Advertising
Advertising

Published on July 30, 2020

23 Books About Racism to Inspire You to Embrace Race and Do Good

23 Books About Racism to Inspire You to Embrace Race and Do Good

Written by some of the most influential authors in the world, these books about racism will touch your heart in the most unexpected way. With a focus on different angles of racism and its effects[1] on society, each book would surely instill in you the significance of the Black movement and why it is essential to put an end to racism in order to contribute to the wellbeing of humanity.

Hopefully, after reading one of the books I’ve listed, you’ll find in yourself the desire to push the conversation around race in a positive direction.

This list incorporates such worthwhile books that have been included on the highly esteemed New York Times Best Seller list. Furthermore, these books have enjoyed their fair share of glory as they were deemed profoundly insightful and motivational by the likes of magazines such as Publishers Weekly.

Educating and enlightening our readers on how to deal with racism has been my primary aim of creating this list. The books included here inspire individuals to embrace their skin color so that they can prompt others to stand up against racism and collectively work their way to completely uproot it.

1. How to Be an Antiracist

    A New York Times Bestseller, this book by Ibram X. Kendi lays out a practical methodology to eradicate racism and completely uproot it from our chauvinist society.

    Buy this book!

    2. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

      This compelling book by Michelle Alexander accentuates the devastating truth about the US criminal justice system and how it discriminates and disregards the African American community of the US.

      Buy this book!

      3. The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

        One of the Publishers Weekly’s 10 Best Books of 2017, The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein exposes the US government and how it carried out racist segregation in the many metropolitan areas of the United States.

        Buy this book!

        4. White Rage

          This riveting piece of work by Carol Anderson, which happens to be a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, singles out the powerful mass forces that were antagonistic towards the development of the African American community in the US.

          Advertising

          Buy this book!

          5. Between the World and Me

            Another New York Times Bestseller, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book outlines the critical elements for enabling the reader to understand the history of the United States and what factors led to the ongoing racial crisis.

            Buy this book!

            6. Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

              Stamped From the Beginning is a deeply researched account in which the author, Ibram X. Kendi, jots down the story of anti-black racist ideas and their tremendous effect on the African American community throughout US history.

              Buy this book!

              7. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?

                Beverly Daniel Tatum illustrates a veracious picture of a typical high school where students of different races are clustered in their own groups, thus, emphasizing that interracial communication is vital.

                Buy this book!

                8. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

                  This book by Reni Eddo-Lodge highlights how futile it is to discuss racism with individuals who are ignorant about its severity. Furthermore, the author offers an essential framework to tackle racism.

                  Buy this book!

                  9. So You Want to Talk About Race

                    Ijeoma Oluo offers her perspective on racism in the US and addresses issues such as police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement, and privilege.

                    Advertising

                    Buy this book!

                    10. The Color of Water

                      In this book by James McBride, the winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, the author re-enacts his mother’s story, depicting her journey and all the hardship she had to endure when she migrated to America.

                      Buy this book!

                      11. The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row

                        This book by Anthony Ray Hinton and Lara Love Hardin features a compelling story of a man who was wrongfully incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. The book showcases that, in the end, love trumps all.

                        Buy this book!

                        12. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

                          This enthralling chronicle by Maya Angelou depicts the gut-wrenching story of the author, what she had to deal with when she was sent off to live with her grandmother, and how fitting words can make everything right.

                          Buy this book!

                          13. The Autobiography of Malcolm X

                            In one of Time’s ten most influential nonfiction books by Malcolm X and Alex Haley, Malcolm X narrates the remarkable story of his life, the augmentation of the Black Muslim movement, and his take on the restrictions and lies of the American Dream.

                            Buy this book!

                            14. The Bluest Eye

                              Toni Morrison wrote this gripping account of a young black girl who yearns for blond hair and blue eyes to fit into society. This book offers a much-needed reality check and asks some essential questions around race.

                              Advertising

                              Buy this book!

                              15. Becoming

                                This book enjoyed a staggering first spot on New York Times Bestseller’s list. Michelle Obama, one of the most influential women of our era, narrates the mesmerizing experiences that molded her persona and enabled her to be the first African American First Lady of the US.

                                Buy this book!

                                16. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

                                  From the New York Times Bestseller’s list, this book by Bryan Stevenson is an indelible account of a young lawyer and his commendable efforts in pursuing true justice. His first case was that of an innocent young man who was on a death row for a murder he didn’t commit.

                                  Buy this book!

                                  17. The Underground Railroad

                                    Winner of the deemed Pulitzer Prize, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead features the life of Cora, a slave, and the hurdles she had to face, particularly when she decided to escape.

                                    Buy this book!

                                    18. The Warmth of Other Suns

                                      This book by Isabel Wilkerson happens to be a National Book Critics Circle Award Winner. In this chronicle, Isabel Wilkerson relates the stories of black citizens of the US and their search for a better life.

                                      Buy this book!

                                      19. The Nickel Boys

                                        Winner of the Kirkus Prize, this story by Colson Whitehead is an account of Elwood Curtis, a black boy who was unjustly incarcerated in a juvenile center known as Nickel Academy, and how, consequently, his life became a living hell.

                                        Advertising

                                        Buy this book!

                                        20. The Souls of Black Folk

                                          This book by W.E.B. Du Bois is the pioneering edifice that helped pave the foundation of African American literature. It played a pivotal part in the development of strategies that orchestrated the early 20th-century black protests in the US.

                                          Buy this book!

                                          21. Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do

                                            This book by Jennifer L. Eberhardt explores the issue of racism and deduces how racial bias has failed American society. It is a pivotal read for anyone who is even mildly interested in the current Black movement in the US.

                                            Buy this book!

                                            22. Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do

                                              Claude M. Steele renders the first-hand experience of his research on American stereotypes, such as the athletic superiority of black men, and provides a means of reshaping American identities.

                                              Buy this book!

                                              23. 12 Years a Slave

                                                This book by Solomon Northup tells of the real-life encounter of Solomon Northup, a free man in New York, and how he was kidnapped, drugged, and sold as a slave. This book also proved to be the edifice on which the Academy-Award winning movie 12 Years a Slave was produced.

                                                Buy this book!

                                                Final Thoughts

                                                This comprehensive list incorporates some of the most acclaimed books on racism, offering in-depth insight on these issues. Furthermore, these books will cultivate the fervor you need to fight racism and completely curb it.

                                                More Insightful Books

                                                Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

                                                Reference

                                                [1] Journal on Race, Inequality, and Social Mobility in America: Investigating Vigilance: A New Way to Account for the Account for the Effects of Racism on Health Inequities

                                                More by this author

                                                Anna Chui

                                                Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the Content Strategist of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

                                                23 Books About Racism to Inspire You to Embrace Race and Do Good 50 Life Purpose Quotes to Give Meaning to Your Life How to Live Life to the Fullest How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck (And How to Overcome It) 26 Useful Things to Learn Now That Will Change Your Life

                                                Trending in Communication

                                                1 40 Acts of Kindness to Make the World a Better Place 2 6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak 3 How to Train Your Brain to Be Optimistic 4 How to Stop Living on Autopilot with Antonio Neves 5 The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

                                                Read Next

                                                Advertising
                                                Advertising
                                                Advertising

                                                Last Updated on August 6, 2020

                                                6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

                                                6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

                                                We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

                                                “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

                                                Are we speaking the same language?

                                                My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

                                                When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

                                                Am I being lazy?

                                                When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

                                                Advertising

                                                Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

                                                Early in the relationship:

                                                “Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

                                                When the relationship is established:

                                                “Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

                                                It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

                                                Have I actually got anything to say?

                                                When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

                                                A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

                                                When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

                                                Am I painting an accurate picture?

                                                One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

                                                Advertising

                                                How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

                                                Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

                                                What words am I using?

                                                It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

                                                Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

                                                Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

                                                Advertising

                                                Is the map really the territory?

                                                Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

                                                A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

                                                I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

                                                Read Next