Books on current events can offer us new and interesting perspectives on the events that shape our lives, whether we realize their full impact or not, and they serve as tools for activism in our own communities. If you’re a reader looking to help shape a better future, pick up any one of these five empowering books by authors who are prominent voices in issues of social and cultural commentary, and who draw upon history and current events to share stories that affect our world.
Want to discover more great nonfiction that illuminates essential issues of history, cultural commentary, and activism? Click below to explore more.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai first came to international attention when she began advocating for women's education, and then when she was shot in retaliation for her outspoken beliefs. Inspired by the people she met in various refugee camps around the world, Yousafzai writes about the idea of displacement and what it means to be a refugee. Drawing upon her own experiences of displacement from her home country, she shares the stories of multiple brave girls from all over the world and asks readers to rethink what they know about immigration and asylum seekers, encouraging them to see refugees as fully human.
We can't talk about racism without looking at the systemic issues that perpetuate racism. In this fascinating account, Washington looks at environmental racism and how pollution, housing inequality, and public health issues disproportionately affect Black communities...and the result is physical harm to those communities. This is an important book that looks at the big-picture issues and how they're connected, and calls for major reform if society is to repair these inequities.
Cathy Park Hong
In a reckoning that is both memoir and cultural critique, Hong examines the history of radicalized violence towards Asian Americans in the U.S., and how these issues have been swept under the rug. She draws upon history, personal experience, and pop culture to explore what she calls "minor feelings"--the dissonance she felt between her own emotions and lives experience and American optimism and refusal to acknowledge the racism she experiences regularly. This is an important read to help understand an important facet of the conversation surrounding race and culture.
In Hood Feminism, Mikki Kendall presents a collection of essays that point to a very real, very glaring problem in the current feminist movement: it's not intersectional enough. Kendall argues that feminism, at its core, is about equality for all and that can't be achieved until we address issues of income equality, housing, racism, food insecurity, access to education, and other basic fundamental rights that many people, particularly people of color, still struggle to achieve. Kendall reminds readers that feminism shouldn't be about increasing privilege for a few, but fighting for equality for all.