28 Books About Race White People Need To Read To Fix Their White Bullshit

29 Books White People Can Read to Help Fix Their White Bullshit | This Nerdy Girl

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Hey there, fellow white people. Let’s talk about race.

Or at least talk about reading about race.

It’s that time of year when a lot of white people post white-washed quotes about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., talking about unity, peace, and non-violent demonstrations.

It’s also that time of the year when white people sit around and whisper to each other, half-wondering and half-complaining, about why a Black History month exists.

As a white person, you may have even though at some point…how is having a Black History month not racist toward white people?

Sooo….yeah…we as white people have a lot of work to do.

If you’re asking questions about race and Black History month and you feel angry, take a seat and spend some time reflecting on why you feel so mad.

Then, come back to this article.

If you’re asking questions about race and Black History month because you genuinely want to learn, welcome!

Let’s get started.

29 Books White People Can Read to Help Fix Their White Bullshit | This Nerdy Girl

1. So You Want To Talk About Race?

By Ijeoma Oluo

So You Want To Talk About Race? by Ijeoma Oluo | This Nerdy Girl

Want to learn more about race, but don’t know what to do with all the questions you’ve always wanted to ask?

Start with Ijeoma Oluo’s book.

Oluo discusses a variety of race-related issues specific to the United States, such as police brutality, intersectionality, privilege, Black Lives Matter, micro-aggressions, and white people using the “N” word.

Oluo also wrote her book specifically for white people who want to work on addressing their own ignorance.

2. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together In the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race

By Beverly Daniel Tatum

Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race | This Nerdy Girl

This question was actually asked to me during my first semester of teaching at Clemson University.

Tatum draws on her professional experience and research in the field of the psychology of racism. She uses this question to explore the dynamics of racial identities.

If you’re a white person who has ever wondered about cafeteria seating choices and race, you need this book.

3. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism

By Robin Diangelo

White Fragility: Why It's So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism | This Nerdy Girl

There’s this idea amongst self-proclaimed progressive white people that the label “racist” only applies to white nationalists, Republicans, and everyone else except other well-educated, upper-middle-class, “liberal” white people.

Diangelo spills some hard truth about white fragility, mainly focusing on white people who think racist acts and language can only be carried out by other “bad people.”

If you are a white person who has felt angry, frustrated, and defensive when you are accused of racism, spend an afternoon reading this gem.

4. Citizen: An American Lyric

By Claudia Rankine

Citizen: An American Lyric | This Nerdy Girl

Ever wonder what it’s like to be black in America?

Through both poetry and prose, Rankine sheds insight on the stress of being black in the United States.

She also debunks the myth of the “post-racial” America that we supposedly live in today.

If you’re someone who thinks race isn’t relevant anymore, this is for you.

5. Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls In Schools

By Monique Morris

Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls In Schools | This Nerdy Girl

If you’re white, you probably aren’t aware of how many school rules and policies are rooted in white supremacy and criminalize students of color.

Black girls tend to suffer the most from these school policies as administrators and teachers police them for how they look, what they wear, and how they talk.

Morris’ book has become a staple in required reading for future educators.

If you’re a white person interested in becoming a teacher or if you’ve ever had a classmate sent to the office for wearing a headscarf to cover her edges because she didn’t have any gel, you need to read this book.

6. Choke Hold: [Policing Black Men]

By Paul Butler

Choke Hold : Policing Black Men | This Nerdy Girl

If you really want to know more about police brutality and the systematic racism that exists in our criminal justice system, you need Butler’s book.

Butler presents data and research that proves white men commit the majority of violent crime in the United States, and yet black men are feared, hated, and stereotyped as violent criminals.

7. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

By Reni Eddo-Lodge

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race | This Nerdy Girl

Although this book explores how race is discussed in Britian rather than the United States, Eddo-Lodge’s message still applies.

Her book, which is based off of her essay by the same name that went viral, covers a variety of race-related issues and points out the problems caused by white supremacy and white feminism.

8. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In the Age of Colorblindness

By Michelle Alexander

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In the Age Of Colorblindness | This Nerdy Girl

Do you believe we live in a “post-racial” America?

If you’re a white person and your answer is yes, you need to spend some time with Michelle Alexander and her award-winning book on mass incarceration of black men in the United States.

Slavery never really ended.

9. White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide

By Carol Anderson

White Rage" The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide | This Nerdy Girl

Do you remember watching the protests in Ferguson?

The phrase “black rage” was tossed around by white people to describe the reaction from the black community to Michael Brown’s murder and then the acquittal of his shooter.

Carol Anderson’s book is a response to those white people who criticize black voices for how, when, and why those voices speak out against police brutality.

If you’re a white person who’s ever complained or questioned a Black Lives Matter protest, spend some time with Anderon’s book.

10. Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism

By Safiya Umoja Noble

Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism | This Nerdy Girl

As a digital marketer and content creator, I spend TONS of time using search engines.

Noble’s book opened my eyes to the racism I failed to see being upheld within my own suggested search phrases and search results.

Subtle, digital racism is still racism.

You won’t look at that Google search bar the same way again.

11. A Race Is A Nice Thing To Have: A Guide to Being A White Person Or Understanding the White Persons In Your Life

By Janet E. Helms

A Race Is A Nice Thing To Have: A Guide to Being A White Person Or Understanding the White Persons In Your Life | This Nerdy Girl

Helms’ book is designed for white people who want to learn more about race and their own racial identity.

The book offers examples and activities that can help you retrain your white brain.

12. The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys

By Eddie Moore, Ali Michael, and Marguerite W. Penick-Parks

The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys | This Nerdy Girl

Teach for America.

Americorps.

These are service programs that offer opportunities to young professionals who want to serve in low-income, resource-starved areas.

Most of the recruited young professionals are white.

Too many of the recruited young professionals for teaching positions are young, white women.

This is a problem, particularly for the young black men they are responsible for teaching.

And with legislators attempting to pass laws to arm teachers in schools, this problem could potentially become fatal for students of color.

A young, white woman teaching young students of color, particular young black men, is the most dangerous person in that classroom.

This book speaks specifically to white women who are or are considering becoming teachers.

It is an attempt to make these white women reflect on how their whiteness will impact their students, especially the young black men in their classrooms.

13. The History of White People

By Nell Irvin Painter

This History of White People | This Nerdy Girl

Painter explores over 2,000 years of history, including the invention of race, and how “whiteness” gained power.

As a white person, take a moment to learn the history of your whiteness.

14. Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete

By William C. Rhoden

Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete | This Nerdy Girl

Rhoden illustrates the history of black athletes in the United States.

He highlights how, despite the great achievements of these black athletes, they still never reap the benefits that their white counterparts enjoy.

Rhoden also exposes the systemic racism that is still ingrained in the American sports industry and culture today.

15. At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance – A New History of the Civil Rights Movement From Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power

By Danielle L. McGuire

At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance - A New History of the Civil Rights Movement From Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power | This Nerdy Girl

The white-washed version of Rose Parks is what we are typically taught in public school history classes: she was an elderly black woman who refused to give up her seat to a white person on a bus because she was too tired.

McGuide takes that white-washed Rosa Parks and fleshes out the narrative of a black woman who fought back against the rampant sexual assaults of black women by white men in her community.

The 1955 Montgomery bus boycott was only a small part of Parks’ activism and resistance.

16. The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

By Edward E. Baptist

The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism | This Nerdy Girl

The history that we are taught in America’s public schools is often through the lens and perspective of white men.

Baptist’s book attempts to teach history by centering on black voices in American history, including slave narratives.

17. Everything You Love Will Burn: Inside the Rebirth of White Nationalism In America

By Vegas Tenold

Everything You Love Will Burn: Inside The Rebirth of White Nationalism In America | This Nerdy Girl

With membership in white nationalist organizations on the rise, it’s important to know how white nationalist groups were founded and how white nationalism continues to not only exist, but thrive.

Tenold examines white nationalism in America, including his close encounters with the three most powerful and extreme white nationalist groups in the nation: the Traditionalist Workers’ Party, the National Socialist Movement, and the Klu-Klux-Klan (KKK).

18. Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas In America

By Ibrahm X. Kendi

Stamped From The Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas In America | This Nerdy Girl

Kendi takes a deep dive into American history and examines some of the most notable American thinkers. He argues that all of them are complicit in harboring racist ideas and beliefs.

Despite this long past of deeply entrenched racist thought and action in American history, Kendi is hopfuly for a better future after we take time to learn from our past.

19. What Does It Mean To Be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy

By Robin DiAngelo

What Does It Mean To Be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy | This Nerdy Girl


DiAngelo makes another appearance on this list as a white person speaking to other white people. In this book, you’ll have an opportunity to learn about your own “whiteness,” white socialization, and white racial illiteracy.

20. They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and A New Era In America’s Racial Justice Movement

By Wesley Lowery

They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and A New Era In America's Racial Justice Movement | This Nerdy Girl

Lowery’s work is another must read for white people to learn more about police brutality and systematic racism in the criminal justice system.

Lowery covers the most recent events of the past few years, including Ferguson, Cleveland, Charleston, and Baltimore.

21. The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

By Richard Rothstein

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America | This Nerdy Girl

In his book, Rothstein teaches how segregation in America was not conceived from private prejudice, but rather a quest for power.

The government of the United States implemented residential segregation to gain this power through racial inequality.

You’ll learn about racial zoning, subsidies for building whites-only suburbian communities, and more.

22. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing

By Dr. Joy Degruy

Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America's Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing | This Nerdy Girl

Dr. Jo Degruy discusses the trauma that African Americans in the United States have and continue to experience.

It’s not just a physical battle. It’s a mental one.

23. Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women In America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women In America | This Nerdy Girl

Harris-Perry’s work is a political science book that changes the conversation from discussing the dynamics of politicians in office to dismantling the myths and stereotypes of what it is like to be a black woman as a private citizen in the United States.

24. Just Medicine: A Cure of Racial Inequality In American Health Care

By Dayna Bowen Matthew

Just Medicine: A Cure For Racial Inequality In American Health Care | This Nerdy Girl

If you think all patients are treated equally, it’s probably because as a privileged white person, you’ve received the care that you needed any time you went to a medical appointment.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone, especially black women who are often stereotyped and dismissed without proper medical care.

25. Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements

By Charlene Carruthers

Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, And Feminist Mandate For Radical Movements | This Nerdy Girl

Queer, black women navigate multiple spheres of oppression.

Carruthers argues that social justitic movements need to encompass all intersections of oppression that queer, black women face.

26. White Kids: Growing Up With Privilege In A Racially Divided America

By Margaret A. Hagerman

White Kids: Growing Up With Privilege In A Racially Divided America | This Nerdy Girl

This book discusses the research gathered from a two-year study examining white, affluent children and how they learn (or don’t learn) about race. This is another work that you need to add to your bookshelf to refect on your own white socialization.

27. Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat From Mayflower to Modern

By J. Sakai

Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat From Mayflower To Modern | This Nerdy Girl

Sakai gets straight to the point – white people in the United States have a long history of genocide, theft, and exploitation.

This is the “they were people looking for religious freedom” bullshit, white-washed Mayflower story you learned in elementary school.

It’s time to unlearn that narrative and replace it with brutal, but honest, truth.

28. Waking Up White: And Finding Myself In The Story Of Race

By Debby Irving

Waking Up White: And Finding Myself In The Story Of Race | This Nerdy Girl

Debby Irving tells her story of being a white woman trying to become radically literate.

Her story will make you flinch and cringe at yourself, but that pain, shame, and awkwardness is all part of “waking up” as a white person.

29. I’m Still Here: Black Dignity In A World Made For Whiteness

By Austin Channing Brown

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity In a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown | This Nerdy Girl

Austin Channing Brown holds nothing back as she critiques middle-class, white Evangelists and explains how they have aided in fostering increasing hostility toward black and brown bodies in our “post-racial” society.

______________________________________________________________________________

What are you reading to help you become more racially literate? Drop me a message and let me know!

Like what you’re reading? Let me know by leaving me a review for writing this article on my LinkedIn profile here.

Want more reading lists and curated content? Check out the Black Lives Matter and Reading Lists Pinterest boards on the This Nerdy Girl Pinterest profile.

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