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Read Against Racism: An Essential Book List

Posted on 5th June 2020 by Mark Skinner

The murder of George Floyd and impact of its aftermath have thrown systemic racism and the corrosive effects of white privilege into sharp relief. As the Black Lives Matter movement gathers momentum across the world, now is the time to engage with and self-educate on issues of racial prejudice and injustice. The following books range from enlightening history to powerful memoir, and from passionate polemic to compelling fiction; they all bring invaluable and integral arguments, testimony and stories to a vitally important discourse and bear witness to the Black experience in the twenty-first century.       

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A charged and necessary wake-up call to pervasive, institutionalised racism, Eddo-Lodge’s searing polemic reconstitutes the frame of the argument around race, removing it from the hands of those with little experience of its resonances. From ambient and lazy cultural stereotyping to open hostility, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is a clarion call of understanding.
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Covering everything from the police, education and identity to politics, sexual objectification and the far right, Natives speaks directly to British denial and squeamishness when it comes to confronting issues of race and class that are at the heart of the legacy of Britain's racialised empire.
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Packed with practical exercises and enlightening socio-political context, the book of Saad's pioneering blog offers numerous ways of transforming the discourse surrounding systemic racism.
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Framed as a letter to his son, Coates’s intimate and eloquent dissection of America’s tumultuous relationship with race is an invigorating collection of personal flashpoints that broadened the author’s understanding of racial injustice.
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The definitive history of Britain’s troubled history with the people of Africa and the Caribbean, Olusoga’s account begins in the Roman era and takes in Elizabethan ‘blackamoors’ and the horrors of the slave trade as well as the author’s own childhood memories of racism and prejudice. Enthrallingly written and endlessly enlightening, Black and British is absolutely essential reading.
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A blistering slice of contemporary reportage, Wesley Lowery’s account of Black Lives Matter tracks the formation of the movement in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin and the political ramifications of mass protest. Filled with heartbreaking personal testimony of those who have suffered police violence or have lost loved ones to it, They Can’t Kill Us All is a raw, empowering book.
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Tracking the lives and loves of a dozen British women through generations and social classes, Girl, Woman, Other weaves a distinctive, illuminating tapestry of modern British life.
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Queenie Jenkins’ life seems to be steadily spiralling out of control in Candice Carty-Williams luminous debut, which is by turns hilariously funny, dramatic and tender, with a heroine to root for.
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One of the most magnificently perceptive memoirs of growing up a Black woman in twentieth century America, the first of Angelou’s seven volumes of autobiography is a spellbinding combination of intense joy and extreme suffering. Recounting her youth in the Deep South of the 1930s, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a milestone in the history of life-writing and a key work on racial injustice.
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Immensely influential and profoundly moving, Baldwin’s twin letters on his childhood in Harlem and the omnipresent evil of racism in American society were pivotal in the galvanising of the US civil rights movement. Unfailingly eloquent and brimming with passion and heartache, The Fire Next Time frames the battles of the 1960s in an urgent and ever more relevant context for the modern era.
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The forerunner of the ‘slave narratives’ that became a literary sensation in eighteenth century society, Equiano’s incredible journey from ownership by a British naval officer to leading the call for abolition is a compelling, humbling read.
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Packed with real-life stories and interviews with dozens of iconic black women, this is an essential volume designed to inspire a generation of women of colour to succeed in everything, from work to internet dating. Adegoke and Uviebinene are the perfect guides to a world of unlimited aspiration and ambition.
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Gathering BAME voices from across Britain in a searing selection of essays exploring otherness, racial inequality and the immigrant experience, Shukla’s expertly curated book is full of revealing insights on every page. Varied in tone yet coherent in intent, the pieces that form The Good Immigrant provide an invaluable snapshot of modern Britain.
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The life of the legendary Civil Rights activist is celebrated in this exquisite addition to the Little People, Big Dreams range. Making King’s inspiring work accessible to younger readers, whilst not eliminating the struggles and ultimate tragedy of his death, this is a sensitively handled and beautifully illustrated volume.
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The 2018 Waterstones Children's Book Prize winner is an incendiary piece of work, which tackles race, violence and poverty with such raw honesty and fearlessness as to mark a new page in the evolution of the YA novel. Unflinching and immensely powerful, The Hate U Give speaks to twenty-first century society as few other books can hope to.
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A pioneering force for change in both racial prejudice and issues of gender and sexuality, Audre Lord was a maverick literary talent who ranged over poetry, prose and polemic with equal assuredness. Your Silence Will Not Protect You brings together some of her very finest pieces across all genres and includes a superb new preface from Reni Eddo-Lodge.
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As famous as Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War, Mary Seacole was a singular figure in nineteenth century history and her ‘adventures’ read like the most thrilling fiction. Overcoming racial prejudice to become one of the most admired and celebrated women of her day, her memoirs are nonetheless an instructive account of the attitude towards black women in the Victorian era.
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Comments

catrina popham

I'd suggest "Black Like me" by John Howard Griffin. View more

catrina popham
8th June 2020
Helpful? Upvote 2

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