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Reading About Racism

Siddie Friar, Reporter

The massive international protests surrounding ‘Black Lives Matter’ are making big waves, both physically and mentally. 

Physically we see them in the way of reclaiming land, the defunding or pledges to disband some police forces, and a slew of confederate monuments being removed.

Mentally we see them in books about being anti-racist, white fragility, and how to be an ally, flying off the shelves. 

There is a push for white people to educate themselves on what racism is and how they can combat it, starting from within. For a lot of people, reading books and self-education are accessible ways for them to support and understand the rising tide demanding actual racial equality. 

Spinnaker scoured the web and compiled the top titles being talked about or recommended by Black Lives Matter organizers, educators and community members, as well as independent or black owned bookstores from which to buy them. 

While the world is still upside down from the pandemic, reading is a safe and worthwhile pastime.

How to Be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi

“Historian and New York Times best-selling author Ibram X. Kendi uses a mix of personal experiences, history, and science to show how a person can go from being racist to anti-racist, and how we can all build a new anti-racist society.”

Buy it for $27 at Sankofa

White Fragility by Robin Diangelo

“In her book White Fragility, anti-racism educator Robin Diangelo examines how white defensive responses to conversations about race and racism reinforce inequality and prevent meaningful dialogue. She then offers ways white people can work against white fragility to engage in more constructive ways.”

Buy it for $16 at Cafe Con Libros

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

“Ijeomo Oluo’s New York Times bestseller shows people of all races how to have constructive and useful conversations about race in America. It answers questions about confronting friends and family members while providing a comprehensive education on this country’s racist heritage.”

Buy it for $17 at Mahogany Books 

Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad

“What started as an Instagram challenge and a downloadable anti-racist workbook encouraging people to examine their own privilege and racist behaviors now comes in book form with historical context, expanded definitions, and more resources. It has been widely recommended for white people who want to make change but don’t know where to start.”

This title is on backorder at most outlets. 

Buy it for $26 at Mahogany Books 

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

“Michelle Alexander’s award winning book delves into mass incarceration and the truth about the United States’ thriving racial caste system. Ibram X. Kendi describes The New Jim Crow as ‘the spark that would eventually light the fire of Black Lives Matter.’”

Buy it for $20 at Sankofa

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers her Superpower by Brittany Cooper

“Author and professor of Gender and Africana Studies at Rutgers University, Brittney Cooper uses her own experience to talk about the power of black female rage and how it can drive revolution and change the world.”

Buy it for $24.29 from Bookshop

Reproductive Injustice: Racism, Pregnancy, and Premature Birth by Dána-Ain Davis

“Dána-Ain Davis looks into why black women have higher rates of premature birth and higher maternal death rates than other women in America. She places racial differences in birth outcomes into a historical context, revealing that ideas about reproduction and race today have been influenced by the legacy of ideas dating back to slavery.”

Buy it for $30 at Bookshop

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum

“This classic text on the psychology of racism was re-released with new content in 2017, 20 years after its original publication. By providing straight talk on self-segregation and inequality in schools, Tatum shows the importance — and possibility — of cross-racial dialogues starting young.”

Buy it for $18.99 from Firestorm Books

Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor 

“A finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in History, Race for Profit chronicles how the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 failed to stop racist, exploitative mortgage lending practices. Since the policy was supposed to be a balm to the 1960s uprisings — much like the ones we’re seeing now — it serves as a reminder to remain vigilant when policymakers promise change.”

Buy it for $30 from Firestorm Books 

From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America by Elizabeth Hinton 

“The origins of mass incarceration — which disproportionately puts black people behind bars — are often pinned on Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. But Hinton argues the carceral state was erected “by a consensus of liberals and conservatives who privileged punitive responses to urban problems as a reaction to the civil rights movement.” The 1965 Law Enforcement Assistance Act, part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society plan, led to today’s police militarization. This account of history poses relevant questions for today’s land of the free.”

Buy it for $19.50 from Sankofa

The End of Policing by Alex Vitale 

“In the wake of high-profile cases of police brutality, the same ideas for reform are trotted out — implicit bias training, body cameras, police-community dialogues. But Vitale argues that this fails to get to the root of the problem — policing itself. While calls to abolish the police are often met with skepticism, academics and activists have long-discussed alternatives to addressing homelessness, domestic disputes and substance abuse. A free ebook of The End of Policing is available now.”

Buy it for $17.95  from Firestorm Books 

Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class by Ian Haney López


“Entitlement mentality.” “Quotas.” “Welfare queens.” From Barry Goldwater to Bill Clinton to the Tea Party, politicians have relied on racially coded language to win over white voters and decimate social programs. Dog Whistle Politics makes the case that not only does this strategy endanger people of color, but it also hinders economic mobility for all Americans.”

Buy it for $17.95 from Red Emmas 

Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination by Alondra Nelson 

“The Black Panther Party is most remembered for its militant action, but health care was also a major pillar of its activism. The People’s Free Medical Clinics tested for hypertension and assisted with housing and employment. Its outreach also brought attention to rampant discrimination within mainstream medicine. Nelson writes that the Black Panther Party understood health as a human right, echoing today’s fight for universal health care. You can read Body and Soul online for free.

Buy it for $18.95 from Red Emmas

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

“Stamped” distills the history of racist ideas into three kinds of people: segregationists, assimilationists and anti-racists. According to the authors, the goal of the book is to help young people identify what is racist.”

Buy it for $18.99 from Firestorm Books

All of the sites linked to are worth your patronage and have fantastic selections of not only racial issues, but feminism, environment, social justice, and so much more. Remember that knowledge is power and wield it well. 


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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Comments (1)

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  • C

    Christine HollandJun 16, 2020 at 4:16 pm

    It would help if you published links to the U N F library and gave links to where students and faculty could read these books for free.