Ackerman’s Community Book Club selection for June is How to Make a Slave and Other Essays by Jerald Walker, a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award.
The title comes from a famous quote by Fredrick Douglass: “You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall how a slave was made a man.” Through his honest and unflinching style, Walker’s collection explores his experience of growing up and living in the United States as a Black man. Walker writes, “Racism is part and parcel of our culture, the great American disease with which we are all afflicted. There will be no cure until we accept this diagnosis.” He pushes the reader into deep reflections about race and the complexities of identity as he shares his stories of growing up on Chicago’s South Side, his early formation as a writer learning to abandon stereotypes, and raising his sons in a predominantly white suburb outside of Boston.
As Ackerman family therapists, striving to provide socially just therapy and training, How to Make a Slave offers us a stark reminder of the importance of context and how it shapes our lived experience and racial identity. Through his essays, Walker points us toward authentic self-interrogation of our own worldview, and shows us what is possible when we remain curious about the stories of others.
Book club selection and description written by Marybeth Jordan, LCSW
About Ackerman’s Community Book Club:
Ackerman’s Community Book Club is a monthly series of reading recommendations curated by our family therapy instructors. We invite you to read one book each month that explores diversity, equity, and inclusion and join us on a pathway to curiosity. The books on our list have been selected with the aim of increasing knowledge, empathy, willingness, and skill to confront xenophobia as therapists, educators, and lifelong learners, in the personal and professional spaces we occupy.