Trump’s incoming presidency is ushering in an era of normalized bigotry and intolerance under the pretense of political incorrectness. Average Americans are just shockingly uninformed and translate their ignorance into bigotry to reflect that of the president-elect’s. And this is only going to increase under a Trump administration.
There’s no better way to combat this than by reading profusely to educate ourselves and others to become better-informed and active citizens.
Here’s what you should read to intellectually prepare yourself for the many uninformed bigots you will meet during and after a Trump presidency.
1. “Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire,” Deepa Kumar
If you’re trying to understand what motivates anti-Muslim sentiments on the political level, this book is definitely for you.
Deepa Kumar’s well-researched book offers a comprehensive analysis of the origins of Islamophobia, tracing it back centuries before 9/11, to demonstrate that anti-Muslim sentiments have historically been used to advance imperial and political ambitions. Kumar shrewdly analyzes how mainstream media–from Hollywood to traditional newspapers–promotes Islamophobia, which will make you question the racial implications of the next Hollywood movie you watch.
2. “Thomas Jefferson’s Quran: Islam and the Founders,” Denise Spelberg
Who knew Thomas Jefferson even had a Quran? Many Americans, including Muslim Americans, are unaware that Thomas Jefferson analytically read the Quran while drafting the U.S. Constitution.
Denise Spelberg takes her reader on a historical journey to factually illustrate that religious pluralism and tolerance were fundamental ideals in the making of America as a nation. This is a great read to understand the origins of Islam in America.
3. “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” Michelle Alexander
The years of racial apartheid and segregation in America are long behind us. Actually, not quite.
Michelle Alexander masterfully challenges the prevalent idea that racism in America has ended. She highlights the disproportionate number of Black and Latinos languishing in jail cells compared to Whites to prove that systematic racism still thrives, albeit less explicitly.
If you need another reason to support the Black Lives Matter movement, you need to read this.
4. “Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age,” Amani Al-Khatahtbeh
Sometimes memoirs are more enlightening than non-fiction, and this is no exception.
Written by Muslim Girl Founding Editor-in-Chief, this coming-of-age memoir tells the story of a young New Jersey girl as she navigates through life in America after the tragic events of 9/11 and how that unforgettable day defined her life. A quick gripping read, this novella exposes the realities Muslim women face in America since its “War on Terror.”
5. “How Does it Feel to be a Problem: Being Young and Arab in America,” Moustafa Bayoumi
The title of this riveting book was first posed as a question by W.E.B DuBois to speak to the status of Black men and women in post-civil war America. Over a century later, Moustafa Bayoumi poses the same question to Arab-Americans after 9/11.
Bayoumi chronicles the struggles of various young Arab-Americans living in Brooklyn in face of heightened state surveillance and paranoia, to convey how 9/11 drastically changed their lives. He explores the techniques used by the FBI and NYPD to crackdown on Muslim and Arab neighborhoods. Intimate and thought-provoking, Bayoumi’s book will make you rethink the so-called “effectiveness” of counterterrorism strategies in America.
6. “The House of Wisdom: How Arabs Transformed Western Civilization,” Jonathan Lyons
When Europe was reeling in the Dark Ages, the Muslim Empire was at the height of its Golden Age, curating latest innovations that are still used today.
Lyons examines how Baghdad once housed the largest library in the world and attracted mathematicians, scientists and philosophers all of whom contributed vastly to the development of the Western world.
Amazon book review writes, “In this brilliant, evocative book Jonathan Lyons reveals the story of how Europe drank from the well of Muslim learning.”
Read this book so the next time some bigot tells you that Arabs and Muslims only produced terrorism, you’ll know exactly how to respond.
7. “The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad,” Lesley Hazleton
During these difficult times, sometimes just reading deeper into our religion can bring us great ease, and that includes learning more about the story of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Written by a self-proclaimed agnostic Jew, this evocative book follows the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) from his birth to his last days. Hazleton humanizes Prophet Muhammad in such a way that will leave you inspired by how he overcame his trials and tribulations and became a great religious and political leader in the face of mounting adversity.