A Race Relations Reading List

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!

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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

Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou: Struggle Without End – Ranginui Walker

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International

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

Things that make White People Uncomfortable – Michael Bennett

A Black Women’s History of the United States – Daina Ramey Berry & Kali Nicole Gross

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness – Austin Channing Brown

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

The Skin We’re In – Desmond Cole

Eloquent Rage – Brittney Cooper

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

Antagonist, Advocates and Allies: The Wake Up Call Guide for White Women Who Want to Become Allies with Black Women – Catrice M. Jackson

They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South – Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers

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.

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