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.


          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.


                    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.


                              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.


                                        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



                                                [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

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                                                Anna Chui

                                                Anna is the Chief Editor and Content Strategist of Lifehack. She's also a communication expert who shares tips on motivation and relationships.

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                                                Last Updated on July 20, 2021

                                                How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

                                                How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

                                                You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

                                                Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

                                                Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

                                                Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

                                                1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

                                                According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

                                                “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

                                                Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

                                                Warming up

                                                If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

                                                If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

                                                Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:


                                                1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
                                                2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
                                                3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

                                                Stay hydrated

                                                Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

                                                To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

                                                Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.


                                                Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

                                                Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

                                                Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

                                                Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

                                                2. Focus on your goal

                                                One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

                                                Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

                                                Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.


                                                Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

                                                If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

                                                3. Convert negativity to positivity

                                                There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

                                                ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

                                                It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

                                                Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

                                                Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

                                                Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

                                                4. Understand your content

                                                Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.


                                                However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

                                                “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

                                                Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

                                                Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

                                                One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

                                                5. Practice makes perfect

                                                Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

                                                In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

                                                Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

                                                6. Be authentic

                                                There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

                                                Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.


                                                Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

                                                To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

                                                With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

                                                Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

                                                7. Post speech evaluation

                                                Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

                                                Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

                                                We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

                                                You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

                                                Improve your next speech

                                                As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

                                                Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:


                                                • How did I do?
                                                • Are there any areas for improvement?
                                                • Did I sound or look stressed?
                                                • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
                                                • Was I saying “um” too often?
                                                • How was the flow of the speech?

                                                Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

                                                If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:


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