We must realize that it is already a privilege for us to educate ourselves on racial injustice rather than experiencing it.
“I understand that I will never understand, however I stand.” Following the wrongful killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, many white people have been seeking to educate themselves on racial injustice, in hopes of being a helpful ally to the Black community. To do that we must realize that it is already a privilege for us to educate ourselves on racial injustice rather than experiencing it. The color of our skin places us in a position to amplify Black voices and to do that we must make it our responsibility to gain as much knowledge as we can on the subject. That is where this list of books comes in. Many of which you may have read or seen on social media but we felt it was important to encourage our readers to be thoughtful about systemic racism and these books are one of the ways to gain that knowledge.
1. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
This book, written by Robin DiAngelo, is among the top recommended books to read on race. It is currently on the New York Times bestseller list. In short, the non-fiction piece discusses the “white fragility” that causes white people to avoid confronting racism. DiAngelo explains that our society has been organized to shield white people from racial discomfort. This in turn leads to a variety of consequences, as white people do what they can to avoid the ‘unpleasantness’ of a conversation on race.
2. So You Want to Talk About Race
This book is another bestseller, written by Ijeoma Oluo, which covers many of the topics we have been discussing day-to-day following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, among many others. The book is an examination of white supremacy, police brutality, and mass incarceration within the United States of America.
3. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Michelle Alexander, the author of this book, is a civil rights litigator, legal scholar, and opinion columnist for The New York Times. This book is a major investigation into mass incarceration in America. Alexander exposes racial discrimination in law-making and policing and how the U.S criminal justice system acts as a system of racial control.
4. Between the World and Me
This non-fiction book is an account by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The book is written as a letter for his son on what the modern-day Black experience is like. The memoir covers Coates’ childhood, the Civil War, and what it is like to be Black in the United States. This powerful book and the author and journalist behind it have been considered a major part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
5. Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race
This book, written by British journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge, has been called a book “begging to be written”. What started as a blog post by Eddo-Lodge became a bestseller. The book discusses Eddo-Lodge’s stance on talking to white people about race. Explaining that defiant white people, who don’t believe that systemic racism exists, are the type of people she doesn’t talk to about race. Eddo-Lodge talks about the emotional exhaustion on her part and the defensiveness on the part of white people.
6. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race
This book, originally published in 1997, is by Beverly Daniel Tatum, a psychologist, administrator, and educator, who has done research and written books on racism. Tatum believes that conversation or ‘straight talk’ is necessary for racial and ethnic divides to be broken. This book is understood as a starting point to conversations on racial identity and the psychology of racism.
7. The Fire Next Time
James Baldwin is recognized as one of the foundational characters in the American civil rights movement. This non-fiction book, one of his many on race, is split into two essays. The first being, “My Dungeon Shook — Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation” and the second, “Down At The Cross — Letter from a Region of My Mind”. The book was published during the civil rights movement and shares Baldwin’s experiences in his youth and the consequences of racial injustice. The Fire Next Time is a classic and powerful story for all generations.
8. How To Be An Antiracist
Another New York Times bestseller written by National Book Award winner, Ibram X. Kendi, is a sharp take on how to be antiracist. The term ‘antiracist’ has come to mean: “the active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably.” As defined by the NAC International Perspectives: Women and Global Solidarity. With Kendi’s book going on to explain how to accomplish that.
9. Me and White Supremacy
This popular book by Layla F. Saad examines how to combat racism and acknowledge and recognize your privilege. ‘The book leads readers through a journey to understand their participation in white supremacy. All so that they can stop inflicting, often unconscious, damage to the POC community and ultimately help white people do better’. Me and White Supremacy also includes historical context, anecdotes, and shares further resources.
10. Chokehold: Policing Black Men
This book and comprehensive study has been nominated for the 49th NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Nonfiction. Written by Georgetown law professor, Paul Butler, the book is a legal commentary on the impact of the American criminal justice system on Black men. The book has been recognized as another powerful account of the war on drugs and examines the police tactic of the chokehold.