Books you can read to educate yourself about race
The worldwide outrage following the horrific death of George Floyd in Minneapolis back in 2020 left many people wondering what they could do to show solidarity and turn their devastation into action.
Reading a book isn’t going to solve racism, but educating yourself about the ideology and practice of anti-racism is still a step in the right direction.
While there are hundreds of brilliant books on the subject, social media has become a platform for the recommendation of certain tomes that serve as a good starting point.
Of course, these books are just the tip of the education iceberg when it comes to the comprehensive literature on the topic, but here are a few powerful books about race we should all be reading right now.
Books to read right now to learn more about tackling racism
What White People Can Do Next: From Allyship To Coalition by Emma Dabiri
This is the second book from Irish author and broadcaster Emma Dabiri, who penned her debut title, Don't Touch My Hair in 2019. Published last year, her second book draws on Dabiri's personal experience and research on racial injustice in an essay format. She shares practical actions for white people to take to fight systemic racism, tackling topics including denial, guilt and capitalism.
Shop now: What White People Can Do Next: From Allyship To Coalition by Emma Dabiri | £5.59 from Amazon
Girl: Essays on Black Womanhood by Kenya Hunt
Award-winning American journalist and current editor-in-chief of ELLE UK, Kenya Hunt's book is a collection of original essays from Black women, discussing what it means to be Black, navigating motherhood and exploring race in modern society. It features contributions from esteemed Black women in the media, including Candice Carty-Williams, Jessica Horn, Ebele Okobi, Funmi Fetto and Freddie Harrel. Sharing her cultural observations through storytelling, reviews have described it as "Enlightening, relatable, warm and witty."
Shop now: Girl - Essays on Black Womanhood by Kenya Hunt | £6.75 from Amazon
I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Braithwaite
Candice Braithwaite is a parenting blogger whose colourful Instagram feed covers everything from her maximalist fashion style to the realities of being a Black woman on and offline. This is her second book which dives head-first into a part-memoir, part-manifesto of motherhood. Dissecting white privilege, micro-aggressions and unconscious bias, woven with her personal experiences, it's a compelling, humorous and straight-talking read.
Shop now: I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Braithwaite | £7.64 from Amazon
So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
This simple and conversational book provides a vital starting point for opening up the discussion about racism, examining not just the subject as a whole, but the role of white people within it.
Shop now: So You Want to Talk About Race Paperback | £8.99 from Amazon
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Set in the UK, this book is based on a 2014 blog post by the author in which she expresses frustration about having to deal with well-meaning but ultimately unhelpful white people.
In it she wrote: “I couldn't have a conversation with white folks about the details of a problem if they didn't want to recognise that the problem exists. Worse still was the white person who might be willing to entertain the possibility of said racism but still thinks we enter this conversation as equals. We didn't then, and we don't now.”
Shop now: Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race | £7.99 from Amazon
How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi
Using the power of memoir, the author argues that it isn’t enough to reject racism, instead we need to actively practice anti-racism, but this will involve “persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism and regular self-examination”.
Shop now: How To Be an Antiracist | £8.79 from Amazon
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson
Former New York Times Bestseller and Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of the Year winner, this book links historical flashpoints which hindered social progress for African Americans and is described as adding “an important new dimension to the national conversation about race.”
Shop now: White Rage - The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide Paperback | £5.98 from Amazon
Freedom Is A Constant Struggle by Angela Davis
Social media is currently awash with quotes from activist Angela Davis, but those who wish to extend their knowledge of her teaching by more than a few lines on Twitter should start by reading this. The book is a compelling collection of Davis’ thoughts and essays on everything from the legacy of apartheid to race protests and touches on how racism has also impacted feminism.
Shop now: Freedom Is a Constant Struggle | £27.50 from Amazon
Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde
This posthumous collection of essays, poems and speeches by Audre Lorde, a writer, feminist and civil rights activist serves as powerful introduction to her writings.
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own,” the author once said during a keynote speech in 1981. “And I am not free as long as one person of colour remains chained. Nor is any one of you.”
Shop now: Your Silence Will Not Protect You: Essays and Poems | £12.99 from Amazon
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
One of the topics this book tackles is why some white people find race-based conversations so uncomfortable and how they can move past that.
Shop now: White Fragility | £4.99 from Amazon
Biased: Uncovering The Hidden Prejudices That Shape Our Lives by Jennifer L. Eberhardt
A professor in Psychology, author Eberhardt uses the book as a platform to highlight how even when people are trying their utmost to treat everyone equally, ingrained stereotypes can impact our behaviour offering a powerful reminder that unconscious bias is everywhere.
Shop now: Biased | £18 from Amazon
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
In this, her debut novel, Angie Thomas widens out the short story she wrote in college following the police shooting of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old African-American man. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, the novel explores prejudice and racism in modern times.
Shop now: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas | £6.55 from Amazon
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
This non-fiction novel is told via a letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 15-year-old son touching on his own experiences of being Black. The author blends his own narrative with current events in an attempt to arm his son to be able navigate his own experiences. “This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it,” he writes.
Shop now: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates | £7.99
Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad
Within the book, the author, who is also a well-recognised speaker on the topic of race, quotes Martin Luther King: “Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
And her own quote is equally powerful: “When you refuse to look at colour, you refuse to look at yourself as a person with white privilege.”