From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the 21st Century; Renée Watson, author of Piecing Me Together; and Alisha Gaines, author of Black For A Day: White Fantasies Of Race And Empathy.

Several anti-racist reading lists have emerged in the past month, but Ashley Dennis explains in the Washington Post that they’re far from the first — that, in fact, black female librarians created lists of anti-racist books during World War II.

Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo discusses politics and race — including England's role in slavery — with fellow author Amelia Gentleman, whose The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment examines a British political scandal in which legal immigrants were wrongly detained, threatened with deportation, or actually deported.

And finally, Isabelle Popp shares news that Beauvoir, the house of Confederate president Jefferson Davis, will lose its literary landmark status; her article at BookRiot explores what qualifies a site to become a literary landmark and explains why she feels Beauvoir’s choice was especially problematic.

Categories: Today in Books

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