Intentional, Anti-Racist Reading List

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September 11, 2020

woman reading a book on a bed

As I take a look back through my previous reading lists, I’m embarrassed to discover that I have one Black author listed. And of the hundreds of books I’ve read that I don’t share, there are very few Black authors. While I have read many authors that are not white (mostly Indian, Latinx, and Asian), the vast majority are white women – and I’m making a conscious effort to change that. So after doing some research and stumbling upon one viral video, I’m making an anti-racist reading list by intentionally reading Black authors and incorporating their work into my book choices from now on. Here’s what I’m starting with:

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

Before we become anti-racist, we must face reality, acknowledge white privilege, and self-reflect on our own contribution to systemic racism. I’m Latina, but this is still on my list, and I believe it should be for any non-Black person. Because not only may it be hard to talk about race yourself, but this book will also shed some light on why it may be hard for your family members and friends to talk about it. This is a great first step to begin that conversation.

How to Be Antiracist
This is probably on every list of recommendations, but for good reason. As I’ve discussed in my most recent post, it’s not enough to simply not be racist in this society. We must be actively antiracist to be progressive and create any kind of change. If you’re looking for how you can make a difference in the Black Lives Matter movement, this book will guide you.

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor
When most people hear the phrase “white supremacy,” they probably think of nazis or the KKK, but white supremacy is so much more than those hateful groups. White supremacy is the goal of systemic racism. This book will open your eyes to the reality of our society as a whole and how it’s rigged in the favor of white people, so they continue to rule us all.

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir
Written by one of the cofounders of Black Lives Matter, this powerful memoir opens the reader’s eyes to the real-life story of what it’s like to truly fight for what you believe in. In the midst of the strongest Black Lives Matter movement we’ve seen in history, this book is sure to ignite a fire within.

The Vanishing Half: A Novel
A nice switch to fiction and change of pace from the heavy reads above, The Vanishing Half follows the two very different lives of twins. Hailing from the deep south, the twins escape at age 16. In adulthood, one woman returns home with her Black daughter, while the other lives her life as a white woman. In a timeline from the 1950s to 1990s, the two sisters’ stories come together through their daughters. Race is undoubtedly addressed in this one and I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds!

I’m Not Dying with You Tonight
Ok, I’ll be honest, I cheated and read this one already. But I really just couldn’t wait! And it is so incredibly perfect for right now. I first discovered it through the author, Kimberly Jones, who had a video go viral a couple weeks ago. Her passion comes through so clearly in her powerful speech and her analogy is spot on. She does such a great job of explaining systemic racism and she just seems like an all-around amazing person. I had to follow her on Instagram and there, I quickly discovered she is an author. She co-wrote I’m Not Dying with You Tonight with a white woman. The story follows two teens–one white girl and one Black girl–from a normal high school football game, to escaping a fight gone wrong and riots in the city of Atlanta. Along the way, how they are each treated based on race becomes clear and the girls learn how they are different, and how they are very much alike. I personally loved this book and will definitely be on the hunt for more Kimberly Jones books!

My Sister, the Serial Killer: A Novel
I just started this and I love it so far. My favorite genre of book is the thriller, specifically psychological thrillers. Based on the title, you can tell that the story is about two sisters: one is a serial killer and the other is her best friend, her confidante, and her partner in crime…or at least the one who helps her move the body. Literally. This is a short read and a great way to support Black authors in a genre you might prefer, like me!

Some books by Black authors I have read and really enjoyed:

What I Know for Sure
This is by Oprah and one of my favorite books ever. It’s a compilation of very short stories (I’m talking like 1-2 pages each) and is perfect for an uplifting break from reality. This is the perfect book for your coffee table! And bonus points: the audiobook is narrated by thee Queen herself.

An American Marriage
This book takes a look at the systemic racism in the judicial system through the eyes of two people affected deeply by it: a man wrongly convicted of a crime, and his wife. It’s set in Atlanta too, which I always love!

The Last Black Unicorn
This is Tiffany Haddish’s memoir and is hilarious! But also incredibly heartbreaking. She has been through so much more than I could imagine and has made it so far in life. If you weren’t already a fan, you will be after reading this!

She Felt Like Feeling Nothing
This is a short book of poems all about women and how we are treated vs what we deserve. It’s perfect for when you’re feeling down, or especially when you’re going through a breakup.

This is another poetry book that is actually by a friend of mine! This female empowerment book is a great motivator when you’re feeling less than. Kalisha makes you feel like you can accomplish anything, all while looking fabulous.

Whew, what a list! I can’t wait to dive in (ok, we all know I already did, but I can’t wait to read them all!). I’ve really been completely immersed in researching and learning as much as I can about the reality of systemic racism in our country. There’s so much I didn’t know and I still have so much more to learn.

What are your favorite books by Black authors?

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Please note I will be donating all affiliate proceeds from this post to racial justice organizations. Photo by Ryan Carpenter.