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So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Oluo's New York Times best-selling debut is a frank, illuminating, and accessible guide to navigating thorny but vital conversations about race and racism — covering topics like intersectionality, representation, privilege, and mass incarceration. In praise for So You Want to Talk About Race, author Robin DiAngelo called Oluo "the smartest, most courageous and electrifying young writer on race relations today — the voice of our times. Let her be your guidepost."

The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias by Dolly Chugh

This book offers incredible insight on how to confront difficult issues including sexism, racism, inequality, and injustice so that you can make the world (and yourself) better. Dolly reveals the surprising causes of inequality, grounded in the "psychology of good people". Using her research findings in unconscious bias as well as work across psychology, sociology, economics, political science, and other disciplines, she offers practical tools to respectfully and effectively talk politics with family, to be a better colleague to people who don’t look like you, and to avoid being a well-intentioned barrier to equality. Being the person we mean to be starts with a look at ourselves.

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

The title says it all: Historian Ibram Kendi reorients the discussion of racism to focus on the act of fighting against it; it's not enough to be a passive opponent. Weaving in accounts from his own life, Kendi expounds the consequences of racism and white supremacy in our public and private spheres, exploring the ways racism manifests within and across demographics, and shows the reader what antiracism looks like and can achieve. In praise for the book, author Ijeoma Oluo describes Kendi's work as "vital," adding, "As a society, we need to start treating antiracism as action, not emotion — and Kendi is helping us do that."

Racial Justice and the Catholic Church by Fr. Bryan Massingale

Here, a leading black Catholic moral theologian addresses the thorny issue of racial justice past and present. Massingale writes from an abiding conviction that the Catholic faith and the black experience make essential contributions in the continuing struggle against racial injustice that is the work of all people.

White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo

Anti-racist educator DiAngelo explores the defensive and aggressive reactions white people have when they're confronted with the reality of racial inequality and the ways they enable it. DiAngelo breaks down the idea of white fragility, identifying its related emotions (anger, fear, guilt) and its counterproductive behaviors (argumentation, silence), explaining how these behaviors allow for white supremacy, and outlining ways to more earnestly and constructively engage in antiracist work. Poet and playwright Claudia Rankine describes it as "a necessary book for all people invested in societal change through productive social and intimate relationships."

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

If you want to dive deeper with Kendi, there's his National Book Award-winning Stamped From the Beginning, which scrutinizes the history of anti-black racist thought in America from its very beginning to now. By showing how deeply entrenched racist ideas have been — and still are — in America, and thus exposing clearly and discrediting these ideas, Kendi has created not only a great work of scholarship but a much-needed tool.

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson

In the aftermath of the Ferguson riots, Anderson wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post arguing the nation's attention should be on the rage that had sparked them — but, she wrote, it wasn't black rage. In her 2016 book, Anderson continues her piercing analysis of white rage, and the ways in which it has fueled, and continues to fuel, political decisions which push back against the advancement of black Americans.

Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-Create Race in the Twenty-First Century by Dorothy Roberts

Scholar and social justice advocate Dorothy Roberts expounds the ways in which myths about biological concepts of race have had recent revivals with dangerous, and even fatal, repercussions. She explores new areas of medicine and science such as race-specific drugs, genetic testing, and DNA databases, and disproves their race-based conclusions, revealing instead how they become justification for propagating systemic inequality and undermining nonwhite — and especially black — populations.

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

This book-length poetic essay might be the most powerful piece of writing of the last 10 years. Maybe more. It's almost downplaying it to call it "relevant" or "timely," because part of Rankine's point is that much of what she talks about with regards to race and racism — and the violence against black people in this country — has been going on for centuries and has not changed significantly in that time. And the toll that it takes on black people is immeasurable.

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

Edited by National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward, The Fire This Time is a collection of pieces by various authors on race in America, inspired by James Baldwin's 1963 book The Fire Next Time. Where were we then, where are we now, and where are we headed? Through its stunning essays and poems, this collection masterfully explores those questions and more.

They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, And A New Era In America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery

As a reporter for The Washington Post, Wesley Lowery spent much of President Obama’s second term in office travelling from city to city, covering the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers, including Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray. They Can’t Kill Us All begins with his own aggressive arrest during the Ferguson protests after allegedly “failing to disperse” quickly enough when police officers cleared out a McDonald’s – then goes on to recount the evolution of the Black Lives Matter movement from the front lines. In short, it’s essential reading right now.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Ava DuVernay pointed out in her brilliant documentary 13th (now available to stream As on Netflix), the American Constitution’s 13th Amendment outlaws slavery “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted”. Civil rights lawyer Michelle Alexander reflects on the many ways in which this loophole has been exploited – tracing how and why the number of prisoners in America rose from roughly 350,000 to more than 2 million between the 1970s and 2010. Her central thesis: that the so-called war on drugs launched by President Reagan ultimately “emerged as a stunningly comprehensive and well-designed system of racialized social control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow”. Note: at the close of 2019, a staggering 4.7 per cent of all black millennial men in the US were incarcerated, according to research conducted by The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality.

Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

“I write you in your fifteenth year,” Ta-Nehisi Coates notes at the beginning of this extended letter to his son. “I am writing you because this was the year you saw Eric Garner choked to death for selling cigarettes; because you know now that Renisha McBride was shot for seeking help, that John Crawford was shot down for browsing in a department store. And you have seen men in uniform drive by and murder Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old child whom they were oath-bound to protect. And you have seen men in the same uniforms pummel Marlene Pinnock, someone’s grandmother, on the side of the road. And you know now, if you did not before, that the police departments of your country have been endowed with the authority to destroy your body.” What follows this heartbreaking declaration is a nuanced analysis of racism’s centrality to American life – and, critically, a study of the development of the fictional notion of “whiteness”.

Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race by Derald Wing Sue

If you believe that talking about race is impolite, or that "colorblindness" is the preferred approach, you must read this book. Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence debunks the most pervasive myths using evidence, easy-to-understand examples, and practical tools.

Towards the Other America: Anti-Racist Resources for White People Taking Action for Black Lives Matter by Chris Crass

Chris Crass calls on all of us to join our values to the power of love and act with courage for a world where Black lives truly matter. A world where the death culture of white supremacy no longer devours the lives of Black people and no longer deforms the hearts and souls of white people.

The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America by Khalil Gibran Muhammad

“Black” and “criminal” are as wedded in America as “star” and “spangled.” Muhammad’s book traces these ideas to the late 19th century, when racist policies led to the disproportionate arrest and incarceration of blacks, igniting urban whites’ fears and bequeathing tenaciously racist stereotypes.