10 Books About Race Non-Black People Should Be Reading Right Now

Kathryn Lindsay

The events of the past few weeks have only solidified the fact that white people have so much more to do when it comes to fighting racism. Even white people who identify as progressive, liberal, and non-racist have failed the black community in terms of actively dismantling the systems that have resulted in the ever-mounting list of deaths at the hands of police brutality, mass incarceration, and poverty. The killing of George Floyd has ignited a movement in which white people and non-Black people are being held accountable for their inactivism. It can feel intimidating to know where to start, but you can donate, protest, and, most importantly, educate yourself on how to be a better ally.

There’s no guidebook for solving racism in 2020. However, there are multiple insightful resources, published throughout the past century, that will help non-Black people understand the history behind the current movement, as well the roles they can assume moving forward. Fiction and nonfiction works by authors of colour stitch a tapestry of pain, injustice, and action that both somber and inspire the reader towards progress. 

These are ten essential books that all non-black people should be reading right now about race.

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

For white and non-black people who feel they don’t know how to start having these conversations, Oluo has generously provided a resource about how to be honest and thoughtful in examining not just racism in the world, but also white people’s own role in it.

Seal Press So You Want to Talk About Race, $, available at Amazon

They Can’t Kill Us All by Wesley Lowery

Wesley Lowery’s memoir about the exhausting reality of a lifetime of reporting police brutality and the deaths of black people in America.

Brown and Company, Little They Can't Kill Us All, $, available at Amazon

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

A look at black history in Britain as it intertwines with class, and how it resulted in the disconnect in conversations about race today based on a 2014 blog post by the author in which she expresses frustration with dealing with well-meaning but ultimately unhelpful white people.

Bloomsbury Publishing Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, $, available at Amazon

Beloved by Toni Morrison

This Pulitzer Prize winner  was first published in 1987. Two decades later, the New York Times declared it the best American novel of the previous 25 years. It tells the story of an escaped slave named Sethe who now lives with her daughter and mother-in-law and is visited by an apparition called “Beloved” that threatens her attempts to move on from her past.

Vintage Books , $, available at Amazon

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Michelle Alexander, a civil rights litigator and legal scholar, focuses on the plight of mass incarceration of black men in the United States.

The New Press , $, available at Amazon

Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Written as a letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ son, this non-fiction book details the realities and author’s personal experiences being Black in the United States, and how it infiltrates everything from school to the streets. It posits white supremacy is something that will never be eradicated, but instead a force Black people will always have to navigate.

One World Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, $, available at Amazon

Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde

A posthumous collection of essays, poems and speeches by Audre Lorde, a writer, feminist, and civil rights activist.

Silver Press Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde, $, available at Amazon

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Now a feature film starring Amandla Stenberg, Angie Thomas tells the story of 16-year-old Starr, whose childhood best friend is killed by the police and causes her two worlds — her poor neighbourhood and fancy prep school — to collide in a life-changing way.

Balzer + Bray The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, $, available at Amazon

A More Beautiful and Terrible History by Jeanne Theoharis

Jeanne Theoharis provides context and realism to the figures in the civil rights movement that have been mythologized throughout history, proving that there’s still so much more to learn than what’s taught in history classes.

Beacon Press A More Beautiful and Terrible History, $, available at Amazon

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

Rather than figuring out how to fix things within our pre-existing systems, Kendi uses the power of memoir to reimagine a society that is not free from racism, but also actively working against racism at all times.

One World How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi, $, available at Amazon

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