Currently, we’re not only surrounded in a time where racial tensions are at an all time high, we’re also in a time where we basically have the whole world at our fingertips. We live in a time where you can get a lot of information at the click of the button, and that includes books, whether they’re digital, audiobooks, or physical books.
This also means that there’s almost no excuse for someone to be ignorant or not know much about racial issues. Let’s say that you’re looking to get more educated on racial issues. Where do you get started? What do you read?
Here’s a few helpful books for you get educated on racial issues!
1. The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
The Souls of Black Folk is a book that played a role in strategizing and maintaining the black protest. Du Bois also maintains, throughout the book, that it’s “beneath the dignity of a human being to beg for those rights that belong inherently to all mankind.”
He also articulated that the accommodation of white supremacy leads to the oppression of black lives and black people. It’s a really informational book that talks in depth about racial issues such as the part that George Washington’s conservative followers played in this, as well as the other side: the radical, aggressive protestors.
2. The Origin of Others by Toni Morrison
The Origin of Others deals with a whole host of racial issues and world politics in general, such as race, fear, borders, immigration, and the desire to belong. Her book also talks about identity, and asks the question: why does race matter so much?
Toni Morrison also reminisces about the history, and politics that she was taught in her time. She mentions the move to romanticize slavery in the 19th century, and scientific racism.
3. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Juxtaposed from black history to the modern day, So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo strives to inform about white privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the ‘N’ word. Oluo goes over many complex concepts that many Americans continue to struggle with today.
If you’re hoping to learn more about the racial issues of the modern world, and even learn a bit of history while you’re at it, this book is good for it.
4. Racism Without Racists: Colorblind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
In your time on Earth, and especially regarding racial issues, have you ever heard someone say that they “don’t see race” in an effort to not be deemed racist? This book talks about “colorblind racism,” and how it’s this hip, cool new thing that just emerged after the Civil Rights era.
In this book, Eduardo goes over the many things that white people will bring up in an effort to justify racial inequalities. It’s a really informational book, so I really hope you decide to read it.
5. How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide by Crystal Marie Fleming
This is another book that also deals with racial issues in the modern day. It talks about race and the way that it’s been twisted and morphed in pop-culture, regular media, and especially politics. It also talks about the new phenomenon that everyday Americans are just now waking up to the racial issues that plague black and brown bodies of America, and that racial politics is not-up-to-par, and needs to be improved.
Fleming does not hold back from sharing personal anecdotes, social critique, and critique on systemic racism. She discusses, at length, what’s wrong with the way we’re talking about racial issues and problems in America and it’s system.
6. A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Maybe you want to learn about history. A People’s History of the United States is the perfect book for history but with a twist. It’s told from the black community that lived in this era, and written from their perspective.
I’m not gonna lie, this book has very polarizing reviews. Some people give it five stars, stating it’s influence in showing another side other than the “winning” side. They love it for this fact, and the fact that Zinn questions the motives of those in political power regardless of if they belong to the Right or the Left. A reviewer stated Zinn wanted to highlight not only several individuals, but the citizens as a whole.
Other people really don’t like this book, often giving it only one or two stars. One reviewer said that it’s because the book portrays the basic premise of “White people = Bad, Underdog = Good”, and that it’s not a good way of portraying history. Another reviewer touted it as being written purely from a left-wing perspective.
7. One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy by Carol Anderson
Did you know that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was eviscerated in the Supreme Court in 2013? Not a lot of people know this, and it’s a good thing that along with multiple racial issues, One Person, No Vote talks about this case, as well as how the government has been slowly rolling out more racist tactics to aid in vote suppression.
Anderson also explains how it works, and what goes into it, such as voter ID’s, gerrymandering, and poll closures.
8. The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein
The Color of the Law actually talks about the layout of cities, districts, and local, state, and federal governments are the ones that segregated black folk, and continues to discriminate against them today. They continue to discriminate against them in public housing. These same governments also contribute to the demolition of neighborhoods that we’re already there.
Rothstein tells the history of this problem, and how the de jure segregation — the one where local, state, and federal governments segregate black people — began with racial zoning, making many black communities uproot themselves from the South to the North.
9. White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color by Ruby Hamad
Straying away from more political and economic structures, we take a look at racist societal structures that black women face on the daily. White Tears/Brown Scars offers validation to many black and brown women and their experiences. In terms of racial issues, the book touches on how white women often take part in oppressing other black women.
Hamad also talks about the divide between the innocent white woman and racialized, sexualized black women, and how it was birthed into existence.
10. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde
Just as the title says, Sister Outsider has a multitude of essays and speeches from the author. This collection of writings and papers from the author tackle many, many different topics, such as sexism, racism, homophobia, ageism, and class.
All of these topics deal with racial issues in some form or another. For a majority of them, it talks about the history of race, segregation, and how local, federal, and state governments played heavily into racism. Some deal with modern day racism, and police brutality, something that I think any modern American needs to learn about and read. These are all incredibly important books on racial issues, and I truly think that if you have the time, you should read them.
Which book are you planning on reading? What made you start taking the initiative to read up on racial issues? Let us know!
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Hi! My name is Carolina Cisneros, and I am a new intern at Society 19. I’m so glad to have this opportunity! I have an Associates in Studio Art, and I will be heading into university for Cinematic Arts and Technologies. I plan to go into the animation industry, designing characters and bringing more diversity into the world. For now, I’m building my skills. Thank you for reading!