Consider borrowing from your local library (and request your library purchase the book if it’s not available), or purchasing the book from a local BIPOC-owned independent bookseller.
Mighty Justice: My Life in Civil Rights
Dovey Johnson Roundtree and Katie McCabe
In Mighty Justice, trailblazing African American civil rights attorney Dovey Johnson Roundtree recounts her inspiring life story that speaks movingly and urgently to our racially troubled times. From the streets of Charlotte, North Carolina, to the segregated courtrooms of the nation’s capital; from the male stronghold of the army where she broke gender and color barriers to the pulpits of churches where women had waited for years for the right to minister—in all these places, Roundtree sought justice. At a time when African American attorneys had to leave the courthouses to use the bathroom, Roundtree took on Washington’s white legal establishment and prevailed, winning a 1955 landmark bus desegregation case that would help to dismantle the practice of “separate but equal” and shatter Jim Crow laws. Later, she led the vanguard of women ordained to the ministry in the AME Church in 1961, merging her law practice with her ministry to fight for families and children being destroyed by urban violence.
Dovey Roundtree passed away in 2018 at the age of 104. Though her achievements were significant and influential, she remains largely unknown to the American public. Mighty Justice corrects the historical record.
Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race
Beverly Daniel Tatum
This classic text on the psychology of racism was re-released with new content in 2017, 20 years after its original publication. By providing straight talk on self-segregation and inequality in schools, Tatum shows the importance — and possibility — of cross-racial dialogues starting young.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Organizing & Study Guides
The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement.
The Warmth of Other Suns
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.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race
Award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge was frustrated with the way that discussions of race and racism are so often led by those blind to it, by those willfully ignorant of its legacy. Her response, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, has transformed the conversation both in Britain and around the world. 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. Including a new afterword by the author, this is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of color in Britain today, and an essential handbook for anyone looking to understand how structural racism works.
The End of Policing
Alex S. Vitale
In the wake of high-profile cases of police brutality, the same ideas for reform are trotted out — implicit bias training, body cameras, police-community dialogues. But Vitale argues that this fails to get to the root of the problem — policing itself. While calls to abolish the police are often met with skepticism, academics and activists have long-discussed alternatives to addressing homelessness, domestic disputes and substance abuse.
Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot
Today’s feminist movement has a glaring blind spot, and paradoxically, it is women. Mainstream feminists rarely talk about meeting basic needs as a feminist issue, argues Mikki Kendall, but food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, a living wage, and medical care are all feminist issues. All too often, however, the focus is not on basic survival for the many, but on increasing privilege for the few. That feminists refuse to prioritize these issues has only exacerbated the age-old problem of both internecine discord, and women who rebuff at carrying the title. Moreover, prominent white feminists broadly suffer from their own myopia with regard to how things like race, class, sexual orientation, and ability intersect with gender. How can we stand in solidarity as a movement, Kendall asks, when there is the distinct likelihood that some women are oppressing others?
In her searing collection of essays, Mikki Kendall takes aim at the legitimacy of the modern feminist movement arguing that it has chronically failed to address the needs of all but a few women. Drawing on her own experiences with hunger, violence, and hypersexualization, along with incisive commentary on politics, pop culture, the stigma of mental health, and more, Hood Feminism delivers an irrefutable indictment of a movement in flux. An unforgettable debut, Kendall has written a ferocious clarion call to all would-be feminists to live out the true mandate of the movement in thought and in deed.
Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower
So what if it’s true that Black women are mad as hell? They have the right to be. In the Black feminist tradition of Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper reminds us that anger is a powerful source of energy that can give us the strength to keep on fighting.
Far too often, Black women’s anger has been caricatured into an ugly and destructive force that threatens the civility and social fabric of American democracy. But Cooper shows us that there is more to the story than that. Black women’s eloquent rage is what makes Serena Williams such a powerful tennis player. It’s what makes Beyoncé’s girl power anthems resonate so hard. It’s what makes Michelle Obama an icon.
Eloquent rage keeps us all honest and accountable. It reminds women that they don’t have to settle for less. When Cooper learned of her grandmother’s eloquent rage about love, sex, and marriage in an epic and hilarious front-porch confrontation, her life was changed. And it took another intervention, this time staged by one of her homegirls, to turn Brittney into the fierce feminist she is today. In Brittney Cooper’s world, neither mean girls nor fuckboys ever win. But homegirls emerge as heroes. This book argues that ultimately feminism, friendship, and faith in one’s own superpowers are all we really need to turn things right side up again.
Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism
A classic work of feminist scholarship, Ain’t I a Woman has become a must-read for all those interested in the nature of black womanhood. Examining the impact of sexism on black women during slavery, the devaluation of black womanhood, black male sexism, racism among feminists, and the black woman’s involvement with feminism, hooks attempts to move us beyond racist and sexist assumptions.
The Combahee River Collective Statement
Combahee River Collective The Combahee River Collective statement was created and written by Afrocentric black feminists who parted ways from the NBFO (National Black Feminist Organization) in order to create, define, and clarify their own politics. These women are actively committed to struggling against racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression. It is their particular task to further the development of integrated analysis and practice based upon the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking. To this specific group of women, the NBFO is a coalition they believe in, but it did not recognize or address black lesbian feminist politics and systems of oppression within their group.
How to Be an Antiracist
Ibram X. Kendi
Ibram X. Kendi’s concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America–but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. Instead of working with the policies and system we have in place, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it.
In his memoir, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science–including the story of his own awakening to antiracism–bringing it all together in a cogent, accessible form. He begins by helping us rethink our most deeply held, if implicit, beliefs and our most intimate personal relationships (including beliefs about race and IQ and interracial social relations) and reexamines the policies and larger social arrangements we support. How to Be an Antiracist promises to become an essential book for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step of contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.
So You Want to Talk About Race?
Widespread reporting on aspects of white supremacy–from police brutality to the mass incarceration of Black Americans–has put a media spotlight on racism in our society. Still, it is a difficult subject to talk about. How do you tell your roommate her jokes are racist? Why did your sister-in-law take umbrage when you asked to touch her hair–and how do you make it right? How do you explain white privilege to your white, privileged friend?
In So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to “model minorities” in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
A powerful true story about the Equal Justice Initiative, the people we represent, and the importance of confronting injustice, Just Mercy is a bestselling book by Bryan Stevenson that has been adapted into a feature film.
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism
White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress. Although white racial insulation is somewhat mediated by social class (with poor and working class urban whites being generally less racially insulated than suburban or rural whites), the larger social environment insulates and protects whites as a group through institutions, cultural representations, media, school textbooks, movies, advertising, and dominant discourses. Racial stress results from an interruption to what is racially familiar. In turn, whites are often at a loss for how to respond in constructive ways., as we have not had to build the cognitive or affective skills or develop the stamina that that would allow for constructive engagement across racial divides. leading to what I refer to as White Fragility. White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium. This book explicates the dynamics of White Fragility and how we might build our capacity in the on-going work towards racial justice.
Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City
Wes Moore, Erica L. Greene
When Freddie Gray was arrested for possessing an “illegal knife” in April 2015, he was, by eyewitness accounts that video evidence later confirmed, treated “roughly” as police loaded him into a vehicle. By the end of his trip in the police van, Gray was in a coma from which he would never recover.
In the wake of a long history of police abuse in Baltimore, this killing felt like the final straw—it led to a week of protests, then five days described alternately as a riot or an uprising that set the entire city on edge and caught the nation’s attention.
Moore—along with journalist Erica Green—tells the story of the Baltimore uprising both through his own observations and through the eyes of other Baltimoreans: Partee, a conflicted black captain of the Baltimore Police Department; Jenny, a young white public defender who’s drawn into the violent center of the uprising herself; Tawanda, a young black woman who’d spent a lonely year protesting the killing of her own brother by police; and John Angelos, scion of the city’s most powerful family and executive vice president of the Baltimore Orioles, who had to make choices of conscience he’d never before confronted.
Each shifting point of view contributes to an engrossing, cacophonous account of one of the most consequential moments in our recent history, which is also an essential cri de coeur about the deeper causes of the violence and the small seeds of hope planted in its aftermath.
They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement
Conducting hundreds of interviews during the course of over one year reporting on the ground, Washington Post writer Wesley Lowery traveled from Ferguson, Missouri, to Cleveland, Ohio; Charleston, South Carolina; and Baltimore, Maryland; and then back to Ferguson to uncover life inside the most heavily policed, if otherwise neglected, corners of America today.
Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor
Layla F. Saad
Me and White Supremacy: A 28-Day Challenge to Combat Racism, Change the World and Become a Good Ancestor leads readers through a journey of understanding their white privilege and participation in white supremacy, so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on black, indigenous and people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too. The book goes beyond the original workbook by adding more historical and cultural contexts, sharing moving stories and anecdotes, and includes expanded definitions, examples, and further resources.
Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism
James W. Loewen
From Maine to California, thousands of communities kept out African Americans (or sometimes Chinese Americans, Jewish Americans, etc.) by force, law, or custom. These communities are sometimes called “sundown towns” because some of them posted signs at their city limits reading, typically, “Nigger, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On You In ___.” Some towns are still all white on purpose. Their chilling stories have been joined more recently by the many elite (and some not so elite) suburbs like Grosse Pointe, MI, or Edina, MN, that have excluded nonwhites by “kinder gentler means.” When I began this research, I expected to find about 10 sundown towns in Illinois (my home state) and perhaps 50 across the country. Instead, I have found about 507 in Illinois and thousands across the United States. This is their story; it is the first book ever written on the topic.
The Fire Next Time (Essays)
It’s shocking how little has changed between the races in this country since 1963, when James Baldwin published this coolly impassioned plea to “end the racial nightmare.” The Fire Next Time–even the title is beautiful, resonant, and incendiary. “Do I really want to be integrated into a burning house?” Baldwin demands, flicking aside the central race issue of his day and calling instead for full and shared acceptance of the fact that America is and always has been a multiracial society. Without this acceptance, he argues, the nation dooms itself to “sterility and decay” and to eventual destruction at the hands of the oppressed: “The Negroes of this country may never be able to rise to power, but they are very well placed indeed to precipitate chaos and ring down the curtain on the American dream.”
Baldwin’s seething insights and directives, so disturbing to the white liberals and black moderates of his day, have become the starting point for discussions of American race relations: that debasement and oppression of one people by another is “a recipe for murder”; that “color is not a human or a personal reality; it is a political reality”; that whites can only truly liberate themselves when they liberate blacks, indeed when they “become black” symbolically and spiritually; that blacks and whites “deeply need each other here” in order for America to realize its identity as a nation.
Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership
A finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in History, Race for Profit chronicles how the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 failed to stop racist, exploitative mortgage lending practices. Since the policy was supposed to be a balm to the 1960s uprisings — much like the ones we’re seeing now — it serves as a reminder to remain vigilant when policymakers promise change.
A Terrible Thing To Waste: Environmental Racism And Its Assault On The American Mind
Harriet A. Washington
From lead poisoning to toxic waste, Americans of color are disproportionately harmed by environmental hazards. This is detrimental to physical health — air pollution is linked with higher COVID-19 death rates, according to Harvard researchers. But Washington also argues that environmental racism is causing cognitive decline in communities of color. A deconstruction of IQ and an indictment of EPA rollbacks, A Terrible Thing To Waste is a stirring read.
From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America
The origins of mass incarceration — which disproportionately puts black people behind bars — are often pinned on Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. But Hinton argues the carceral state was erected “by a consensus of liberals and conservatives who privileged punitive responses to urban problems as a reaction to the civil rights movement.” The 1965 Law Enforcement Assistance Act, part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society plan, led to today’s police militarization. This account of history poses relevant questions for today’s land of the free.
Blackballed: The Black Vote and U.S. Democracy
As young Americans take to the streets to say black lives matter, they’re often told to vote. While voting is important, it’s also important to remember how black political representation has been chipped away by voter ID laws, gerrymandering and felon disenfranchisement. Blackballed addresses the struggle for voting rights and for racial equality more broadly, drawing on Pinckney’s own experiences and writings of civil rights leaders to create a complicated picture of black political identity.
Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class
Ian Haney López
“Entitlement mentality.” “Quotas.” “Welfare queens.” From Barry Goldwater to Bill Clinton to the Tea Party, politicians have relied on racially coded language to win over white voters and decimate social programs. Dog Whistle Politics makes the case that not only does this strategy endanger people of color, but it also hinders economic mobility for all Americans.
Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology
Deirdre Cooper Owens
The foundational knowledge of American gynecology relied on the exploitation of enslaved black women’s bodies. In Medical Bondage, Cooper Owens centers the stories of black women that have been overshadowed by the “discoveries” of white male doctors who experimented on them. Baseless theories about black inferiority and higher pain tolerance still permeate medical schools today.
Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination
The Black Panther Party is most remembered for its militant action, but health care was also a major pillar of its activism. The People’s Free Medical Clinics tested for hypertension and assisted with housing and employment. Its outreach also brought attention to rampant discrimination within mainstream medicine. Nelson writes that the Black Panther Party understood health as a human right, echoing today’s fight for universal health care. You can read Body and Soul online for free.
They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South
Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers
Bridging women’s history, the history of the South, and African American history, this book makes a bold argument about the role of white women in American slavery. Historian Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers draws on a variety of sources to show that slave-owning women were sophisticated economic actors who directly engaged in and benefited from the South’s slave market. Because women typically inherited more slaves than land, enslaved people were often their primary source of wealth. Not only did white women often refuse to cede ownership of their slaves to their husbands, they employed management techniques that were as effective and brutal as those used by slave-owning men. White women actively participated in the slave market, profited from it, and used it for economic and social empowerment. By examining the economically entangled lives of enslaved people and slave-owning women, Jones-Rogers presents a narrative that forces us to rethink the economics and social conventions of slaveholding America.
The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table.
Most business books provide a one-size-fits-all approach to career advice that overlooks the unique barriers that women of color face. In The Memo, Minda Harts offers a much-needed career guide tailored specifically for women of color.
On Being a Black American Biglaw Associate (blog series)
Lauren E. Skerrett
Lauren E. Skerrett is an associate attorney at a large, multinational firm. She graduated with a BA in philosophy from Washington and Lee University and obtained her JD from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, along with an LLM from Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris (“Sciences Po”). All views expressed belong to her and should not be attributed to any organization with which she is affiliated. You can reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
Austin Channing Brown
From a leading voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female that exposes how white America’s love affair with “diversity” so often falls short of its ideals.
You Don’t Look Like a Lawyer: Black Women and Systemic Gendered Racism
Tsedale M. Melaku
Highlights how race and gender create barriers to recruitment, professional development, and advancement to partnership for black women in elite corporate law firms. Utilizing narratives of black female lawyers, this book offers a blend of accessible theory to benefit any reader willing to learn about the underlying challenges that lead to their high attrition rates.
Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration
A renowned journalist and legal commentator exposes the unchecked power of the prosecutor as a driving force in America’s mass incarceration crisis—and charts a way out. An important, thoughtful, and thorough examination of criminal justice in America that speaks directly to how we reduce mass incarceration.
Born a Crime
Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.
Chokehold: Policing Black Men
Butler uses new data to demonstrate that white men commit the majority of violent crime in the United States. Butler also frankly discusses the problem of black on black violence and how to keep communities safer—without relying as much on police. Chokehold powerfully demonstrates why current efforts to reform law enforcement will not create lasting change. Butler’s controversial recommendations about how to crash the system, and when it’s better for a black man to plead guilty—even if he’s innocent—are sure to be game-changers in the national debate about policing, criminal justice, and race relations.
Let’s Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice
Paul Butler was an ambitious federal prosecutor, a Harvard Law grad who gave up his corporate law salary to fight the good fight – until one day he was arrested on the street and charged with a crime he didn’t commit.’ Butler looks at places where ordinary citizens meet the justice system – as jurors, witnesses, and in encounters with the police – and explores what ”doing the right thing” means in a corrupt system.
Between the World and Me
In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?
Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son.
There Are No Children Here
This is the moving and powerful account of two remarkable boys struggling to survive in Chicago’s Henry Horner Homes, a public housing complex disfigured by crime and neglect.
Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do
How do we talk about bias? How do we address racial disparities and inequities? What role do our institutions play in creating, maintaining, and magnifying those inequities? What role do we play? With a perspective that is at once scientific, investigative, and informed by personal experience, Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt offers us the language and courage we need to face one of the biggest and most troubling issues of our time. She exposes racial bias at all levels of society—in our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, and criminal justice system. Yet she also offers us tools to address it. Eberhardt shows us how we can be vulnerable to bias but not doomed to live under its grip. Racial bias is a problem that we all have a role to play in solving.