“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, you have to be anti-racist. Angela Y. Davis
When we watched the infamous video of the life of a man being taken away by someone whose job it was to protect us, we immediately felt a visceral indignation which was followed by all-consuming paralysis. With the gruesome image haunting us, we feel overwhelmed with helplessness as we realize the true gravity of the situation that spans centuries. But it shouldn’t take a video to get us to initiate change, and change shouldn’t be limited to one day.
It is an ongoing action within ourselves and our immediate communities. So, while the coronavirus epidemic keeps us inside, there are a number of things you can do. First of all, you can show your support by donating to relevant organizations here, and you can start educating yourself.
Here is a list of books that come from a wide variety of sources, such as the Black Lives Matter organization, professors and leaders in the field, and people who have experienced racial injustice.
1. So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo
In this New York Times bestseller, writer and speaker Ijeoma Oluo teaches readers how to have honest conversations about race and how it is part of everyday American life. Oluo empathically but bluntly takes you through everything from explaining white privilege to privileged white people, to telling friends and family their jokes are racist.
2. Racism without racists by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
This book, which was updated in its fifth edition in 2017 to include the Black Lives Matter movement, the 2016 elections and more, documents all the ways that whites “explain – and ultimately justify – inequality. racial ”through stories, arguments, language and more.
3. Blindspot by Mahzarin R. Banaji & Anthony Greenwald
We all have a blind spot. In this book, psychologists Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald explore the hidden biases we all inherit from societal messages regarding age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, social class, sexuality, disability status and nationality.
4. Bias by Jennifer L. Ebernhardt, PhD
Racial prejudice exists in all parts of our culture: neighborhoods, schools, workplaces and, of course, the criminal justice system. In “Biased,” Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt provides readers with the tools to approach these issues through language and action. We all have this problem, but we can all work to fix it.
5. Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins
This book explores the words and ideas of black feminist intellectuals as well as other non-academic African American women, including Angela Davis, Bell Hooks, Alice Walker, and Audre Lorde.
6. Freedom is a constant struggle by Angela Y. Davis
It is impossible to speak of anti-racism without mentioning Angela Davis. His ability to succinctly capture a complex situation has made him one of the most-cited people on the subject, at least in terms of viral social media posts. Freedom is a constant struggle (2016) goes further by bringing together his interviews, speeches, reflections and essays in a moving collection. It touches on everything from the anti-apartheid movement to black feminism to highlighting links to the Ferguson protests. In the face of racial injustice, Davis reminds us that freedom really is a constant struggle.
7. Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
In this poignant collection of speeches and essays, Lorde calls us directly to “never turn a blind eye to the terror, to the chaos that is Black who is creative who is feminine who is dark who is rejected who is messy who is.” She tackles everything from sexism, racism, homophobia, ageism and class and provides a case to use as a foundation for change.
8. Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
The book is divided into two parts: “My Dungeon Shook – Letter to my nephew on the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of emancipation” and “Down At The Cross – Letter from a region of my mind”. While it largely captures Baldwin’s anger against the nation state in the 1960s, it also gives hope. He reminds us that it is the duty of everyone living in society to effect change.
9. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
Robin DiAngelo is an anti-racist educator who exposes the counterproductive reactions white people have when their views on racism are challenged. The book delves into the unease white people feel when confronted with the theme of racism and unpacks the flawed system we currently live in and how whites refuse to acknowledge their participation in it. The book became a New York Times bestseller and is currently the best-selling book on Amazon, which tells you enough.
10. How to be an anti-racist by Ibram X. Kendi
In this gripping memoir, Ibram X. Kendi explores what a new anti-racist society would look like. It goes beyond racial injustice in America and intricately weaves concepts of politics, law, ethics, and science with personal examinations of ourselves and how we think about racism. It’s essential reading for anyone who wants to not only understand but transform society and change inequalities.
To note: The first four books on this list were recommended in Tasha K’s Shareable Anti-Racism Resource Guide. Please consider donating to her for putting these suggestions together and reading the resource on this important work (links in doc).
feature image source: Instagram / @greenlightbklyn