Loutit District Library’s mission statement is Expanding Horizons. Enriching Minds. Engaging Community. With this in mind, we are committed to exploring race relations as a library and as a community. In that spirit, we will be sharing resources to help increase understanding of race relations in the wider context of the protests surrounding the death of George Floyd. We condemn racism and oppression in all forms and offer resources that enable discussion about the history of race, discrimination, and civil rights in America. By listening and learning, we can move forward to understanding and creating positive change.



Below are some resources to expand your views of race and racism.



Enrich your thinking with digital materials available on Libby (OverDrive), Hoopla, and Rbdigital.


Nonfiction Titles

How to Be an AntHow to Be an Antiracistiracist by Ibram X Kendi (available on Libby)

Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and re-energizes the conversation about racism—and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. At it’s core, racism is a powerful system that creates false hierarchies of human value; its warped logic extends beyond race, from the way we regard people of different ethnicities or skin colors to the way we treat people of different sexes, gender identities, and body types. Racism intersects with class and culture and geography and even changes the way we see and value ourselves. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves.


The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (available on Hoopla)New Jim Crow

Once in a great while a book comes along that changes the way we see the world and helps to fuel a nationwide social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book. This book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that ‘we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.’ By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control-relegating millions to a permanent second-class status-even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a ‘call to action.’


White FragilityWhite Fragility: Why it’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DeAngelo (available on Libby)

In this “vital, necessary, and beautiful book” (Michael Eric Dyson), antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and “allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people’ (Claudia Rankine). Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.


So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo (available on Libby)So You Want to Talk About Race

Widespread reporting on aspects of white supremacy—from police brutality to the mass incarceration of African Americans—have made it impossible to ignore the issue of race. Still, it is a difficult subject to talk about. How do you tell your roommate her jokes are racist? Why did your sister-in-law take umbrage when you asked to touch her hair—and how do you make it right? How do you explain white privilege to your white, privileged friend?


Signs of ResistanceSigns of Resistance by Bonnie Siegler (available on Hoopla)

In hundreds of iconic, smart, angry, clever, unforgettable images, Signs of Resistance chronicles what truly makes America great: citizens unafraid of speaking truth to power. Two hundred and forty images-from British rule and women’s suffrage to the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War; from women’s equality and Black Lives Matter to the actions of our forty-fifth president and the Women’s March-offer an inspiring, optimistic, and visually galvanizing history lesson about the power people have when they take to the streets and stand up for what’s right.


March Book One by John Lewis (available on Hoopla)March Book 1

Book One spans John Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall. Many years ago, John Lewis and other student activists drew inspiration from the 1958 comic book Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story. Now, his own comics bring those days to life for a new audience, testifying to a movement whose echoes will be heard for generations.


More Nonfiction Titles

  • White Trash: The 400 Year Untold History of Class in America — Nancy Isenberg (available on Libby)
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Graphic Novel available on Libby)
  • The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein (available on Libby)
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (available on Libby)
  • I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown (available on Libby)
  • White Rage by Carol Anderson (available on Libby)
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (available on Libby)
  • Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad (available on Hoopla)
  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (available on Hoopla)
  • Fatal Invention by Dorothy Roberts (available on Hoopla)
  • The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon (available on Hoopla)
  • 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup ebook (available on Hoopla)


Fiction Tiles

American MarriageAn American Marriage by Tayari Jones ebook and audio (Overdrive/Libby/Rbdigital)

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.


The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd ebook and audio (Overdrive/Libby/Rbdigital)Invention of Wings

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.


MonsterMonster by Walter Dean Myers ebook and audio (Overdrive/Libby/Rbdigital)

Monster is a multi-award-winning, provocative coming-of-age story that was the first-ever Michael L. Printz Award recipient, an ALA Best Book, a Coretta Scott King Honor selection, and a National Book Award finalist.

Monster is now a major motion picture called All Rise and starring Jennifer Hudson, Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Nas, and A$AP Rocky.

The late Walter Dean Myers was a National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, who was known for his commitment to realistically depicting kids from his hometown of Harlem.


The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead ebook and audio (Overdrive/Libby)Underground Railroad

Cora is a young slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. An outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is on the cusp of womanhood—where greater pain awaits. And so when Caesar, a slave who has recently arrived from Virginia, urges her to join him on the Underground Railroad, she seizes the opportunity and escapes with him. In Colson Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor: engineers and conductors operate a secret network of actual tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora embarks on a harrowing flight from one state to the next, encountering, like Gulliver, strange yet familiar iterations of her own world at each stop. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the terrors of the antebellum era, he weaves in the saga of our nation, from the brutal abduction of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is both the gripping tale of one woman’s will to escape the horrors of bondage—and a powerful meditation on the history we all share.


Sing Unburied SingSing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward ebook and audio (Overdrive/Libby)

Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. He doesn’t lack in fathers to study, chief among them his Black grandfather, Pop. But there are other men who complicate his understanding: his absent White father, Michael, who is being released from prison; his absent White grandfather, Big Joseph, who won’t acknowledge his existence; and the memories of his dead uncle, Given, who died as a teenager.

His mother, Leonie, is an inconsistent presence in his and his toddler sister’s lives. She is an imperfect mother in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is Black and her children’s father is White. She wants to be a better mother but can’t put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use. Simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high, Leonie is embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances.

When the children’s father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another thirteen-year-old boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love.


Native Son by Richard Wright ebook and audio (Overdrive/Libby/Rbdigital)Native Son

Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic.

Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Richard Wright’s powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.


More Fiction Titles

  • Another Country by James Baldwin ebook and audio (Overdrive/Libby)
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston ebook (Hoopla)
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd ebook (Overdrive/Libby)
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison ebook and audio (Overdrive/Libby)
  • Small Great Things by Jody Picoult ebook and audio (Overdrive and Libby)
  • The Kid by Sapphire ebook and audio (Overdrive/Libby)
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett ebook and audio (Overdrive/Libby)
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (Hoopla/Rbdigital)
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas ebook and audio (Overdrive/Libby)
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker (Hoopla)



Just MercyJust Mercy (2019)

World-renowned civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson works to free a wrongly condemned death-row prisoner. Based on the book by Bryan Stevenson.





I Am Not Your Negro


I am Not Your Negro (2016)

Available on Kanopy & Hoopla

Writer James Baldwin tells the story of race in modern America with his unfinished novel, Remember This House.


Freedom RidersFreedom Riders (2010)

Available on Hoopla

The story of the Civil Rights Movement interstate busing protest campaign

The Uncomfortable Truth: The History of Racism in America (2017)

Available on Kanopy

When award-winning filmmaker of “An Ordinary Hero,” Loki Mulholland, dives into the 400 year history of institutional racism in America he is confronted with the shocking reality that his family helped start it all from the very beginning.


More Documentaries

  • The Colour of Beauty: Racism in the Fashion Industry (available on Kanopy)
  • White Like Me: Race, Racism & White Privilege in America (available on Kanopy)
  • How to Start a Revolution (available on Kanopy)
  • Profiled (available on Kanopy)
  • Whose Streets? (available on Kanopy)
  • White Right: Meeting the Enemy (available on Kanopy)



What can you do to be the change in your community? Visit the following links to learn more about how you can support the black community and aide in the fight for justice and equality.

Contact your local and state representatives and let them know you demand change. Find your representative’s information by entering your zipcode here.

Register to vote! One of the best ways to enact change is to vote for candidates who will stand up and make the best decisions for all the U.S. citizens. Learn how to register to vote in Michigan by visiting the state website.

Support black-owned businesses by visiting the Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses website.