An Anti-Racist Reading List

Normally I talk about books I’ve read. Today, I’m talking about books I want—and need—to read.

I’m from Minnesota. Which means that, for the last week, I’ve watched as scenes from my home have taken over the news because (another) unarmed black man was killed in (another) act of police brutality. George Floyd’s murder has ignited peaceful protests and, yes, riots, across the country and world as we stand up to systematic racism and unjust systems of power.

I wanted to share what I posted on my personal Instagram on #blackouttuesday earlier this week:

“Intention is good, action is better. Don’t post your black square and say “ok, I did my part.” That’s not the point. Use today to amplify melanated voices, to listen, to educate yourself. Read the books. Donate your money. Sign the petitions. Protest (if you can). Get uncomfortable being uncomfortable. If you aren’t uncomfortable, ask yourself why you’re comfortable living in a city/state/country/world where systematic racism and police brutality exist. VOTE. Not just in president elections (those are important!) but in city, state, and local elections. You have a voice in who represents you—USE IT. Black lives matter; George Floyd’s live mattered and continues to matter. The lives of the horrifyingly high number of Black people killed by police matter. Their lives will still matter when the fires go out and the (most recent) protests end. Posting a black square is a start—but it’s not the end.”

Action is better. So what actions am I taking?

As you might imagine from my blog, I’m definitely going to read. I’ve signed petitions and I’ve donated to grassroots organizations in Minnesota focused on both investing in long-term solutions to the Minneapolis community’s health and safety as well as funding the rebuilding (physically and emotionally) the South Minneapolis area. I’m also donating any money I make off of the affiliate links on my blog to these organizations as well, because I believe it’s so important to continue the funding and continue the conversations.

But I’m also going to do a lot of reading. Below are some of the books I’ve seen recommended. I’ve seen so many lists of books to read, so mine is certainly not even close to exhaustive. But these are all added to my “to be read” list, in no particular order:

  1. White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo (I’m listening to this now and I can’t wait to share my thoughts but seriously, start reading/listening to this NOW)
  2. Beyond the Pale: White Women, Racism, and History by Vron Ware
  3. Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis
  4. Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
  5. Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
  6. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (I already have this on Audible but haven’t listened yet, so this will probably be my next listen)
  7. Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
  8. Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
  9. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  10. An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
  11. The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein
  12. Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
  13. A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn (I also have this on Audible, it’s a 32-hour listen so I’ve always been too intimidated, but no more!)
  14. Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland by Jonathan M. Metzl
  15. How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  16. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
  17. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James Loewen
  18. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD
  19. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  20. Midnight Basketball: Race, Sports, and Neoliberal Social Policy by Douglas Hartmann
  21. My Soul Looks Back: A Memoir by Jessica B. Harris
  22. Cooking Solo by Klancy Miller (this is a cookbook, not a book, and I need it!!)
  23. We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: Inner Light in a Time of Darkness by Alice Walker
  24. The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty
  25. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these or if there’s any others you would add; like I said, I know this is an incomplete list! But it’s a start.

Intention is good, action is better. Share the list of Black-owned stores in your area—then shop at them. Buy the books—then read them. It’s not enough to have a shelf full of books that make you “look” like an anti-racist to anyone who walks into your home. Read them, digest them, learn from them. The books might make you uncomfortable. That is a good thing. We are all complicit in our society, one deeply rooted in white supremacy. (If you don’t agree with that statement, please please read White Fragility.) But reading is power, because knowledge is power, and we have a say in how we wield that power. Please, wield it for good—for justice.

For more resources, many people have worked on this Google doc, and I wanted to share it as well:

2 thoughts on “An Anti-Racist Reading List

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