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Antiracism Books

Recommended Reading from SDART Members and other friends engaged in the struggle for an antiracist future.

White Rage. The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide. Carol Anderson. New York: Bloomsbury. 2016.

From the Civil War to our combustible present, White Rage reframes our continuing conversation about race, chronicling the powerful forces opposed to black progress in America

The Central Park Five. The Untold Story behind one of New York City’s Most Infamous Crimes. Sarah Burns, New York: Random House. 2011.

In this spellbinding account of the real facts of the Central Park jogger case, Sarah Burns powerfully reexamines one of New York City's most notorious crimes and its aftermath.

Illusion of Justice: Inside Making a Murderer and America's Broken System. Jerome F. Buting. New York: HarperCollins. 2017.

Attorney Jerome F. Buting explains the flaws in America’s criminal justice system and lays out a provocative, persuasive blue-print for reform.

 Interrupting white privilege. Catholic Theologians Break the Silence. Lauren M. Cassidy and Alex Mikulich, ed. Maryknoll, NY.: Orbis Books. 2007.

Prominent Roman Catholic theologians address the issue of white privilege, maintaining that systems of white privilege are a significant factor in shaping the evil of racism in our country. Includes study guide questions for each chapter as well as resources for further inquiry and action.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. Robin DiAngelo. Foreword by Michael Eric Dyson.

In this “vital, necessary, and beautiful book” (Michael Eric Dyson), antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and “allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people’” (Claudia Rankine).

The Sin of White Supremacy. Christianity, Racism, & Religious Diversity in America. Jeannine Hill Fletcher. Maryknoll, NY.: Orbis Books. 2017.

How have Christian theologies of religious superiority underwritten ideologies of white supremacy in the United States? According to Hill Fletcher, the tendency of Christians to view themselves as the “chosen ones” has often been translated into racial categories as well. In other words, Christian supremacy has historically lent itself to white supremacy, with disastrous consequences. How might we start to disentangle the two? Hill Fletcher proposes strategies that will help foster racial healing in America, the first of which is to demand of white Christians that they accept their responsibility for racist policies and structural discrimination in America.

A White Catholic’s Guide to Racism and Privilege. Dan Horan, OFM. Notre Dame, Ind.: Ave Marie Press. 2021.

In the spring and summer of 2020, US cities erupted in protests and racial tensions ran high following several high-profile killings of Black women and men at the hands of white police officers. As America watched and listened, many of us became dislodged from our comfortable assumptions about race. Horan, Franciscan priest and theologian, recognized this unnerving dynamic as a doorway to the awakening and spiritual conversion he has been undergoing for much of his adult life.

Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem. Amanda Gorman. Illustrated by Loren Long. New York: Viking. 2021.

In this stirring, much-anticipated picture book by presidential inaugural poet and activist Amanda Gorman, anything is possible when our voices join together. As a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey, they learn that they have the power to make changes—big or small—in the world, in their communities, and in most importantly, in themselves.

Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice. 4th Edition. Paul Kivel. British Columbia: New Society Publisher. 2017:

Provides practical tools and advice on how white people can work as allies for racial justice, engaging the reader through questions, exercises, and suggestions for action, and includes a wealth of information about specific cultural groups such as Muslims, people with mixed heritage, Native Americans, Jews, recent immigrants, Asian Americans, and Latino/as.

Sulwe. Lupita Nyong’o. Illustrated by Vashti Harrison. New York: Simon & Schuster 2019.

Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.

Killers of the Dream. Lillian E. Smith. United Kingdom: Norton. 1994.

Published in 1949 by white Southern writer, educator and activist Lillian Smith, Killers of the Dream became the source (acknowledged or unacknowledged) of much of our thinking about race relations and was for many a catalyst for the civil rights movement. It remains the most courageous, insightful, and eloquent critique of the pre-1960s South.

Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect us and What We Can Do. Claude M Steele. New York: Norton. 2010.

Claude M. Steele, who has been called “one of the few great social psychologists,” offers a vivid first-person account of the research that supports his groundbreaking conclusions on stereotypes and identity. He sheds new light on American social phenomena from racial and gender gaps in test scores to the belief in the superior athletic prowess of black men, and lays out a plan for mitigating these “stereotype threats” and reshaping American identities.

Just Mercy. A Story of Justice and Redemption. Bryan Stevenson. New York: Penguin Random House. 2019.

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction.

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race. 20th Anniversary Edition. Beverly Daniel Tatum. New York: Hachette Book Group. 2017.

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? How can we get past our reluctance to discuss racial issues?

The Broken Heart of America: St. Louis and the Violent History of the United States. Walter Johnson. New York: Basic Books. 2021.

From Lewis and Clark's 1804 expedition to the 2014 uprising in Ferguson, American history has been made in St. Louis. And as Walter Johnson shows, the city exemplifies how imperialism, racism, and capitalism have persistently entwined to corrupt the nation's past.

How to Be an Antiracist. Ibram X. Kendi. New York: Penguin Random House. 2019.

Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and reenergizes the conversation about racism—and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. At its core, racism is a powerful system that creates false hierarchies of human value; its warped logic extends beyond race, from the way we regard people of different ethnicities or skin colors to the way we treat people of different sexes, gender identities, and body types. Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves.

Stringing Rosaries: The History, the Unforgivable, and the Healing of Northern Plains American Indian Boarding School Survivors. Denise K. Lajimodiere. North Dakota State University Press. 2021.

“'Stringing Rosaries' is a stunning recitation of the experiences of survivors of Indian boarding schools, a result of the disastrous and misguided boarding school policy adopted and implemented by the federal government in the early 1880s. Lajimodiere lays bare the pain and unresolved trauma of those who were subjected to the schools and provides the basis for understanding the source of that trauma from one generation to the next.” Donald Wharton, Sr., Attorney, Native American Rights Fund.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The epic story of America’s Great Migration. Isabel Wilkerson. New York: Penguin Random House. 2010.

From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. Isabel Wilkerson. New York: Penguin Random House. 2020.

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.

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