10 Books to Read to Educate Yourself on Racism

If you’ve been on the internet at all this week, you will have heard about George Floyd’s death. If you’re not up to date on the news, here’s a BBC article about what actually happened. It has sparked many conversations about racism, and part of that is how to be an ally. As a white person, I have realised that I need to educate myself further on how to combat racism and be actively anti racist. In order to do this, I have created a list of books I want to read to educate myself. Other things you can do include signing petition, donating money and simply speaking out.

  1. Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde- Over and over again, in the essays, speeches and poems collected in Your Silence Will Not Protect You, Lorde emphasises how important it is to speak up. To give witness: “What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence?”
  2. They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, And A New Era In America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery – A deeply reported book that brings alive the quest for justice in the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray, offering both unparalleled insight into the reality of police violence in America and an intimate, moving portrait of those working to end it
  3. Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward- In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five men in her life, to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth–and it took her breath away. 
  4. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge- Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism. It is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today.
  5. Freedom Is A Constant Struggle by Angela Davis – In these newly collected essays, interviews, and speeches, world-renowned activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world.
  6. How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi- In this book, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, bringing it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism. How to Be an Antiracist is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.
  7. Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt – From one of the world’s leading experts on unconscious racial bias, a personal examination of one of the central controversies and culturally powerful issues of our time, and its influence on contemporary race relations and criminal justice.
  8. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo – The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.
  9. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin – A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document.
  10. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo – In this breakout book, Ijeoma Oluo explores the complex reality of today’s racial landscape–from white privilege and police brutality to systemic discrimination and the Black Lives Matter movement–offering straightforward clarity that readers need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide

This list is by no means a comprehensive list, more a starting point to launch off of. For more books to read, check out this list by the New York Times, this Anti-Racist Reading List from Ibram X. Kendi and this list from Vogue. I hope this was helpful or useful, and feel free to reach out to me below with suggestions, feedback or simply to say hello!

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