Following up on my previous posts, here are books I recommend from my reading list (link to Reading List: Anti-Racism). The reading list is long since it covers books I’ve read over the last 2 years, so here are five books that have schooled me in white privilege and structural racism.
White Fragility, Robin J. DiAngelo. The book every white person in American needs to read. It is slow going because every chapter asked me to rethink my life, my circumstances, and how I have been given a pass just because of the color of my skin.
White Rage, Carol Anderson. Everyone needs to read this book to understand how racism is structural, not individual, and it is not just about the white supremacists you see on the news. Reading the chapter about how states fought back against Brown v. Board of Education (1954) broke my heart. If you want to know why things aren’t equal between blacks and whites, this will tell you–in horrifying detail–how whites in power conspired and schemed, legally, all the way up to and including the Supreme Court, to deny blacks the right to education, votes, and housing since the end of the Civil War.
Me and White Supremacy, Layla F. Saad. What started as a small, private series of posts eventually became this book, published in 2020. It is something I’m still working my way through, and it is hard going. Which means it’s good, and I need to do this work. If you’re white, so do you.
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates. Three letters to his son, explaining how it is to be black in America. I’m still thinking about this book more than a year after reading it.
The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson. This is a long read, following three different Southern blacks who moved north or west as part of the Great Migration out of the south. As I followed each person through decades of time, I got to understand them not only as historical markers, but as people struggling, as we all do, for a better life. The author does a masterful job of putting these three people into the context of their times, decade by decade as the civil rights movement slowly changes the country.
His money went largely toward books, which to him were like sacred objects, providing ballast for his mind.