Tribute to Nelson Mandela

In memory of one of the bravest, influential and humble men who walked our earth, I thought I would show my gratitude by letting out my inner Mandela and share knowledge. In this post I will present 10 (or more) books that demonstrate and explore different forms of discrimination – such as racism from different countries, gender, disability, ect.

I was going to organize this by having one book for different categories, but I just found so many different books that I decided to include any the sounded promising, have good reviews and ones that I have personally read. It was hard to narrow them down, but I think I have a good mix of classics, unknowns, fiction and non-fiction to give to you today.

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

to kill a mockingbird

 I thought I would start off with a classic. Even though I grew up in Australia and the African/American discrimination in the deep south is not a part of our history, To Kill a Mockingbird was still included into our reading list for year 12 English – demonstrating that the issues it explores is not only a history lesson, but one that can be relatable and understandable to people all over the world. For this reason I include To Kill a Mockingbird, and it should be a definite read if you have not done so already.

2. Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin

Black Like Me
To keep with the theme of racism in the deep south, Black Like Me has also made the list and is one I have not read. From the synopsis and positive reviews of it, I believe that Black Like Me is a non-fiction based on true events of a white journalist who took a drug to darken his skin, giving up his privileges as a white man to explore the prejudice in South America. The goodreads summary sounds really interesting, and is one I would definitely read if given the chance.

3. The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips


OR The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The Bluest Eye
It was a hard tossup between these two, so I included both. I wanted one from the perspective of a child to demonstrate the effect racism has on them. Both of these have received great ratings and I believe both are brutally honest. The Darkest child is about a bright girl who wants to learn and go to school, but as the darkest child out of her large family, her mother believes she should be cleaning houses. The Bluest Eye is about three dark skinned girls in America, and talks of their hopes and dreams of being blond and beautiful. From reviews, I hear that this book is the most graphic and brutal, including rape of minors, incest and impregnation. If you are not ready to face such realities in a brutal and honest light, I recommend The Darkest Child. If you are braver, try The Bluest Eye.

4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Another well known story, The Book Thief is set in WW11. I included this book because the Holocaust was one of the most horrific events of our time, bound by one man’s supremacy and belief that he was better than everyone else that lead to a discrimination that. I have not read The Book Thief, but with my little knowledge of the Holocaust, the amount of discrimination that could be shown here is endless.

5. The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera
This book is close to home and my heart. It is the story of a young New Zealand girl who is the only heir to be chief of her tribe. However, only males can be chief and her grandfather sets about training the community boys to find someone to take his place. This tells the story of how the girl must prove her worth, nearly costing her life. I have not read the book, but the movie was beautiful and heart wrenching and I recommend it to anyone who wants a glimpse at a different culture, likes whales and enjoys stories of the old world being opened up to the modern.

6. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood


Yet another book I have not read, but seems really interesting. It is a fiction in a world where women have no right and are judged by the worth of the reproductive system. Recommended to anyone who wants to explore gender discrimination.

7. Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington and Nugi Garimara.


Another story that’s close to home – I have had this story read to me as a little girl and have watched the movie numerous times. The sad part is that it is based on a true story during real events of Australia’s past. The Stolen Generation is a period in history where half-caste aboriginal children were taken from their families and culture to grow up with white people- where they would endure cruel scrubbings to make them “whiter” so they could be smarter and live with the rest of society. The Rabbit Proof Fence is a story about three sisters who escape their imprisonment to walk hundreds of kilometers to get home. Tragic and true, I recommend it to anyone and everyone.

8. My Left Foot by Christy Brown

I have read some of this book, and watched the entire movie. It tells the true story of Christy Brown, who was an Irish writer and painter who had cerebral palsy. The very beginning of this book delves into how misunderstood he was because of his condition. Basically, everyone thought he was a vegetable, until he used his left foot to prove that is a real person with a working mind, trapped in a body that would not obey him. A truly heartwarming, comedic read. Recommended to people who prefer something lighter.

9. Scattered Lives by Sally McKenzie (Script)
All these books have been focusing in the past, so I thought now would be a good time to focus on present discrimination issues in memory of Mandela. This is a script and is hard to come by – though I have read it and it extensively explores discrimination of refugee’s in Australia by using Brecht’s Epic theatre techniques to explore social issues. Refugee’s suffer discrimination for multiple reasons, and it’s time we saw how we truly treat them.
A Country Too Far also delves into Australian Refugees, and may be easier to come by than a script.

10. Long Walk To Freedom by Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Of course I have to finish my list with the big Man himself. I can admit that I do not know as much about Mandela’s story as I should. It was never mentioned in school, at home, nowhere. I learnt about him through that movie where Morgan Freeman acted his part and it had something to do with football (I can’t remember the name). It’s pretty sad, actually, that I know of one of the greatest men through a movie. This is why I’m going to get a personally copy of Long Walk To Freedom. What better way is there to learn about him than through his autobiography?

I hope readers gain something from this and are encouraged to pick up a new book, learn of something different and expose themselves to something new. I read once that Mandela believed in the power of education and knowledge. May he rest in peace knowing he has carried out his purpose.

Is there any books you would recommend regarding discrimination?


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