Catching Katy

Reads, Eats, & Everything Else


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White Fragility

I am a fiction reader through and through, but I try to consciously read at least a few nonfiction books a year to challenge my brain. Well, I’m embarrassed to say that we’re halfway through this challenging year and this is the first nonfiction I’ve read. But I’m excited to discuss with book club next week!

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo is really a must read. And before you get all up in arms about race and racism, just give it an open-minded chance. Even if we tell ourselves and/or others we’re not racist. The truth is, all white people have racist tendencies (above and beyond prejudices) even if we don’t realize it. And there is a horrifyingly large list of societal norms that are not ok. DiAngelo shows that racism is not a simple matter of good vs. bad. There is a continuum and while none of it is good, not all racism is the white supremacist and physical attacks on black people. It’s good to admit that we are racist so we can recognize specific instances and take action to make changes in ourselves. After that, we should recognize it in other people and take action to constructively point this out to them, as well as take constructive criticism ourselves. Become an anti-racist. It’s not an easy thing for us to do and I am definitely not completely comfortable with conversations about race. But I want to be.

A big topic in the book is how white people react when they are told, be it constructively or aggressively, that they did or said something racist. I’ve never been in that situation, but I can admit that yes, my first instinct would probably be to defend myself, say I’m not racist, and try to justify what I said or did. That is what most people would do. And that is a problem. We shouldn’t have to be consoled because we feel bad about something we said or did, even if it was not intended to cause harm or offense. We need to do better to support and respect the people around us and the actions that affect them. And no, I don’t think we, as a society, becoming too sensitive. I would never venture to say that about something I will never fully understand.

The key to moving forward is what we do with out discomfort. We can use it as a door out – blame the messenger and disregard the message. Or we can use it as a door in by asking, Why does this unsettle me? What would it mean for me if this were true? How does this lens change my understanding of racial dynamics? How can my unease help reveal the unexamined assumptions I have been making? Is it possible that because I am white, there are some racial dynamics that I can’t see? Am I willing to consider that possibility? If I am not willing to do so, then why not?

Robin DiAngelo

If you’re looking for books about race and racism, this is a good one to start with. It is a little repetitive at times, but it’s not very long (not that that should matter). And I learned a lot. Just imagine what would happen if even each individual person just decided to change their own thoughts and actions towards racism. Then imagine what would happen if we held others accountable. Just start with a book/some research and a conversation with someone you trust that doesn’t necessarily have all the same beliefs/viewpoints.


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The Hate U Give

There has been a lot going on in our country and I want to educate myself more and want to be strongly anti-racist. I like to read so I figure books would be a good place to start (on my own at least). And there are plenty of lists out there with recommendations. A group from college started a book club and we’re starting with a non-fiction, so I figured I’d go ahead on my own and read this novel I’ve heard so much about.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is technically fiction. The events portrayed did not happen to the author nor is it about any specific real person. It is however based on many actual events that have occurred for many years. A young black man being shot by the police for no reason is all too common a headline. Or, in a lot of cases, doesn’t even get a headline. In the book, the main character, Starr, is with her friend when this happens and she is the only witness. It happens in a “bad” part of town. She is sixteen years old. Starr’s life is thrown into a tailspin which is not made better by the fact that she attends a private, mostly Caucasian high school. So her friends there don’t know and wouldn’t understand.

I cannot imagine having to deal with something like this. And I will never understand how the Black community feels every time this happens. When this happens over and over. It makes me feel angry and sick, so I cannot imagine how the communities where these atrocities happen feel. Obviously not all police are bad. But something has to change for them to be held accountable when people are killed for no reason and for them to not automatically resort to deadly force. And this story is not afraid to make the situation feel more complicated. No one is perfect but that does not mean they deserve to die.

We have to do better. I want to do better. I know there’s not a whole I can do on my own, which makes me feel very helpless. But hopefully educating myself and having conversations helps in a small way. If everyone did the same, imagine what could happen! Definitely check out this book. It’s an emotional read but pretty quick and worth every minute. We watched the movie as well, and while it is powerful and emotional, the book is obviously better (as usual). But if you’re not a book person, at least check out the movie!


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Small Great Things

I’ve read many Jodi Picoult books and consider her to be a great writer of fictional, take-to-the-beach type books. So when I saw she had a new novel out, I didn’t even read the synopsis before grabbing a copy.

Small Great Things was probably the most personally challenging book I have ever read. Depending on who you are, it will make you uncomfortable, make you relate, and/or make you question yourself and the world around you. It is a detailed story of race and privilege. Even if you are not (or believe you are not) racist, there are inevitable prejudices we all have due to our society. This story broadcasts such prejudices, whether slight or extreme, into a spotlight.

My only complaint is the end still wraps everything up in a nice neat bow and I think it was a little unrealistic. Although most characters were based on people Picoult interviewed, so I guess it’s not completely out of the question. I also enjoyed reading, after the end of story, her thoughts about writing this story and the journey it took.

This is not a happy story but it is an important one that I appreciate her writing. Enjoy!

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