Education & Action
I'm a firm believer in the power and necessity of education. When I look around the country right now, I see how much I do not know and do not fully understand. With that in mind, I've compiled a reading list of books to help me better understand race and racism in the United States. They aren't in any particular order or grouping: it's merely a list of books that were recommended by various articles as to what I should read to educate myself. I'm publishing this list to encourage others to educate themselves as well, whether that's through your own list of books or whatever medium you choose.
However, education at this time is nothing without action. After my reading list is a list of actions to take, as a white person, to combat racism and white supremacy in the United States. Both of these lists will probably be updated and altered.
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Why Can’t We Wait? by Martin Luther King Jr.
Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks
Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Formed the Movement by Kimberle Crenshaw
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehesi Coates
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson
Beyond the Pale: White Women, Racism, and History by Vron Ware
The Impossible Will Take a Little While by Paul Rogat Loeb
Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt by Sarah Jaffe
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcom X
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? by Moustafa Bayoumi
Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White by Frank Wu
Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire by Deepa Kumar
No One is Illegal: Fighting Racism and State Violence on the U.S.-Mexico Border by Justin Akers Chacon and Mike Davis
How the Irish Became White by Noel Ignatiev
Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition by David Nirenberg
Don't stand for racism, however "small" or "casual." If it is safe for you to speak up, do so.
If you have children, talk to them about what's happening. The age of "colorblindness" is over (not that is ever truly existed). We need to raise our children not only to accept everyone, but to embrace and cherish differences.
Don't just listen to white people. This is surprisingly easy to do, depending on where you live and what your social media bubble is. Make an effort to seek out voices that are different than yours (this is good for widening your mind, but it also makes your life more interesting).
Believe people when they share their experiences with you, even if those stories are outside your life experience.
Do not require POC to educate you. The people on Twitter you would want to ask questions often have already written and spoken about these issues. Do your own research, the answers will usually already be out there.
Work to elevate the voices of POC and never try to speak over them.
Think about the ways that you benefit from white supremacy. You do. No one's asking to be guilty for being white, but you do have a responsibility to use the power you have. Other people are using that power to terrorize and kill people. The time for neutrality is over.
Consider your own language and actions. Are you unintentionally reinforcing white supremacy to others or within yourself?
Don't get mad when people complain about "white people." There are so many other things to deal with right now, and they are a lot more important. If what they're saying resonates with you, consider to yourself why that is, and think about what you change within yourself to make their concern not apply to you.
If you make a mistake: apologize, seek to correct it if possible, make sure you understand what you did wrong, and make sure you will do better next time.
Think about what's going locally and what you can do and say in your community.
Contact your representatives, from local to national, to encourage good behavior and to condemn their failures. Be loud about this, to them and to others.
Go to protests. Tragically, there is no guarantee of safety for anyone at protests, but it's important that those who are less at risk (white people, able-bodied people, etc.) make the effort to be there, not only to support the cause but to help protect people who are more at risk.
Take care of yourself. Take breaks from the news/twitter/activism when you need to or you'll burn out.
Donate to causes you believe in and that are doing effective work.
Support good journalism on a local and national level.
Speak out against false equivalence and poor reporting.
Help people register to vote and get to the polls.