Some people respond to Black Lives Matter with “all lives matter.”  Yes, they do.  That’s why Black Lives Matter is so important.  Too many white people don’t include people of color in “all lives matter,” and many white people don’t understand their white privilege.  Some who understand white privilege still inadvertently say and do things that perpetuate racism.  The books in this list are meant to help educate us to the systemic racism in our country.  These titles are available at Milton Public Library.

“When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir” by Asha Bandele and Patrisse Cullors
“Following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, three women – Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Khan-Cullors – came together to form an active response to the systemic racism causing the deaths of so many African-Americans.” -Google Books

“Black is the Body” by Emily Bernard
“In these twelve deeply personal, connected essays, Bernard details the experience of growing up black in the south with a family name inherited from a white man.”  -Penguin Random House

“Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
“Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the most important essayist in a generation and a writer who changed the national political conversation about race” -Rolling Stone

 “Women, Race & Class” by Angela Y. Davis
“A powerful study of the women’s liberation movement in the U.S., from abolitionist days to the present, that demonstrates how it has always been hampered by the racist and classist biases of its leaders.” -Random House

“Critical Race Theory” by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic
“Critical Race Theory provides a radical and challenging perspective that reveals how racism shapes the everyday reality of the world; from law courts and prisons, to the economy, schools, media and health care.”  -David Gillborn, Professor of Critical Race Studies, University of Birmingham, UK

“White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DiAngelo
The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality. -Penguin Random House

“Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do” by Jennifer L. Eberhardt
We do not have to be racist to be biased. With a perspective that is both scientific, investigative, and also informed by personal experience, Eberhardt offers a reasoned look into the effects of implicit racial bias, ranging from the subtle to the dramatic.” -Goodreads

“The Wretched of the Earth” by Frantz Fanon
“Frantz Fanon’s classic text analyzes the role of class, race, national culture, and violence in the struggle for freedom.” -Penguin Classics

“How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi
In this book, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, bringing it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism. “How to Be an Antiracist” is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society. -Goodreads

“The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America” by  Richard Rothstein
“A powerful and disturbing history of residential segregation in America…. One of the great strengths of Rothstein’s account is the sheer weight of evidence he marshals. -David Oshinsky, New York Times Book Review

“Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor” by Layla F Saad
“Me and White Supremacy” teaches readers to understand their white privilege and their participation in whire supremacy so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on People of Color and, in turn, help other white people do better too. -From the book jacket.

“Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist” by Eli Saslow
Rising Out of Hatred tells the story of Derek Black, a white man who grew up at the epicenter of white nationalism and eventually disavowed everything he was taught to believe.  -Susan Larson

”Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime” by Ron Stallworth
Colorado Springs Detective Ron Stallworth answered an ad in the paper to join the KKK.  “Black Klansman” is Stallworth’s account of his subsequent undercover investigation as a black man inside the KKK. -Susan Larson

“Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson
“A searing, moving and infuriating memoir . . . Bryan Stevenson may, indeed, be America’s Mandela. For decades he has fought judges, prosecutors and police on behalf of those who are impoverished, black or both.” -Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times

“Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria” by Beverly Tatum (Revised Edition)
“Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides.” – Basic Books

“The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead
When Elwood Curtis, a black boy growing up in 1960s Tallahassee, is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, he finds himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors.  Colson’s novel is based on the real story of a reform school that operated for 111 years and warped the lives of thousands of children. -Penguin Random House

“Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement. My Story of Transformation and Hope” by Albert Woodfox
“Solitary” chronicles the author’s achievements as an activist during and after spending forty years in solitary confinement for a crime he did not commit, describing how he has committed his post-exoneration life to prison reform. -NPR Books

Susan Larson is director of Milton Public Library in Vermont.  She wrote about her epiphany of white privilege in “Am I a racist?”

Originally published June 26, 2020.