A Reading List on Race

Black Lives Matter.

The tragic death of George Floyd is another name in a long list of BIPOC individuals who have been killed for existing. Racism is rampant in the United States, in every social institution imaginable, and the institution of the police is no different. Hell, the police was originally created to catch runaway slaves. If that doesn’t tell you how deeply racism is embedded in our country, here is a list of books that will give you a clearer picture.

All of the following books are ones that I have read, and I guarantee that they  will help you understand more about race and racism within the U.S.This list in particular is directed at other white individuals, as we (white people) have a hard time talking about race. Let’s change that, so we can change the system and create one where color is visible, diversity is celebrated, and life is affirmed. Notes follow each title so you can determine if it is something you can read with a reading level and a difficulty rating between 1 and 5 with 1 at easy and 5 at extremely difficult. Please feel free to share this list.

“So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo
-Reading Level: General
-Difficulty Rating: 1

“Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” by Ibram X. Kendi
-Reading Level: Written for a general audience but thoroughly researched and credible academic source
-Difficulty Rating: 2 just b/c of length

“The Racial Contract” by Charles Mills
-Reading Level: Academic – graduate students and upper-level undergrads (philosophy majors); it is a philosophy text
-Difficulty Rating: 5

“Shades of Freedom: Racial Politics and Presumptions of the American Legal Process” by A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr.
-Reading Level: Academic – grad and upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 4
-Kind of dry but absolutely essential for understanding how the law disenfranchises BIPOC

“Racism without Racists: Colorblind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America” by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (and everything else he has written)
-Reading Level: Academic but approachable for upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 3

“Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity” by Tim Wise
-Reading Level: Written for academics but is suitable for undergraduates at all levels and general audience
-Difficulty Rating: 2

“Racial Formation in the United States” by Michael Omi
-Reading Level: Academic but approachable for upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 3

“Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal” by Andrew Hacker
-Reading Level: Academic – graduate and upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 4

“American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Working Class” by Douglas S. Massey & Nancy A. Denton
-Reading Level: Academic – graduate and upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 4

“The White Racial Frame: Centuries of Racial Framing and Counter-Framing” by Joe R. Feagin
-Reading Level: Academic – graduate and upper-level undergrads (especially sociology; it is a sociology text)
-Difficulty Rating: 3.5

“The Invention of the White Race” by Theodore W. Allen
-Reading Level: Academic – all levels
-Difficulty Rating: 3

“The History of White People” by Nell Painter
-Reading Level: Academic – graduate and upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 4.5

“The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class” by David Roediger
-Reading Level: Academic – all levels and also suitable for a general audience
-Difficulty Rating: 1

“The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics” by George Lipsitz
-Reading Level: Academic – grads and upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 3

“The Constraint of Race: Legacies of White Skin Privilege in America” by Linda Faye Williams
-Reading Level: Academic – grads and upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 3

“White: Essays on Race and Culture” by Richard Dyer
-Reading Level: Academic – grads and upper-level undergrads (esp. communications majors).
-Difficulty Rating: 4.5

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