14 Resources to Educate Yourself on Racism and Antiracism

A few books, documentaries and podcasts to get you started. 

To Read

The Origin of Others by Toni Morrison — In this collection of essays derived from her 2016 Norton Lectures, Toni Morrison delves into the concepts of race, belonging and Othering, particularly as they are seen in American literature.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates — Author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book, published in 2015, is written as a letter to his teenage son. Between the World and Me examines what it means to be black in America through Coates’ personal experience.  

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin — Published in 1963, a century after the Emancipation Proclamation, The Fire Next Time includes two of James Baldwin’s essays. In the form of letters, these essays deal with issues of racial injustice and the relationship between race and religion.

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla Saad — In 2018, Layla Saad started an Instagram challenge to help people confront their implicit biases. She then went on to expand the challenge’s workbook PDF into the book Me and White Supremacy, which guides readers on a 28-day journey of understanding and dismantling internalized white supremacy and privilege.

Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith — Danez Smith’s third poetry collection delves into what it means to be black, nonbinary and HIV-positive in America. Smith draws from both current events and personal experience.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas — This young adult novel tells the story of Starr Carter, a black teenager struggling to balance life in a poor neighborhood and at the suburban prep school she attends. The Hate U Give follows Starr as she deals with the aftermath of losing her childhood best friend to police violence.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds — Ibram X. Kendi’s book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2016. Stamped is an adaptation of Kendi’s book, re-envisioned for a teen audience by young-adult author Jason Reynolds.

Talking About Race — On May 31, the National Museum of African American History and Culture released Talking About Race, a multimedia initiative designed to address race through articles, videos, discussion questions and activities. The site’s topics include Bias, Being Antiracist, Historical Foundations of Race, Self-Care and more.

To Watch 

13th — Filmmaker Ava DuVernay’s documentary explores the history of institutional racism and the American prison system, from the 19th century’s criminalization of former slaves to the 21st century’s soaring incarceration rates.

The Danger of a Single Story — In this 2009 TED Talk, author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discusses the danger of making assumptions based on limited information and the implicit biases we hold. These “single stories” are largely a result of the literature and media we consume, Adichie says, drawing on examples from her own experiences both in Nigeria and the United States.

The Blood is at the Doorstep — This local documentary follows the family of Dontre Hamilton as they fight for justice and reform , after he was shot and killed by a Milwaukee police officer.

I Am Not Your Negro — This film revolves around James Baldwin’s unfinished book, Remember This House, which collects Baldwin’s thoughts on the civil rights movement and some of its crucial figures. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, this documentary vividly illustrates the ongoing importance of Baldwin’s words.

To Listen 

Code Switch by NPR — Hosted by journalists Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby, this NPR podcast discusses the influence of race on American politics, pop culture, sports and more. 

1619 by The New York Times — This six-episode podcast is part of The New York Times’ 1619 Project, a multimedia project released last year to mark the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. The podcast is hosted by project creator and 2020 Pulitzer Prize winner Nikole Hannah-Jones and explores the legacy and consequences of slavery in America.

For more recommendations, take a look at Ibram X. Kendi’s antiracist reading lists on The New York Times and The Atlantic.  

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Elizabeth Johnson is an editorial intern at Milwaukee Magazine and a journalism major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.