Veterans of color say video of police pepper-spraying a Black Army officer shows that not even a military uniform is protection from police violence

A police officer uses a spray agent on Caron Nazario on Dec. 20, 2020, in Windsor, Va.
A police officer uses a spray agent on Caron Nazario on Dec. 20, 2020, in Windsor, Va.

  • Police hold at gunpoint and pepper-spray a uniformed Black Army officer in a shocking video.
  • The soldier was not charged with any crime or ticketed for any violation.
  • Veterans of color said that the video shows that not even a uniform is protection from police violence.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A video of police officers holding a uniformed Black US Army soldier at gunpoint and pepper spraying him during a traffic stop in Windsor, Virginia is a troubling reminder that sometimes not even a military uniform is protection enough for Black Americans against threats of police brutality, veterans of color told Insider.

“Once you put on the uniform, it doesn’t erase the fact that you are a Black person in America,” Richard Brookshire, a former Army medic who co-founded and serves as the executive director of the Black Veterans Project, told Insider.

US Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario, a Black and Latino health services administration officer with the Virginia Army National Guard, is suing two Virginia police officers, Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, for aggressive actions taken during a traffic stop in December that started over a license plate issue but quickly escalated.

In video footage from the incident released late last week, two police officers can be seen shouting at Nazario with their guns drawn, pepper-spraying him, and physically striking him repeatedly as they force him to the ground.

At one point during the traffic stop, as the police officers yell for him to get out of the car, Nazario told them he was “honestly afraid” to get out, to which one officer responded: “Yeah, you should be.”

Mark Herring, Virginia’s attorney general, said on Twitter that “the video doesn’t show anything to justify how Lt. Nazario was treated,” adding in another tweet that Nazario showed “incredible composure.”

Nazario was not charged with any criminal wrongdoing or traffic violation, his attorney told NBC News. He says that the police violated his clients constitutional rights.

Nazario’s attorney writes in the lawsuit that the video footage is “consistent with a disgusting nationwide trend of law enforcement officers, who, believing they can operate with complete impunity, engage in unprofessional, discourteous, racially biased, dangerous, and sometimes deadly abuses of authority,” adding that Nazario, while in uniform, was a victim of this trend.

The town of Windsor, Virginia characterized the incident as “unfortunate” and announced Sunday that one of the two officers involved has been fired.

‘Deeply troubling’

“One of the things that probably stuck out the most to me was the fear in Lt. Nazario’s face and actions and voice because he’s realizing right from the get-go that even though he’s in uniform and he’s an active-duty service member, he is still at risk of suffering the same fate that many Black people have suffered at the hands of the police,” Jeremy Butler, a Navy veteran and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told Insider.

“He might have expected it if he were in civilian clothes, but the fact that’s he’s in uniform and this is the way he’s being treated by the police, it almost does not compute.”

“We have been consistently told this message of how much the country salutes our services and appreciates our sacrifice,” Butler said, but “what you see in this instance is that is not always the case.”

In the video footage of the traffic stop, Nazario can be heard multiple times saying “I’m serving my country and this is how I’m treated” with a tone of what sounds like disbelief.

The Black Veterans Project said on Twitter that such developments, while upsetting, are neither shocking nor surprising given the police violence that many Black service members and veterans have faced throughout US history.

“I thought it was deeply troubling,” Brookshire said of the video. “It reminded me, especially because he got maced and thinking about his eyes, of Isaac Woodard.”

On February 12, 1946, Woodard was pulled off a bus and beaten by police, who blinded him in both eyes, as he was returning home to his wife after the war. Woodard is just one of many Black war veterans who experienced such brutality.

“Wearing the uniform doesn’t protect Black people from racism,” Brookshire said, explaining that “this idea that black folks are somehow cloaked or protected because they are in uniform, because they serve in the military, or that somehow their skin color is not an issue once they join this institution is a farce and a misreading of history.”

Naveed Shah, another veteran of color and a staff member at Common Defense, argued on Twitter that what happened to Nazario is “another example of why we demand that #BlackLivesMatter.”

The country has been forced to look more closely at issues of racial injustice and police brutality since the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died last May after a police officer knelt on his neck for more than 9 minutes. His death sparked nationwide Black Lives Matter protests.

The murder trial for one of the officers involved is ongoing.

But even as the US takes a closer look at problems that have long affected the country, there continues to be alarming incidents of police violence involving Black Americans.

“Even though I do feel generally overall that we are making progress,” Butler said, “there are still too frequent reminders that we have a very, very long way to go.”

The governor of Virginia called the incident involving Nazario “disturbing,” writing in a statement that “we must keep working to ensure that Virginians are safe during interactions with police, the enforcement of laws is fair and equitable, and people are held accountable.”

Not only are state police investigating the incident at the direction of Gov. Ralph Northam, but the Virginia attorney general announced Monday that he is launching a civil rights investigation into the two police officers involved. He characterized their actions as “dangerous, unnecessary, unacceptable and avoidable.”

Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston said Monday that Nazario “represented himself and our Army well,” stating that while he is proud of him, he is concerned by the video of the traffic stop.

The sergeant major offered an assurance that Nazario “is receiving the support from his leadership he needs during this time.” The incident is said to have given the soldier nightmares, The Washington Post reported.

Nazario’s attorney said Saturday that his client is seeking at least $1 million in damages to send a clear message “to officers that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Meet the stylist who turned LeBron James into a fashion icon

  • Stylist Rachel Johnson took LeBron James from NBA all-star to fashion superstar.
  • Johnson’s influence spread throughout the NBA and bled into other sports. She has also styled Victor Cruz, Cam Newton, and Amar’e Stoudemire.
  • Johnson’s work with athletes has helped add diversity and inclusivity to the fashion industry.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Rachel Johnson: My name is Rachel Johnson. I am a celebrity wardrobe stylist and the CEO and president of the Thomas Faison Agency.

Narrator: Throughout her career, Rachel Johnson has turned all-star athletes into fashion superstars. She’s styled household names like LeBron James, Victor Cruz, Cam Newton, and Amar’e Stoudemire, and she’s widely credited with making over the NBA.

Cam Newton: Watching basketball games, you get a different idea when you start seeing just as many cameras covering the postgame as the walk-up as vice versa for any other sport, too.

Narrator: But before she connected the fashion world with the sports world, Johnson pursued a degree in education.

Johnson: I was two years into getting my degree to teach high school English when I met a gentleman named Groovy Lou who worked for P. Diddy, and he told me that there were black women who were responsible for creating images for celebrities. So, as soon as Groovy told me that this could be a viable career path for me, I knew that that’s what I wanted to do.

Narrator: After college, she worked for Essence Magazine then moved into styling musicians and eventually met Jalen Rose.

Johnson: So Jalen was my first entry into the athlete world, and it was a beautiful way to enter the business because I was able to understand the mentality of an athlete. So the very next athlete I started working with was LeBron James, and I met him through Jay-Z, and working with LeBron is what really helped to completely change the way that the NBA dresses.

I knew that in order for LeBron to be respected from a style standpoint, that he needed to be wearing recognizable, historic brands. Coming from a fashion standpoint where they just didn’t understand men of this stature, they didn’t understand necessarily the athletic world, I had to bring these two worlds together in a way that both of them could understand each other’s language. So my goal was to bring him to these fashion houses and have looks created for him so that when he had press opportunities and opportunities to be in front of the camera, he was wearing what any other well-dressed actor would be wearing.

Narrator: James became a global superstar. His exposure and Johnson’s influence eventually permeated throughout the rest of the NBA, but Johnson’s work didn’t stop there.

Johnson: I had been going to Europe. I had been going to Paris and Milan to attend fashion shows, and when I was there, I realized there was a huge gap. There was a huge opportunity there for my clients, for athletes, for black men in particular to attend these shows because there was absolutely no diversity present at all. Victor was my first client who was brave enough to attack the European market.

Narrator: And Johnson and Cruz succeeded. Cruz became the face of Givenchy’s fall and winter 2015 campaign.

Johnson: On a day-to-day basis, my goals are to help build relationships with my clients and fashion brands, and once I figure out where it is that they want to be placed and how they want to be perceived by the public, that gives me the insight that I need to understand what brands I should connect them with, which events they should be attending, and then obviously what they’re wearing.

Victor Cruz: I call her my fairy fashion godmother because whenever I have a question or a debate about what I want to wear, how I want to wear it, I’ll ask her.

Narrator: Her work continues to break down barriers and spread throughout popular culture.

Newton: For so long, the football player stigma has been this big, strong, masculine guy who may not have any style. All he just wants to do is just hit somebody, but now it’s just a different demographic of how people approach athleticism in different ways.

Johnson: So these last 10 years of focusing on athletes and really bringing the two worlds of fashion and athletes together has been to heighten the awareness of fashion designers and brands, to help them be more inclusive and create sizes that are available for everyone.

Cruz: DeAndre Hopkins, obviously, Odell Beckham Jr., you’ve got different guys that probably wouldn’t get the notoriety for their fashion five to six, seven years ago, and now they’re getting those accolades. They’re getting that attention, and they’re getting the respect that they deserve, but it’s definitely evolved even from the time that I met Rachel all the way to now.

Johnson: There are men who may have not necessarily felt comfortable wearing what’s coming down the runway if they see a waif-y model wearing it, but a regular 9-to-5 businessman can look at what a LeBron James or Russell Westbrook or Victor Cruz is wearing and say, ‘You know what? Maybe I can do that, too because he’s more like me.’ And so, all of these stereotypes, I think from a fashion perspective, were broken down for men, and it just opened things up to make everything about men’s fashion become more accessible. They’ve made it OK to try things that you’ve never tried before, and that’s a very cool thing.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in March 2019.

Read the original article on Business Insider

3 Black queer journalists share their advice for breaking into the journalism industry and what publications should do better to recruit minority employees

Daric L Cottingham interview
(L-R) Tre’vell Anderson, Cerise Castle, Femi Redwood.

  • Regardless of any sudden DEI efforts made in 2020, journalist Daric L. Cottingham says the media industry has a long way to go to promote diversity.¬†
  • Cottingham interviewed three Black LGBTQ journalists on lessons they’ve learned breaking into the media industry.
  • The group also shared their thoughts on how publications can better recruit and retain Black queer journalists.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

As the spike of police brutality targeted at Black people became a constant headline in 2020, the world began to listen to concerns of structural racism and bias, especially in professional settings. 

Daric Cottingham Headshot 2021
Daric L. Cottingham.

Many industries started to examine their racist pasts. Journalism in particular began to reckon with the lack of diversity in newsrooms, and the racist rhetoric it used in coverage of diverse communities.

These “reckonings” felt like an empty PR attempt, since the same behaviors are still present at many publications in 2021¬†

Despite these “attempts,” we’re left with a lingering question of how can journalism actively change to be as diverse as the communities it reports on. One way is to hire diverse candidates with intersecting identities, such as Black queer journalists who navigate the industry with the added stress of implicit bias rooted in racism and queerphobia.¬†¬†

I spoke with three Black queer journalists about the lessons they’ve learned navigating the journalism job market.

Cerise Castle .JPG
Cerise Castle.

Cerise Castle (she/her) is a Black lesbian multimedia journalist who’s produced and hosted segments for VICE News Tonight, Los Angeles NPR affiliate KCRW, and Wondery.¬†

Tre'vell Anderson headshot 2021.JPG
Tre’vell Anderson.

Tre’vell Anderson (they/them) is a Black queer, non-binary person of trans experience, the president of the National Association of Black Journalists of Los Angeles, co-chair of NABJ’s LGBTQ Task Force, and editor-at-large at Xtra Magazine.

Femi Redwood headsshot 2021
Femi Redwood.

Femi Redwood (she/her) is a Black lesbian TV news anchor who most recently reported for VICE News on intersectional issues including race, gender, and LGBTQ identities. She’s a board member of NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists and a co-chair NABJ’s LGBTQ Task Force.

Here’s what they had to say, including advice they have for young Black queer journalists trying to break into the industry and advice for publications to better recruit and retain these diverse journalists.¬†

What was one lesson you learned as a Black, queer journalist? 

Cerise Castle: The hardest lesson I think is the fastest one you learn: that your voice and ideas will probably always be counted last. I think that’s a valuable lesson because I think it’s helpful to go in knowing the reality of most newsrooms and how most outlets work. Unfortunately, I think it’s a reality that you have to accept most of the time.

Tre’vell Anderson: A lesson that I’ve learned as a Black, queer journalist is that, just because my editor doesn’t understand the importance of a particular story, doesn’t mean that story shouldn’t be told. As Black, queer, trans folks, as folks from a marginalized, less represented community in newsrooms, often the stories that we want to tell about our communities don’t hold that same weight. Or don’t seem as necessary or worthy to our editors, who are white folk more often than not.

Femi Redwood: Pay attention to the media group because it may have more control in how the station or the publication handles things than the individual entity you will work for. If it’s a problematic station group, you don’t want to work there.

What advice do you have for young Black, queer journalists trying to break into the industry?

Castle: I would say not to change yourself for the industry. I had a college professor who told me that to be on camera, I had to have shoulder-length hair and couldn’t wear it naturally. I couldn’t have piercings or do my makeup a certain way. And all of that, just … It isn’t true.¬†

Granted, there will be some news directors that will force you into that box, but you can always be yourself. The first on-camera job that I got picked me because they liked my curly hair and liked that I bleached it. They liked that I had facial piercings. They liked that I didn’t look just like every other reporter from central casting. Playing into your identity can help you out in many situations, to get that job, and to get the story too.

Anderson: My advice to Black queer journalists, emerging and coming into the industry and those that are fairly established, is to remain undaunted as we navigate these spaces. Follow your heart, follow your gut, follow your intense desire to tell your community’s stories, even when the broader media ecosystem, or your editor, or whomever tells you that those stories don’t have any worth.¬†

It’s important to build an identity outside of the news organizations that we might work for and beyond the work we do because being a journalist is a thankless job in many ways. Still, it’s a very necessary job at the same time.

Redwood: My one piece of advice to queer Black journalists is to go into every situation as if you were a straight white man. It’s been my recent guiding principle.¬†

Often we are told we need to accept anything, accept any pay, and accept any position. We are told that unless we check off certain boxes – years of experience, education, awards, etc. – we don’t deserve more. Nah.¬†

Be like straight white men. They are socialized to expect what they believe they deserve. Young queer Black journos need to do that as well. We often see straight white men “fail up” while we tell ourselves, ‘we aren’t ready for a new position, we don’t deserve a raise, or haven’t earned a promotion.’¬†

You deserve that job even if you only worked on your college paper; you deserve that pay even if you didn’t go to what’s considered a top j-school, you deserve that promotion even if you haven’t earned any awards, because why not you.

What can publications do to better recruit and retain Black, queer journalists?

Castle: Pay them. That’s all, that’s my answer. Pay them what they’re worth, more than they’re worth.

Anderson: What these people need to do to recruit more Black queer journalists is the same thing they need to do to recruit more Black journalists, right? They have to get out of their own way and get out of our way. 

Many folks hiring and recruiting reporters aren’t doing intentional outreach to groups of color, to 1) Let us know the available opportunities, and 2) Give us the same kind of level playing field that our white counterparts have.¬†

It also requires you to not only augment and change your recruiting habits, but you also need to change your retention practices because once you hire a Black person, you need to make sure that the work environment is one they will want to stay at your company. 

That might mean that some people on the team need to leave because they’re toxic, or they’re white supremacists, or they’re racist, or they’re homophobic, or transphobic.

Redwood: It’s all a big circle. And all of these things work hand in hand. To recruit Black queer journalists, you have to create a place they want to work. Because if the environment is homophobic or full of racist microaggressions, then Black folks aren’t going to want to work there.¬†

The next thing is to create paid internships. Expecting journalists to work for free, it’s a form of gatekeeping that unfortunately prevents many Black and brown and queer journalists from getting in. Because statistically speaking, we don’t have the same wealth as white counterparts.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How managers can support their Asian peers through the troubling increase in anti-Asian violence

coworkers, Asian coworker with white coworker, diverse colleagues
Some Asian Americans have expressed on social media that they feel saddened, angered, and fearful given the recent spike in anti-Asian violence across cities in the US.

  • On Tuesday, a 52-year old Asian American woman was attacked in New York City.
  • The attack is the latest of many against Asian Americans since the start of the pandemic.
  • Diversity consultants shared how managers can support Asian colleagues and call for systemic change.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Last week, a 52-year-old Asian American woman was assaulted and shoved to the ground outside a New York City bakery. She hit her head on the concrete sidewalk and had to receive several stitches, AP reported. 

It’s the latest in a string of anti-Asian attacks since the start of the pandemic, which many said has been fueled by former President Trump’s use of the phrases “the China virus” and “the Kung flu” when referring to the novel coronavirus.¬†¬†¬†

Between March 19, 2020 and December 31, 2020, the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, an Asian advocacy group, received over 2,800 firsthand accounts of anti-Asian hate from 47 states and the District of Columbia. The accounts include stories ranging from people having racial slurs directed at them to people getting punched or slashed in the face. 

Earlier this month, a suspect was arrested and charged for assaulting three elderly victims in the Chinatown area of Oakland, California. In San Francisco, an 84-year-old man from Thailand died after being knocked to the ground.

“Watching videos of the attacks was horrifying. I felt the mix of deep anger and sadness that only a sense of powerlessness can bring,” DEI consultant Richard Leong, who is Asian American, told Insider.¬†

Like Leong, many Asian people in the US are likely upset, sad, and fearful. Creating a safe work environment is so important during these difficult times.

Check in and ask how you can be of support 

Managers need to show empathy and create an environment where their direct reports feel safe to express their feelings, Kailei Carr, CEO of The Asbury Group, a leadership DEI consultancy, told Insider. 

“Sincerely asking how Asian employees are doing and if there is anything they need in one-on-one sessions is a good start,” Carr said.¬†

Don’t demand a response, she added, but express that you’re happy to connect them with mental health and other resources.¬†

Managers should also be prepared to offer their employees flexibility in their work schedule or workload, and to connect them with resources that might be helpful, like an employee resource group that focus on employees of color, Leong said. 

“This could look like reprioritizing deliverables and meetings to give space, offering connections to leaders and communities that might be helpful – especially if the manager does not identify as Asian – or simply offering a kind and supportive space to listen,” the DEI consultant added.¬†¬†

Send out a statement condemning the attacks and offering resources 

If your leadership team hasn’t already done so, consider working with HR and your employee resource groups (ERGs) focused on Asian employees and employees of color to send out a statement condemning the attacks.¬†

For example, Paul Knopp, CEO and chairman of KPMG recently released a statement on LinkedIn, reading in part: “KPMG does not tolerate discrimination, harassment or racism; and condemns all forms of violence and xenophobia-all acts of hatred and bigotry are wrong.”¬†

Netflix’s vice president of inclusion strategy VernńĀ Myers¬†also shared a message on LinkedIn.¬†

“The violence against our Asian brothers & sisters is unacceptable and I am committed to standing against xenophobia & hate everywhere,” her statement reads.¬†

Carr added that the statement your company puts out could share lists of organizations that are supporting victims or raising awareness, as well as a list of mental health resources for employees impacted.  

Support your Asian colleagues beyond this moment of crisis

Managers can use their positions of power to talk with those higher up about how to use this moment to usher in real change, he said. 

“Asian employees often do not have adequate visibility and support, it’s critical for managers to look beyond the current moment and think about systems and structures to support Asian employees,” Leong said.¬†

According Leong, managers can start conversations with leadership on key questions like “Do Asian employees feel seen and represented in the company’s leadership?” and “Are their stories told as part of the company narrative?”¬†

This way, businesses can take this dark moment and turn it into a call to action for positive change. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

22 books on race and white privilege that will show you what’s really happening in America right now

Thomonique Moore
Thomonique Moore is a 2016 graduate of Howard University, founder of Books&Shit book club, and an incoming Masters’ candidate at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College.

  • Black History Month, like every other month, is a good time to educate yourself on anti-racism.
  • Anti-racism is actively rejecting racism and promoting equity of Black and brown people.
  • Black sociology, literary, and history scholars shared their top book recommendations on anti-racism.¬†
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Since the killing of George Floyd, many Americans continue to talk about how they can be an ally for Black people. And this Black History Month is an important time to continue that work. 

In this era, it’s not enough for allies to say they’re “not racist,” activists and leading scholars are saying. Instead, they have to actively adopt anti-racism, which is the set of beliefs and actions that oppose racism and promote the inclusion and equality of Black and brown people in society.¬†

One important way to learn about anti-racism is by reading. As Vulture aptly puts it, “The¬†how could this happen¬†meets the¬†I told you so. They rendezvous at the anti-racist reading list.”

So which books should you read? Business Insider reached out to Black professors and scholars at institutions across the country to find out which books they recommend. We also included some popular books on anti-racism Americans are digitally reading at their libraries right now. 

This updated article was originally published in June 2020. 

“So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo

So you want to talk about race

In this bestseller, Seattle-based writer Ijeoma Oluo prompts people of all races to start having honest conversations about race, giving readers handy phrases and questions to start unpacking racism within their own social networks. She tackles subjects ranging from intersectionality to microaggressions, or subtly racist remarks or actions. 

Thomonique Moore, a 2016 graduate of Howard University, founder of online book club Books&Shit, which explores titles by authors of color, and an incoming master’s candidate at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, recommends everyone pick of this title.¬†

“This is a good book to help white people and non-black people of color answer often spoken and unspoken questions about race and racism,” Moore told Business Insider.¬†

Find it here>>

“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander

The new Jim Crow

In “The New Jim Crow,” legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” Jim Crow laws were state and local laws created in the late 1800s and early 1900s that enforced racial segregation and encouraged the disenfranchisement of black people in the US. ¬†

“Michelle Alexander breaks down the historic ‘war on crime’ and how the explosive increase in the number US citizens incarcerated, namely black men, is just another trickier, evolved, version of slavery, and Jim Crow,” Moore said.¬†

Find it here>>

“White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DiAngelo

White Fragility

In this best-selling book, academic, lecturer, and author Robin Diangelo explores the defense mechanisms white people commonly employ when challenged on their assumptions about race. These counterproductive reactions, Diangelo explains, prevent white people from having much needed conversations to usher in progress. 

“White Fragility is a mirror and self-reflection guide, so to speak, for white people who are ready to face their privileges and finally have the tough and necessary conversations,” Moore said.¬†

Find it here>>

“Racism without Racists: Colorblind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States” by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

"Racism without Racists: Colorblind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States" by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

In this book, Bonilla-Silva makes a powerful argument against the idea that race doesn’t exist, or that being “colorblind” is an appropriate solution to racism.¬†

Crystal Fleming, associate professor of sociology and Africana studies at Stony Brook University called this “one of the most important books on racism.”¬†

“In particular, Bonilla-Silva helps us understand how the rhetoric of colorblindness reinforces the racial status quo,” she told Business Insider.¬†

Find it here>> 

“Two Faced Racism: Whites in the Backstage and Frontstage” by Leslie Picca and Joe Feagin

"Two Faced Racism: Whites in the Backstage and Frontstage" by Leslie Picca and Joe Feagin

“Two-Faced Racism,” published in 2007, features more than 600 journal entries of racial events kept by white college students at 28 colleges in the US. It exposes how closely held racist beliefs are still very much a part of American culture.¬†

Fleming assigns this book to students taking her “Racism and Ethnic Relations” course at Stony Brook University.¬†

“Picca and Feagin analyze data from journal entries provided by white college students which reveals how racism works behind closed doors as well as in public and semi-public spaces,” Fleming said.

Find it here >>

“How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy and the Racial Divide” by Crystal Fleming

"How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy and the Racial Divide" by Crystal Fleming

In addition to recommending other authors, Fleming suggest a book she wrote on the topic of racism, which serves as a primer on the topics of racial oppression and white supremacy. 

“I wrote the book to help people understand the historical roots of white supremacy and to be able to draw connections between past and present racism. The last chapter includes 10 concrete steps that everyone can take to help dismantle systemic racism,” she told Business Insider.¬†

Find it here >>

“The Ethnic Project: Transforming Racial Fiction into Ethnic Factions” by Vilna Bashi Treitler

The Ethnic Project: Transforming Racial Fiction into Ethnic Factions

“The Ethnic Project” was written by Vilna Bashi Treitler, a sociology professor in the department of black students at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

In this historical narrative work, Treitler examines the ethnic history of the US from the arrival of the English in North America to the present day. She shows how each group of immigrants from Irish to Chinese people negotiated their place in the pecking order of ethnic groups within in the country. 

“‘The Ethnic Project’ is incredibly useful for understanding the racial hierarchy in the United States,” Fleming said.¬†

Find it here>>

“Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach” by Tanya Golash Boza

Race and Racisms

“Race and Racisms” tackles critical topics including how and when the idea of race was created, how it developed, and how structural racism has created inequality.¬†

“This book is an excellent overview of systemic and institutionalized racism,” Fleming said.

Find it here>>

“Racist America: Roots, Current Realities, and Future Reparations” by Joe Feagin

Racist America

Feagin incorporates more than 200 recent research studies and reports in his book, which illustrates the origins of racism in the US, and how it still pervades white culture today. 

Augustine Kposowa, professor and chair of the department of sociology at the University of California, Riverside, cites this book as an important read for anyone looking to be anti-racist. 

“Joe Feagin reveals just how racist whites are,” Kposowa said. “Feagin is white and he is privy to secret conversations that whites have in white networks that blacks can never join. In his book, he mentions stories, and what white people say in private, at dinner tables, in their circles about black people, leaving no stone untouched.”

Find it here>> 

“White Rage; the Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide” by Carol Anderson

White Rage

“White Rage” explores how each time blacks in America have made progress, there has been strong white backlash.¬†

“The book is a critical reflection of why racism persists in the United States, including things that enrage white people about racial issues. In the book, it is evident that no matter what happens in America, including the most open outrages like police killings of blacks, whites never seem interested,” Kposowa said.¬†

Find it here>>

“Black Americans” by Alphonso Pinkney

Black Americans

This book, written by distinguished Afro-American sociologist and former long term chairman of the Department of Sociology at Hunter College Alphonso Pinkney, explores several facets of different black experiences in the US, including homicide as a public health problem and the prevalence of police brutality.

“Pinkney’s book is a comprehensive account of black life in America, and covers why in almost every sphere, blacks are forced to stay behind,” Kposowa said.¬†

Find it here>>

“Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present” by Harriet Washington

Medical Apartheid

Maryann Erigha, assistant sociology professor at the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Georgia recommends this book written by Harriet Washington, which won the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. 

“Washington’s book provides a full context and comprehensive understanding of the history and present of medical experimentation and the mistreatment of Blacks in the medical industrial complex. She covers a wide range of areas, from academic pseudoscience to the medical atrocities committed by the government and armed forces, prisons, and private institutions,” she said.¬†

Find the book here>>

The Hollywood Jim Crow: The Racial Politics of the Movie Industry by Maryann Erigha.

Hollywood Jim Crow

Erigha also recommended “The New Jim Crow” and “So You Want to Talk About Race?” In addition, she suggested her own book, which tackles how racist beliefs pervade American movies, a major export to countries across the globe.¬†

“My book highlights the ubiquity and implications of underlying beliefs about race and value, inferiority/superiority, profit/loss, desirability/undesirability, that are pervasive among whites in Hollywood and that influence their decision-making about what movies get made, for how much, and under what conditions,” she told Business Insider.¬†

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“Code of the Street” by Elijah Anderson

Code of the Street

In the “code of the street,” Yale professor Elijah Anderson, presents an explanation for high rates of violence among black teens in the US. Anderson explains how living in impoverished areas without access to economic opportunities, being separated from mainstream society, as well as persistent discrimination was linked with anti-social attitudes and and violent behavior in black teens.¬†

Mansa Bilal Mark King, associate professor of sociology at Morehouse College, told Business Insider it’s one of the most important books non-black people can read.¬†

“This is one of the best books for helping non-black people begin to understand that the adoption of a street persona is often a matter of everyday safety for black people who are not actually committed to a street ethos,” he said.¬†

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“The Wretched of the Earth” by Frantz Fanon

The Wretched of the Earth

Author Frantz Fanon was a distinguished psychiatrist from Martinique who took part in the Algerian Nationalist Movement, a movement that fought for the rights French colonizers to be extended to native Algerians. In “The Wretched of the Earth,” Fanon captures the psychology of the colonized and their path to liberation.¬†

“This book can be hard for most non-black Americans to read, and it can be even more difficult for them to see how it relates to African Americans, particularly those of us whose families survived American slavery and Jim and Jane Crow apartheid. That is exactly why people need to read it,” King said.

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“The Mis-Education of the Negro” by Carter Woodson

The Miseducation of the Negro

Carter Godwin Woodson was an American historian, author, journalist, and one of the first scholars to study the history of the African diaspora. In this book, he argues that black people were being indoctrinated, rather than educated, in American schools, and that black Americans needed to educate themselves on the history of race and racism. 

“This book is almost a century old, and the fact that its basic critique remains a valid one should help readers to understand a key source of black American anger,” King said. “For many Black Americans, not getting a helpful education on Africa and her American Diaspora is part of the reason for educational disengagement.”¬†

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“UNESCO General History of Africa, Vol. I by Joseph Ki-Zerbo and Vol. II” by G. Mokhtar

UNESCO General history of Africa

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has put together comprehensive titles on the history of Africa and its people that are useful for any American of any color to read. 

These works “help the reader overcome the poor historical education that most Americans get when it comes to Africa,” King said.

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“Black Wealth/White Wealth” by Melvin Oliver and Thomas Shapiro

Black Wealth, White Wealth

In “Black Wealth/White Wealth,” sociological researchers Oliver and Shapiro capture just how large the wealth gap is between black and white Americans.¬†¬†

“This book helps people of all races begin to understand that it was white America that systematically chooses for us to have almost all black, low-income, ‘ghetto areas.’ Equally important, this imposed reality means that black children are born at a disadvantage, in the vast majority of cases, through no fault of their own,” King said.¬†

“me and white supremacy,” by Layla Saad

me and white supremacy

This was the most popular anti-racism book checked out digitally from the end of May through June, according to Overdrive.

In this hit title, Saad brings her unique perspective as an East African, Arab, British, Black, Muslim woman ‚ÄĒ who’s also a speaker and writer ‚ÄĒ to the forefront. Her book came after the hashtag she started #MeandWhiteSupremacy, where people shared their own experiences with racism, went viral. Saad’s book lists the common reasons why white people aren’t actively anti-racist, and includes concrete steps on how to be a better ally.¬†

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“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You,” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi


“Stamped,” a young adult nonfiction book, is another popular title among readers, according to Overdrive. In this book, Reynolds, renowned young-adult author, reimagines Kendi’s bestseller for a younger audience. The book explores how the history of racism is inextricably linked to the creation of the US.¬†

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“Just Mercy,” by Bryan Stevenson

just mercy

In “Just Mercy,” Stevenson tells his incredible story of creating the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice to help those most desperate and in need, like the wrongly condemned. One of his first clients was Walter McMillian, a young man sentenced to death for a murder he said he didn’t commit. The story of Stevenson’s fight for justice was turned into a major motion film.¬†

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“Thick,” by Tressie McMillan Cottom


In McMillan Cottom’s eyes, the personal is political, and she doesn’t shy away from talking about all of it. In eight treatises on beauty, media, money, race, and abuse, McMillan Cottom explores the ways American culture treats Black women. Roxanne Gay, writer, professor and author of the best-selling essay collection Bad Feminist calls this book “brilliant.”¬†

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9 memoirs that celebrate Black joy and help paint a fuller picture of the Black experience in America

arlan hamilton backstage capital
Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital Arlan Hamilton was one of the authors featured in Goodreads’ list of 96 books on Black joy.

  • The Black Lives Matter movement focuses on several serious topics like police reform and inequality.
  • But activists say that the movement should also highlight Black joy and success.¬†
  • Book review website Goodreads compiled a list of 96 books that celebrate Black joy.¬†
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Black History Month is an important time to educate yourself on the Black experience in America. 

The Black Lives Matter movement is raising awareness around several serious topics: police reform, over-incarceration, inequality in education, racism in the workplace, discrimination in the health system, to name a few.

But that’s only part of the story.

“The other part about Black Lives Matter that I think people miss is Black joy and Black liberation,” Genisha Metcalf, a 35-year-old mother of two and Black Lives Matter activist told Insider in August.

Book review website Goodreads recently compiled a list of 96 books on Black joy, which includes titles in fantasy, romance, science fiction, and essay collections. Here are nine memoirs by Black authors that highlight other sides of the Black experience.

This article was originally published in August 2020. 

“It’s About Damn Time,” by Arlan Hamilton

it's about damn time

Arlan Hamilton, the founder of Backstage Capital and one of the few queer Black women in venture capital, shares her story about how she went from living on food stamps to breaking into the boy’s club of Silicon Valley. Hamilton’s story challenges the conventional narrative of what it takes to become successful.¬†

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“Year of Yes,” by Shonda Rhimes

year of yes

American TV producer and screenwriter Shonda Rhimes is the force behind top hits like “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” In this bestseller, she shares her story of a one-year experiment when she said “Yes” to new opportunities and challenges. Her story is a call for people to get outside their comfort zone and try new things.¬†

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“The Light of the World,” by Elizabeth Alexander

light of the world

In “The Light of the World,” Pulitzer prize finalist and poet Elizabeth Alexander recounts the sudden death of her husband and her journey from grief to hope. Former First Lady Michelle Obama called the book “magnificent.”¬†

“Perhaps tragedies are only tragedies in the presence of loss, which confers meaning to loss,” Alexander writes.

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“The Pretty One,” by Keah Brown

The Pretty One

Keah Brown, who has cerebral palsy, recounts her journey from self-hate to self-love in “The Pretty One.” Brown explains how she went from wanting to be “normal,” to accepting herself, and then celebrating her difference in creating the viral hashtag #DisabledAndCute.¬†

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‚ÄúDressed in Dreams,‚ÄĚ by Tanisha Ford

dressed in dreams

In “Dressed in Dreams,” Tashina Ford uses pieces of fashion to tell her coming-of-age story as a Black woman. Ford, a history professor at The City University of New York, explains how the personal is political with each fashion story: from how wearing the wrong color can lead to gang violence to the appropriation of Black culture in today’s society.¬†

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“More Than Enough,” by Elaine Welteroth

More Than Enough

Elaine Welteroth, editor in chief of Teen Vogue, tells her story of climbing the ranks in the world of media and fashion, sharing the valuable life lessons about race and gender she learned along the way. 

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai says the book “is a guide for young people who want to find their voice, a crash course for those who want to challenge the status quo, and an adventure story for all of us.”¬†

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“Mind and Matter,” by John Urschel and Louisa Thomas

Mind and Matter

In this bestselling book, John Urschel tells his incredible story of how he pursued and obtained his PhD in mathematics at MIT while he was an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens. His story talks about the importance of ignoring self-limiting doubt.

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“The Warner Boys,” by Ana and Curt Warner

The Warner Boys

Former NFL Seahawks star Curt Warner and his wife, Ana, took a step back from the public in the 1990s. Their two youngest sons, twins Austin and Christian, had been diagnosed with autism, which they decided to keep secret for years. In this memoir, the couple talks about going from self-isolation and fear to a place of peace and advocacy. 

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“Black Girls Rock!” by Beverly Bond

black girls rock!

In 2006, model and DJ Beverly Bond founded “Black Girls Rock!” an awards show that celebrates Black women in entertainment, entrepreneurship, and more. In this book, Bond recounts starting the awards show and presents a collection of essays from a mix of powerful Black women, including actress Kerry Washington, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, and tennis champion Serena Williams.¬†

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