In Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, former NFL player and viral video sensation Emmanuel Acho tackles the questions about race that many white people are afraid to ask, yet which everyone needs the answers to. Here he recommends just a few of his favourite books on the topic of race and racism.
The death of George Floyd on 25th May 2020 sparked protests across America which soon spread around the world. Conversations about systemic racism and police brutality took on new urgency in the wake of these events, and many people were asking: what can I do to help? Ex-NFL player and Fox Sports analyst Emmanuel Acho’s answer? ‘Let your guard down and listen.’
Emmanuel wanted to create a safe space to address the questions about race that so many people are scared to ask, and to tear down the barriers to honest conversation. And so he launched his video series Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. As Emmanuel explained in the first episode: ‘this is made for you my white brothers and sisters, to increase your level of understanding so that you can increase your level of compassion and lead ultimately to change.’
The first video went viral with over twelve million views on Instagram, and subsequent episodes featured celebrity guests including Matthew McConaughey and Chelsea Handler discussing everything from implicit bias and white privilege to how to actively be anti-racist.
In his first book, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, Emmanuel expands on his video series to provide a guide to the truths we need to know to address systemic racism. Each chapter addresses a particular topic, including cultural appropriation, reverse racism and how to be an ally.
In this video, Emmanuel tells us more about his book, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man:
As Emmanuel says, one of the most important things we can do in the fight against racism is to listen. Here, he shares just a few of his favourite books on race and racism.
If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
‘This novel has the biggest heart, in its head-on portrait of how black families endured in the ’50s and ’60s against stacked odds. A classic for a reason.’
How the Irish Became White by Noel Ignatiev
‘A brilliant investigation of how race was invented in America – for white people as well as black people. ’
The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn’t, and Why, by Jabari Asim
‘I know what some of you are thinking: this book could be two sentences. (Who can say it? Black people. Who can’t? White people.) But it’s all in the why, my friends. Asim takes us through the tangled 400-year history of the N-word, which is also the history of racism.’
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
‘Another classic for a reason. It’s Toni Morrison. Just read it. ’
White Rage by Carol Anderson
‘Anderson, the head of African American studies of Emory University, really delves into the feeling of anger white people have had over black equality and how that anger has manifested over the years.’
Stamped by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds; Woke Baby by Mahogany L. Browne
‘A twofer of sensitive yet honest introductions to race and racism for kids and young adults. We got to start the youngins out right.’