The killing of George Floyd and resulting Black Lives Matter protests worldwide have ignited an international conversation about systemic racism. Young adults, you are an important part of that conversation.
Systemic racism against black Americans began when the first kidnapped African’s arrived in Virginia in 1619. Many political, economic, and social structures installed since then serve to dehumanize and control those whose skin is not white. Even those with white skin who believe they are anti-racist often do not understand their white privilege.
We’ve compiled this list of young adult anti-racism books to help educate people about systemic racism, and what we can do to end racism. These books are available at Milton Public Library.
“The Poet X” by Elizabeth Acevedo
“Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club … she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems. Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.” -Excerpted from the book jacket.
“Monday’s Not Coming” by Tiffany D. Jackson
“Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong.” -From the book jacket.
“March: Book One; March: Book Two; March, Book Three” by John Lewis
This autobiographical graphic-novel trilogy about the Civil Rights Movement is told through the perspective of civil rights leader and U.S. Congressman John Lewis.
“How It Went Down” by Kekla Magoon
“When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson dies from two gunshot wounds, his community is thrown into an uproar. Tariq was black. The shooter, Jack Franklin, is white.” -From the book jacket.
“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
“The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning “Stamped from the Beginning” reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future.” -From the book jacket.
“All American Boys” by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
“Rashad and Quinn—one black, one white, both American—face the unspeakable truth that racism and prejudice didn’t die after the civil rights movement. There’s a future at stake, a future where no one else will have to be absent because of police brutality. They just have to risk everything to change the world.” -From the book jacket.
“Just Mercy: Adapted for Young Adults: a True Story of the Fight for Justice” by Bryan Stevenson
“In this very personal work, acclaimed lawyer and social justice advocate Bryan Stevenson offers a glimpse into the lives of the wrongfully imprisoned and his efforts to fight for their freedom.” -Excerpted from the book jacket.
“Dear Martin” by Nic Stone
“Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs.” -From the book jacket.
“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas
“Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.” -From the book jacket.
“Piecing Me Together” by Renée Watson
“Jade believes she must get out of her poor neighborhood if she is ever going to succeed. Her mother tells her to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. And she has. She accepted a scholarship to a mostly white private school and even welcomed Saturday morning test prep opportunities. The problem is some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful.” -Scholastic
For more suggestions, see Black Lives Matter: A Booklist for White Readers