10 Books To Educate Yourself On Racial Injustice

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

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I wrote this book first and foremost for Black people. Hearing from other Black people – especially Black women – about how they have connected to this book fills my heart. Repost from @teachingwithmxt • So this is on my “currently” list and so far it has hit me in the feels soo good. I feel very seen and @ijeomaoluo does such a great job of giving words to what Black people have been experiencing since forever. —— I’m hoping to finish it by the end of the week. Yay for spring break lol Has anyone else read this book?! Let me know in the comments. ▪️▪️▪️▪️ #rysereads #quarantinereads #quarantinereading #teachersofinstagram #ireadtoo #soyouwanttotalkaboutrace #doingthework #decolonizeyourmind #unapologeticallyblack #iteachtoo #teacherreads.

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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

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Let’s talk about difficult, but important books. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander reads like a textbook, but oh boy, it’s one of the most crucial books I’ve ever read. Alexander looks at how the legal system views people of color, and more specifically black men, taking a deep dive into how black men are targeted in the War on Drugs, therefore creating racial control through the prison system. It’s important to note that this book was published in the Obama era-I can only imagine the additional issues on race in the US that would be covered if it had been published in 2019. I’m so curious to know: what is an important social issue book that you’ve read? I would love to create a reading list. I will forever and always also recommend Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc and have had Evicted by Matthew Desmond on my TBR for far too long. ——————————————————————————— “The genius of the current caste system, and what most distinguishes it from its predecessors, is that it appears voluntary. People choose to commit crimes, and that's why they are locked up or locked out, we are told. This feature makes the politics of responsibility particularly tempting, as it appears the system can be avoided with good behavior. But herein lies the trap. All people make mistakes. All of us are sinners. All of us are criminals. All of us violate the law at some point in our lives. In fact, if the worst thing you have ever done is speed ten miles over the speed limit on the freeway, you have put yourself and others at more risk of harm than someone smoking marijuana in the privacy of his or her living room. Yet there are people in the United States serving life sentences for first-time drug offenses, something virtually unheard of anywhere else in the world.”

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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

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Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD —— After reading 1.5 (I’m halfway through this book) of Dr. Tatum’s books, I’ve come to realize that her writing can clear up A LOT of confusion readers might have about identity, privilege and how to engage in thoughtful conversations about race. I appreciated this statement in particular from “Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race,” about how race and socioeconomic status (SES) can affect someone’s access to secondary education: —— “College access is much more difficult when families have had little opportunity to accumulate savings and have no real estate assets against which to borrow. According to data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, the percentage of Black students whose families had nothing to contribute to their college education (in financial aid terms, an ‘expected family contribution of zero’) went from 41.6 percent in 2008 to 60 percent in 2012. For the Black elites that President Obama mentioned in his Howard University commencement speech, the last twenty years may have represented an improvement in their economic circumstance, but for the vast majority of Black and Latinx families it has been a downward slide.” —— What I appreciate most (at this point in my reading) about Dr. Tatum’s books are that she encourages readers to become more comfortable having conversations about race because it’s such a prominent part of so many Americans’ everyday lives. Hate spreads faster than a wildfire, and the hatred towards racial minorities, particularly African Americans, that our country has witnessed for the last few centuries has been lethal. That is why we must engage in constant, purposeful discussions about race. These conversations will be equally, if not more important moving forward, as our countries’ understanding of race and race relations changes. —— #beverlydanieltatum #race #quarantinereads #quarantinelife #quarantine #quarantinereading #whyarealltheblackkidssittingtogetherinthecafeteria #canwetalkaboutrace

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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

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“The American Negro has the great advantage of having never believed the collection of myths to which white Americans cling: that their ancestors were all freedom-loving heroes, that they were born in the greatest country the world has ever seen, or that Americans are invincible in battle and wise in peace, that Americans have always dealt honorably with Mexicans and Indians and all other neighbors or inferiors, that American men are the world's most direct and virile, that American women are pure. Negroes know far more about white Americans than that; it can almost be said, in fact, that they know about white Americans what parents—or, anyway, mothers—know about their children, and that they very often regard white Americans that way. And perhaps this attitude, held in spite of what they know and have endured, helps to explain why Negroes, on the whole, and until lately, have allowed themselves to feel so little hatred. The tendency has really been, insofar as this was possible, to dismiss white people as the slightly mad victims of their own brainwashing.” JB #thefirenexttime

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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

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The hardcover, the actual book, arrived fresh from the printer the other night. When I first held it in my hands, I was overcome with emotion. It all kind of hit me at once. All I had to overcome in order to finish this book. All the secrets of my journey I had to tell. All of the vulnerability in its pages, personal and intellectual. How so many people entrusted me to answer its guiding question. How I wish #howtobeanantiracist wasn’t so needed at this time. How excited I am to finally share it with the world on August 13th. A huge smile turned into a face of sadness. A face of sadness turned back into a huge smile. I took the book and sat with it, sat with my emotions for a long while. I sat feeling grateful too. Grateful for all the people who had their hands in producing this book. Shout out to my editor, the one and only @cjaxone and the whole team @oneworldbooks. Grateful for all the people planning to read the book and use the book in building an antiracist society. Grateful. So Grateful. 🙏

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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

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currently reading: me and white supremacy by @laylafsaad | only a week into this workbook and i am learning so much about my complicit relationship to white supremacy | us white people need to do this work, to think about how we’ve benefited from white privilege, adjust so that we can actively be anti-racist, and not rely on others to tell us what to do or how to respond so we can be an asset and amplify Black voices instead of being a burden | working through each chapter you are confronted with questions that make you think, reflect on past behavior, and work through how to change — and we need change | please consider purchasing this book through your local independent bookstore to ensure stories from all people will continue to be available in your community . . . . #meandwhitesupremacy #whitesupremacy #checkyourprivilege #whitesilence #blacklivesmatter #blm #nojusticenopeace #bookcovers #read #laylafsaad #illustration #drawdaily #educateyourself

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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.

Sophia Garcia

Contributor

Sophia has spent most of her life living abroad. Traveling has become second nature to her and the beauty of international experiences isn’t lost on her. Sophia enjoys writing, photography and cooking and hopes to one day publish books about her interests.

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