Story at a glance
- Books about racial discrimination have risen to the top of bestseller lists as protests endure across the U.S.
- Industry insiders think it is a result of people wanting to learn more about racist institutions in the U.S.
As protests over George Floyd’s death shine a light on the systemic racism in American society, people want to know more — and are turning to literature to learn.
Reuters reports that following the death of George Floyd — a black man who died of asphyxiation in police custody after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck — books about the history of racism and the black experience in the U.S. have regained spots as bestsellers. And many are flying off the shelves.
“This doesn’t happen everyday... ,” author Ibram X. Kendi tweeted.
Kendi is the author of “How To Be an Anti-Racist,” a New York Times bestseller which currently sits atop Barnes and Noble’s bestseller list.
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Following Kendi’s work are other titles like “Between Me and the World” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Me and White Supremacy,” by Layla Saad, “Just Mercy,” by Bryan Stevenson, and “So You Want To Talk About Race,” by Ijeoma Oluo.
Books about racial discrimination in the U.S. compose the top nine of the Barnes & Noble list.
On e-commerce giant Amazon, its bestselling books list features many of the same titles.
Notably included are the children’s book, “We’re different, We’re the Same,” by the creators of Sesame Street. Other titles Amazon shoppers are buying include “The Color of Law,” by Richard Rothstein, and young adult bestseller “The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas.
Black-owned booksellers and publishers are also seeing an uptick in titles purchases, indicating that people want to educate themselves about institutionalized racism in the U.S. and are using their buying-power to support black-owned businesses.
Speaking to Time, Ramunda Young, co-founder of MahoganyBooks, says the spike in sales on titles discussing race in the U.S. is a result of people asking themselves, “How do I take it upon myself to go and read, go learn and go study, rather than expect those experiences to come from the mouths of black people?”
MahoganyBooks is an independent bookstore based in Washington, D.C., and specializes in books written for, by and about people of the African Diaspora, according to the store’s team.
In addition to books, films and television can also be helpful in understanding discrimination in the U.S.
Reuters notes that screen titles like "Dear White People," "Moonlight," and director Spike Lee’s classic "Do the Right Thing” are also viable options to understanding the black American experience.
Amid protests, Warner Bros. studios announced its film “Just Mercy,” an adaptation of the aforementioned Bryan Stevenson novel, will be released online for free on select digital platforms during June.
Warner Bros. said it is “one resource we can humbly offer to those who are interested in learning more about the systemic racism that plagues our society."
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