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02nd Jun 2020

Reading list – Books to help you better understand racism

Sarah Finnan

reading list

Author Pandora Sykes has shared a number of books to add to your reading list to help you better understand racism.

Racism has come to the fore in light of recent events over in America, with people all around the world standing in solidarity and pledging to do better on behalf of their friends, family, neighbours and all those who are suffering. Of course, not a new or modern issue – far from it in fact – but the murder of George Floyd has drawn attention to years of inequality and prejudice, spurring people into action and encouraging them to look for ways to expand their knowledge.

There are several ways you can better educate yourself on the situation, one of which is by reading and diversifying the authors and books you include on your bookshelves. However, while this is something many would like to do, knowing where to start can often prove to be difficult. Author and podcaster Pandora Sykes has shared some insight into what she’s found to be helpful resources.

Listing a number of different books that she’d personally recommend, Pandora credited them with helping to teach her not only about “systemic, entrenched racism” but about her role as a white woman within such structures.

Her top six recommendations are:

  1. White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
  2. I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite
  3. Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
  4. Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
  5. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  6. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Adding that the above is just a “small selection” of what’s available out there, Pandora encouraged followers to add their own suggestions in the comments with reader suggestions naming the following titles:

  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Thing Around Your Neck by Ngozi Adichie
  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
  • Natives by Akala
  • The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla
  • Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch
  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
  • Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  • Slay In Your Lane by Yomi Adegoke
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
  • Small Island by Andrea Levy
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  • Algorithms of Oppression by Safiya Noble
  • The Clapback by Elijah Lawal
  • Black, Listed: Black British Culture Explored by Jeffrey Boakye
  • I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Condé
  • They Can’t Kill Us All – The Story of Black Lives Matter by Wesley Lowery
  • How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • Ordinary People by Diana Evans
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • The Bluest Eyes by Toni Morrison
  • Citizen by Claudia Rankine
  • The White Card by Claudia Rankine
  • I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
  • Negroland by Margo Jefferson
  • Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri
  • Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong
  • Good Talk by Mira Jacob
  • We Need New Stories by Nesrine Malik
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins
  • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Tatum

The New York Times has also published an anti-racist reading list. Compiled by author Ibram X. Kendi, whose book features on the above list, his recommended reading list aims to “help America transcend its racist heritage”. A combination of “classics, relatively obscure works and a few of recent vintage”, you can read his full list of suggestions here.

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