7 Must – Read Books that highlight Racial Injustice

1. Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World – Layla Saad

This book was birthed from an Instagram challenge called #MeandWhiteSupremacy and is a compilation of anecdotes, moving stories, historical and cultural contexts, examples and further resources. It aims to teach readers how to dismantle the privilege within themselves so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of culture.

2. Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates

Written in 2015, this book is written as a letter to the author’s teenage son about the feelings, symbolism and realities associated with being Black in the United States. Coates does not paint a happy future but rather sees white supremacy as an indestructible force, one that Black Americans will never evade or erase, but will always struggle against, as opposed to Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

3. Stamped from the Beginning : The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America – Ibram X. Kendi

This is a book by professor of history and international relations at American University, Washington DC, Ibram X Kendi. It was written in 2016 and is structured around five historical guides: 17th century Puritan Minister Cotton Mather, founding father Thomas Jefferson, 19th century abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, author and activist WEB DuBois and 1960s radical Angela Davis. Its conclusions will surprise you and change your opinions on issues such as segregation, assimilation and anti-racism.

4. White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide – Carol Anderson

Was written in 2016, by the Emory University professor, Carol Anderson. She describes structural racism as a backlash on African Americans whenever they gain social power. She analyses American history and describes the Jim Crow era as a reaction to the end of the US Civil war and the Reconstruction Era. She also describes in the book, the opposition to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as the cause of the Southern Strategy and the War on Drugs, both of which she says we’re attempts to disenfranchise black voters.

5. So You Want to Talk About Race – Ijeoma Oluo

written in 2018, So You Want to Talk About Race enables readers to have very honest conversations about race and racism, and how they affect every aspect of American life. The author guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to ‘model minorities’. A review says “it makes you think about your actions when you’re done with it.”

6. Small Great Things – Jodi Picoult

The title of the book was chosen from the words of Martin Luther King ‘If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way’. This book revolves around an African American protagonist, Ruth Jefferson. It focuses on race in America and was published in 2016.

7.The Colour of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother – James McBride.

It was first published in 1955 and is the autobiography and memoir of James McBride. It is also a tribute to his mother, whom he calls Mommy or Ma. It depicts the struggles he had to face in the search of his identity, even as his mother narrates the hardships she had to overcome as a white, Jewish woman who married a black man in 1942. It is a powerful, evocative read and will leave you with a sense of rightness and determination to end racism.

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