Following the murder of George Floyd last Monday, a number of conversations have made their way to the fore. Conversations about race, conversations about injustice, conversations that are, quite frankly, well overdue. In any case, regardless of the discourse that has already arisen, the journey to learning, listening, and sharing has only just begun.
To help you along the way, here are eight important books about race you need to read right now.
1. The Good Immigrant – Nikesh Shukla
Exploring the binary make up of good and bad immigrants as perceived by British society, The Good Immigrant brings together 21 black, Asian and minority ethnic voices living in Britain today. Edited by Nitesh Shukla, the book explores the grey area between being a job-stealing bad immigrant and a hardworking good one. Infused with equal parts humor and heartbreak, The Good Immigrant provides perspective and context for a subset of society whose voices are often left behind.
2. The Arab Future of the 4 – Riad Sattouf
In the fourth and penultimate installment of her bestselling memoir series, author Riad Sattouf investigates the space between idealism and fanaticism as she revisits her somewhat problematic adolescence. Centered around her painstaking attempts at oscillating between her French and Syrian identities, the book follows Sattouf and her family as they navigate their peripatetic life in France and the Middle East.
3. Nelson Mandela: By Himself – Nelson Mandela
A collection of private papers, speeches and transcribed audio recordings, Nelson Mandela: By Himself features over 2,000 quotes from the inspirational leader and spans over 60 years of his life. Organized into 300 categories for easy reference, the book tackles issues of ‘Character,’ ‘Courage,’ ‘Optimism,’ and more, while contextualizing the social and political landscape within which these categories were conceived.
4. The Art of Gathering – Priya Parker
Taking us inside a world dependent on human connection, Priya Parker draws on her expertise as a facilitator of high-powered gatherings around the world. Investigating a wide array of gatherings, from conferences, to flash-mob parties, Parker explains how simple, specific changes can invigorate any group experience. Full of real-world applications, The Art of Gathering will forever change how you view forming and maintaining human connections.
5. White Fragility – Robin Diangelo
Having coined the term in 2011, Robin Diangelo explores white fragility within the paradigm that is white supremacy. In exploring the benefits of honest conversation, and learning how to listen to each other, Diangelo argues that in order for society to see change — either on a granular or grander level, white people will have to take responsibility for relinquishing their own racial supremacy.
6. Hood Feminism – Mikki Kendall
Providing readers with a collection of essays that question the legitimacy of the modern feminist manifesto, Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism is a call to action for feminists everywhere. Critiquing a movement that has addressed the needs of some women and disregarded the needs of others, Kendall draws on issues within politics, pop culture, healthcare and more, in a bid to level out the playing field between white feminists, and the women they forgot.
7. Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A fictional tale about love, politics, race and identity, Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah is the perfect mixture of reality and escape. Following the story of Ifemelu and Obinze whose love story takes them through Nigeria, America, London, and back to Nigeria, the pair grapple with what it means to be black in a world that is often unkind to black people.
8. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
Searing, illuminating, and completely necessary — Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is, at its core, an exploration of what it means to be black in Britain today. Highlighting issues of white privilege, the fallacy of ‘meritocracy,’ and whitewashed feminism, the book is a wake-up call to a nation in denial about the systemic racism occurring in their own homes.