From must read memoirs to books that explain police shootings to kids, these books on race and racism are all must reads in this current climate.
From must read memoirs to books that explain police shootings to kids, these books on race and racism are all must reads in this current climate.

Essential books to read about racism

From Instagram feeds full of black boxes to international protests, riots and vigils being held in the name of George Floyd - an unarmed Black man who died at the hands of a white police officer - people are asking themselves how they can take a stand against racism.

Conversations around ending racially-charged police brutality and racial discrimination are needed now than ever and here in Australia, discussions of our own country's racism and injustice against Indigenous Australian are also coming to the fore.

However, if you feel yourself overwhelmed or feeling powerless and wanting to do better, reading books about racism from Black, Indigenous and people of colour is a great way to further your understanding of the topic.

From books on how to explain racially-charged police brutality to children, to must read memoirs, these 11 books might offer you the information, context and guidance you're looking for.

BOOKS FOR ADULTS

Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World by Layla F. Saad

If acknowledgment of the problem is the first and bare minimum step in tackling the issue, Layla F. Saad's book is essential reading. It's a look at white privilege and asks those who benefit from it to become aware of the cultural blind spots that continue to cement racial injustice against Black, Indigenous and people of colour.

Buy it here

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

While incidents around police brutality are easily identifiable as racist, incidents of structural racism and how it intersects with class and social and political institutions can be harder to identify and understand. This, in part, is what Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by UK journalist, Reni Eddo-Lodge tries to examine.

Eddo-Lodge's critically-acclaimed book is considered to be a must-read right now. Picture: Instagram @renieddolodge.
Eddo-Lodge's critically-acclaimed book is considered to be a must-read right now. Picture: Instagram @renieddolodge.

The book was born out of Eddo-Lodge's frustration at why discussions about race and racism were largely being led by those who aren't affected by it and she navigates issues like white privilege, class and the erasure of black history. Central to this book is also providing a digestible framework in how those willing can dismantle racism, writing: "Every voice raised against racism chips away at its power. We can't afford to stay silent".

Buy it here

They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, And A New Era In America's Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery

A Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for the Washington Post, Wesley Lowery has spent a large portion of his career travelling across the US while reporting on police shootings against unarmed Black men. Filled with interviews, personal anecdotes (Lowery is also Black himself) and in-depth research that's been crafted into an engrossing and enlightening read, it provides essential context into the modern day Black Lives Matter movement.

Buy it here

How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi

A New York times bestseller, How to Be an Antiracist is part memoir and part play book in being an antiracist. According to Ibram X. Kendi it's impossible, and not enough, to merely not be a racist - he confesses to being one himself - and instead asks the audience to become actively anti-racist. Not only does he advise the reader how, he also asks us to challenge our ingrained ideas on race and racial discrimination.

Buy it here

Talking to My Country by Stan Grant

In the wake of Adam Goodes being booed at by AFL fans in 2015, journalist Stan Grant wrote a powerful opinion piece about being an Indigenous Australian that went viral te world over. In his memoir, he continues his meditation on race and the state of Indigenous affairs in Australia and ultimately asks us a question that should be front of mind for us all: How can we do better?

Buy it here

The journalist is the author of many best-selling nonfiction books and wrote the 2019 documentary, The Australian Dream which looks at the racist attacks lauded against AFL-player, Adam Goodes. Picture: Kathy Luu/Supplied.
The journalist is the author of many best-selling nonfiction books and wrote the 2019 documentary, The Australian Dream which looks at the racist attacks lauded against AFL-player, Adam Goodes. Picture: Kathy Luu/Supplied.

The Tall Man: Death and Life on Palm Island by Chloe Hooper

Given recent events, there's been a lot of discussion in the media about Australia's own race-based violence, with the 2004 death of Cameron Doomadgee being bought into question.

In 2004 a 36-year-old Doomadgee was arrested for swearing at Senior Sergeant Christopher Hurley, a white police officer. 45 minutes later Doomadgee died in a jail cell with a ruptured liver, despite Senior Sergeant Hurley claiming he had tripped. Although Hurley was taken to court for manslaughter and assault, he was eventually acquitted by a jury in 2007. This book explores the circumstances of Doomadgee's arrest and death.

Buy it here

So You Want to Talk About R ace by Ijeoma Oluo

From police brutality to the Black Lives Matter movement, white privilege and growing levels of white supremacy, Ijeoma Oluo manages to delivery a straightforward and funny analysis of race in America. It's an eloquent education in complex race politics that anyone could benefit regardless of geography, while also giving much-needed context into the nuances of the issue.

Buy it here

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

An autobiography of the prolific writer and poet, Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is constantly heralded as a modern classic both as a piece of literature and activism.

Although the poet, storyteller, activist, and autobiographer died in 2014, her legacy is well celebrated and lives on. Picture: AP Photo/Chuck Burton.
Although the poet, storyteller, activist, and autobiographer died in 2014, her legacy is well celebrated and lives on. Picture: AP Photo/Chuck Burton.

It covers Angelou's childhood and adolescent growing up in the 1930s and explores themes of identity, feminism, abandonment, child rape and racism.

Buy it here

BOOKS FOR KIDS

Something Happened in Our Town : A Child's Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, Ann Hazzard, Jennifer Zivoin, Ann Celano, Marianne Collins, Marietta and Hazzard
If you're struggling to explain the current global situation to your children, Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story About Racial Injustice can help. The book follows a White and Black family who discuss the police shooting of a Black man and provides ways to help kids identify and counter racial injustice.

Written by a team of trained psychologists, it also includes resources on how to continue the discussion and is suitable for kids aged four to eight.

Available for $16.57 on Audible (30-day free trial available)

Same, but Little Bit Diff'rent by Kylie Dunstan

A great way to encourage cultural diversity and inclusion in little kids, this beautifully illustrated children's book is suitable for children aged three and over.

It's about the friendship between a child living in the city and her friend Normie who lives in the Top End of Australia's Northern Territory. Despite their contrasting geography, they discover they share many more similarities than theydo differences.

Buy it here

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Told from the perspective of Starr Carter, a poor Black student at a largely white and rich prep school, her world is shattered when she witnesses the fatal police shooting of her Black best friend, Khalil. When she decides to speak up about his death, she must face increasing tensions which come to a fore when the jury decides to not indict the police officer involved in the shooting.

Referencing the Black Lives Matter movement, The Hate U Give was one of the most challenged books of 2017 and 2018 and even banned from certain school districts.

It was also made into a film in 2018 starring Amandla Stenberg and is available on Youtube, Google Play and Foxtel Go.

Buy it here

 

Originally published as 13 essential books to read right now

Picture: Bloomsbury.
Picture: Bloomsbury.

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