An Anti-Racist Reading List from a Recovering Racist

In the light of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the protests that have taken place in recent weeks after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, there has been a renewed energy in the fight against racism. But why now? After all this time?

It is unfortunate that it has taken this long, and this much violence and police brutality, for the white people to wake up and get the idea… For so long there’s been this pervading argument (from white people) saying that they’re not racist, that they have black friends, and that they don’t discriminate against black people, and oh but it’s been so many years since slavery was ended, since the end of apartheid… Why are we still going on about this?

Well, because you’re still a racist and because we live in a racist society. Racism is not always an active or conscious thing. (I say not always because there are still very many white people, so fragile in their whiteness, that are very active in their racism and so very full of hatred… But this post is not for them.)

For many white people, our racism is the unconscious, systemic, complicit type. And perhaps that’s worse. Because we continue to benefit from a system that forces others to suffer. We thrive at the expense of others. Although I’ve considered myself an anti-racist, or someone who will fight the system for a long time now, I am guilty of remaining silent, and thus have been complicit too many times… Out of fear, perhaps. But when we continue to ignore the pain, violence and injustice against black and brown people, despite all the times we’ve been confronted, we are the ones responsible for maintaining an unjust and racist system. Well, enough is enough. It’s not good enough to just say we’re not racist. We have to be actively anti-racist. We have to break the system.

Quote by author and activist Angela Davis about anti-racism.
Quote by Angela Davis. Google Images.

It should not have taken this long for people to recognize that it is our responsibility to do something about our own racism. It is our privilege that will allow us to effect change. And so we must confront our whiteness, head on, and we must commit to do better, to be better. As writer Ijeoma Oluo says, “The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.”

So I’ve made a book list for people who want to learn about anti-racism and challenge themselves to embody anti-racism. It’s a working list, so if you have suggestions please add them in the comments. Disclaimer: I have not read all of these books, but I’m working through the list. I also must add that I am white, and I recognize that perhaps I might have missed something. I have drawn up this list on the advice and recommendations of black authors, activists and friends.

Book list of anti-racism readings. Image by Jane Mount.
Book list by Jane Mount.

NON-FICTION:

Ibram X. Kendi – How To Be Anti Racist https://www.amazon.com/How-to-Be-an-Antiracist-audiobook/dp/B07TT85KLQ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2B1JQ6O3QYBM0&dchild=1&keywords=how+to+bean+antiracist+by+ibram+x.+kendi&qid=1591723120&s=books&sprefix=How+to+be+%2Cstripbooks-intl-ship%2C350&sr=1-1

Steve Biko – I Write What I Like https://www.amazon.com/Write-What-Like-Selected-Writings/dp/0226048977/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=steve+biko&qid=1591693301&sr=8-1 

Ijeoma Oluo – So You want to Talk About Race https://www.amazon.com/So-You-Want-to-Talk-About-Race-audiobook/dp/B078XKB7B3/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1X4LT15AAFUYN&dchild=1&keywords=so+you+want+to+talk+about+race&qid=1591722975&s=audible&sprefix=so+you+w%2Caudible%2C347&sr=1-1 

Reni Eddo Lodge – Why I’m no longer speaking to white people about race. https://www.amazon.com/Longer-Talking-White-People-About/dp/1635572959/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2G6S1C1PY6OUW&dchild=1&keywords=reni+eddo-lodge&qid=1591691391&sprefix=reni+%2Caps%2C406&sr=8-1

Robin Deangelo – White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to talk about Racism https://www.amazon.com/White-Fragility-People-About-Racism/dp/0807047414/ref=sr_1_1?crid=348ACPL81GZHX&dchild=1&keywords=white+fragility+robin+diangelo&qid=1591691416&sprefix=white+fr%2Caps%2C338&sr=8-1

Layla Saad – me and white supremacy https://www.amazon.com/Me-White-Supremacy-Combat-Ancestor-ebook/dp/B07Y5PHNXB/ref=sr_1_1?crid=23YCI9LY8A8UU&dchild=1&keywords=layla+saad&qid=1591691436&sprefix=layla+sa%2Caps%2C338&sr=8-1

Akala – Natives https://www.amazon.com/Natives-Akala-audiobook/dp/B076HZ5MXH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=akala+natives&qid=1591691454&sr=8-1 

Ta-Nehesi Coates – We Were Eight Years In Power https://www.amazon.com/We-Were-Eight-Years-in-Power-audiobook/dp/B074F4MZJ6/ref=sr_1_3?crid=WMH6YJVV6Q6S&dchild=1&keywords=ta+nehisi+coates&qid=1591691478&s=audible&sprefix=ta+behest%2Caudible%2C335&sr=1-3

Afua Hirsch – Brit(ish) https://www.amazon.com/Brit-ish-Race-Identity-Belonging/dp/1784705039/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3TOX71K5529P9&dchild=1&keywords=afua+hirsch&qid=1591691522&s=audible&sprefix=afua%2Caudible%2C336&sr=8-1 

Ta-Nehesi Coates – Between the World and Me https://www.amazon.com/Between-World-and-Me-audiobook/dp/B010MSFATU/ref=sr_1_2?crid=WMH6YJVV6Q6S&dchild=1&keywords=ta+nehisi+coates&qid=1591691478&s=audible&sprefix=ta+behest%2Caudible%2C335&sr=1-2 

James Baldwin – Notes of a Native Son https://www.amazon.com/James-Baldwin/e/B000APVA9U?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2&qid=1591691826&sr=8-2 

Frantz Fanon – The Wretched of the Earth https://www.amazon.com/Wretched-Earth-Frantz-Fanon/dp/0802141323/ref=sr_1_1?crid=EL97NM9C03H4&dchild=1&keywords=frantz+fanon&qid=1591692132&sprefix=frantz%2Caps%2C348&sr=8-1 

Frantz Fanon – Black Skin, White Masks https://www.amazon.com/Black-White-Masks-Frantz-Fanon/dp/0802143008/ref=sr_1_2?crid=EL97NM9C03H4&dchild=1&keywords=frantz+fanon&qid=1591692132&sprefix=frantz%2Caps%2C348&sr=8-2 

Bradley Steyn & Mark Fine – Undercover with Mandela’s Spies https://www.amazon.com/Undercover-Mandelas…/dp/B07SPF265R 

Jeremy Vearey – Jeremy Vannie Elsies https://www.amazon.com/Jeremy-vannie-Elsies…/dp/B07CYYFK2T

Austin Channing Brown – I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in A World for Whiteness https://www.amazon.com/Im-Still-Here-Dignity-Whiteness/dp/1524760854?fbclid=IwAR3b8Zt8lJzrmvFNGCV2QUbap_M8rm148yCtiNZtp_OofEnRWRafNSjrKaU

Carol Anderson – White Rage https://www.amazon.com/White-Rage-Unspoken-Racial-Divide/dp/1632864134/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2XWKNYGSKEK3I&dchild=1&keywords=white+rage+the+unspoken+truth+of+our+racial+divide&qid=1591723091&s=books&sprefix=white+rage%2Cstripbooks-intl-ship%2C342&sr=1-1

Richard Rothstein – The Color of Race https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01M8IWJT2/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0 

Michelle Alexander – The New Jim Crow https://www.amazon.com/New-Jim-Crow-Incarceration-Colorblindness-ebook/dp/B086CFB2NT/ref=sr_1_1?crid=JTFYQZCRSTOB&dchild=1&keywords=the+new+jim+crow&qid=1591861547&s=digital-text&sprefix=the+new+jim%2Cdigital-text%2C454&sr=1-1 

Bryan Stevenson – Just Mercy https://www.amazon.com/Just-Mercy-Story-Justice-Redemption-ebook/dp/B00JYWVYLY/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=just+mercy&qid=1591861590&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

Ibram X. Kendi – Stamped from the Beginning https://www.amazon.com/Stamped-Beginning-Definitive-History-America-ebook/dp/B017QL8WV4/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3S1JA5RRD22OP&dchild=1&keywords=stamped+from+the+beginning&qid=1591861636&s=digital-text&sprefix=stamped+%2Cdigital-text%2C348&sr=1-1 

Beverly Daniel Tatum – Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria https://www.amazon.com/Black-Kids-Sitting-Together-Cafeteria-ebook/dp/B071KSKT3K/ref=sr_1_1?crid=27UXNXZPKVE1I&dchild=1&keywords=why+are+all+the+black+kids+sitting+together&qid=1591861665&s=digital-text&sprefix=why+are+%2Cdigital-text%2C345&sr=1-1 

Jennifer Harvey – Raising White Kids https://www.amazon.com/Raising-White-Kids-Bringing-Children-ebook/dp/B0735KLL9B/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3BH505TS2IGCJ&dchild=1&keywords=raising+white+kids&qid=1591861716&s=digital-text&sprefix=raising+%2Cdigital-text%2C353&sr=1-1  

Debby Irving – Waking Up White https://www.amazon.com/Waking-Up-White-Finding-Myself-ebook/dp/B00HZZ1JD0/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2XUCUEM9K5TME&dchild=1&keywords=waking+up+white&qid=1591861807&s=digital-text&sprefix=waking+up+%2Cdigital-text%2C352&sr=1-1 

Brittney C. Cooper – Eloquent Rage https://www.amazon.com/Eloquent-Rage-Feminist-Discovers-Superpower-ebook/dp/B074DZBTFX/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1X6F61ZLWYRRB&dchild=1&keywords=eloquent+rage&qid=1591861863&s=digital-text&sprefix=Eloquent%2Cdigital-text%2C371&sr=1-1 

MEMOIRS:

Nelson Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom https://www.amazon.com/Long-Walk-Freedom-Autobiography-Mandela/dp/0316548189/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=nelson+mandela&qid=1591693372&sr=8-1 

Ngugi Wa Thiong’o – Dreams in A Time of War https://www.amazon.com/Dreams-Time-War-Childhood-Memoir/dp/B0078PR4RW/ref=sr_1_10?crid=8GC9B0V3K76I&dchild=1&keywords=ngugi+wa+thiong%27o+books&qid=1591691884&sprefix=ngugi%2Caps%2C1020&sr=8-10 

Maya Angelou – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1st of her seven memoirs) https://www.amazon.com/I-Know-Why-Caged-Bird-Sings-audiobook/dp/B004HYHTN6/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3A9UJGLKEEEG9&dchild=1&keywords=maya+angelou&qid=1591692018&s=audible&sprefix=maya+%2Caudible%2C361&sr=1-1 

Maya Angelou – The Heart of a Woman (4th of her seven memoirs) https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Woman-Maya-Angelou/dp/0812980328/ref=sr_1_4?crid=3STZ1USET2ZZH&dchild=1&keywords=maya+angelou+books&qid=1591692566&sprefix=maya%2Caps%2C377&sr=8-4

Michelle Obama – Becoming https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Michelle-Obama/dp/1524763136/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=becoming&qid=1591692248&sr=8-1 

Ngugi Wa Thiong’o – Wrestling with the Devil: A Prison Memoir https://www.amazon.com/Wrestling-Devil-Ngugi-wa-Thiongo/dp/1620973332/ref=sr_1_5?crid=XEGDLYJUPT09&dchild=1&keywords=ngugi+wa+thiong%27o+books&qid=1591692864&s=audible&sprefix=ngugi%2Caudible%2C1289&sr=1-5-catcorr 

Beryl Crosher- Segers – A Darker Shade of Pale https://www.amazon.com/…/dp/B079HDWKVQ/ref=mp_s_a_1_2…

Trevor Noah – Born a Crime https://www.amazon.com/Born-Crime-Trevor-Noah-audiobook/dp/B01IW9TM5O/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=born+a+crime&qid=1591722888&sr=8-1 

If you’d like to support the Black Lives Matter movement in other ways, you can click on my link tree here. I have linked some educational resources and places for donations. You can also follow the movement on their website here.

Yours in love and power,

Amy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *