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Reading Rescources


• Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race, by Debbie Irving - a great starting point for white people to examine their understanding of race in America, questioning much of what they know of American history and challenging their own role in the status quo

• White Fragility, by Dr. Robin DiAngelo - a popular and eye-opening read for white people, particularly helpful in recognizing and overcoming defensiveness in racial interactions and conversations

• How to be an Anti-Racist – by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi – part memoir, part history but all clear on the idea that it is not enough to simply not be racist, but that we must become anti-racist if we want to help shift our country towards a more equitable society

The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person - Frederick Joseph - “I really liked how the author shares a lot of experiences from his childhood and life.” - Julie Murphy

•• Caste: The Origins of our Discontents - by Isabel Wilkerson - though this is Wilkerson’s second book, it’s worth reading first as it sets out to explain the foundational concept of American racism and gives us a new language to use when discussing our society

The Warmth of Other Suns – by Isabel Wilkerson - winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this is an absorbing and wonderful nonfiction narrative about the Great Migration of Black Americans moving from the South to northern and western cities, highlighting three stories as examples

So You Want to Talk About Race – by Ijeoma Oluo – a blunt and honest assessment of what it’s like to exist as a Black woman in America

Eloquent Rage – by Dr. Brittany Cooper – a professor at Rutgers, Dr. Cooper writes with the raw exasperation of being a Black woman in our society and refreshingly, does not mince words 

Hood Feminism - Mikki Kendall - this is an excellent book about what is important for white feminism to address.  There is a lot about intersectionality and also how poverty, gun control, sexualizing Black girls, and food security all are feminist issues. - Julie Murphy

How to be Less Stupid About RaceDr. Crystal Fleming – helpful for people who want to learn how to talk about racism and avoid some of the minefields

•• Between the World and MeTa-Nehisi Coates – goes right for the gut, a must read; based on the concept of James Baldwin’s letter to his nephew; “This was my entry point into learning more, actually more like a shove through the doors. It gripped me and slapped me across the face with its clarity and emotion. I realized how little I knew of the Black experience in America and how much I would never know, but that I had to try and fill in the gaps.” - Ellen Wolff

•• The Souls of Black Folk W.E.B. Du Bois – beautiful but challenging with its older style of writing, demands undivided concentration but is well worth the work

•• The Sum of Us - Heather McGhee - a great book on how our country has stymied its own progress and kept the majority of our population from thriving all because of racism

•• Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the CafeteriaDr. Beverly Daniel Tatum – written several decades ago but has an excellent updated version, a lot of psychology/sociology

•• Dying of WhitenessDr. Jonathan Metzl – how entrenched racist ideas in the white population end up harming white people themselves by preventing progress that helps everyone 

•• A Colony in a Nation – Chris Hayes – yep, the MSNBC guy, it’s an excellent book about militarized policing, among other things


• How the South Won the Civil War Dr. Heather Cox Richardson – while not solely about racial history, it is a fabulous book that provides a clear throughline of the American paradox from before the Founding to today; provides broad themes to our history; also check out her popular daily newsletter on current news events and her podcast “Now & Then”

Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All Dr. Martha S. Jones, excellent, in-depth history of the many Black women who organized and pushed for greater access to voting and social rights

• The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights - Steve Sheinkin - Excellent historic story of racism in the US Navy in the 1930s.  50 Black men were convicted of treason because of racism. The Audio book is fabulous.  This is American history that everyone should know. - Julie Murphy

•• Stamped From the Beginning Dr. Ibram X. Kendi – a very thorough and comprehensive book on the origins of racist ideas throughout the world but mostly America (note: there is now a version aimed at teens that he co-wrote with Jason Reynolds)

•• How the Word is Passed - Dr. Clint Smith - using several historical places as examples, Dr. Smith examines how each location tackles its history as it relates to slavery; difficult but very necessary; beautifully written, lyrical in its prose, descriptive and contemplative

Memoirs & Biographies

• Becoming Michelle Obama - deep and thoughtful (and often funny!) memoir from the former First Lady; it weaves stories of the Great Migration into her upbringing in Chicago

• In the Shadow of Statues – Mitch Landrieu (former mayor of New Orleans)

The Color of Water - James McBride - a memoir about his mother and her incredible life

•• Begin AgainDr. Eddie S. Glaude’s excellent overview of the work of James Baldwin

•• The Sword and the Shield - Dr. Peniel Joseph - an excellent overview of the lives of MalcolmX and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - how they intersected and how they carved their own paths

•• Heavy Kiese Laymon - this is a very raw and personal memoir

•• When They Call You a TerroristPatrice Khan-Cullors (one of the 3 founders of BLM) - a personal story about her brother’s struggles, life in LA and the founding of Black Lives Matter

•• I’m Still Here Austin Channing Brown - a personal narrative about surviving in America as a Black woman rooted in the Christian faith

•• Until I Am Free - Dr. Keisha N. Blain - a new biography of Fanny Lou Hamer, a Civil Rights activist from Mississippi 


Born A Crime Trevor Noah - do yourself a favor and listen to this book rather than reading it; though he writes about his childhood in South Africa, his experience with racism is easily translatable to the United States

You Can’t Touch My HairPhoebe Robinson – this actor/comedian writes about her experiences with racism and sexism

You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism – Amber Ruffin & Lacey Lamar - through humor, these two sisters provide an endless list of racist situations; lots of great examples of microaggressions


American Spy Lauren Wilkinson - a debut novel about a Black woman CIA agent

AmericanahChimamanda Ngozi Adichie - a captivating story about a Nigerian woman living in America, dealing with racism, trying to find her place between two worlds

The Black Kids - Christina Hammonds - “Good fiction book; set in LA in the early 90s it touches on race and socioeconomic factors of a Black family in an affluent suburb and the impact of the trial of the police officers who beat Rodney King.”- Christine Hippe

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas - young adult novel

Sing, Unburied, Sing - Jesmyn Ward - “Ward is so great at writing about how trauma plays out in generations of Black families in the South.” - Julie Murphy

Deacon King Kong - James McBride - “Takes place in a housing project in Brooklyn in the 1960s and is a great story.” - Julie Murphy

•• Underground Railroad Colson Whitehead

•• The Nickel Boys - Colson Whitehead - “hard to read because it was based on true events but it was good” - Christine Hippe

•• The Water Dancer – Ta-Nehisi Coates

•• BelovedToni Morrison

Poetry & Essays

Let America Be America Again - Langston Hughes

Still I Rise- Maya Angelou

Poetry Foundation’s Black History Month celebration

•• Four Hundred Souls – edited by Dr. Keisha Blain and Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

•• The Fire This TimeJesmyn Ward – a collection of writings and poems by black authors

Plays & Short Stories

“A Raisin in the Sun” Lorraine Hansberry

“Big, Black, Good Man” - Richard Wright -”gets to the essential nature of internalized racism and otherness in an unexpected way” - Claas Ehlers

Speeches & Letters

Although everyone has their own entry point into this journey, we thought it might be helpful to identify some resources as beginner (•) and some as advanced (••). 

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