[Discussion] GWJ Antiracism Book Discussion

What's This?
Inspired by discussion on the Anti-Racism Resource List we have started a group to read books from that list and discuss them here.

Feedback is encouraged and welcome. What's laid out in this initial post is meant as a guideline and starting point. We'll figure out together what works best for participants.

What's currently going on?
Vote for the 3rd GWJ Anti-Racism Book Group Selection

GWJ Antiracism Book Discussion - Book 2 The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

What types of books do we read?
1. We'll start with the list in the Anti-Racism Resource List
2. We'll accept candidate suggestions from any participants and consider those, as well.

How do we decide on books to read?
I'll maintain a list of candidates. Anyone may nominate a candidate. Nominations must be seconded to be added to the candidate list.

Each round, we'll vote on the list of candidates. Everyone can vote for one book each month. The book with most votes will be the book the group reads next. This system is subject to change depending on feedback.

How long do we have to read each book?
Roughly one month per book, but discussion can continue indefinitely. We'll be starting off a new book every month. Ultimately, we're all reading at our pace, of course, but aiming to read together. Please respond if you prefer a different window of time per book.

What are the guidelines on conversation spoilers?
Please be considerate of your fellow readers and use the spoiler tags, where applicable. When in doubt, you're better off using the spoiler tags. No one is going to complain about having to tap or click open spoiler tags.

Can anyone join? How do I join?
All are most welcome! There's no sign-up sheet, no formal list of members, just hop in the main thread here, or any one of the book threads! I'll keep track of the book threads in the original post here, just below.

Book History
1. How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

2. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Thanks to Eleima's Adventure Game Club main thread, from which I borrowed heavily in creating this one.

Submitted my survey response - thank you for taking the initiative gorilla

I’m interested.
Warned my husband I may need to buy a book to participate
Wish I could see the stats as more people vote....it just tells me I voted and doesn’t show current numbers. (Sigh)

MathGoddess wrote:

I’m interested.
Warned my husband I may need to buy a book to participate
Wish I could see the stats as more people vote....it just tells me I voted and doesn’t show current numbers. (Sigh)

Thanks for voting! Thanks for the feedback!

I'll work on 'showing tallies' after/during voting. I'm new to conducting SurveyMonkeys, which is a little funny given my user name.

Also, I did not have any of the questions requiring answers for the first four vote submissions. That allowed 1 pair of submissions to come through without a user name but identical, otherwise. One came through with no answers. Not yours, MathGoddess - that all came through without any ambiguity. Thanks.

Currently things look like this with 7 votes in, discarding the 8th respondent that gave no answers (although that one pair might be a duplicated anonymous user - hard to tell):

  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi 42.86% 3
  • Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad 0.00% 0
  • So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo 28.57% 2
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates 28.57% 2

I voted

"The New Jim Crow" is a big recommendation, but that list is missing the spectacular "The Warmth of Other Suns", although that's much more of a historical perspective on the great black migration and stuff.

July 1 feels like a good launch point for a monthly book group. Our first book will be How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.

Final vote tallies were 5-1-4-2, using the list order with earlier results from above.

I am in the boonies and posting from my phone. Please pardon my brevity. I will get a more thorough update posted later this week.

Prederick wrote:

"The New Jim Crow" is a big recommendation, but that list is missing the spectacular "The Warmth of Other Suns", although that's much more of a historical perspective on the great black migration and stuff.

Thank you for this! I picked up The New Jim Crow with my audible credit last month, but haven't started it yet. Was hoping we could put it in the roster to read down the road.

How should we manage the discussion?

The content in How to be an Antiracist is expertly organized. We could easily go chapter by chapter, having discussions and sharing commentary after each chapter. Or we could just comment as we go, which would be less organized, but also maybe less stifling? I’ll admit that I’m terrible at this type of planning, so please could someone else make this decision? Maybe Amoebic?

I've never done a book club, either. I kinda have too many things on my plate right now to be volunteered to also learn to and then organize this? happy to participate, though!

I’d say let’s just start, read at our own pace and discuss whatever as it comes up. We’ll learn pretty quickly if that works here or not and we can adjust as needed.

Otherwise, we’d need to set a schedule. It looks like the book has 18 chapters which could range from 2-4 months depending on how many chapters we look at for a given week. It would be nice to keep the discussions focused and moving and create momentum to keep reading, But it also creates a barrier for late comers or slower readers.

It’d be easy enough to start a new thread for this book, we all tag in or favorite it and discuss as we go. Then in 2 or 3 months, when it’s time for a new book, we start a new thread for it so discussions can still happen for those still reading the first book.

Maybe we aim for a roughly quarterly schedule of book rotations? 3 months?

Quarterly books should work very well.
I don’t think that spoilers is really a thing in nonfiction books....at least I’d have no ideas what would be a spoiler.

Note....in first post it says we’d read books monthly. That’d also work for me.

And here are some black owned independent bookstores if you plan on buying a print copy.

Slightly off topic: I did a web search for black owned business in my area and the only result was a burger joint that is a national franchise. I have a mostly meatless diet, and a national franchise probably won’t benefit much from me. I was hoping to find more boutique type of shops.

Not to try to add potential books to the list, but has anyone read How to Be Less Stupid about Race by Crystal Fleming?

"If You're Serious about Racism, Listen to Black Women" is a excerpt up on Medium Forge.

H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

Not to try to add potential books to the list, but has anyone read How to Be Less Stupid about Race by Crystal Fleming?

"If You're Serious about Racism, Listen to Black Women" is a excerpt up on Medium Forge.

I have this one, but haven't added it to my rotation yet as I don't want to get my content mixed up. If it gets added to the rotation or if you want to chat about it later, let me know!

Good suggestions from several people in the previous posts. Thanks for thinking on these things and sharing your good ideas here!

I've created a dedicated thread for the the first book:
GWJ Antiracism Book Discussion - Book 1 How to Be an Antiracist

The rest we can sort through together. I'm open to adjusting the pacing, format, and anything else that needs it based on our experience.

Apologies for my brevity, but I'm at a remote site whistling into a modem connected to a payphone at 300 baud to make this post.

Amoebic wrote:
H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

Not to try to add potential books to the list, but has anyone read How to Be Less Stupid about Race by Crystal Fleming?

"If You're Serious about Racism, Listen to Black Women" is a excerpt up on Medium Forge.

I have this one, but haven't added it to my rotation yet as I don't want to get my content mixed up. If it gets added to the rotation or if you want to chat about it later, let me know!

That's a nomination and a second if I've ever read one (er, two?). I'll add it to our next poll. Thank you!

Antichulius wrote:

I’d say let’s just start, read at our own pace and discuss whatever as it comes up. We’ll learn pretty quickly if that works here or not and we can adjust as needed.

Otherwise, we’d need to set a schedule. It looks like the book has 18 chapters which could range from 2-4 months depending on how many chapters we look at for a given week. It would be nice to keep the discussions focused and moving and create momentum to keep reading, But it also creates a barrier for late comers or slower readers.

It’d be easy enough to start a new thread for this book, we all tag in or favorite it and discuss as we go. Then in 2 or 3 months, when it’s time for a new book, we start a new thread for it so discussions can still happen for those still reading the first book.

Maybe we aim for a roughly quarterly schedule of book rotations? 3 months?

I'm open to that pace, although I may set a slightly more upbeat tempo for our first book and see how it plays out. We'll try a few things, get feedback on what's working and what's not - adjust accordingly and move forward together.

Thank you for your ideas and sharing them here! It's our best chance of getting better together.

RawkGWJ wrote:

How should we manage the discussion?

The content in How to be an Antiracist is expertly organized. We could easily go chapter by chapter, having discussions and sharing commentary after each chapter. Or we could just comment as we go, which would be less organized, but also maybe less stifling? I’ll admit that I’m terrible at this type of planning, so please could someone else make this decision? Maybe Amoebic?

Here's my attempt at facilitating our first book discussion. Let's see where it takes us.

Rawk suggested this thread to me. I'm tagging it as I'm not sure if I'm up for adding one more thing in right now, but I am interested.

I tried reading We Were Eight Years in Power last month, after having Coates on my library waitlist/wishlist for the last 2-3 years. I got well over halfway through but eventually got overwhelmed. There's so much that I was distantly aware of but had never really grappled with. Even getting in to the shallow end of the pool was painful.

One great thing about this book is that it gives you tools for understanding and processing racist issues. No pressure though. You’ll get to it in your own time.

Quick suggestions, RE: John Lewis's death - March, The Race Beat and another book I can't think of at the moment.

EDIT: Carry Me Home.

Oops meant to go in the book discussion thread.

Prederick wrote:

Quick suggestions, RE: John Lewis's death - March, The Race Beat and another book I can't think of at the moment.

EDIT: Carry Me Home.

Speaking of John Lewis, you can read his posthumous opinion piece published in the NY Times (registration required to read) on the day of his funeral, Thursday, July 30, 2020.

I will create a new poll this week to vote on the next book for the group. The candidate list currently looks like this:

  • Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • How to Be Less Stupid About Race by Crystal Fleming

There were some other titles mentioned, but Fleming's book was the only one to receive a second. If you want to nominate a title or second an earlier nomination please do so in the next couple of days to get it included in the poll for book 2.

We really should do The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander at some point. If not for book 2, then soon? It's my first choice, but if it get's no other votes, So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo is my next vote.

I second the motion to nominate The New Jim Crow.

RawkGWJ wrote:

I second the motion to nominate The New Jim Crow.

Noted and I'll include it in the poll. Thank you, both!

The poll for our next book is live. The survey is scheduled to close on Wednesday, August 19 at noon, CDT ( 5 p.m. UTC).

Vote for the 2nd GWJ Anti-Racism Book Group Selection

I was able to incorporate MathGoddess's suggestion and enabled Instant Results. After you vote you'll see the current totals for each title.

Available options include:

  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  • How to Be Less Stupid About Race by Crystal Fleming
  • Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Library sent out their collection of links to books on race before Kendi speaking tomorrow.