29 Essential Non-Fiction Anti-Racism Books Everyone Should Read
Let's continue to educate ourselves.
If there is anything we have learned in the wake of George Floyd’s death, Ahmaud Arbery’s death, Breonna Taylor’s death, and the protests taking place across the country these past few days… It’s that now is the time to go beyond reposts and reshares on social media. While that is a great first step in showing support, it is not enough to just “not be racist.” We as a society must be strongly anti-racist. And that means turning knowledge into intentional action that will carry this moment into a movement.
We’ve gathered some great resources so that we can take these extra steps in educating ourselves and our peers on white privilege, black history, the American justice system and how all these pieces affect each other. All of the books in this list are non-fiction sources. Start scrolling to check out these great sources and start educating yourself.
Thank you to Jane Mount for sharing this helpful list of reads. You can reference this site to find Black-owned bookstores in your area where you can purchase these books. Should they happen to not carry or be out of what you wanted, we've also linked additional vendors below.
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1. Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history.
2. Have Black Lives Ever Mattered? by Mumia Abu-Jamal
"A must-read for anyone interested in social justice and inequalities, social movements, the criminal justice system, and African American history. An excellent companion to Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow and Ava DuVernay's documentary 13th."— Library Journal, Starred review
3. The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein
Segregation in America has contributed to so much social strife. Richard Rothstein makes extraordinary revelations about how this came to be and how government policies promoted the segregation that continue to this day.
4. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.
5. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement.
6. Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong
A ruthlessly honest, emotionally charged, and utterly original exploration of Asian American consciousness and the struggle to be human.
7. America’s Original Sin by Jim Wallis
America's problem with race has deep roots, with the country's foundation tied to the near extermination of one race of people and the enslavement of another. Racism is truly our nation's original sin.
8. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
The New Jim Crow is an exposition of how America has created a caste system through the mass incarceration of blacks who are imprisoned through harsh drug laws. Named one of the most important nonfiction books of the 21st century.
9. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Examining everything from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, from whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge, and counter racism.
10. Good Talk by Mira Jacob
Written with humor and vulnerability, this deeply relatable graphic memoir is a love letter to the art of conversation—and to the hope that hovers in our most difficult questions.
11. Blindspot by Mahzarin R. Banaji & Anthony G. Greenwald
Writing with simplicity and verve, Banaji and Greenwald question the extent to which our perceptions of social groups—without our awareness or conscious control—shape our likes and dislikes and our judgments about people’s character, abilities, and potential.
12. Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
Based on the viral Instagram challenge that captivated participants worldwide, Me and White Supremacy takes readers on a 28-day journey of how to dismantle the privilege within themselves so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.
13. So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
In this New York Times bestseller, Ijeoma Oluo offers a hard-hitting but user-friendly examination of race in America.
14. How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
From the National Book Award–winning author of Stamped from the Beginning comes a “groundbreaking” (Time) approach to understanding and uprooting racism and inequality in our society—and in ourselves.
15. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the most important essayist in a generation and a writer who changed the national political conversation about race” (Rolling Stone).
16. How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? by Moustafa Bayoumi
An eye-opening look at how young Arab- and Muslim- Americans are forging lives for themselves in a country that often mistakes them for the enemy.
17. The Fire This Time by Jesmyn Ward
In this bestselling, widely lauded collection, Jesmyn Ward gathers our most original thinkers and writers to speak on contemporary racism and race.
18. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
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.
19. I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown
From a powerful new voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female in middle-class white America.
20. When They Call You A Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele
When They Call You a Terrorist is Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele’s reflection on humanity. It is an empowering account of survival, strength and resilience and a call to action to change the culture that declares innocent Black life expendable.
21. An African American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz
Incisive and timely, this bottom-up history, told from the interconnected vantage points of Latinx and African Americans, reveals the radically different ways that people of the diaspora have addressed issues still plaguing the United States today, and it offers a way forward in the continued struggle for universal civil rights.
22. Citizen by Claudia Rankine
In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named "post-race" society.
23. An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Acclaimed historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz offers a history of the United States told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the US empire.
24. Mindful of Race by Ruth King
Drawing on her expertise as a meditation teacher and diversity consultant, King helps readers of all backgrounds examine with fresh eyes the complexity of racial identity and the dynamics of oppression. She offers guided instructions on how to work with our own role in the story of race and shows us how to cultivate a culture of care to come to a place of greater clarity and compassion.
25. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.
26. Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson
Short, emotional, literary, powerful—Tears We Cannot Stop is the book that all Americans who care about the current and long-burning crisis in race relations will want to read.
27. Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Tatum
The classic, bestselling book on the psychology of racism-now fully revised and updated. A must read.
28. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
Through a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative written by beloved award-winner Jason Reynolds, this book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas—and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.
29. This Book Is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell & Aurélia Durand
Who are you? What is racism? Where does it come from? Why does it exist? What can you do to disrupt it? Learn about social identities, the history of racism and resistance against it, and how you can use your anti-racist lens and voice to move the world toward equity and liberation.