Last month we published our summer reading list, a wide range of books to enjoy while dealing with COVID-19, social distancing, and a summer that would be far from normal. But the world has changed yet again in the weeks since we offered our recommendations. To that end, we want to share another book list to provide educational resources for understanding and dismantling systemic racism. This is the essential work that we are all called to, in this moment and always.
We want to note that many of these books are sold out on Amazon (which we have traditionally linked to in past book lists), and we encourage you to seek out and purchase these titles from black-owned and other independent bookstores in your area, or request them from your local library.
So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
In this New York Times bestseller, Ijeoma Oluo offers a hard-hitting but user-friendly examination of race in America. She guides readers of all races through subjects such as intersectionality, affirmative action, and “model minorities” to open up honest conversations about race, racism, and how they permeate every aspect of American life. A non-judgemental yet challenging book that is an excellent start to understanding and participating in antiracism.
How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi
In this combination of history, law, education, and his own personal story, Kendi invites us to unpack the way racism creates a powerful system of false hierarchies of human value, by understanding and identifying both racist and antiracist concepts. He starts with basic concepts and a shared language in order to understand how racism intersects with class, culture, geography, and personal identity. A practical, challenging, important book for anyone who wants to contribute to forming an equitable society.
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, by Austin Channing Brown
A biographical book about Brown’s experience growing up in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches, examining the complex and often unspoken relationship between faith and race. An important resource for people of faith to understand how evangelicalism has participated in racial hostility and how to confront apathy in faith-based settings.
In this revised fourth edition of Uprooting Racism, Kivel educates about the issues of interpersonal, institutional, and cultural racism, including stories of resistance and white solidarity. He provides practical tools and advice on how white people can be allies for racial justice. Including thought-provoking questions, exercises, and suggestions for action, this book is a wealth of information and education.
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together?: And Other Conversations About Race, by Beverly Daniel Tatum
An often recommended book on understanding race and self-segregation, this revised edition by a renowned authority on the psychology of racism argues for addressing our racial identities head-on. Tatum argues that straight talk about race and ethnicity is essential for enabling communication and fully understanding the dynamics of race in America.
Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
In this powerful framework for understanding the history and crisis of race in America, Coates challenges us to face the truth about slavery, segregation, and continued exploitation of black men and women. In this combination of personal narrative and history, he challenges us to reckon with our past, boldly face the present, and look forward with a vision to create a different future.
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo
This in-depth exploration by antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo explains how white fragility is a defensive emotion characterized by anger, fear, and guilt and includes behavior such as silence and argumentation. DiAngelo unpacks how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality by preventing meaningful dialogue, and what we can do to engage more constructively.
Backlash: What Happens When We Talk Honestly About Racism in America, by George Yancy
Author of a New York Times op-ed entitled “Dear White America,” Yancy expands on the original content of his article; namely, asking white Americans to confront the ways that they benefit from racism. The book expands on the backlash from his op-ed, which only served to prove his point that racism is still alive and vicious. He chronicles the controversy of the article, his desire to understand what about it caused so much anger, and challenges white Americans to rise above the anger and develop empathy. An eye-opening and important book to understand and accept that racism exists and why we need to confront it.
These books are just a starting point. Please review this toolkit for a longer, though by no means exhaustive, list of books and other resources for antiracist education. We also recommend this list of children’s books for introducing conversations about race and racism with young people.
About the Author
Emily spent ten years as a fundraising professional in higher education and public media and began moonlighting as a copywriter for the Scribe Source in 2014. She left the nonprofit world in 2019 to focus on copywriting, editing, and blog management for the Scribe Source.