So, I was going to post the regular Top Ten Tuesday, but tonight, my hometown is on the news all over the nation. I hear all kinds of reports from all kinds of angles--including multiple people who are in the city right now. What happened, and has been happening, in our city and other places, is shameful. People do not deserve to be mistreated because of the color of their skin---or anything else. Protesting is a natural reaction. Rioting, unfortunately, is too. Here's what I wish people were doing instead of rioting AND instead of complaining about rioters--trying to find a way to stop and listen. And sometimes, there's no better way to do that than to read.
1. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
It's a kids' book, but hear me out. I think I first began to understand the depth of inequality while reading this book and its sequels. Cassie Logan grows up on her family's land in the 1930s, and begins to realize the racism directed at her and her family.
2. White Lilacs by Carolyn Meyer
Also aimed at younger readers, but skewed a little older than Thunder, White Lilacs is about Rosa Lee Jefferson, who learns her Texas town will be razed because the white town nearby wants their land. I also learned about racism from this book, but mostly I just remember loving the book and the characters.
3. Rosa Parks: My Story by Rosa Parks and Jim Haskins
Such a strong story from such a strong woman. I remember reading this and being totally blown over that, no, Rosa Parks' decision was no accident, she did what she did fully aware of the consequences.
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Not my favorite, it's true, but I think Mockingbird unfortunately still has a lot to say about the injustice of our legal systems.
5. Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose
We are all the characters in this play sometimes. We get worked up, or apathetic, or determined, and we think we see things one way, and then realize the opposite. And that's why we should be very, very careful...
6. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
And sometimes we all go on witch hunts, whether it's what we believe or because we think we can get something out of it and not care whose lives were ruined.
7. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Can't leave off Maya Angelou during National Poetry Month. Go read all her poems, now. Race is a big part of Angelou's identity and culture, but I think this also provides insight into what it means to grow up poor.
8. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
This is set in the future rather than the past, but it's eerily familiar. Lauren Olamina grows up in a compound surrounded by lawlessness. Her world has fallen apart, and she finds the strength to go on.
9. Every Boy Should Have a Man by Preston L. Allen
This is a more modern allegory that posits a society where giants keep humans as pets. It has repercussions for animal rights, environmental rights, and yes, civil rights.
10. Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks
Because it's not just about women, it's about people and the elimination of hierarchy.