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The worldwide uprising following the horrific death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has left many people wondering what they can do to show solidarity and turn their opposition to racism into action.
Reading a book isn’t going to solve racism, educating yourself about the ideology and practice of anti-racism has got to be a step in the right direction.
While there are literally hundreds of brilliant books on the subject, social media has become a platform for the recommendation of certain tomes that can serve as a starting point.
And really the important thing is to get started, if you haven’t already.
Of course, these books are just the tip of the education iceberg when it comes to the comprehensive literature on the topic, but here are just a few books about race that we should all be reading right now.
So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo
This simple and conversational book provides a vital starting point for opening up the discussion about racism, examining not just the subject as a whole, but the role of the white person within it.
Buy it: So You Want to Talk About Race Paperback | £8.99 from Amazon
Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
This UK-based book is based on a 2014 blog post by the author in which she expresses frustration about having to deal with well-meaning but ultimately unhelpful white people.
In it she wrote: “I couldn't have a conversation with white folks about the details of a problem if they didn't want to recognise that the problem exists. Worse still was the white person who might be willing to entertain the possibility of said racism but still thinks we enter this conversation as equals. We didn't then, and we don't now.”
Buy it: Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race | £7.99 from Amazon
How to be an anti racist by Ibram X Kendi
Using the power of memoir the author argues that it isn’t enough to reject racism, instead we need to actively practice anti-racism, but this will involve “persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination”.
Buy it: How To Be an Antiracist | £8.79 from Amazon
White Rage: The unspoken truth of our racial divide by Carol Anderson
Former New York Times Bestseller and Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of the Year winner, this book links historical flashpoints which hindered social progress for African Americans and is described as adding “an important new dimension to the national conversation about race.”
Buy it: White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide Paperback | £5.98 from Amazon
Freedom is a constant struggle by Angela Davis
Social media is currently awash with quotes by activist Angela Davis, but those who wish to extend their knowledge of her teaching by more than a few lines on Twitter should start by reading this. The book serves as a compelling compilation of Davis’ thoughts and essays on everything from the legacy of apartheid to race protests and touches on how racism has also impacted feminism.
Buy it: Freedom Is a Constant Struggle | £27.50 from Amazon
Your silence will not protect you by Audre Lorde
This posthumous collection of essays, poems and speeches by Audre Lorde, a writer, feminist, and civil rights activist serves as powerful introduction to her writings.
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own,” the author once said during a keynote talk in 1981. “And I am not free as long as one person of colour remains chained. Nor is any one of you.”
Buy it: Your Silence Will Not Protect You: Essays and Poems | £12.99 from Amazon
White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism by Robin DiAngelo
One of the topics this book tackles is why some white people find race-based conversations so uncomfortable and how they can move past that.
Buy it: White Fragility | £4.99 from Amazon
Biased by Jennifer L Eberhardt
A professor in Psychology author Eberhardt uses the book as a platform to highlight how even when people are trying their utmost to treat everyone equally, ingrained stereotypes can impact our behaviour offering a powerful reminder that unconscious bias is everywhere.
Buy: Biased | £18 from Amazon
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
In this, her debut novel, Angie Thomas widens out the short story she wrote in college following the police shooting of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old African-American man. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, the novel explores prejudice and racism in modern times.
Buy it: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas | £6.55 from Amazon
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
This non-fiction novel is told via a letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 15-year-old son touching on his own experiences of being black. The author blends his own narrative with current events in an attempt to arm his son to be able navigate his own experiences. “This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it,” he writes.
Buy it: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates | £7.99
Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad
Within the book the author, who is also a well recognised speaker on the topic of race, quotes Martin Luther King: “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
And her own quote is equally as powerful: “When you refuse to look at colour, you refuse to look at yourself as a person with white privilege.”