A lot has been happening in the publishing world these last couple of weeks/months…particularly in the non-fiction realm. On Sunday, June 21st, Ibram X. Kendi who topped the New York Times Best-selling Non-Fiction list, posted on Instagram stating, “Today is the first Sunday in as long as I can remember when the New York Times Bestseller List looked like my bookshelves.

This is a moment in time where the publishing world itself and the assumptions it has carried about “who’s books can sell” and “who is publishable” are dramatically shifting. There is a ton of road left to walk, but I for one am glad to see author’s of color and particularly those writing in the anti-racism movement having a moment. A moment I hope turns into a wave, which turns into a tsunami that dismantles and re-institutes a more equitable publishing system.

So, to that end, Haddi and I wanted to make you all aware of an incredible, and free opportunity to hear one of the premier thinkers living out anti-racism work. On July 20th there is a free virtual event happening with Ibram X. Kendi himself. Haddi and I have already registered (link above) and we plan to read his latest book, “How to Be an Anti-Racist” between then and now. We would like to formally invite you to join us for this virtual event and then a hosted virtual discussion, hosted by us, to follow (more on the follow up conversation to come).

Many of us hope to do something, make an impact and help evolve our world into something more equitable for all, but that work isn’t a sprint, it’s a lifetime marathon. And marathons (from what I hear, cause I sure as shit ain’t doing one) are one step, one mile at a time. So for me I look to books and I look to the publishing world because books are absolutely essential to my life. They are my passion, my hobby, the place I retreat to and where I am pushed beyond the edges of my knowing. So three years ago, I started intentionally buying and reading more authors of color and it has fundamentally changed how I think, act and move in the world, from parenting to pastoring to purchasing book! I have significantly shifted and I pray those shifts have been helpful and not harmful. I pray those shifts will ripple through my children, family, friends and members into the world.

The world won’t be saved by reading a book. It won’t. Yet an impact can occur within the publishing space that changes the world in meaningful ways. So I humbly ask you to consider your purchasing power, your consumption of literature and perhaps join me in continuing to #decolonizeyourbookshelf (check out more about this below and follow on Instagram). And I invite you to join the conversation with Ibram X. Kendi on July 20th.

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I often teach my equation to allyship as [knowledge + empathy + action]. Knowledge is the work you do to educate yourself on the true experiences of people of color so that you can shed your whitewashed understating and UNlearn your whitewashed education which has led to so many of your violent biases and racism — both subtle and overt. (To learn more about ways you can UNlearn head to my online education platform @thegreatunlearn) • Critical Note: it is imperative that you seek texts that are written BY people of color that are telling their OWN stories, their OWN truths (I recently wrote a piece for @thehelmco where I insisted Robin DiAngelo be held accountable for the money she’s making off of antiracism work (and her book White Fragility) holding her accountable for whether she is being transparent and intentional about not just intellectualizing race but using the resources she’s gaining off of that book to tangibly support black communities) • To help you get started I have a list of over 900 books for you to choose from that we’re crowdsourced over a year ago here in this community. Head to link in my bio to take a look🌟 • Earlier this year I launched my own bookstore and writing center @elizabethsofakron. The Elizabeth’s Our catalog highlights, promotes, amplifies, celebrates, and honors the work of writers who are often excluded from traditional cultural, social and academic canons. • Online only for now, I am excited to have its brick and mortar in my hometown of Akron, Ohio. If you see a book on this list that you want to snag I’d love for you to head to @elizabethsofakron to purchase as a percentage of all our sales go directly to my foundation @thelovelandfoundation where we offer free mental health care to black women and girls! • Love always, Rachel • Ps drop an emoji in the comments section to help fight the algorithm that is deeply messing with the numbers of black activists all over social media right now and swipe for a peek at my own bookshelf and some special sweetness from my puppy Ivy. • #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #bookshelf #shelfie #wellreadblackgirl #booklover #decolonizeyourbookshelf #shelfstyling #librariesofinstagram

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