One of the easiest ways to educate yourself on important topics and issues is by reading about them. Always, but right now more than ever, is the time to listen to and learn from the outspoken activists and authors who are working to incite significant changes in our society by talking and writing about the oppression, racism, and injustices that black people face in America and around the world. By reading books by black authors about black experiences and the complex history of racism in America we, as a society, can begin to make significant changes in the way all the major systems that make up our society function.
As a reader, I have been looking for books that will help me understand, on a deeper level, the racism that exists in the world around me that I don’t experience but that is necessary for me to know about so that I can become a better ally. By reading about the levels of racism that exist, black experiences, and how I can do better, it is my hope to become part of the solution to end the racism and injustice that hurt black individuals and communities.
This list of books includes titles that I have already read, as well as books that I have seen as recommend that I intend to read in the near future. Obviously, there are many other excellent books out there, but these are a few that I think are very good books to begin with before diving even deeper into the topic.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
I recently wrote of review of this book — read it here. This was a book that I read for class this past spring and its content has really stayed with me. It was shocking and eye-opening to read about the failures and atrocities that are all too common within the justice system and that affect black people in America significantly more. If you interested in learning more about the justice system and how the law functions in the U.S. I would recommend reading Just Mercy.
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
This book is by a white author, yet she is a very respected and is highly educated on the topic. I have yet to read this book but as white individual, I think it could be an interesting and insightful read on how non-black people can have an open dialogue about racism.
How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
I ordered this book and hope to start it soon. This book explains structural racism through multiple lenses, and details not just how to not be racist, but how to be antiracist. I look forward to reading this and expanding my own knowledge about how to do so.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This is a fiction story that addresses police brutality toward black people in the United States. From the point of view of a teenager, it offers a younger perspective of what it means to experience hate and racism. I think that fiction stories are just as impactful and offer just as many opportunities for learning as non-fiction books do, so consider reading this if you connect better to fiction.
Passing by Nella Larsen
This is another book that I read for a class that I took. It is also a fiction story, and a rather short one, yet it explores so many ideas surrounding race from the perspective of a mixed-race woman. The ideas are somewhat more subtle, but they are nevertheless significant and address the struggles of black women in America that have existed for centuries.
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
Brown uses her own experiences to explore racial injustice in numerous different spheres of her life. Her own stories expand into the greater narrative of how racism appears in society and how people can do more and do better to end the racism that black people face in America.
The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein
Maybe one of the more not talked about topics of racism is the history of residential segregation in the United States. It is laws, and thus the imbedded system of racism in this country, that divides neighborhoods, and this book looks at the complex history of that idea.
Let’s start a dialogue! If you have read any of these books — or any other books related to BLM — tell me what you learned and what your next steps in the movement are going to be!