Photo by Polina Kovaleva

Often what makes people reshape their opinions about controversial matters like race and racism is by flipping through pages of influential books written by brave authors.

Race and racism remain two of the most controversial and misrepresented concepts in literature, with most people still stubbornly denying understanding and embracing their true significance genuinely. This proliferation of often evidently misleading accounts feeds into people’s misconception of what racism entails and how it can be fought and stopped.

Race and Racism in Literature

Books about racism and people’s possibly natural tendency to segregate and discriminate have gradually increased. This can be due to various reasons, but it’s primarily because of people’s need to understand and educate themselves about race and racism. Between fantasy novels supposedly symbolizing these concepts through seclusion and acceptance of other distinctive creatures and authors outright incorporating it in their novels, racism is a subject that receives enough attention.

But what’s common with how these authors typically depict this topic?

Apparent and obvious visual differences.

Perhaps, it’s easier to talk about this concept when people can vividly envision the differences it tackles. However, this neglects that the most ruthless crimes are often committed against people with no evident physical difference from their aggressors. The lack of expanded inclusion with the other races is among the common misrepresentation of race and racism in literature. Some authors fail to incorporate the fact that racism isn’t solely about skin color. It’s about what people consider others and the fear of these strangers.

Hence, race and racism must be written as more inclusive, as how these authors have written these concepts.

Dennis Joiner

In his book Let the Playing Field Level the Playing Field, Dennis Joiner comprehensively writes about racism. Instead of choosing a minority to receive discriminatory treatment, he tackles the concept in its wholeness as a societal diversification. The book provides an exhaustive discussion of how societal norms have influenced racism within the US.

Unlike most books about racism, Dennis takes his readers to an imaginary world wherein the socioeconomic playing field is equal. It doesn’t take the typical lens of injustice. Instead, it shows a world of equality and what the author expects would happen under such circumstances.

Steve Jones

When it comes to the concept of race and racism, people are too focused on discussing the latter that they often fail to factor in the former. While racism is a conscious decision, a socially-engineered and influenced notion, race isn’t. In his book, The Language of Genes, Steve Jones dismantles racism by digging deeper into its basic point – that racism isn’t only skin-deep. He discusses race and racism through genetics, illuminating a new and untouched perspective on racism.

Orlando Patterson

Racism is as much political as it’s supposedly human nature. Orlando Patterson investigates racism through the lens of political emancipation. The key theme of his book, Ordeal of Integration, posits that the state had done nothing to help these oppressed people back to freedom in today’s society. This challenges and cultivates a controversial perspective, bringing the issue back to society and how it gazes at these concepts. Patterson also raises an important fact, among others, that racism isn’t just attacking and limited to the black, shifting the focus from the black condition to the human condition.

King Bell

Why is it that despite race and racism being common subjects in literature, society is still far from becoming sensitive and considerate? Perhaps, it’s because their hearts haven’t been touched and changed. After all, literature won’t be an effective cure for people’s social ills if they aren’t willing to put in extra work and internally change. King Bell tries to change people’s understanding and connection toward racism by incorporating intimate and heartfelt experiences, attempting to reach out to people’s hearts more than their logic.

Kwame Anthony Appiah

If it’s about respecting and celebrating differences, the name Kwame Anthony Appiah shouldn’t be forgotten. As a gay man of Anglo-Ghanian background, he understands what it feels like to be different and is pressured about this difference. The primary point of his book, The Ethics of Identify, states that people are other, and these differences should be respected. For peace, people must establish a common ground, which can be the moral solution against racism.