Anti-Racism Bookshelf Vol. 1

By Allyson Coan

Jane Mount, of Ideal Bookshelf, is known for her hand-drawn prints featuring curated books about different topics or personalized depictions of a person's "ideal bookshelf." She recently crowd-sourced anti-racism titles and made a print featuring those titles. As a white person, reading my way through the anti-racism bookshelf to learn more about systemic oppression and structural racism is one thing I can do to be a better ally. This list is a great place to start.

  • So You Want to Talk about Race

    2018 by Oluo, Ijeoma

    My colleague Megan calls this a "universal primer for white people on how to be less racist in today's American society."

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  • Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor

    2020 by Saad, Layla F.

    I really appreciate this 28-day self-guided journey for "how to dismantle the privilege within [yourself] so that [you] can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too." You can do this on your own, or the book offers guidance on how to participate in the challenge with others. This book is also available as an ebook through Hoopla.

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  • Between the World and Me

    2015 by Coates, Ta-Nehisi

    This book is a letter to the author's son about his experiences of being a Black man in America. Coates narrates the audio, making it a powerful experience.

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  • The Fire Next Time

    2013 by Baldwin, James

    Written in 1963, this haunting, impassioned, and moving book is "[a] plea and a warning to citizens to examine the actual state of America after a century of emancipation." Nearly 60 years later, this book is sadly till relevant.

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  • The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race

    2016 by Ward, Jesmyn

    A continuation of James Baldwin's "The Fire Next Time," National Book Award-winning author Jesmyn Ward brings together works by some of the foremost writers of our time to reflect on what it means to be Black in America, past and present.

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  • How to Be an Antiracist

    2019 by Kendi, Ibram X.

    The question isn't are you a racist or not. The question is, are you racist or antiracist. This book is "for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step of contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society."

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  • Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People

    2016 by Banaji, Mahzarin R.

    Publishers Weekly calls this an "accessible and persuasive account of the causes of stereotyping and discrimination." Learning about my own unconscious biases has been illuminating and has helped me keep those biases in check.

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  • Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations

    2018 by Jacob, Mira

    Jacob's graphic memoir about conversations she has with her son and other members of her family regarding race and skin color is very well done. I love the mixed media she uses to illustrate the book, which is funny, poignant, and insightful.

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  • Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning

    2020 by Hong, Cathy Park

    Publishers Weekly praises, "[i]n this blistering essay collection, poet Hong (Engine Empire) interrogates America’s racial categories to explore the 'under-reported' Asian-American experience."

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  • Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People about Race

    2017 by Eddo-Lodge, Reni

    After her blog post about how frustrating it is to talk to white people about race and racism went viral, Eddo-Lodge published this provocative "must-read that expertly reflects the challenges of addressing structural racism" (Library Journal).

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  • The New Jim Crow

    2012 by Alexander, Michelle

    An "[a]larming, provocative and convincing" debut to help "foster frank discussion[s] about race, cultivate an ethic of compassion for all and end the drug war and mass incarceration." (Kirkus)

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  • America's Original Sin : Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America

    2016 by Jim Wallis

    Library Journal's review says, "None of us start with a clean slate; we are damaged by the past. Within this theological perspective, Wallis works to convince his fellow evangelicals that, in this sense, racism is America's original sin, further arguing that racism has been with this country before it was a nation, and that its effects are so pervasive and entrenched that even "race neutral" or "color-blind" policies can only serve to preserve the grievous fault.... A thought-provoking plea to white evangelicals and white Christians in general."

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