Books about racial discrimination become best-sellers as U.S. protests grow

Just as the street protests have transcended colour lines, Americans have been seeking and passing on recommended reading lists.

June 05, 2020 10:45 am | Updated 12:05 pm IST - LOS ANGELES

From White Fragility to The New Jim Crow , literature about the history of racial discrimination in the United States is selling out as white Americans seek to educate themselves as nationwide protests grow over the killing of unarmed black people .

As the death of George Floyd , who was pinned under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis, has prompted more than a week of street protests throughout the states, Americans at home are turning to books, movies and television shows that lay bare decades of discrimination.

Non-fiction books about the black experience head the best-seller list, including children's books, such as the We're Different, We're the Same from the Sesame Street stable. Many titles are sold out and used editions carry asking prices of up to $50 each.

On the Barnes and Noble website, eight of the Top 10 best-sellers were previously published books, including Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and So You Want to Talk About Race , by Ijeoma Oluo.

“This doesnt happen everyday... The #1 and #2 overall bestsellers @amazon right now are two books challenging racism. This is you,” Ibram X. Kendi, author of How To Be an Anti-Racist , wrote on Twitter this week.

Just as the street protests have transcended colour lines, Americans have been seeking and passing on recommended reading lists to friends and followers through Twitter and Instagram postings.

Kendi, who compiled one such list for the New York Times at the weekend, wrote that the aim was to “confront our self-serving beliefs and make us aware that 'Im not racist' is a slogan of denial.”

Supporters are also urged to make their purchases through black-owned or independent book stores in a concrete show of support.

Recommendations extend to movies and television, including Dear White People , Moonlight and Do the Right Thing .

Ava DuVernay, director of black dramas Selma and When They See Us , launched an online education platform aimed at using such content “as a springboard into deeper understanding.”

Movie studio Warner Bros. made the 2019 film Just Mercy , about civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, free for rental on digital platforms during June.

Warner Bros. called it “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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