Anti-Racism Bookshelf Vol. 2

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 not comprehensive, but it is a great place to start.

  • Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

    2016 by Kendi, Ibram X.

    Winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction, the Chicago Review of Books “wish[es] every American would read this book.”

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  • Stamped--Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning Stamped from the Beginning

    2020 by Reynolds, Jason

    "This is not a history book." So begins the "remix" of Dr. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning by beloved young adult author and poet Jason Reynolds. Reynolds noted during an appearance on The Daily Show that "it's a present book that history impacts." This book is geared toward younger people (middle grades and up), but is a worthwhile and accessible read for adults, too.

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  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

    2020 by Reynolds, Jason

    Adding the audiobook here because it's read by the author, poet Jason Reynolds, who delivers the narration so powerfully.

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

    2017 by Rothstein, Richard

    Don Rose of the Chicago Daily Observer calls this "[v]irtually indispensable… I can only implore anyone interested in understanding the depth of the problem to read this necessary book.”

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  • The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

    2010 by Wilkerson, Isabel

    A perennial staff pick. My colleague, Lukie, describes it as "[s]hocking and illuminating--made me keenly aware of what is not taught in school or, at any rate, not in enough searing detail, with attention to the long-lasting effects and continued policies of discrimination."

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  • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations about Race

    2017 by Tatum, Beverly Daniel

    "Tatum's groundbreaking book [takes] on this question of self-segregation and explore[s] the realities of race in the public education system. It look[s] at how issues of race play out on a daily basis—like in something as simple as where you sit to eat your lunch. The book asks how people can talk more openly about racial issues, even if they're uncomfortable." MPR News

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  • This Book Is Anti-Racist

    2020 by Jewell, Tiffany

    The Publishers Weekly starred review of this book praises, "Using clear, compelling language, Jewell employs four sections to deftly explain progressive understandings of identity, history, action, and solidarity as tools to encourage antiracist reflection, thought, and action... Thoughtful, energizing calls to action and journal prompts encourage readers to check in with themselves and to 'grow from our discomfort.' Durand’s stylish illustrations punctuate the text-heavy pages; robust supplemental materials, including notes on the text and suggested reading, point toward ongoing learning." Grades 5+ (including adults).

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  • Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America

    2017 by Dyson, Michael Eric

    Library Journal's starred review calls activist, critic, scholar, and ordained Baptist minister Dyson's work, "[a] must-read for Americans who hope for a brighter day to emerge from the anguished hopelessness created by white idolatry and willful ignorance."

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  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

    2014 by Stevenson, Bryan

    Impassioned, clear and compelling memoir from the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative about defending the marginalized and pursuing compassionate justice in the United States. An important book, to be sure, made into a movie starring Michael B. Jordan.

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  • Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out

    2018 by King, Ruth

    Patrisse Cullors, cofounder of Black Lives Matter, extols the importance of this book: "In Mindful of Race, King explores the impact of racial injustice on communities at the margins. She further illustrates practices Black people can embody to support our longevity and dignity. This book belongs in the hands of every activist―regardless of race! We need to develop a new language, a language that centers healing and restoration.”

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  • An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States

    2014 by Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne

    "Dunbar-Ortiz brings together every indictment of white Americans that has been cast upon them over time, and she does so by raising intelligent new questions about many of the current trends of academia, such as multiculturalism. Dunbar-Ortiz’s material succeeds, but will be eye-opening to those who have not previously encountered such a perspective." (Publishers Weekly)

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  • Citizen: An American Lyric

    2014 by Rankine, Claudia

    I was very grateful to unpack and reflect on this thought-provoking collection of essays, poetry, and images with co-workers. Roxane Gay gave the book five stars on Goodreads, saying "Rankine takes on the realities of race in America with elegance but also rage/resignation... maybe we call it rageignation."

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  • An African American and Latinx History of the United States

    2018 by Ortiz, Paul

    This engaging, accessible, and well researched title is “[a] welcome antidote to the poison of current reactionary attitudes toward people of color, their cultures, and place in the U.S.” (Booklist)

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  • When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir

    2018 by bandele, asha

    A "fierce, intimate memoir" (O Magazine) that is "impassioned, direct, inspiring, and unsparing" (Entertainment Weekly) by one of the cofounders of Black Lives Matter.

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  • I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

    2018 by Channing Brown, Austin

    My colleague, Shelley, calls this an "incredibly personal and harsh political and social commentary on racism...clearly stating the state of our racist society, and pointing the finger at every white person to enlist them to radically resist."

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  • White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism

    2018 by DiAngelo, Robin J.

    White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress.

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