As Black communities continue to be subjected to discrimination and violence, white communities must put in the work of dismantling their own racism, privilege, and bias in order for changes to be made. The resource below covers both short and long-term ways to support Black authors, readers, and communities. This list is a starting point, and by no means comprehensive. I encourage you to continue to seek out ways to support the Black community, to share those resources widely, and to put in the work every day to be anti-racist.
Support Black-owned bookstores
The African American Literature Book Club has an extensive list of Black-owned bookstores, and an easy way to search for ones in your state. While many of these stores are currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can still order online through their website or their store on Bookshop. You can also order audiobooks through Libro.fm and designate a bookstore to support with your purchase.
Read, review, and support books by Black authors
As readers, we turn to books when we recognize a need to educate ourselves. This message from Raven Book Store really resonated with me, “Reading won’t solve problems like systemic racism or police brutality… But reading books, especially vital anti-racist books like these, builds empathy and knowledge that can be a foundation for working towards solutions.” Nonfiction is absolutely vital to understanding these issues. Here are a few titles to start with (and find a longer list here):
These books are helpful resources for addressing internalized and systemic racism, but remember to also ensure the stories you’re reading from Black authors are varied. There’s a long history of gatekeeping in media, including publishing, and only allowing stories of struggle and tragedy (or worse, white saviors swooping in to save the day) to be shared. Your bookshelves should include the harsh realities that Black communities face, but also Black joy, triumph, happiness, and success—all written by Black authors.
Many of the books being recommended right now are backordered, but you can still turn to your local library’s digital apps to find books and authors to support. If your library doesn’t have the titles you’re looking for, request them! And as Libro.fm reminds us, “Audiobooks never sell out.”
Use your influence
We can use our power as bookworms to review and spread the word about anti-racist books and books by Black authors. Your voice is a powerful one and can be used at home, at work, and online to speak out against injustice, uplift Black voices, share valuable resources, and encourage change. It’s also important to know when is the time to use that voice, and when the best thing you can do is listen and learn.
Follow and support those making a difference
People of Color in Publishing is an organization dedicated to supporting racially and ethnically marginalized members of the book publishing community. You can follow them on social media or subscribe to their newsletter for updates, and you can make donations to help expand their programming and mentorship program.
We Need Diverse Books is a non-profit that advocates for inclusive changes to the publishing industry. They offer grants and internship opportunities, and you can donate to support those here.
And don’t forget to uplift the individual members of the book community who are actively working towards justice: Jesse, the Booktuber behind Bowties & Books, has been sharing their experiences protesting on social media and they’ve been collecting donations to be used towards supplies, food, and protection for protestors.
Ask for help
This work takes time, and you’re likely to misstep, as so many of us have. When that happens, be ready to apologize, reflect, and continue educating yourself. If you need help, search for resources, talk to your friends, create a book club that can examine one of the works listed above. There’s information at our fingertips, so we should not burden the Black community with doing the work to educate us.
Register to vote
In the upcoming elections, use your vote to support candidates who are actively working to end discrimination and are doing the work to support Black communities and communities of color.
Immediate action is required in this moment to support the Black Lives Matter movement. This website features links to a wide variety of funds to donate to (everything from support for the families of victims of police brutality to bail for protestors), petitions to sign, representatives to contact, and more. It’s being updated frequently with new resources. There are also tips for protesting safely, such as what to bring, wear, and more.