My Thoughts on the Riots/Protests and some Black Written Book Recommendations #BLACKLIVESMATTER

I am not Black. I am, however, upset, angry, and scared for my friends and my country. I don’t know how this kind of systematic hate and oppression feels as a Black person, but I know the fear I can see and hear from my Black friends when we talk about this topic. There is a real fear that comes from living your day to day life with that different shade of skin and it is unacceptable. There is little to no chance that these horrific acts of violence will ever directly affect me, but when I have to leave the house every day wondering if I talked to my Black friends for the last time because they got pulled over for speeding and the situation escalated because of the color of their skin, I can’t stay silent on the matter. It isn’t okay. It has to stop. No one should have to walk down the street feeling scared that this might be the day they run into that situation that will cost them their life, especially when their only “crime” was being born with a different skin color.

I wasn’t sure how to make this post. My blog consists of video game and book reviews with the occasional opinion on life, as well as some interviews. I toyed around with the idea of bringing on a Black author or blogger for an interview, but I didn’t want this to seem like I was using these events or a person for publicity. I still have plans to do those interviews and I am sure this topic will come up (I don’t see how it can ever be avoided now), but I wanted to make this post covering my own thoughts first. I have always tried my best to be open and honest with this platform I am trying to build for myself and I would be remiss if I didn’t make some sort of comment on what’s happening in the world right now. It cannot be ignored. I don’t care if speaking out about this causes me to lose followers, this is about something bigger than that. This is about the safety of my friends and co-workers and how these injustices need to be seen and stopped.

Working in retail I have been hyper-aware of the looting and rioting that is happening across the nation and while it concerns me that it could happen at my place of work, it hasn’t happened in my immediate area as of yet. While I am concerned for public safety with these riots, I am also all for them. It was obvious that it would escalate to this point eventually, especially when the government either didn’t listen or take note of peaceful protesting. When you do it peacefully and respectfully and you are still silenced and ignored, I can’t blame anyone for taking the next steps and pushing it to a place that makes it impossible to ignore.

Many of the instances of the violence at these protests has not even been started by the protestors. There are videos coming to light across the entire country showing how peaceful protests are turned violent through antagonization from the police. The police will pose with protestors for the media and create images that look like they stand with them, then moments later start hitting them and throwing tear gas and shooting rubber bullets. The other instigators are people from white supremacist groups or other groups that come to the protests with the sole intent of starting violence and looting. More often that not the protestors who are really serious about making change are peaceful, they are not the ones instigating the violence.

If you can’t be at these protests or you don’t feel safe there are other ways you could help, for instance there are donations you can give to bail out protestors that have been arrested. Many that are being arrested are doing nothing wrong, and it is the least we can do to help them out and make sure these protests can keep going. Here is a link to an article from Teen Vogue that links out to different bail funds for specific areas:

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/george-floyd-protests-how-to-help-bail-funds

There are also petitions you can sign to help out the cause, and one of the biggest things you can do is educate yourself on the issue. I’m going to link to a site that will give you access to all these resources:

https://blackliveswillalwaysmatter.carrd.co/#blm

I still wanted to attempt to tie this into the overall theme of my blog and I think the best way to do that is by highlighting some books by Black authors that I am adding to my TBR. It isn’t much but I feel that we can gain something valuable by reading what they have to say, and I am a bit ashamed to say how much my own shelf is lacking in Black authors.

The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

Amazon Description:

“Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.”

Purchase link: Amazon

Becoming – Michelle Obama

Amazon Description:

“In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.
 
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.”

Purchase link: Amazon

How Not to Get Shot: And Other Advice From White People – D.L. Hughley

Amazon Description:

“200 years ago, white people told black folks, “‘I suggest you pick the cotton if you don’t like getting whipped.” Today, it’s “comply with police orders if you don’t want to get shot.” Now comedian/activist D. L. Hughley–one the Original Kings of Comedy–confronts and remixes white people’s “advice” in this “hilarious examination of the current state of race relations in the United States” (Publishers Weekly).

In America, a black man is three times more likely to be killed in encounters with police than a white guy. If only he had complied with the cop, he might be alive today, pundits say in the aftermath of the latest shooting of an unarmed black man. Or, Maybe he shouldn’t have worn that hoodie … or, moved more slowly … not been out so late … Wait, why are black people allowed to drive, anyway?

This isn’t a new phenomenon. White people have been giving “advice” to black folks for as long as anyone can remember, telling them how to pick cotton, where to sit on a bus, what neighborhood to live in, when they can vote, and how to wear our pants. Despite centuries of whites’ advice, it seems black people still aren’t listening, and the results are tragic.

Now, at last, activist, comedian, and New York Times bestselling author D. L. Hughley offers How Not to Get Shot, an illustrated how-to guide for black people, full of insight from white people, translated by one of the funniest black dudes on the planet. In these pages you will learn how to act, dress, speak, walk, and drive in the safest manner possible. You also will finally understand the white mind. It is a book that can save lives. Or at least laugh through the pain.

Black people: Are you ready to not get shot! White people: Do you want to learn how to help the cause? Let’s go!”

Purchase link: Amazon

The Poet X – Elizabeth Acevedo

Amazon Description:

“Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about.

With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.”

Purchase link: Amazon

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou

Amazon Description:

“Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.
 
Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.
 
Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.”

Purchase link: Amazon

These are just the few that I have a real interest in reading and am planning on reading throughout the rest of the year. I have already ordered The Hate U Give and can’t wait to read it. Again, these are just the ones I found that interested me. I encourage all of you to do some research into Black written books and find out which ones speak to you, there’s going to be something for everyone and it can’t hurt any of us to be a bit better read and educated, especially in these times.

I think I have more or less said what I want to say here. I wanted this to be a way for me to speak my mind and stand up against the horrific acts that are happening in the world, in however small of a way this is. I know I don’t have a huge platform, but it would feel disingenuous of me to ignore what’s happening and not try to at least take advantage of the following I do have in order to spread this message.

As always, thanks for reading. I hope each of you reading this is safe and healthy during this unprecedented time. If you want to have a respectful discussion on this topic feel free to leave a comment below or reach out on social media. Hateful comments and comments that do not add anything of value for this post will be ignored/removed. Check back (at least) every Wednesday and Saturday for new posts and sign-up via email to make sure you don’t miss anything! Stay safe guys.

Author: Jacob @ Books and Pixels

Jacob is a blogger with a passion for books and video games. He is a college student studying marketing and hopes to one day turn his passion for writing and marketing into a career. You can find his work here on Books and Pixels as well as the up and coming sports blog The Spark.

13 thoughts

  1. I’m really glad you wrote this. I follow a couple of other gamer blogs, and while I get they’re “not political,” their posts from this past weekend seemed weirdly off. Even if a person is fortunate to live in a community where there is no rioting or looting, this issue should not be ignored: it has both historical and political ramifications for everyone living in the US.

    I lived in Minneapolis for 30 years (well, except for the brief time I crossed the river and lived in St. Paul). The population, when I first moved there, was 97% white—which, if you think about it, is odd in 21st century America where many cities are now predominantly brown. As an Asian American who grew up in a diverse community on the West Coast, it was a culture shock, the more so since many of the people I met assumed I was a Southeast Asian refugee, foreign student, or non-citizen in general. I can laugh now, but I was repeatedly complimented on my English (“You don’t speak with an accent! That’s amazing!”) and asked if I could make sushi for a party I was invited to. (I can’t make sushi for the life of me: my rice always comes out soggy.) But what was really stunning was the nastiness of the police there: after I bought my first new car, I was repeatedly pulled over and ordered to show my registration, since the officer couldn’t believe I was the real owner. At sporting events and concerts I was ordered at the door to turn my handbag inside out to prove I wasn’t carrying drugs or a weapon, while my white friends got waved through. When I was the actual victim of a crime—someone broke into my apartment and stole almost everything of value—the cop who answered my call was sarcastic, rude, asked if I had been selling drugs, and inferred I might be a prostitute. I can’t even imagine what a black resident of Minneapolis has to go through, at that time and now. It’s scary how much power a police officer wields over you when the law assumes s/he is in the right and you’re a criminal by assumption.

    That said, my heart broke when I saw the looting and burning on East Lake Street, which is a predominantly blue collar neighborhood. Many of the businesses there are owned by immigrants or second-generation Americans, Somali, Latino, Southeast and South Asian. First they were hit by the pandemic, now they have to rebuild from the bottom up. Some of them will never come back: small businesses can’t afford comprehensive insurance that won’t cover all of the losses.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well said as always! I agree, it feels weird to carry on like everything is normal and do the usual posts without at least some sort of recognition of what is happening around us.

      I do feel sorry for the small businesses that are getting caught in this crossfire however, hopefully they will find their way through this.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Honestly, seeing this post earned me as a follower. It’s great to see all kinds of people standing up and speaking out. I also really liked your list of books on this! Recent events have spurred me into looking for more books by black authors and about black issues. I already was planning on buying “The Hate U Give”, but now I’m probably going to get “The Poet X” as well because it sounds like such an amazing story!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it is right to speak up. Something has to be done but the question of what and how and when is a hard one but worse is the fact that whatever we do people will be hurt, and worse again is the fact that there are others out there willing to take advantage of the situation for their own selfish purpose.
    Some days it sucks to be a human but other days the bravery and strength of people allows us to breathe again.

    Awesome book choices by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think I’m one of those writers guilty of carrying on as usual, as someone else has put. My reasoning was that people still need some escapism, maybe now more than ever. But then there are plenty of people who don’t have that luxury. I never had to fear being unreasonably stopped or beaten by police because of how I look. The idea that an officer might choke a man in the streets and murder him, and that it takes massive protests to get him charged with a crime, is completely insane, and it’s clear we need a lot of changes in society.

    I still firmly believe in the power of escapism, and even that it can be a political statement in itself. But after seeing what happened yesterday, I’m pretty soured on posting about anything else for the moment. God knows what the future holds, but hopefully some actual justice can be found somewhere.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Thank you for speaking up! This post was very thorough and I’m really glad you felt the need to take a stand during all this.
    Honestly, I haven’t been writing much during all this I sort of lost inspiration/motivation during so much stress. I had a mental breakdown the other day and told myself it was time to limit myself from reading the news and using social media, so i can stay mentally healthy. Even if I’m not African American, these recent events have made my heart go out to everyone affected. I have more white priviledge than anything even if I’m half asian, I don’t look it but I’ve witnessed racism happen and it hurts so much. I just hope things will get better soon for all of us! Sending positivity to everyone!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. This is such an excellent post! I completely agree with your thoughts on the matter, it’s so heart wrenching everything that’s been going on 😦 I’ve made myself more aware to read books by more diverse Authors in general and honestly it’s been a long time coming. Elizabeth Acevedo’s With The Fire On High is one of my current read and it’s absolutely breathtaking so far.

    Liked by 1 person

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