There are lists upon lists of books to read if you want to combat racism, which are full of wonderful foundational works for people eager to learn and enact change. But if you’ve been involved in antiracist work for a while, you might get tired of seeing the same books recommended. Texts like Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me and Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning are pivotal works, perfect for those just beginning to delve into the world of antiracism. But if you’re feeling like you’ve already gotten a hold of the fundamentals, the books on this list will help you take things a step further.
by Clint Smith
History doesn't just exist in textbooks. Rather, it manifests all around us. In monuments, in museums, in plantation sites, in cemeteries—our past comes alive, for better or for worse. In How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America, Clint Smith exposes how the public history in the United States inform our understanding of slavery. Smith explores sites of history that tell the truth, and those that don't; those that reckon with slavery and those that try to forget; those that we pass by every day but never question its deeper implications. As racist statues and monuments are contested countrywide, this book is an excellent primer for that debate and the larger conversation around how we tell Black history.
Foreword by Cornel West
Reading theory is crucial to antiracism, but it can also feel abstract. Works like Brandon P. Fleming's Miseducated are perfect antidotes to this, infusing a personal narrative with overarching themes of resilience and activism. Fleming's early life began in turmoil, as an abusive home life and truancy led him to partake in drug-related crime. Saved by his immense basketball skill and the opportunities that it brought him, Fleming's trajectory began to point upward. Unfortunately, an injury ended his basketball career, sending him into a deep depression. Fleming's journey didn't stop there, however, as he was determined to eventually return to college and educate himself. This memoir is a testament to individual perseverance as well as the liberating properties found in works of Black history and intellectualism.
Mariame Kaba; Tamara K. Nopper (Editor)
Antiracism often involves rethinking structures that might be seen as essential to society, and perhaps advocating for their removal. Mariama Kaba does exactly this in her day-to-day life as a prison abolitionist. In We Do This 'Til We Free Us, Kaba clearly outlines the issues with the prison industrial complex and proposes a dynamic restructuring of society and punishment. A collection of essays and interviews, this book dives straight into the philosophical and cultural heart of crime and punishment. Is there justice to be found beyond our current system? Kaba asks, and beautifully answers in this accessible and groundbreaking work.
by Ijeoma Oluo
Ijeoma Oluo swept readers off their feet with So You Want to Talk About Race, a guidebook for difficult but crucial conversations. Now, she's back to have another difficult conversation—this time about mediocrity. Oluo works tirelessly to dispel the myth that merit is what made generations of certain people successful, and argues that success driven by status has led to some real costs in how we view ourselves. In Mediocre, Oluo reaches back through history for the mountains of evidence she uses to craft a powerful thesis about American identity.
by Frank H. Wu
If you're one of the millions of fans who tune in to Don Lemon's presence and searing racial commentary on CNN, you'll enjoy his latest work: an intimate and urgent portrait of racism, complete with advice for what we can do to combat it. As the only Black primetime anchor in the United States, Lemon occupies a unique position that gives him the experience and perspective unlike any other. Through his eyes, readers can discover a quite personal plea for racial equality as he examines racial hotspots in history, from a slave port where one of his ancestors once suffered to the recent Black Lives Matter protests across the country.
Colonialism and imperialism seem like staples of history—long-gone practices of empires past. But Kehinde Andrews, noted Professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University, assures all in his newest work The New Age of Empire that these legacies are alive and well. Focusing on the United States as the epicenter of modern imperialism, Andrews outlines a compelling argument for how colonialism still shapes the world today. As Andrews has done with previous works, he provides fiery yet nuanced reasoning for expanding the ways we think about our complicated planet.