Fill your shelves with these books that educate about race, anti-racism and inequality
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is the story of the killing of a young unarmed African American man by a white police officer, and its aftermath, told by his childhood friend, Starr. She is also the only witness to the shooting. Although this book is a work of fiction, the story drives home the real effects of systemic and institutional racism, as well as putting a very human face on events that are occurring far too often in real life. Starr’s world is very different from my own, and I chose this book because I wanted to stretch beyond my comfort zone. My takeaway is that there is much work to be done and it’s time to do it. —Ellen Show, archivist
Race and Reunion: the Civil War in American Memory by David Blight. This book is about the consequences of ignoring racial justice after the Civil War in favor of reconciliation or reunion amongst white northerners and southerners. Importantly, Blight talks about how public monuments — among other things — perpetuated white supremacy. It makes one look differently about the importance of contemporary public monuments like Kehinde Wiley’s Rumors of War, a direct response to Confederate monuments. —Joel Smeltzer. head of school and gallery programs
Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad. The idea behind this book began as an online call for accountability. In 2018, Saad hosted a free month-long Instagram campaign where she asked folks to share the ways in which they, knowingly or not, had upheld white supremacy. She expected resistance and reluctance. Instead, she was blown away by a worldwide outpouring of self-examination and admission. She turned that into a workbook which eventually led to the book, a manual for understanding white privilege and participation in white supremacy so that we might stop our harmful actions against BIPOC and help others do the same.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Named Esquire’s best book of the 2010s, Between the World and Me is the spiritual successor to Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time. Coates book is an impassioned letter to his teenage son. Coates recalls his gradual awakening to the bitter truth of racism as he eloquently voices the concern of parents everywhere who fear that their children of color will inherit a world broken beyond hope of redemption. In heralding Coates’ arrival as one of our most gifted and necessary public intellectuals, Toni Morrison put it best: “I’ve been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died. Clearly it is Ta-Nehisi Coates.” —Todd Herman, CEO
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo is so engaging and educational. Oluo covers so many race-related topics, from offering definitions of what racism is, to explaining the school-to-prison pipeline, microaggressions, and cultural appropriation. She navigates these topics with personal stories, real examples, and as a white person I feel like this is exactly the book I should and need to be reading right now to educate myself. — Jen Cousar, graphic designer
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. Published 2018, The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality. Download the reader’s guides here. —Lyndee Champion Ivey, executive assistant
I was invited a few years ago to join a book club of women connected mostly through children and one particular friend. I love meeting new women, but was particularly drawn to this group because the books they chose to read all related to understanding our white selves and how we drift through the days without racism in our hearts but also without wholly recognizing the systemic parameters that exist. Two books we read that I particularly like are I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown, and Behold the Dreamers: A Novel by Imbolo Mbue. Each book, in very different ways, shines a light on the misconceived American dream and how different it is for a person of color.
Behold the Dreamers, is the story of two families: one an immigrant family from Cameroon who believes life will be better in America, and the other a wealthy white family living in New York City. It’s a stark contrast of lifestyles, beliefs and culture. I’m Still Here is an eye-opening first-person account from a black woman navigating majority white schools, organizations, churches and corporate America, and how it affects everything in her life. —Michele Huggins, media relations and communications project manager
Liberate Meditations. Liberate is a Meditation app for black, indigenous, and people of color community. Over 50,000 people use Liberate to reduce anxiety, stress less and sleep better. I chose this resource in an effort to listen and learn about how to connect people through the art and meditation. Art is communication, it allows people from different cultures and different times to communicate with each other via images, sounds and stories. While we are all being proactive to make needed change, its important to remember that art can be healing. —Diane Lowry, guest services associate