My Personal Reading List on Racism and White Privilege.

There’s been a lot of discussions online this past week on how we, as white people, can get a better understanding of racism and white privilege. The answer isn’t to go to your black peers or black people you follow on Instagram and ask them to educate you for free. It is not their job to teach us about our own racism and white privilege. We need to learn about it ourselves, and one of the ways to do that is to read books to educate ourselves.

Here is a list of some that will beneficial to all of us. All of these books cover racism and white privilege in different ways and are all highly recommended.

So You Want to Talk About Race

Widespread reporting on aspects of white supremacy–from police brutality to the mass incarceration of Black Americans–has put a media spotlight on racism in our society. Still, it is a difficult subject to talk about. How do you tell your roommate her jokes are racist? Why did your sister-in-law take umbrage when you asked to touch her hair–and how do you make it right? How do you explain white privilege to your white, privileged friend?

In So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to “model minorities” in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life.

Buy on Amazon 

How To Be an Antiracist

In this rousing and deeply empathetic book, Ibram X. Kendi, founding director of the Antiracism Research and Policy Center, shows that when it comes to racism, neutrality is not an option: until we become part of the solution, we can only be part of the problem.

Using his extraordinary gifts as a teacher and story-teller, Kendi helps us recognise that everyone is, at times, complicit in racism whether they realise it or not, and by describing with moving humility his own journey from racism to antiracism, he shows us how instead to be a force for good. Along the way, Kendi punctures all the myths and taboos that so often cloud our understanding, from arguments about what race is and whether racial differences exist to the complications that arise when race intersects with ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality.

In the process he demolishes the myth of the post-racial society and builds from the ground up a vital new understanding of racism – what it is, where it is hidden, how to identify it and what to do about it.

Buy on Amazon 

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race 

In this bestselling collection of essays and poems, Jesmyn Ward gathers a new generation of writers and thinkers to speak on race. From Claudia Rankine to Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Jericho Brown to Carol Anderson, these voices shine a light on the darkest corners of American history, wrestle with the struggles the country faces today and imagine a better future.

Envisioned as a response to The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin’s groundbreaking 1963 essay collection, The Fire This Time considers the black experience in modern America. Significant progress has been made in the fifty years since Baldwin’s essays were published, but America is a long distance away from a post-racial society – a truth that must be confronted if the country is to continue to work towards change.

Baldwin’s ‘fire next time’ is now upon us, and it needs to be talked about. Sage, urgent and impassioned, this is an essential collection edited by one of America’s greatest writers.

Buy on Amazon 

Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People

I know my own mind.
I am able to assess others in a fair and accurate way.

These self-perceptions are challenged by leading psychologists Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald as they explore the hidden biases we all carry from a lifetime of exposure to cultural attitudes about age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, social class, sexuality, disability status, and nationality.

“Blindspot” is the authors’ metaphor for the portion of the mind that houses hidden biases. Writing with simplicity and verve, Banaji and Greenwald question the extent to which our perceptions of social groups–without our awareness or conscious control–shape our likes and dislikes and our judgments about people’s character, abilities, and potential.

In Blindspot, the authors reveal hidden biases based on their experience with the Implicit Association Test, a method that has revolutionized the way scientists learn about the human mind and that gives us a glimpse into what lies within the metaphoric blindspot.

The title’s “good people” are those of us who strive to align our behavior with our intentions. The aim of Blindspot is to explain the science in plain enough language to help well-intentioned people achieve that alignment. By gaining awareness, we can adapt beliefs and behavior and “outsmart the machine” in our heads so we can be fairer to those around us. Venturing into this book is an invitation to understand our own minds.

Brilliant, authoritative, and utterly accessible, Blindspot is a book that will challenge and change readers for years to come.

Buy on Amazon 

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America

Published in the wake of the last presidential election, Tears We Cannot Stop spent two months on the New York Times bestseller list. Michael Eric Dyson argues that if we are to make real racial progress, we must face difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted. As Dyson writes, “The problem is you do not want to know anything different from what you think you know… You think we have been handed everything because we fought your selfish insistence that the world, all of it–all its resources, all its riches, all its bounty, all its grace–should be yours first and foremost, and if there’s anything left, why then we can have some, but only if we ask politely and behave gratefully.”

Short, emotional, literary, powerful, this modern classic is required reading for all Americans who care about the current and long-burning crisis in race relations.

Buy on Amazon 

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? 

The classic, bestselling book on the psychology of racism — now fully revised and updated Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. These topics have only become more urgent as the national conversation about race is increasingly acrimonious. This fully revised edition is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of race in America.

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Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World

Me and White Supremacy teaches readers how to dismantle the privilege within themselves so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of colour, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.

When Layla Saad began an Instagram challenge called #MeAndWhiteSupremacy, she never predicted it would spread as widely as it did. She encouraged people to own up and share their racist behaviors, big and small. She was looking for truth, and she got it. Thousands of people participated in the challenge, and over 90,000 people downloaded the Me and White Supremacy Workbook.

The updated and expanded Me and White Supremacy takes the work deeper by adding more historical and cultural contexts, sharing moving stories and anecdotes, and including expanded definitions, examples, and further resources.

Awareness leads to action, and action leads to change. The numbers show that readers are ready to do this work – let’s give it to them.

Buy on Amazon

This is the book I am currently reading and it is really making me look differently at racism and white privilege.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

The book that sparked a national conversation. Exploring everything from eradicated black history to the inextricable link between class and race, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is the essential handbook for anyone who wants to understand race relations in Britain today.

Buy on Amazon

Between The World And Me 

In the 150 years since the end of the Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment (the abolition of slavery), the story of race and America has remained a brutally simple one, written on flesh: it is the story of the black body, exploited to create the country’s foundational wealth, violently segregated to unite a nation after a civil war and, today, still disproportionately threatened, locked up and killed in the streets. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can America reckon with its fraught racial history?

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ attempt to answer those questions, presented in the form of a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son – and readers – the story of his own awakening to the truth about history and race through a series of revelatory experiences: immersion in nationalist mythology as a child; engagement with history, poetry and love at Howard University; travels to Civil War battlefields and the South Side of Chicago; a journey to France that reorients his sense of the world; and pilgrimages to the homes of mothers whose children’s lives have been taken as American plunder. Masterfully woven from lyrical personal narrative, reimagined history and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME offers a powerful new framework for understanding America’s history and current crisis, and a transcendent vision for a way forward.

Buy on Amazon

The Good Immigrant 

How does it feel to be constantly regarded as a potential threat, strip-searched at every airport?

Or be told that, as an actress, the part you’re most fitted to play is ‘wife of a terrorist’? How does it feel to have words from your native language misused, misappropriated and used aggressively towards you? How does it feel to hear a child of colour say in a classroom that stories can only be about white people? How does it feel to go ‘home’ to India when your home is really London? What is it like to feel you always have to be an ambassador for your race? How does it feel to always tick ‘Other’?

Bringing together 21 exciting black, Asian and minority ethnic voices emerging in Britain today, The Good Immigrant explores why immigrants come to the UK, why they stay and what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t seem to want you, doesn’t truly accept you – however many generations you’ve been here – but still needs you for its diversity monitoring forms.

Inspired by discussion around why society appears to deem people of colour as bad immigrants – job stealers, benefit scroungers, undeserving refugees – until, by winning Olympic races or baking good cakes, or being conscientious doctors, they cross over and become good immigrants, editor Nikesh Shukla has compiled a collection of essays that are poignant, challenging, angry, humorous, heartbreaking, polemic, weary and – most importantly – real.

Buy on Amazon

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

Anger. Fear. Guilt. Denial. Silence. These are the ways in which ordinary white people react when it is pointed out to them that they have done or said something that has – unintentionally – caused racial offence or hurt. But these reactions only serve to silence people of colour, who cannot give honest feedback to ‘liberal’ white people lest they provoke a dangerous emotional reaction.

Robin DiAngelo coined the term ‘White Fragility’ in 2011 to describe this process and is here to show us how it serves to uphold the system of white supremacy. Using knowledge and insight gained over decades of running racial awareness workshops and working on this idea as a Professor of Whiteness Studies, she shows us how we can start having more honest conversations, listen to each other better and react to feedback with grace and humility. It is not enough to simply hold abstract progressive views and condemn the obvious racists on social media – change starts with us all at a practical, granular level, and it is time for all white people to take responsibility for relinquishing their own racial supremacy.

Buy on Amazon 

I Am Not Your Baby Mother

It’s about time we made motherhood more diverse…

When Candice fell pregnant and stepped into the motherhood playing field, she found her experience bore little resemblance to the glossy magazine photos of women in horizontal stripe tops and the pinned discussions on mumsnet about what pushchair to buy. Leafing through the piles of prenatal paraphernalia, she found herself wondering: “Where are all the black mothers?”.

Candice started blogging about motherhood in 2016 after making the simple but powerful observation that the way motherhood is portrayed in the British media is wholly unrepresentative of our society at large.

The result is this thought-provoking, urgent and inspirational guide to life as a black mother. It explores the various stages in between pregnancy and waving your child off at the gates of primary school, while facing hurdles such as white privilege, racial micro-aggression and unconscious bias at every point. Candice does so with her trademark sense of humour and refreshing straight-talking, and the result is a call-to-arms that will allow mums like her to take control, scrapping the parenting rulebook to mother their own way.

Buy on Amazon

Overcoming Everyday Racism: Building Resilience and Wellbeing in the Face of Discrimination and Microaggressions 

A timely book in the current socio-political climate, adding to the collection of contemporary and academic work encouraging racial literacy. It explores real life and workplace situations many BAME people can identify with. It nurtures self-awareness and strategies to arm against the damaging implicit and explicit experiences of everyday racism.
Kwame Opoku, National Black Police Association

Buy on Amazon 

I do hope you pick up at least one of these books and start your own learning on racism and white privilege. Please let me know about your journey and what you learn about racism and white privilege.

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