PageTurners: These Authors Are Taking You Back to School

PageTurners: These Authors Are Taking You Back to School

New fiction and nonfiction titles sure to educate the hell out of you.

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In the Country of Others, The Republic of False Truths, Ratchetdemics
In the Country of Others, The Republic of False Truths, Ratchetdemics
Image: Penguin Books, Knopf, Beacon Press

You know, if I had someone teaching me Ratchetdemics in middle and high school, I might have paid a bit more attention. Honestly, if any of these authors had released books like the ones dropped this week while I was still in school, I might have left a tad more—excuse my language—woke. But alas, learning never ends and I have these reads today, and so do you.

For starters, even the fictional releases have some hard-hitting themes about politics and the way the world operates outside of the U.S. Ramadan Ramsey shows a young man in search of his father in Syria and the awakening he must face in uniting with him at last. The Republic of False Truths by Egyptian author Alaa Al Aswany is a poignant story of the repercussions of a revolution and overthrowing of a regime.

#SayHerName: Black Women’s Stories of State Violence and Public Silence examines the ways in which systemic violence against Black women has risen rapidly, and Christopher Emdin talks about “Ratchetdemics” in his new book of the same name which discusses how understanding the identity of Black children in the classroom can enhance their education tenfold.

So on that note, in the words of the one and only KRS-One…you must learn.

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Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness – Da’shaun L. Harrison, Foreword by Kiese Laymon (Nonfiction)

Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness – Da’shaun L. Harrison, Foreword by Kiese Laymon (Nonfiction)

Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness – Da’shaun L. Harrison, Foreword by Kiese Laymon
Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness – Da’shaun L. Harrison, Foreword by Kiese Laymon
Image: North Atlantic Books

“To live in a body both fat and Black is to exist at the margins of a society that creates the conditions for anti-fatness as anti-Blackness.” Every day, fat, Black people are disenfranchised, policed, discriminated against and oppressed. Da’shaun L. Harrison is a fat, Black, nonbinary trans and disabled writer who is doing the work to expose this country’s anti-fat, anti-Black systems that hold people back and down daily. Harrison talks about disability politics as well as gender limitations and the correlation between employment and physical appearance. Additionally, Harrison provides multiple strategies on how to dismantle the ingrained cultural practices that limit fat Black people and perpetuate the “fat is bad” mentality.

August 10, 2021, North Atlantic Books

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In the Country of Others: A Novel – Leila Slimani (Fiction)

In the Country of Others: A Novel – Leila Slimani (Fiction)

In the Country of Others: A Novel – Leila Slimani
In the Country of Others: A Novel – Leila Slimani
Image: Penguin Books

Mathilde, a vibrant young Frenchwoman, has never been one to do what she’s told, so it’s only fitting she falls in love with Amine, a Moroccan soldier serving in the French Army in World War II. Their whirlwind romance has them settling down in Morocco and while it’s charming and quaint at first, it turns contentious as stressors rise. Amine tries to revive and cultivate his family farm and Mathilde finds herself slipping away due to the isolation. When one of her two daughters is taunted at school for her unruly hair and secondhand clothes, Mathilde snaps, shifting away from being just a farmer’s wife and beginning to defy the country’s “chauvinism and repressive social codes.”

All the while, tensions rise between Moroccan and French colonists and Amine finds himself caught in the middle and pulled in all sorts of directions that have him rethinking decisions and reexamining the choices made around his love, his life and his land.

August 10, 2021, Penguin Books

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Ramadan Ramsey – Louis Edwards (Fiction)

Ramadan Ramsey – Louis Edwards (Fiction)

Ramadan Ramsey – Louis Edwards
Ramadan Ramsey – Louis Edwards
Image: Amistad Books

Alicia Ramsey, a New Orleans native and Mustafa Totah, a Syrian immigrant, are wrapped up in their teenage love story which begins in 1999. But when a series of family troubles arise, Mustafa runs home to Syria, leaving Alicia and their unborn child. After their son, Ramadan, is born, Alicia raises him with the help of her mother and the two live peacefully in their home until 2005 when the “epochal hurricane of 2005 barrels into New Orleans, shattering both the Ramsey and Totah families. When Ramadan is 12, he sets out on a journey of faith, familiar and unfamiliar travel and hope, in search of uniting with a father and family he has never known.

August 10, 2021, Amistad

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Ratchetdemic: Reimagining Academic Success — Christopher Emdin (Nonfiction)

Ratchetdemic: Reimagining Academic Success — Christopher Emdin (Nonfiction)

Ratchetdemic: Reimagining Academic Success — Christopher Emdin
Ratchetdemic: Reimagining Academic Success — Christopher Emdin
Image: Beacon Press

Jumping off from his New York Times Bestselling book, For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood, Christopher Emdin is here to teach you how to celebrate Blackness and reject respectability politics in the classroom. Ratchetdemic looks at the identities of students within a classroom and advocates for a new type of learning—one that makes them feel safe and secure while still teaching advanced learning techniques. Emdin argues that “modern schooling is often centered [around] whiteness,” dismissing the identity of students who are often “associated with lowbrow culture.”

Emdin pleads the case that academics can be ratchet and still fall under the umbrella of learning. By reclaiming the joy that comes from youthfulness in classrooms, it’s possible to come up with raps about photosynthesis, making learning fun and accessible for students across the country.

August 10, 2021, Beacon Press

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#SayHerName: Black Women’s Stories of State Violence and Public Silence – Kimberlé Crenshaw, The African American Policy Forum, Foreword by Janelle Monáe (Nonfiction)

#SayHerName: Black Women’s Stories of State Violence and Public Silence – Kimberlé Crenshaw, The African American Policy Forum, Foreword by Janelle Monáe (Nonfiction)

#SayHerName: Black Women’s Stories of State Violence and Public Silence – Kimberlé Crenshaw, The African American Policy Forum, Forward by Janelle Monáe
#SayHerName: Black Women’s Stories of State Violence and Public Silence – Kimberlé Crenshaw, The African American Policy Forum, Forward by Janelle Monáe
Image: Haymarket Books

When the movement started in 2014, the founders of #SayHerName were not fully aware of how fast it would gain traction and take off the ground. Black women, girls and femmes between the ages of seven all the way through 93 have been killed by police and by unjust systems in place in this country. We know some of their stories, such as Breonna Taylor, Alberta Spruill, Rekia Boyd, Shantel Davis, Shelly Frey, Kayla Moore, Kyam Livingston, Miriam Carey, Michelle Cusseaux, Tanisha Anderson and more. But there are still far too many whose names we don’t know and the #SayHerName campaign “lifts up the stories of these women and girls in order to build a gender-inclusive framework for understanding, discussing, and combating police violence.”

#SayHerName not only tells some of these stories but looks at the systemic racism ingrained in the violence and analyzes how to truly understand the susceptibility Black women are subjected to by the police.

August 10, 2021, Haymarket Books

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The Republic of False Truths: A Novel – Alaa Al Aswany, Translated by S.R. Fellowes (Fiction)

The Republic of False Truths: A Novel – Alaa Al Aswany, Translated by S.R. Fellowes (Fiction)

The Republic of False Truths: A Novel – Alaa Al Aswany, Translated by S.R. Fellowes
The Republic of False Truths: A Novel – Alaa Al Aswany, Translated by S.R. Fellowes
Image: Knopf

Alaa Al Aswany reaches us with an undoubtedly brilliant cast of characters who are all intertwined decades after the repressive regime in Cairo, Egypt has been dismantled.

But tensions are still rising—only this time, they rise within the streets of the city—and no one man, woman or child is out of reach from the violence. The Republic of False Truths features a general with both a soft and raging violent side to a young teacher champing at the bit out of frustration at her school, an actor having an affair with his maid and a television personality who continues to defend those in power. Aswany shows the true repercussions that come from the fall of a regime and the impact it has on an entire country and its people.

August 10, 2021, Knopf

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The State Must Provide: Why America’s Colleges Have Always Been Unequal–and How to Set Them Right – Adam Harris (Nonfiction)

The State Must Provide: Why America’s Colleges Have Always Been Unequal–and How to Set Them Right – Adam Harris (Nonfiction)

The State Must Provide: Why America’s Colleges Have Always Been Unequal–and How to Set Them Right – Adam Harris
The State Must Provide: Why America’s Colleges Have Always Been Unequal–and How to Set Them Right – Adam Harris
Image: HarperCollins

Going to college or university is supposed to be one’s “ticket out.” College is talked about like it’s some end-all-be-all towards success and once you get there, all of your troubles go away, but that is far from the case. Adam Harris debunks the myths and exposes the systemic racism that exists within the higher education system in The State Must Provide. Harris looks at the origins of HBCUs and outlines “exactly how racial inequality was built into American higher education from the beginning, how it’s been maintained, and makes a case for reparations,” per a press release provided to The Root. Through Harris’ investigations, personal accounts and reporting, The State Must Provide gives an “incisive, definitive history of HBCUs.” It is a telling of the critical failures that exist within the higher education system and how colleges in America have never given their Black students a real chance to succeed.

August 10, 2021, HarperCollins.

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