An Anti-Racist Reading List

Where Do We Go From Here? From Chaos to Community by Martin Luther King Jr. (unlimited users)


In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., isolated himself from the demands of the civil rights movement, rented a house in Jamaica with no telephone, and labored over his final manuscript. In this prophetic work, which has been unavailable for more than ten years, he lays out his thoughts, plans, and dreams for America's future, including the need for better jobs, higher wages, decent housing, and quality education. With a universal message of hope that continues to resonate, King demanded an end to global suffering, asserting that humankind-for the first time-has the resources and technology to eradicate poverty.

 
White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo


Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo explores how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.

 

Book cover with black background, red, yellow, green, and white text

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it -- and then dismantle it." Ibram X. Kendi's concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America -- but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it. In this book, Kendi weaves 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.

 
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

*Note this title is only available through the library on a single user at a time basis and unfortunately additional copies are currently unavailable for purchase by the library. 

Americans like to insist that we are living in a postracial, color-blind society. In fact, racist thought is alive and well; it has simply become more sophisticated and more insidious. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues in Stamped from the Beginning, racist ideas in this country have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit. In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Stamped from the Beginning uses the lives of five major American intellectuals to offer a window into the contentious debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists. From Puritan minister Cotton Mather to Thomas Jefferson, from fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to brilliant scholar W.E.B. Du Bois to legendary anti-prison activist Angela Davis, Kendi shows how and why some of our leading proslavery and pro-civil rights thinkers have challenged or helped cement racist ideas in America. As Kendi provocatively illustrates, racist thinking did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Racist ideas were created and popularized in an effort to defend deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and to rationalize the nation's racial inequities in everything from wealth to health. While racist ideas are easily produced and easily consumed, they can also be discredited. In shedding much-needed light on the murky history of racist ideas, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose them--and in the process, gives us reason to hope.

 

The Emperor Has No Clothes: Teaching about Race and Racism to People Who Don’t Want to Know by Tema Okun (unlimited users).


Offers theoretical grounding and practical approaches for leaders and teachers interested in effectively addressing racism and other oppressive constructs. The book draws both on the author’s extensive experience teaching about race and racism in classroom and community settings and from the theory and practice of a wide range of educators, activists, and researchers committed to social justice. The first chapter looks at the toxic consequences of our western cultural insistence on profit, binary thinking, and individualism to establish the theoretical framework for teaching about race and racism. Chapter two investigates privileged resistance, offering a psycho/social history of denial, particularly as a product of racist culture. Chapter three reviews the research on the construction and reconstruction of dominant culture both historically and now in order to establish sound strategic approaches that educators, teachers, facilitators, and activists can take as we work together to move from a culture of profit and fear to one of shared hope and love. Chapter four lays out the stages of a process that supports teaching about racist, white supremacy culture, explaining how students can be taken through an iterative process of relationship building, analysis, planning, action, and reflection. The final chapter borrows from the brilliant, brave, and incisive writer Dorothy Allison to discuss the things the author knows for sure about how to teach people to see that which we have been conditioned to fear knowing. The chapter concludes with how to encourage and support collective and collaborative action as a critical goal of the process.

 

Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis (single user)

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. Reflecting on the importance of black feminism, intersectionality, and prison abolitionism for today's struggles, Davis discusses the legacies of previous liberation struggles, from the Black Freedom Movement to the South African anti-Apartheid movement. She highlights connections and analyzes today's struggles against state terror, from Ferguson to Palestine. Facing a world of outrageous injustice, Davis challenges us to imagine and build the movement for human liberation. And in doing so, she reminds us that freedom is a constant struggle.

 

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin (unlimited users)


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. It consists of two "letters," written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism.

 

Book cover with black background, torn like paper to reveal book title

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson (single user)


As Ferguson, Missouri, erupted in August 2014, and media commentators across the ideological spectrum referred to the angry response of African Americans as 'black rage', historian Carol Anderson wrote a remarkable op-ed in the Washington Post showing that this was, instead, 'white rage at work. With so much attention on the flames,' she wrote, 'everyone had ignored the kindling.'

Since 1865 and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, every time African Americans have made advances towards full participation in our democracy, white reaction has fueled a deliberate and relentless rollback of their gains. The end of the Civil War and Reconstruction was greeted with the Black Codes and Jim Crow; the Supreme Court's landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision was met with the shutting down of public schools throughout the South while taxpayer dollars financed segregated white private schools; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 triggered a coded but powerful response, the so-called Southern Strategy and the War on Drugs that disenfranchised millions of African Americans while propelling presidents Nixon and Reagan into the White House.

Carefully linking these and other historical flashpoints when social progress for African Americans was countered by deliberate and cleverly crafted opposition, Anderson pulls back the veil that has long covered actions made in the name of protecting democracy, fiscal responsibility, or protection against fraud, rendering visible the long lineage of white rage.

Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics by George Lipsitz (unlimited users)

The twentieth anniversary edition of this book about how white people profit from identity politics includes new chapters and extended discussions of political whiteness, vigilante violence, police misconduct and white flight, white fright, white fragility and white fear

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo


Widespread reporting on aspects of white supremacy--from police brutality to the mass incarceration of Black Americans--has put a media spotlight on racism in our society. Still, it is a difficult subject to talk about. How do you tell your roommate her jokes are racist? Why did your sister-in-law take umbrage when you asked to touch her hair--and how do you make it right? How do you explain white privilege to your white, privileged friend?

In So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to "model minorities" in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life.
 

Book cover with teal and white background, yellow and white text

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad (unlimited users)


This eye-opening book challenges you to do the essential work of unpacking your biases, and helps white people take action and dismantle the privilege within themselves so that you can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.

 
The New Jim Crow and Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander


Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as "brave and bold," this book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a "call to action."

Book cover with dark red background and tally scratching.

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race by Jesmyn Ward

In this bestselling, widely lauded collection, Jesmyn Ward gathers our most original thinkers and writers to speak on contemporary racism and race, including Carol Anderson, Jericho Brown, Edwidge Danticat, Kevin Young, Claudia Rankine, and Honoree Jeffers. “An absolutely indispensable anthology” (Booklist, starred review), The Fire This Time shines a light on the darkest corners of our history, wrestles with our current predicament, and imagines a better future.

Envisioned as a response to The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin’s groundbreaking 1963 essay collection, these contemporary writers reflect on the past, present, and future of race in America. We’ve made significant progress in the fifty-odd years since Baldwin’s essays were published, but America is a long and painful distance away from a “post-racial society”—a truth we must confront if we are to continue to work towards change. Baldwin’s “fire next time” is now upon us, and it needs to be talked about; The Fire This Time “seeks to place the shock of our own times into historical context and, most importantly, to move these times forward

 
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde (unlimited users)  

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches is a collection of essential essays and speeches written by Audre Lorde, a woman who wrote from the particulars of her identity: Black woman, lesbian, poet, activist, cancer survivor, mother, and feminist writer.

 

Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique Morris (unlimited users) 

Fifteen-year-old Diamond stopped going to school the day she was expelled for lashing out at peers who constantly harassed and teased her for something everyone on the staff had missed: she was being trafficked for sex. After months on the run, she was arrested and sent to a detention center for violating a court order to attend school. Black girls represent 16 percent of female students but almost half of all girls with a school-related arrest. The first trade book to tell these untold stories, Pushout exposes a world of confined potential and supports the growing movement to address the policies, practices, and cultural illiteracy that push countless students out of school and into unhealthy, unstable, and often unsafe futures. For four years Monique W. Morris, author of Black Stats, chronicled the experiences of black girls across the country whose intricate lives are misunderstood, highly judged-by teachers, administrators, and the justice system-and degraded by the very institutions charged with helping them flourish. Morris shows how, despite obstacles, stigmas, stereotypes, and despair, black girls still find ways to breathe remarkable dignity into their lives in classrooms, juvenile facilities, and beyond. 

1 Comment

Teddy Burriss
on June 18, 7:57pm

Thanks for sharing this list. I look forward to reading a few of the books on here.

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