Reading Race and Class

Books that shed light on race and class dynamics in the U.S.

In the past, and especially during this election cycle, I've been committed to reading books that help me better understand race and class dynamics in this country. One of the books on my reading list is The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward. Ward uses James Baldwin's 1963 book The Fire Next Time as a starting point to discuss current questions of race in the U.S. Contributors such Carol Anderson, Edwidge Danticat and Isabel Wilkerson speak to their concerns about race through essays and poems.                                                                                              

The Fire this Time

I'm currently reading Carol Anderson's White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide. Anderson's book, which first appeared as a Washington Post op-ed piece in 2014, examines the history of white reaction to the gains made by African Americans since 1865 to the present.

White Rage 

During the past year, many other books have been released that offer insight into the history of immigration, class, and race in the U.S. Here are just a few of the many titles available at OPL. 

We Wanted Workers     
We wanted workers : unraveling the immigration narrative / George J. Borjas
George J. Borjas, a Cuban-American Harvard labor economist, argues that immigrants are more than just workers -- they're people who have lives outside of the factory gates and who may or may not fit the ideal of the country to which they've come to live and work. They're protected by social insurance programs, and the choices they make are affected by their social environments. Borjas pulls back the curtain of political bluster to show that, in the grand scheme, immigration has not affected the average American all that much. But it has created winners and losers.

The Presidency in Black and White
The presidency in black and white : my up-close view of three presidents and race in America / April Ryan   
Gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at race relations from the epicenter of American power making -- the White House, April Ryan's beat since 1997. Ryan tells us what it was like for a pioneering African American female reporter to become a respected member of the White House press corps, one of the great old boy networks in the nation's capital.

Jackson, 1964 : and other dispatches from fifty years of reporting on race in America / Calvin Trillin
In the early sixties, Calvin Trillin got his start as a journalist covering the Civil Rights Movement in the South. Over the next five decades of reporting, he often returned to scenes of racial tension. In this volume, a collection of pieces on race in America, Trillin takes on issues that are as relevant today as they were when he wrote about them.

Hillbilly Elegy
Hillbilly elegy
: a memoir of a family and culture in crisis / J.D. Vance
Vance writes a personal analysis of a culture in crisis -- that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographhic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J.D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you werer born with it hung around your neck.

Descriptions provided by the publisher.



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