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Antiracist Reading

Books on race and antiracism, including fiction and non-fiction titles for readers of all ages.


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They Said This Would Be Fun

- by Eternity Martis

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER
 
Winner of the Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Nonfiction
Nominated for the Evergreen Award

A powerful, moving memoir about what it's like to be a student of colour on a predominantly white campus.


A booksmart kid from Toronto, Eternity Martis was excited to move away to Western University for her undergraduate degree. But as one of the few Black students there, she soon discovered that the campus experiences she'd seen in movies were far more complex in reality. Over the next four years, Eternity learned more about what someone like her brought out in other people than she did about herself. She was confronted by white students in blackface at parties, dealt with being the only person of colour in class and was tokenized by her romantic partners. She heard racial slurs in bars, on the street, and during lectures. And she gathered labels she never asked for: Abuse survivor. Token. Bad feminist. But, by graduation, she found an unshakeable sense of self--and a support network of other women of colour.

Using her award-winning reporting skills, Eternity connects her own experience to the systemic issues plaguing students today. It's a memoir of pain, but also resilience.

Such a Fun Age

- by Kiley Reid

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A Best Book of the Year:
The Washington Post o Chicago Tribune NPR o Vogue Elle o Real Simple InStyle Good Housekeeping o Parade o Slate o Vox o Kirkus Reviews Library Journal o BookPage

Longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize

An Instant New York Times Bestseller

A Reese's Book Club Pick 

"The most provocative page-turner of the year." --Entertainment Weekly

"I urge you to read Such a Fun Age." --NPR

A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.


Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living, with her confidence-driven brand, showing other women how to do the same. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains' toddler one night, walking the aisles of their local high-end supermarket. The store's security guard, seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make things right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix's desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix's past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone "family," and the complicated reality of being a grown up. It is a searing debut for our times.

Nice Racism

- by Robin Diangelo

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Building on the groundwork laid in the New York Times bestseller White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo explores how a culture of niceness inadvertently promotes racism.


In White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo explained how racism is a system into which all white people are socialized and challenged the belief that racism is a simple matter of good people versus bad. DiAngelo also made a provocative claim: white progressives cause the most daily harm to people of color. In Nice Racism, her follow-up work, she explains how they do so. Drawing on her background as a sociologist and over 25 years working as an anti-racist educator, she picks up where White Fragility left off and moves the conversation forward.

Writing directly to white people as a white person, DiAngelo identifies many common white racial patterns and breaks down how well-intentioned white people unknowingly perpetuate racial harm. These patterns include:

   o rushing to prove that we are "not racist"
   o downplaying white advantage
   o romanticizing Black, Indigenous and other peoples of color (BIPOC)
   o pretending white segregation "just happens"
   o expecting BIPOC people to teach us about racism
   o carefulness
   o and feeling immobilized by shame.

DiAngelo explains how spiritual white progressives seeking community by co-opting Indigenous and other groups' rituals create separation, not connection. She challenges the ideology of individualism and explains why it is OK to generalize about white people, and she demonstrates how white people who experience other oppressions still benefit from systemic racism. Writing candidly about her own missteps and struggles, she models a path forward, encouraging white readers to continually face their complicity and embrace courage, lifelong commitment, and accountability.

Nice Racism is an essential work for any white person who recognizes the existence of systemic racism and white supremacy and wants to take steps to align their values with their actual practice. BIPOC readers may also find the "insiders" perspective useful for navigating whiteness.

Includes a study guide.

Caste (Oprah's Book Club)

- by Isabel Wilkerson

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER o OPRAH'S BOOK CLUB PICK o NATIONAL BOOK AWARD LONGLIST o "An instant American classic and almost certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the American century thus far."--Dwight Garner, The New York Times

The Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Warmth of Other Suns examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.

NAMED THE #1 NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR BY TIME, ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY People o The Washington Post o Publishers Weekly AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review o O: The Oprah Magazine o NPR o Bloomberg o Christian Science Monitor o New York Post o The New York Public Library o Fortune o Smithsonian Magazine o Marie Claire o Town & Country o Slate o Library Journal o Kirkus Reviews o LibraryReads o PopMatters

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize o National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist o Dayton Literary Peace Prize Finalist o PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction Finalist o PEN/Jean Stein Book Award Longlist

"As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power--which groups have it and which do not."
 
In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.
 
Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people's lives and behavior and the nation's fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people--including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball's Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others--she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.

Beautifully written, original, and revealing, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of American life today.

Monster

- by Walter Dean Myers

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A stunning graphic novel adaptation of Walter Dean Myers's New York Times bestseller Monster.

Monster is a multi-award-winning, provocative coming-of-age story about Steve Harmon, a teenager awaiting trial for a murder and robbery. As Steve acclimates to juvenile detention and goes to trial, he envisions how his ordeal would play out on the big screen.

Guy A. Sims, the acclaimed author of the Brotherman series of comic books, collaborated with his brother, the illustrator Dawud Anyabwile, in this thrilling black-and-white graphic novel adaption of Monster.

Monster was the first-ever Michael L. Printz Award recipient, an ALA Best Book, a Coretta Scott King Honor selection, and a National Book Award finalist. Monster is also now a major motion picture called All Rise starring Jennifer Hudson, Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Nas, and A$AP Rocky.

Fans of Monster and of the work of Walter Dean Myers--and even kids who think they don't like to read--will devour this graphic adaptation.

Skin Again

- by Bell Hooks

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From legendary author and critic bell hooks and multi-Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka comes a new way to talk about race and identity that will appeal to parents of the youngest readers.
The skin I'm in is just a covering. It cannot tell my story. If you want to know who I am, you have got to come inside and open your heart way wide.


Race matters, but only so much--what's most important is who we are on the inside. Looking beyond skin, going straight to the heart, we find in each other the treasures stored down deep. Learning to cherish those treasures, to be all we imagine ourselves to be, makes us free.

This award-winning book, celebrates all that makes us unique and different and offers a strong, timely and timeless message of loving yourself and others.

Black Enough

- by Ibi Zoboi

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Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi, and featuring some of the most acclaimed bestselling Black authors writing for teens today--Black Enough is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it's like to be young and Black in America. A selection of the Schomburg Center's Black Liberation Reading List.

Black is...sisters navigating their relationship at summer camp in Portland, Oregon, as written by Renée Watson.

Black is...three friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing and everything, in a story by Jason Reynolds.

Black is...Nic Stone's high-class beauty dating a boy her momma would never approve of.

Black is...two girls kissing in Justina Ireland's story set in Maryland.

Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more--because there are countless ways to be Black enough.

Contributors:
Justina Ireland
Varian Johnson
Rita Williams-Garcia
Dhonielle Clayton
Kekla Magoon
Leah Henderson
Tochi Onyebuchi
Jason Reynolds
Nic Stone
Liara Tamani
Renée Watson
Tracey Baptiste
Coe Booth
Brandy Colbert
Jay Coles
Ibi Zoboi
Lamar Giles

M Is for Melanin

- by Tiffany Rose

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"Contagiously upbeat, joyful, and positive . . . [C]herish this book." -Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

"A must-have for any library that is in need of books with positive representation for and about black children, as there is no other alphabet book quite like this one." -School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

"A necessary, uplifting volume that celebrates 'black girl magic' and 'black boy joy.'" -Publishers Weekly

M Is for Melanin is an empowering alphabet book that teaches kids their ABCs and celebrates Black children!

M is for Melanin
shining in every inch of your skin.
Every shade, every hue.
All beautiful and unique.

Each letter of the alphabet contains affirming, Black-positive messages, from A is for Afro, to F is for Fresh, to W is for Worthy. This book teaches children their ABCs while encouraging them to love the skin that they're in.

Be bold. Be fearless. BE YOU.

Freedom, We Sing

- by Amyra Leon

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"I wonder, then, what freedom is. Is it a place? Is it a thought? Can it be stolen? Can it be bought?"

As powerful as it is beautiful, Freedom, We Sing is a lyrical picture book designed to inspire and give hope to readers around the world. Molly Mendoza's immersive, lush illustrations invite kids to ponder singer/songwriter Amyra León's poem about what it means to be free. It's the perfect book for parents who want a way to gently start the conversation with their kids about finding hope in these very tense times we are living in.

Queenie

- by C. Carty-williams

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ONE OF TIME'S 100 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
ONE OF NPR'S BEST BOOKS OF 2019

NAMED ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2019 BY WOMAN'S DAY, NEWSDAY, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, BUSTLE, AND BOOK RIOT!

"[B]rilliant, timely, funny, heartbreaking." --Jojo Moyes, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

For fans of Luster and I May Destroy You, a disarmingly honest, unapologetically black, and undeniably witty debut novel that will speak to those who have gone looking for love and found something very different in its place.

Queenie Jenkins is a twenty-five-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she's constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places...including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, "What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?"--all of the questions today's woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With "fresh and honest" (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today's world.

FORBIDDEN FRUIT

- by Marlene E. Mckay

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Forbidden Fruit: Engaging an Indigenous Feminist Lens as an Neninaw Iskwew is a feminist based memoir acknowledging that people are measured, categorized, and placed in a hierarchal order that is deeply influenced by discourses predicated upon social processes.

Dr. McKay's Indigenous feminism is about being aware that due to the colonial patriarchy that has seeped through Indigenous social and cultural systems, Indigenous women are positioned differently in economic, social and political structures. Marlene masterfully uses her own life experiences to assert that colonialism and Indigenous cultures obscure the role of women in a way that continues both their marginalization and the binary of the princess/squaw (p. 11).

Distorted Descent

- by Darryl Leroux

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Distorted Descent examines a social phenomenon that has taken off in the twenty-first century: otherwise white, French descendant settlers in Canada shifting into a self-defined "Indigenous" identity. This study is not about individuals who have been dispossessed by colonial policies, or the multi-generational efforts to reconnect that occur in response. Rather, it is about white, French-descendant people discovering an Indigenous ancestor born 300 to 375 years ago through genealogy and using that ancestor as the sole basis for an eventual shift into an "Indigenous" identity today. After setting out the most common genealogical practices that facilitate race shifting, Leroux examines two of the most prominent self-identified "Indigenous" organizations currently operating in Quebec. Both organizations have their origins in committed opposition to Indigenous land and territorial negotiations, and both encourage the use of suspect genealogical practices. Distorted Descent brings to light to how these claims to an "Indigenous" identity are then used politically to oppose actual, living Indigenous peoples, exposing along the way the shifting politics of whiteness, white settler colonialism, and white supremacy.

In My Own Moccasins

- by Helen Knott

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An unflinching memoir of addiction, intergenerational trauma, and the wounds of sexual assault from a resilient, emerging Indigenous voice.

Helen Knott, a highly accomplished Indigenous woman, seems to have it all. But in her memoir, she offers a different perspective. In My Own Moccasins is an unflinching account of addiction, intergenerational trauma, and the wounds brought on by sexual violence. It is also the story of sisterhood, the power of ceremony, the love of family, and the possibility of redemption.

With gripping moments of withdrawal, times of spiritual awareness, and historical insights going back to the signing of Treaty 8 by her great-great grandfather, Chief Bigfoot, her journey exposes the legacy of colonialism, while reclaiming her spirit.

"In My Own Moccasins never flinches. The story goes dark, and then darker. We live in an era where Indigenous women routinely go missing, our youth are killed and disposed of like trash, and the road to justice doesn't seem to run through the rez. Knott's journey is familiar, filled with the fallout of residential school, racial injustice, alcoholism, drugs, and despair. But she skillfully draws us along and opens up her life, her family, and her communities to show us a way forward. It's the best kind of memoir: clear-eyed, generous, and glorious....Bear witness to the emergence of one of the most powerful voices of her generation." --Eden Robinson, author of Son of a Trickster and Monkey Beach (from the foreword)
 
"Helen Knott speaks truth to the experience of Indigenous women living through the violence of colonized spaces and she does so with grace, beauty and a ferocity that makes me feel so proud." --Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, author of This Accident of Being Lost
 
"Helen writes beautifully and painfully, about her own life and the lives of many of our sisters. A strong, gentle voice removing the colonial blanket and exposing truth." --Maria Campbell, author of Halfbreed
 
"An incredible debut that documents how trauma and addiction can be turned into healing and love. I am in awe of Helen Knott and her courage. I am a fan for life. Wow." --Richard Van Camp, author of The Lesser Blessed
 
"Heartfelt, heartbreaking, triumphant and raw, In My Own Moccasins is a must-read for anyone who's ever felt lost in their life... Actually, it's a must-read for anyone who appreciates stories of struggle, redemption and healing. Knott's writing is confident, clear, powerful and inspiring."
--Jowita Bydlowska, author of Guy: A Novel and Drunk Mom
 
"Powerful, filled with emotion." --Carol Daniels, author of Bearskin Diary and Hiraeth

"A beautiful rendering of how recovery for our peoples is inevitably about reconnecting with Indigenous identities, lands, cultural and healing practices." --Kim Anderson, author of Reconstructing Native Womenhood 
 

From Where I Stand

- by Jody Wilson-raybould

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An Indigenous leader who has dedicated her life to Indigenous Rights, Jody Wilson-Raybould has represented both First Nations and the Crown at the highest levels. And she is not afraid to give Canadians what they need most - straight talk on what has to be done to move beyond our colonial legacy and achieve true reconciliation in Canada. In this powerful book, drawn from speeches and other writings, she urges all Canadians - both Indigenous and non-Indigenous - to build upon the momentum already gained or risk hard-won progress being lost. The good news is that Indigenous Nations already have the solutions. But now is the time to act and build a shared postcolonial future based on the foundations of trust, cooperation, recognition, and good governance.

The Blue Clerk

- by Dionne Brand

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Griffin Poetry Prize winner Dionne Brand's startlingly original work about the act of writing itself.

On a lonely wharf a clerk in an ink blue coat inspects bales and bales of paper that hold a poet's accumulated left-hand pages--the unwritten, the withheld, the unexpressed, the withdrawn, the restrained. In The Blue Clerk, award-winning poet Dionne Brand stages a conversation and an argument between the poet and the Blue Clerk, who is the keeper of the poet's pages. In their dialogues--which take shape as a series of haunting prose poems--the poet and the clerk invoke a host of writers, philosophers, and artists, from Jacob Lawrence, Lola Keipja, and Walter Benjamin to John Coltrane, Josephine Turalba, and Jorge Luis Borges. Through these essay poems, Brand explores memory, language, culture, and time, offering beautiful and jarring juxtapositions ("The Wire is the latest version of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"), and endlessly haunting language ("On a road like this you don't know where you are. Whether you have arrived or whether you are still on your way. Whether you are still at the beginning or at the end. You are in the middle all the time. What would be the sign?").

An essential observer and one of the most accomplished poets writing today, Dionne Brand's latest engages intimately with the act and difficulty of writing, the relationship between the author and the world, and the relationship between the author and art. Profound, moving, and wise in equal parts, The Blue Clerk is a work of staggering intellect and imagination, and a truly sublime piece of writing from one of Canada's most renowned, honoured, and bestselling poets.

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