As Americans have grown angrier and angrier over the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and other recent unarmed Black people by police officers, more people are recognizing the importance of actively working to become anti-racist. One of the most important things allies can do right now is read books about the Black experience, racism, white supremacy, and other related topics.
We’ve compiled some of the most popular contemporary anti-racism books on the market, each written by a Black author. And instead of ordering these books on Amazon, consider buying them from a Black-owned bookstore. Even though many brick-and-mortar stores are closed at the moment due to the coronavirus pandemic, many are still sending out online orders. Not only does shopping small help support small business owners and local economies, but it’s also often a more eco-friendly choice than, say, Amazon’s one-day shipping option.
So, read on for eight books for anti-racism education and five Black-owned bookstores shipping across the U.S.
“Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
“How to Be An Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi
“Me and White Supremacy” by Layla F. Saad
Me and White Supremacy: A 28-Day Challenge to Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad helps readers understand their white privilege and participation in white supremacy, and provides tools to help them stop unconsciously hurting people of color and help other white people do the same.
“When They Call You a Terrorist” by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele
When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir is written by Patrisse Khan-Cullors, a cofounder of Black Lives Matter, and asha bandele, author of the memor The Prisoner’s Wife. The book details Khan-Cullors’ experience creating Black Lives Matter, finding her voice, being a Black woman in the U.S., and more.
“So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo
In So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, former Editor-at-Large of The Establishment, discusses a plethora of topics related to racial justice, including police violence, white privilege, mass incarceration, and the Black Lives Matter movement — and she offers guidance to help readers to have difficult conversations about race with the people in their lives.
“Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race was originally the title of a blog post by Reni Eddo-Lodge on her website — and the British author later turned it into a book. As seen in the powerful cover image above, from afar, the title appears as simply Why I’m No Longer Talking About Race, until one gets closer and notices the muted lettering reading to White People.
“The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander
Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness looks into the ways the U.S. continues to oppress Black people — specifically, young Black men who have been imprisoned — despite having technically abolished the Jim Crow laws.
“We Can't Breathe” by Jabari Asim
Evoking the dying words of Eric Garner and George Floyd, We Can't Breathe: On Black Lives, White Lies, and the Art of Survival is a collection of eight essays by Jabari Asim. The essays celebrate the incredible history, culture, and persistence of Black people in the U.S. despite the racism and violence standing in their way.
Shop from these Black-owned bookstores online.
Here are five Black-owned independent bookstores where you can order these books online.
The Key Bookstore
The Key Bookstore is a Connecticut-based bookstore (though its brick-and-mortar location is currently closed) that integrates reading and culture through events, subscriptions, and community engagement. The store’s key pillars include Afrocentricity, spirituality, environmentalism, and entrepreneurship, and you can shop The Key Bookstore’s selection on its website.
Mahogany Books is an independent D.C.-based bookstore that specializes in books focused on the African Diaspora. Founded in 2007 by Derrick and Ramunda Young (and named after their daughter Mahogany), the store has experienced a surge in sales recently. “In light of recent events, a lot of people are now feeling a very visceral response in how they show up in this world, and how they see it from our lens,” Ramunda told TIME.
The Lit. Bar
Ashay By The Bay
While all the books on the above list are for adults, it’s just as important to educate children on anti-racism. Ashay By The Bay is a Vallejo, Calif.-based bookstore founded by Deborah Day in 2000. The book reseller specializes in African American and multicultural books in both English and Spanish for children of all ages.
Sisters Uptown Bookstore
Founded by Janifer P. Wilson in 2000, Sister’s Uptown Bookstore is located in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. The family owned and operated spot is not just a bookstore, but also a cultural center and community resource center for the neighborhood.
If you are looking for ways to donate your time or money to Black Lives Matter and other antiracist organizations, we have created a list of resources to get you started.