Here are nine award-winning anti-racist books we recommend you read to help better understand the lives of people of colour.
The list include both fiction and nonfiction books, so there’s something for everyone.
Nine anti-racist books you need to read
- Me and White Supremacy
- Girl, Woman, Other
- White Fragility
- Stay In Your Lane
- What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker
- How To Be Antiracist
- I Am Not Your Baby Mother
- My Place
- Talking To My Country
Me and White Supremacy
Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad started as an Instagram challenge in which Saad encouraged followers to think about, and take responsibility for, their often unintended participation in white supremacy and the contributions they may be making against black people, Indigenous Australians and people of colour. Me and White Supremacy: A 28-Day Challenge to Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor is one of the few anti-racist books that includes a workbook; it is designed to bring readers on a journey of understanding their white privilege. The book helps readers to proactively understand their internal perspectives through its cultural context. Expect an eye-opening workbook, anecdotes and real-life examples of racism as it is experienced today.
Girl, Woman, Other
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo follows the lives of 12 women in the United Kingdom over several decades. The interlinked stories of the characters raise evergreen questions around both racism and feminism. Girl, Woman, Other speaks to experiences of struggle, marginalisation and hardship, shining a lens on a world that is not often discussed. Where there is struggle and pain, there is also joy and imagination. Where the reader is presented with a world they may not be able to relate to, they are still presented with universal themes — most notably, love.
White Fragility, a book and term by Robin DiAngelo, who investigates why white people become defensive when the topic of racism arises. DiAngelo, a diversity and inclusion training facilitator, first coined the term “white fragility” in a 2011 article in which she made sense of why white people tend to feel attacked when racism is discussed. In the book, she articulates numerous examples that act as an eye-opening manual for everyone, even those who classify themselves as ‘woke’. Expect historical references mingled with present-day examples of racism in the United States, and proactive steps you can start taking now to break down the bedrock of racism within your own surroundings.
Slay In Your Lane
Slay In Your Lane by Elizabeth Uviebinené and Yomi Adegoke — who met at university aged 18, and co-wrote this book aged 25 — is part celebration, and part self-help book written by and for black women. Slay In Your Lane is packed with real-life anecdotes and interviews with iconic women of colour to inspire their generation.
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker
What Doesn’t Kill You Make You Blacker by Damon Young chronicles his experiences of racism in the United States, including anecdotes of failures in the healthcare systems to which he lost his mother; expectations around how he should present his masculinity as a black male; and the injustices he faces for being black. The reader is taking on a journey of emotive consciousness. What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker a book that is guaranteed to motivate its readers to do better.
How To Be An Antiracist
How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi does exactly what it says on the tin, or book cover. It’s one of the anti-racist books that couldn’t be more relevant and necessary today. Ibram X. Kendi is founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University in Washington, DC. Kendi connects his personal experiences of growing up in Queens with the history of racism in America, up to the present day. Expect an analysis of power structures, culture, class, colour, gender, sexuality and ethnicity. Kendi leads by example by addressing his own ideas in an insightful and all-encompassing discussion on what it means to be black in the United States today.
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I Am Not Your Baby Mother
I Am Not Your Baby Mother is a book by Candice Brathwaite, who was frustrated by the fact that she did not feel represented in memoirs of motherhood. Brathwaite takes her readers through the reality of what it is to be a mother, behind the Instagram feed and magazines that contain glossy imagery of mostly white mothers. I Am Not Your Baby Mother is part memoir, part guide to the modern challenges that Brathwaite faces as a black mother. This is Brathwaite’s personal attempt to create more colour equality in the media around representations of motherhood.
My Place, by Sally Morgan, is an autobiography that unearths political and societal issues contained within Australia’s indigenous culture. Sally Morgan travelled to her grandmother’s birthplace, starting a search for information about her family. She uncovers that she is not white but Aboriginal — information that was kept a secret because of the stigma of society. This moving account is a classic of Australian literature that finally frees the tongues of the author’s mother and grandmother, allowing them to tell their own stories.
Talking To My Country
Talking To My Country by Stan Grant is an autobiography about Grant’s life as an Indigenous Australian. As correspondent for CNN, Grant travelled to the Middle East, Africa, and Asia to cover stories of conflict. Seeing humanity living on in the face of repression and mass destruction spoke to his own story of sacrifice, endurance, and the undying call of family and homeland. In the lives of other dispossessed people, he saw his own. Talking To My Country is a book that examines the after-effects of colonialism on everyday racism; his main message is that we must not become complacent towards the inequalities that exist today.