22 books on race and white privilege that will show you what’s really happening in America right now

Thomonique Moore
Thomonique Moore is a 2016 graduate of Howard University, founder of Books&Shit book club, and an incoming Masters’ candidate at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College.

  • Black History Month, like every other month, is a good time to educate yourself on anti-racism.
  • Anti-racism is actively rejecting racism and promoting equity of Black and brown people.
  • Black sociology, literary, and history scholars shared their top book recommendations on anti-racism. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Since the killing of George Floyd, many Americans continue to talk about how they can be an ally for Black people. And this Black History Month is an important time to continue that work. 

In this era, it’s not enough for allies to say they’re “not racist,” activists and leading scholars are saying. Instead, they have to actively adopt anti-racism, which is the set of beliefs and actions that oppose racism and promote the inclusion and equality of Black and brown people in society. 

One important way to learn about anti-racism is by reading. As Vulture aptly puts it, “The how could this happen meets the I told you so. They rendezvous at the anti-racist reading list.”

So which books should you read? Business Insider reached out to Black professors and scholars at institutions across the country to find out which books they recommend. We also included some popular books on anti-racism Americans are digitally reading at their libraries right now. 

This updated article was originally published in June 2020. 

“So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo

So you want to talk about race

In this bestseller, Seattle-based writer Ijeoma Oluo prompts people of all races to start having honest conversations about race, giving readers handy phrases and questions to start unpacking racism within their own social networks. She tackles subjects ranging from intersectionality to microaggressions, or subtly racist remarks or actions. 

Thomonique Moore, a 2016 graduate of Howard University, founder of online book club Books&Shit, which explores titles by authors of color, and an incoming master’s candidate at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, recommends everyone pick of this title. 

“This is a good book to help white people and non-black people of color answer often spoken and unspoken questions about race and racism,” Moore told Business Insider. 

Find it here>>

“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander

The new Jim Crow

In “The New Jim Crow,” legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” Jim Crow laws were state and local laws created in the late 1800s and early 1900s that enforced racial segregation and encouraged the disenfranchisement of black people in the US.  

“Michelle Alexander breaks down the historic ‘war on crime’ and how the explosive increase in the number US citizens incarcerated, namely black men, is just another trickier, evolved, version of slavery, and Jim Crow,” Moore said. 

Find it here>>

“White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DiAngelo

White Fragility

In this best-selling book, academic, lecturer, and author Robin Diangelo explores the defense mechanisms white people commonly employ when challenged on their assumptions about race. These counterproductive reactions, Diangelo explains, prevent white people from having much needed conversations to usher in progress. 

“White Fragility is a mirror and self-reflection guide, so to speak, for white people who are ready to face their privileges and finally have the tough and necessary conversations,” Moore said. 

Find it here>>

“Racism without Racists: Colorblind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States” by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

"Racism without Racists: Colorblind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States" by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

In this book, Bonilla-Silva makes a powerful argument against the idea that race doesn’t exist, or that being “colorblind” is an appropriate solution to racism. 

Crystal Fleming, associate professor of sociology and Africana studies at Stony Brook University called this “one of the most important books on racism.” 

“In particular, Bonilla-Silva helps us understand how the rhetoric of colorblindness reinforces the racial status quo,” she told Business Insider. 

Find it here>> 

“Two Faced Racism: Whites in the Backstage and Frontstage” by Leslie Picca and Joe Feagin

"Two Faced Racism: Whites in the Backstage and Frontstage" by Leslie Picca and Joe Feagin

“Two-Faced Racism,” published in 2007, features more than 600 journal entries of racial events kept by white college students at 28 colleges in the US. It exposes how closely held racist beliefs are still very much a part of American culture. 

Fleming assigns this book to students taking her “Racism and Ethnic Relations” course at Stony Brook University. 

“Picca and Feagin analyze data from journal entries provided by white college students which reveals how racism works behind closed doors as well as in public and semi-public spaces,” Fleming said.

Find it here >>

“How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy and the Racial Divide” by Crystal Fleming

"How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy and the Racial Divide" by Crystal Fleming

In addition to recommending other authors, Fleming suggest a book she wrote on the topic of racism, which serves as a primer on the topics of racial oppression and white supremacy. 

“I wrote the book to help people understand the historical roots of white supremacy and to be able to draw connections between past and present racism. The last chapter includes 10 concrete steps that everyone can take to help dismantle systemic racism,” she told Business Insider. 

Find it here >>

“The Ethnic Project: Transforming Racial Fiction into Ethnic Factions” by Vilna Bashi Treitler

The Ethnic Project: Transforming Racial Fiction into Ethnic Factions

“The Ethnic Project” was written by Vilna Bashi Treitler, a sociology professor in the department of black students at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

In this historical narrative work, Treitler examines the ethnic history of the US from the arrival of the English in North America to the present day. She shows how each group of immigrants from Irish to Chinese people negotiated their place in the pecking order of ethnic groups within in the country. 

“‘The Ethnic Project’ is incredibly useful for understanding the racial hierarchy in the United States,” Fleming said. 

Find it here>>

“Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach” by Tanya Golash Boza

Race and Racisms

“Race and Racisms” tackles critical topics including how and when the idea of race was created, how it developed, and how structural racism has created inequality. 

“This book is an excellent overview of systemic and institutionalized racism,” Fleming said.

Find it here>>

“Racist America: Roots, Current Realities, and Future Reparations” by Joe Feagin

Racist America

Feagin incorporates more than 200 recent research studies and reports in his book, which illustrates the origins of racism in the US, and how it still pervades white culture today. 

Augustine Kposowa, professor and chair of the department of sociology at the University of California, Riverside, cites this book as an important read for anyone looking to be anti-racist. 

“Joe Feagin reveals just how racist whites are,” Kposowa said. “Feagin is white and he is privy to secret conversations that whites have in white networks that blacks can never join. In his book, he mentions stories, and what white people say in private, at dinner tables, in their circles about black people, leaving no stone untouched.”

Find it here>> 

“White Rage; the Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide” by Carol Anderson

White Rage

“White Rage” explores how each time blacks in America have made progress, there has been strong white backlash. 

“The book is a critical reflection of why racism persists in the United States, including things that enrage white people about racial issues. In the book, it is evident that no matter what happens in America, including the most open outrages like police killings of blacks, whites never seem interested,” Kposowa said. 

Find it here>>

“Black Americans” by Alphonso Pinkney

Black Americans

This book, written by distinguished Afro-American sociologist and former long term chairman of the Department of Sociology at Hunter College Alphonso Pinkney, explores several facets of different black experiences in the US, including homicide as a public health problem and the prevalence of police brutality.

“Pinkney’s book is a comprehensive account of black life in America, and covers why in almost every sphere, blacks are forced to stay behind,” Kposowa said. 

Find it here>>

“Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present” by Harriet Washington

Medical Apartheid

Maryann Erigha, assistant sociology professor at the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Georgia recommends this book written by Harriet Washington, which won the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. 

“Washington’s book provides a full context and comprehensive understanding of the history and present of medical experimentation and the mistreatment of Blacks in the medical industrial complex. She covers a wide range of areas, from academic pseudoscience to the medical atrocities committed by the government and armed forces, prisons, and private institutions,” she said. 

Find the book here>>

The Hollywood Jim Crow: The Racial Politics of the Movie Industry by Maryann Erigha.

Hollywood Jim Crow

Erigha also recommended “The New Jim Crow” and “So You Want to Talk About Race?” In addition, she suggested her own book, which tackles how racist beliefs pervade American movies, a major export to countries across the globe. 

“My book highlights the ubiquity and implications of underlying beliefs about race and value, inferiority/superiority, profit/loss, desirability/undesirability, that are pervasive among whites in Hollywood and that influence their decision-making about what movies get made, for how much, and under what conditions,” she told Business Insider. 

Find it here>>

“Code of the Street” by Elijah Anderson

Code of the Street

In the “code of the street,” Yale professor Elijah Anderson, presents an explanation for high rates of violence among black teens in the US. Anderson explains how living in impoverished areas without access to economic opportunities, being separated from mainstream society, as well as persistent discrimination was linked with anti-social attitudes and and violent behavior in black teens. 

Mansa Bilal Mark King, associate professor of sociology at Morehouse College, told Business Insider it’s one of the most important books non-black people can read. 

“This is one of the best books for helping non-black people begin to understand that the adoption of a street persona is often a matter of everyday safety for black people who are not actually committed to a street ethos,” he said. 

Find it here>>

“The Wretched of the Earth” by Frantz Fanon

The Wretched of the Earth

Author Frantz Fanon was a distinguished psychiatrist from Martinique who took part in the Algerian Nationalist Movement, a movement that fought for the rights French colonizers to be extended to native Algerians. In “The Wretched of the Earth,” Fanon captures the psychology of the colonized and their path to liberation. 

“This book can be hard for most non-black Americans to read, and it can be even more difficult for them to see how it relates to African Americans, particularly those of us whose families survived American slavery and Jim and Jane Crow apartheid. That is exactly why people need to read it,” King said.

Find it here>>

“The Mis-Education of the Negro” by Carter Woodson

The Miseducation of the Negro

Carter Godwin Woodson was an American historian, author, journalist, and one of the first scholars to study the history of the African diaspora. In this book, he argues that black people were being indoctrinated, rather than educated, in American schools, and that black Americans needed to educate themselves on the history of race and racism. 

“This book is almost a century old, and the fact that its basic critique remains a valid one should help readers to understand a key source of black American anger,” King said. “For many Black Americans, not getting a helpful education on Africa and her American Diaspora is part of the reason for educational disengagement.” 

Find it here>>

“UNESCO General History of Africa, Vol. I by Joseph Ki-Zerbo and Vol. II” by G. Mokhtar

UNESCO General history of Africa

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has put together comprehensive titles on the history of Africa and its people that are useful for any American of any color to read. 

These works “help the reader overcome the poor historical education that most Americans get when it comes to Africa,” King said.

Find the books here>>

“Black Wealth/White Wealth” by Melvin Oliver and Thomas Shapiro

Black Wealth, White Wealth

In “Black Wealth/White Wealth,” sociological researchers Oliver and Shapiro capture just how large the wealth gap is between black and white Americans.  

“This book helps people of all races begin to understand that it was white America that systematically chooses for us to have almost all black, low-income, ‘ghetto areas.’ Equally important, this imposed reality means that black children are born at a disadvantage, in the vast majority of cases, through no fault of their own,” King said. 

“me and white supremacy,” by Layla Saad

me and white supremacy

This was the most popular anti-racism book checked out digitally from the end of May through June, according to Overdrive.

In this hit title, Saad brings her unique perspective as an East African, Arab, British, Black, Muslim woman — who’s also a speaker and writer — to the forefront. Her book came after the hashtag she started #MeandWhiteSupremacy, where people shared their own experiences with racism, went viral. Saad’s book lists the common reasons why white people aren’t actively anti-racist, and includes concrete steps on how to be a better ally. 

Find it here>>


“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You,” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi


“Stamped,” a young adult nonfiction book, is another popular title among readers, according to Overdrive. In this book, Reynolds, renowned young-adult author, reimagines Kendi’s bestseller for a younger audience. The book explores how the history of racism is inextricably linked to the creation of the US. 

Find it here>>

“Just Mercy,” by Bryan Stevenson

just mercy

In “Just Mercy,” Stevenson tells his incredible story of creating the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice to help those most desperate and in need, like the wrongly condemned. One of his first clients was Walter McMillian, a young man sentenced to death for a murder he said he didn’t commit. The story of Stevenson’s fight for justice was turned into a major motion film. 

Find it here>>

“Thick,” by Tressie McMillan Cottom


In McMillan Cottom’s eyes, the personal is political, and she doesn’t shy away from talking about all of it. In eight treatises on beauty, media, money, race, and abuse, McMillan Cottom explores the ways American culture treats Black women. Roxanne Gay, writer, professor and author of the best-selling essay collection Bad Feminist calls this book “brilliant.” 

Find it here>>

Read the original article on Business Insider

Ray Dalio reveals why Henry Kissinger is his favorite author right now

Ray Dalio
  • Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, seeks a bird’s eye view of the market and the economy.
  • To get that perspective, Dalio has been reading works by Henry Kissinger.
  • Former secretary of state and diplomat Kissinger is known for books “World Order” and “On China.”
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Ray Dalio, founder of the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, has built his billion-dollar career on making predictions on companies, the market, and the economy.

To make the right predictions, he needs a bird’s eye view of the world’s financial and geopolitical happenings.

“We are like ants preoccupied with our jobs of carrying crumbs in our minuscule lifetimes instead of having a broader perspective of the big-picture patterns and cycles,” he wrote in a blog post

In a wide-ranging interview with Insider, Dalio shared that he spends a good amount of his time reading and learning to get the right perspective. Over the years, he’s recommended over a dozen books to read, ranging from works by the Dalai Lama to titles by best-selling financial author Michael Lewis. 

So what’s he reading right now?

If you looked at Dalio’s bookshelves, you’d find a number of books by Henry Kissinger, politician, diplomat, and geopolitical consultant who served as Secretary of State and national security advisor under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

“[Kissinger] is a practitioner. He himself has sat in those shoes for all of those years. He’s not being theoretical. He’s not one of those studies of history. He actually had to be in the middle of it,” Dalio said.

The former secretary of state, who’s 97, is the author of over a dozen books including most recently “World Order,” published in 2014 and “On China,” published in 2011.

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger holds the laudatio for German Chancellor Angela Merkel who receives the "Henry A Kissinger prize" at the American Academy in Berlin on January 21, 2020.
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger holds the laudatio for German Chancellor Angela Merkel who receives the “Henry A Kissinger prize” at the American Academy in Berlin on January 21, 2020.

In the world of diplomacy, Kissinger is lauded by many for his policy of “détente,” easing strained relations through conversations, with the then-Soviet Union, and for opening US-China relations. However, others point out his role in controversial national policies such as the US’s support for Pakistan during the Bangladesh War despite an unfolding genocide and helping end the Vietnam War in 1973 despite furthering it as national security advisor for years beforehand. 

A complex figure, Kissinger’s writings have been bestsellers and acclaimed by many in diplomacy for offering both an inside view of his decisions under Nixon and Ford and the kind of complexity that Dalio prizes. His writing style can sometimes provide a bird’s eye view of history.

For example, when “World Order” came out, Michiko Kakutani, former Pulitzer-prize winning chief book reviewer of the New York Times, wrote: “At its best, his writing functions like a powerful zoom lens, opening out to give us a panoramic appreciation of larger historical trends and patterns, then zeroing in on small details and anecdotes that vividly illustrate his theories.”

The 2014 bestseller argues that the concept of world order has consistently changed based on which region of the world was the most powerful, and the book seeks to answer how the world can build an international world order in an era of conflict, rapid technological advance, and ideological extremism.

In his second most recent book, “On China,” the diplomat gives an overview of the East Asian country’s history from a foreign policy perspective. It also offers an inside view of what went into Nixon’s historic trip to Beijing in 1972. Its last chapter focuses on China’s future, specifically as it relates to the US.

In it, he warns of potential conflict between the two powers.

“The United States does need to get tough with China. If China has its way, it will keep robbing the United States and American companies of their technology and intellectual property,” he wrote.

Since then, he’s been an even louder advocate for the need to resolve mounting tensions between the US and China, a topic that deeply concerns Dalio.

“We will slide into a situation similar to World War I,” Kissinger warned in a 2020 panel discussion if relations don’t ease.

For Dalio, the former secretary of state’s predictions are deeply informative.

“You don’t get a person who really knows history, and really has lived history as a practical decision maker and is clear and articulate – you don’t get many of those,” Dalio said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

9 memoirs that celebrate Black joy and help paint a fuller picture of the Black experience in America

arlan hamilton backstage capital
Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital Arlan Hamilton was one of the authors featured in Goodreads’ list of 96 books on Black joy.

  • The Black Lives Matter movement focuses on several serious topics like police reform and inequality.
  • But activists say that the movement should also highlight Black joy and success. 
  • Book review website Goodreads compiled a list of 96 books that celebrate Black joy. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Black History Month is an important time to educate yourself on the Black experience in America. 

The Black Lives Matter movement is raising awareness around several serious topics: police reform, over-incarceration, inequality in education, racism in the workplace, discrimination in the health system, to name a few.

But that’s only part of the story.

“The other part about Black Lives Matter that I think people miss is Black joy and Black liberation,” Genisha Metcalf, a 35-year-old mother of two and Black Lives Matter activist told Insider in August.

Book review website Goodreads recently compiled a list of 96 books on Black joy, which includes titles in fantasy, romance, science fiction, and essay collections. Here are nine memoirs by Black authors that highlight other sides of the Black experience.

This article was originally published in August 2020. 

“It’s About Damn Time,” by Arlan Hamilton

it's about damn time

Arlan Hamilton, the founder of Backstage Capital and one of the few queer Black women in venture capital, shares her story about how she went from living on food stamps to breaking into the boy’s club of Silicon Valley. Hamilton’s story challenges the conventional narrative of what it takes to become successful. 

Find it here>> 

“Year of Yes,” by Shonda Rhimes

year of yes

American TV producer and screenwriter Shonda Rhimes is the force behind top hits like “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” In this bestseller, she shares her story of a one-year experiment when she said “Yes” to new opportunities and challenges. Her story is a call for people to get outside their comfort zone and try new things. 

Find it here>> 


“The Light of the World,” by Elizabeth Alexander

light of the world

In “The Light of the World,” Pulitzer prize finalist and poet Elizabeth Alexander recounts the sudden death of her husband and her journey from grief to hope. Former First Lady Michelle Obama called the book “magnificent.” 

“Perhaps tragedies are only tragedies in the presence of loss, which confers meaning to loss,” Alexander writes.

Find it here>>

“The Pretty One,” by Keah Brown

The Pretty One

Keah Brown, who has cerebral palsy, recounts her journey from self-hate to self-love in “The Pretty One.” Brown explains how she went from wanting to be “normal,” to accepting herself, and then celebrating her difference in creating the viral hashtag #DisabledAndCute. 

Find it here>>

“Dressed in Dreams,” by Tanisha Ford

dressed in dreams

In “Dressed in Dreams,” Tashina Ford uses pieces of fashion to tell her coming-of-age story as a Black woman. Ford, a history professor at The City University of New York, explains how the personal is political with each fashion story: from how wearing the wrong color can lead to gang violence to the appropriation of Black culture in today’s society. 

Find it here>> 

“More Than Enough,” by Elaine Welteroth

More Than Enough

Elaine Welteroth, editor in chief of Teen Vogue, tells her story of climbing the ranks in the world of media and fashion, sharing the valuable life lessons about race and gender she learned along the way. 

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai says the book “is a guide for young people who want to find their voice, a crash course for those who want to challenge the status quo, and an adventure story for all of us.” 

Find it here>> 

“Mind and Matter,” by John Urschel and Louisa Thomas

Mind and Matter

In this bestselling book, John Urschel tells his incredible story of how he pursued and obtained his PhD in mathematics at MIT while he was an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens. His story talks about the importance of ignoring self-limiting doubt.

Find it here>> 

“The Warner Boys,” by Ana and Curt Warner

The Warner Boys

Former NFL Seahawks star Curt Warner and his wife, Ana, took a step back from the public in the 1990s. Their two youngest sons, twins Austin and Christian, had been diagnosed with autism, which they decided to keep secret for years. In this memoir, the couple talks about going from self-isolation and fear to a place of peace and advocacy. 

Find it here>> 

“Black Girls Rock!” by Beverly Bond

black girls rock!

In 2006, model and DJ Beverly Bond founded “Black Girls Rock!” an awards show that celebrates Black women in entertainment, entrepreneurship, and more. In this book, Bond recounts starting the awards show and presents a collection of essays from a mix of powerful Black women, including actress Kerry Washington, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, and tennis champion Serena Williams. 

Find it here>> 

Read the original article on Business Insider