As racial injustices continue to be addressed throughout the world, there’s a growing awareness that we all need to be engaged in the fight against racism. Knowing exactly how and where to start can be overwhelming, but the simple act of reading can be just as powerful as attending a protest, donating money or signing a petition. Below is a list of recommended books to kickstart your education of Black history, culture and activism so you too can be part of the change.
Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World by Layla Saad (2020).
An essential guide to becoming actively anti-racist, Me and White Supremacy is an invaluable reading particularly for those who are new to the Black Lives Matter movement. Bestselling author Layla Saad takes her white readership on a compelling and emotional journey to understanding their own white privilege and the collective behaviours that maintain a white supremacist society. Complete with practical exercises, useful definitions, anecdotes and recommendations of further resources, this is the definitive roadmap for white people to do better when it comes to allyship.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (2017).
Back in 2014, Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote a blog post detailing her extreme frustration from endless attempts to converse with white people on the matter of racism, only to be stonewalled. After proving an instant hit, her ideas have since been expanded and released as a book, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, to discuss structural racism within Britain. Racism is too often brushed off as an American affliction, making this book particularly important for understanding the extent of the problem and the need for global change.
Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri (2019).
Racism is often discussed in relation to skin colour. In recounting her own personal experiences as a Black woman in Ireland, Emma Dabiri explores how hair is also intrinsically tied to racial oppression. The policing of Black hair through institutional regulations and social pressures is studied here as a microcosm of the wider dehumanisation and degradation of Black culture and identity. Don’t Touch My Hair travels through pre-colonial Africa, the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Power era up to the present Natural Hair Movement, constituting both an educational and empowering history of Black hairstyling.
Black is Beautiful: A Philosophy of Black Aesthetics by Paul C. Taylor (2016).
Paul Taylor provides a seminal academic study into Black oppression through the prism of aesthetic culture, forming an entirely unique approach that overlaps philosophical aestheticism with black cultural studies. Black is Beautiful takes an in-depth look at the concept of black (in)visibility, black nationalism, cultural appropriation and authenticity through the mediums of visual culture, music, literature and the performing arts. This delves much deeper into the intricacies of white supremacist ideology, so makes for ideal supplementary reading.