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Reading List for 2019

A lot of times after a presentation or workshop, folks approach us with the question “What can I do next?”. People will ask for additional resources, ideas, or ways that they can keep learning about anti-racism or anti-oppression and we thought- what better idea than some reading?

We asked the RE·Center staff for their own personal recommendations of books that have helped them along their journey to be more critically conscious, and better understand complicated issues like systemic racism, mass incarceration, gender identity, or radical activism. We picked some of our top 20 titles and listed them for you below, ranging from topics of the black femme experiences in America, to grasping white privilege and overcoming white guilt, to tips and tricks on how to be a more active ally, and articulate advocate.

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes and Black Women in America
By: Melissa V. Harris-Perry 

“In this compelling book, dazzling in its breadth and depth, Melissa Harris-Perry deploys the quantitative tools of the political scientist as expertly as she displays the qualitative methods of the literary and cultural critic. Sister Citizen challenges readers to rethink the meaning of politics when it comes to the complex lives of African American women” Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Founding Director, Spelman College, Women’s Research and Resource Center.”
-Amazon review

Purchase on Amazon

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America

By: Michael Eric Dyson

“Michael Eric Dyson, a personal story by ordained minister and author of 19 books who lived in Hartford and worked at the Hartford Seminary. Dyson addresses systemic racism through a personal lens in a powerful statement.”
-Amazon review

Purchase on Amazon

Talking the Walk, A Communications Guide for Racial Justice

By: John A. Powell, Edited By: Hunter Cutting and Makaki Themba-Nixon

“A ‘How-To’ book about how to structure communication activities for racial justice work. it’s an incomparable resource for learning to discuss and spin issues of race and racial justice. Its purpose is to help build the capacity of progressive activists and advocates to conduct media work, reframe public debate, and interrupt media stereotypes with messaging around racial justice.”
-Amazon review

Purchase on Amazon

Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds

By: adrienne maree brown 

“Inspired by Octavia Butler’s explorations of our human relationship to change, Emergent Strategy is radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help designed to shape the futures we want to live… Rather than steel ourselves against such change, this book invites us to feel, map, assess, and learn from the swirling patterns around us in order to better understand and influence them as they happen.”
-Amazon review

Purchase on Amazon

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

By: Austin Channing Brown

“Austin Channing Brown’s first encounter with a racialized America came at age 7, when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. Growing up in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches, Austin writes, ‘I had to learn what it means to love blackness,’ a journey that led to a lifetime spent navigating America’s racial divide as a writer, speaker and expert who helps organizations practice genuine inclusion.”
– Amazon review

Purchase on Amazon

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism 

By: Robin DiAngelo,
Foreword: Michael Eric Dyson

“The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.”
-Amazon review

Purchase on Amazon

35 Dumb Things Well-Intended People Say: Surprising Things We Say That Widen the Diversity Gap
By: Maura Cullen

“EVEN WELL-INTENDED PEOPLE CAN CAUSE HARM.” This quick read is an essential eye opener to anyone regardless of identity that’s trying to be a better, more active ally. Throughout the book, the author breaks down very common, and often unconscious microaggressions we might say or do while talking to someone with a marginalized background. From phrases like ‘I don’t think of you as (trans, black, gay, Jewish) …’ to ‘But they’re not racist, they’re a good person,’ this book is a great guide on how to better communicate, become a more active listener, and how to more consciously check ourselves and ally-ship. “

Purchase on Amazon

Citizen: An American Lyrics

By: Claudia Rankine 

“A collection of both poetry and essays- Claudia Rankine captures what it means to witness the world around us as a womxn of color, and how it feels to carry the weight of these identities in spaces that do not always see or welcome them consciously or unconsciously.”

Purchase on Amazon

A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America

By: Ronald Takaki

“A history of our nation from the point of view of the people who built it and made it what it is, and a look at the origins of biases about race, religion, ethnicity, etc. that persist in our culture today.”
-Amazon review

Purchase on Amazon

When We Fight, We Win: Twenty-First-Century Social Movements and Activists That Are Transforming Our World

By: Greg Jobin-Leeds and AgitArte

“When We Fight, We Win! Is an inspiring book that catalogues the “21st Century Social Movements and the Activists that are transforming our world.” We live in an era of change and revolution. We are a generation of change agents and this book details our missions, our strategies, our art, and the vision that guides each movement. It is a reminder that when we actively and decisively engage a corrupt and broken system we WIN.”
– Cristher

Purchase on Amazon

Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women
By: Victoria Law & Laura Whitehorn

Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women documents the often-unreported struggles that incarcerated women face. It tells one of the many stories of women’s resistance, the story of the 1974 Bedford Hills Prison uprising where women took over sections of the facility to protest the brutal beating of an inmate. This adaptation of the book includes new sections that examine the added challenges and acts of resistance of transgender, transsexual, intersex, and gender variant people in prisons.”
– Cristher

Purchase on Amazon

Waking Up White

By: Debby Irving

“Waking Up White, is about the author’s personal life story of understanding and navigating the racial tensions in her professional and personal life, and how she grew in her un-comfortability and white guilt.”

Purchase on Amazon

Autobiography of Malcolm X
By: Malcolm X and Alex Haley 

“Malcom X was an iconic black activist during the civil rights movement, who spoke to radical … and an advocate for black nationalism. Autobiography of Malcom highlights X’s struggles, philosophies, and learnings throughout his life as “The Angriest Black Man in America” up until his assassination in 1965.”


Purchase on Amazon

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City 
By: Matthew Desmond

“An extraordinary book that connects racism to economic hardship and the housing crisis in America with both quantitative data collection and following the story of several American families and their struggles to maintain housing.”

Purchase on Amazon

Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II

By: Douglas Blackmon 

“It is a great book to explore unremembered and important parts of the effects of racism in America leading up to World War II and it gives room for great conversations about race and exploitation- it hits hard.”

Purchase on Amazon

Disrupting White Supremacy from Within
By: Jennifer Harvey, Edited by Karin A. Case and Robin Hawley

“Through careful, thoughtful examination of the nature and workings of race, racism, and white supremacy, the contributors–an all-white group of theologians, ethicists, teachers, ministers, and activists–have provided a resource that will help white people do their own souls, acknowledging its devasting effects on people of color, and taking their own steps toward its abolishment.”
– Amazon review

Purchase on Amazon 

Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness (Ordinary Terrible Things)

By: Anastasia Higginbotham 

“A Children’s picture book that invites white children and parents to become curious about racism, accept that it’s real, and cultivate justice”
–Amazon review

Purchase on Amazon

Joyful Militancy: Building Thriving Resistance in Toxic Time
By: Carla Bergman and Nick Montgomery 

“It’s always imperative to remember joy and remember that the resistance is all about building capacity to do and be the things and ways we want to see: joy, love, and connection. This is a book about undoing the systems that oppress us and make us feel horrible and small. It contains conversations with organizers and activists and is a fun read.”

Purchase on Amazon

Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto
By: Vine Deloria, Jr. 

“In his new preface to this paperback edition, the author observes, ‘The Indian world has changed so substantially since the first publication of this book that some things contained in it seem new again.’ Indeed, it seems that each generation of whites and Indians will have to read and reread Vine Deloria’s Manifesto for some time to come, before we absorb his special, ironic Indian point of view and what he tells us, with a great deal of humor, about U.S. race relations, federal bureaucracies, Christian churches, and social scientists. This book continues to be required reading for all Americans, whatever their special interest.”
– Amazon review

Purchase on Amazon

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth)

By: N.K. Jemisin 

The Fifth Season is a speculative fiction tour de force featuring compelling, familiar yet complex and mysterious characters who powerfully happen to be black, women, trans and a host of other diverse identities. In the book, the world is ending AGAIN with earthquakes, volcanic eruption and tsunamis across a continent rapt in perpetual apocalypse. A mother of an oppressed class with extraordinary powers connected to the earth itself must track the man who murdered her infant child and kidnapped her teen daughter. Her journey for revenge and rescue will move her from isolation and rage to connection and wholeness with a shattered planet as the backdrop.”

Purchase the series on Amazon


What other POC authors were included in our classroom curriculums? What would it look like to read the history, and ideas of the future from all different perspectives instead of one mainstream ideal?

What titles did we miss? What are some great social justice/anti-oppression titles that you’d recommend we add to the RE·Center library, or articles we should check out? Let us know in the comments below, or by tagging us on Instagram!

Thanks for reading!

In Community,

Rinne & Your Friends at RE·Center

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