A book list for learning about racial injustice, dismantling white supremacy, and recognizing racism in its many forms.
It’s impossible to deny that something major is happening in the USA at the moment, with the protests in response to the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Police Officers. Marches made it all the way to Aotearoa, with many here thinking about racism and police bias closer to home.
A number of people have seen the need to educate themselves about the history of racism, and how it plays out today in a multitude of ways, sometimes in ways many of us don’t even realise. If you’ve found yourself wanting to learn more about these current events, we’ve put together a list of books that cover all kinds of scenarios. Some are focused on Aotearoa New Zealand, others are focused on the Black American experience, and others still are more general.
If any of these titles interest you, visit your local bookseller to see if they have it in stock, or can order it in for you. They might even be able to recommend some titles we’ve missed!
Aotearoa New Zealand
Lani Wendt Young’s Read NZ Te Pou Muramura lecture from 2019, Stories from the Wild: Reading and Writing in the Digital Age, addresses representation in literature, gatekeeping in the publishing industry and how emerging digital technologies are disrupting traditional publishing and offering new opportunities for both readers and writers.
BWB Texts are short books on big subjects from great New Zealand writers. Many of them look into the ongoing effects of colonialism.
Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History – Atholl Anderson
Hikoi: Forty Years of Maori Protest – Aroha Harris
Working as Allies: Supporters of Indigenous Justice Reflect – Jen Margaret
He Rukuruku Whakaaro: Colonising Myths, Maori Realities – Ani Mikaere
Still Being Punished – Rachael Selby
Decolonising Methodologies – Linda Tuhiwai Smith
Have Black Lives Ever Mattered? – Mumia Abu-Jamal
Natives – Akala
Colorblindness – Michelle Alexander
The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander
One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying our Democracy – Carol Anderson
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide – Carol Anderson
Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism – Derrick Bell
Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement – Janet Dewart Bell
A Black Women’s History of the United States – Daina Ramey Berry & Kali Nicole Gross
Chokehold: Policing Black Men – Paul Butler
Fight of the Century: Writers Reflect on 100 Years of Landmark ACLY Cases – ed. Michael Chabon & Ayelet Waldman
Self Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race – Thomas Chatterton Williams
Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for White People to talk about Racism – Robin Dangelo
What Truth Sounds Like – Michael Eric Dyson
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves – Glory Edim
Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class – Ian Haney Lopez
Black Feminist Thought – Patricia Hill Collins
How Not To Get Shot – D.L. Hughley
Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women White Feminists Forgot – Mikki Kendall
How to be an Antiracist – Ibram X. Kendi
It’s not about the Burqa – ed. Mariam Khan
When they call you a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir – Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele
Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents – Margaret Kimberley
Heavy – Kiese Laymon
Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches – Audre Lorde
They Can’t Kill Us All: The Story of the Struggle for Black Lives – Wesley Lowery
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack – Peggy McIntosh
On the Other Side of Freedom: Race and Justice in a Divided America – DeRay McKesson
Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love and So Much More – Janet Mock
The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys – ed. Eddie Moore Jr., Ali Michael & Marguerite W. Penick-Parks
Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools – Monique Morris
So you want to talk about Race – Ijeoma Oluo
Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America – Patrick Phillips
Stamped – Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi
Citizen: An American Lyric – Claudia Rankine
Killing the Black Body – Dorothy Roberts
How to Argue with a Racist: History, Science, Race and Reality – Adam Rutherford
Me and White Supremacy – Layla F. Saad
In the Wake: On Blackness and Being – Christina Sharpe
The End of Policing – Alex Vitale
The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race – ed. Jesmyn Ward
Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority – Tim Wise
Other writers who have written extensively about race are Bell Hooks, Angela Davis and James Baldwin. For children, the Little People, Big Dreams series by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara covers the lives of historical figures, including Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks and more. And don’t forget to read fiction and poetry about and by black writers, and writers outside of your culture. What we read helps to shape our world.