Given the heightened cultural awareness of racial injustice in response to the countless murders of Black individuals by law enforcement, I have been asked by friends and former students for book recommendations on race. As I was compiling these lists, I thought why not share this with everyone. There are excellent lists written and composed by individuals in the Black community, which I kindly ask you to read before reading mine.
As an educator, I wanted to share the books that have been transformational for me as a non-black, multiracial person of color (poc) in learning about race in America and heightening my understanding of it. I remember reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States in AP (I mention this because it should have been taught in all history classes, not just AP) U.S. History class when I was in high school. Everything I thought I knew about the founding of this country was a whitewashed lie. It discusses the oppression of Native Americans, African Americans, immigrant workers and the working class. This book along with other classes such as sociology and European history sparked my passion and awareness for socioeconomic issues pertaining to race and class.
In college, I became a feminist and specifically learned about intersectional feminism (black feminism, postcolonial feminism, Latina feminism) in a life-changing feminist philosophy course as a philosophy major. I read Patricia Hill Collins and Kimberlé Crenshaw – as someone who is a multiracial person of color, but not black, I could connect with what they were saying to a tiny degree while never experiencing the depth of oppression they were discussing.
I also learned about postcolonial theory in my French courses as a French minor when I first read Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks and was deeply moved. In grad school, I had the opportunity and privilege of delving deeper into postcolonial literature and critical race theory, through reading excellent works such as The Racial Contract by Charles Mills, Race Matters by Cornel West, and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.
In recent years, I have delved more into literature and the intersections of plant-based eating with intersectional feminism. A. Breeze Harper’s Sistah Vegan illustrates the intersections of capitalism, racism, sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, and animal oppression.
Without these authors, without these voices, without these perspectives, I don’t know where we would be. I am prioritizing the works written by black authors. There are other books that have formed my consciousness written by other non-black poc authors but given what’s been happening, we need to prioritize black voices.
There are so many incredible works by the authors listed below that are not on this list. However, I am specifically highlighting the ones I have read that have also been life-changing for me. There are so many more I need to read as I am continuing to learn.
The works that are at the beginning of this list have been the most monumental for me but these are all transformative. Not all of these articles and books are available online, but I wanted to share the links to where you can learn more about them.
Patricia Hill Collins: Black Feminist Thought, Intersectionality, Black Sexual Politics
bell hooks (lowercase on purpose): Ain’t I a Woman, We Real Cool, Teaching to Transgress, Feminism is for EVERYBODY
A. Breeze Harper: Sistah Vegan, “Vegans of Color, Racialized Embodiment, and Problematics of the Exotic”, “Race as a Feeble Matter in Veganism…”, “Going Beyond the Normative White ‘Post-Racial’ Vegan Epistemology”
Audre Lorde: Sister Outsider, Uses of the Erotic
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr..: Why We Can’t Wait, A Call to Conscience
W.E.B. Dubois: The Souls of Black Folk
Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Masks, The Wretched of the Earth
Charles Mills: The Racial Contract, From Class to Race
Cornel West: Race Matters
George Yancy: “Dear White America”, “Introduction: of Embodiment and Racialization”, Black Bodies, White Gazes
adrienne maree brown (lower case on purpose): Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good
Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart
Toni Morrison: The Bluest Eye
Richard Wright: Native Son
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Americanah, We Should All Be Feminists
What books on race by Black authors have impacted you?