The Color Line In Books About America


This is a few days old, but the Atlantic asked eleven people to recommend three books each “to help make sense of the state of U.S. democracy.” Aside from one child’s book that I discarded, they ended up with 33 books. The recommenders included five people of color and six white people. Since I’m a chart guy, I have summarized the recommendations in the chart on the right.

I don’t have a big ol’ essay in me about this, but it’s pretty remarkable. If you want to understand America, people of color apparently think you need to read about race and people of color, but nothing much else. White people think you need to understand class, poverty, religion, and so forth, but nothing much about race or people of color. And these are all pretty high-IQ folks who are well read and presumably understand perfectly well the complexity of American history, culture, and politics.

I wonder what books I’d choose if I were limited to three?