Hey, Kanye, Here’s a List of Books You Should Read To Strengthen Your “Free Thinking”

Source: Roc-A-Fella Records

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”—Mark Twain

Dear Kanye,

I hope this letter finds you well. I see you have a penchant for “free thinking.” Well, our team here at Okayplayer believes that free thinking framed by oppressive constructs and devoid of historical, social, and political context is reductive and does more harm than good. If you are for “the people,” it would behoove you and the people to read before you think and think before you speak.

Yes, there are race theorists who can talk about race; sociologists who can talk about sociopolitics; and political theorists who can talk about socialism and capitalism. And we understand the limits of looking to celebrities to be authority figures on what others are more equipped to speak on. So, we won’t conflate fame, talent, and intellect with authority. But we will ask that you equip yourself with the tools to properly and accurately speak on what you choose to use your platform to amplify.

We know that wealth grants access to educational resources and spaces, but wealth also isolates and re-conditions people to think and function within the social constraints of tight, top-percentile communities while disregarding the realities of the masses. We know that wealth dictates and disrupts American politics — the very processes that bear influence on marginalized lives, and we know that your re-positioning in these wealthy spaces may have re-conditioned you, too.

What we don’t know is if your peers in Calabasas are providing you with the proper tools to study what you speak on. And being that we don’t believe iMessage is a sufficient enough space to relay the information that you’d need to be well-versed in all of the topics you speak and tweet about, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of texts on race theory; the history of slavery; civil rights; capitalism; socialism and more to help guide you on your mission to continue thinking freely, but in a constructive manner. Because what good is an opinion or a theory when it’s loud and wrong?

We know that your birthday is next month, so feel free to send this book list to all of your wealthy friends to make life easier for them, us, and yourself:

Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fanon

“Race and the New Biocitizen” by Dorothy Roberts

Multi-America: Essays on Cultural Wars and Cultural Peace by Ishmael Reed

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America (Race and American Culture) by Saidiya V. Hartman

In the Wake: On Blackness and Being by Christina Sharpe

Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-Create Race in the 21st Century by Dorothy Roberts

Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis by Katherine McKittrick

The Reaper’s Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery by Vincent Brown

The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double-Consciousness by Paul Gilroy

Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness by Simone Browne

Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform by Derrick Bell

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley and Malcolm X

Last Year of Malcolm X: The Evolution of a Revolutionary by George Breitman

Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur

If They Come in the Morning: Voices of Resistance by Angela Davis

When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America by Paula Giddings.

Race Matters by Cornel West

The Communist Manifesto by Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx

A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn

23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism, Ha Joon Chang

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

And if you don’t feel like reading, watch these informative films and documentaries to get in the mood:

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

Strong Island


I Am Not Your Negro



Concerned Blacks.

Ivie Ani

Ivie is a Nigerian-American, native New Yorker, and journalist covering culture. Usually on-air, on deadline, and on point. @ivieani

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Ivie Ani

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