With protestors across the United States taking to the streets for a staggering 15th day of activism against the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, many Americans—particularly White Americans—are seeking to educate themselves about race and prejudice in a way never seen before.
More than ever, Black communities need White allies who are as educated about race, prejudice, police brutality, privilege, and all forms of inequality as the Black Lives Matter movement is. As comedienne Wanda Sykes said on The Jimmy Kimmel Show this past week: “We need White people to tell White people to stop being racist because when we do it, obviously it’s not working.”
With that in mind, we have put together a list of must-read books and must-see documentaries to help White people better understand the issues we currently face.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
In this book, Seattle based author Oluo presents a great starting point for White and non-Black people to begin discussing race. Thought provoking questions and sayings help guide the discussion. An excellent book for beginners.
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi
In this memoir, Kendi explores a radical new way of progress for the Black community. Instead of working with the system we currently have in place, he suggests designing and building an entirely new antiracist society. A perfect book for activists.
Chokehold: Policing Black Men by Paul Butler
In this tell-all of America’s legal system, Black former federal prosecutor Paul Butler, explains how the system is working exactly as it was intended: to keep all Black men under innumerable forms of oppression.
When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
Written by BLM co-founder Patrisse Khan Cullors and Asha Bandele, this poetic and powerful memoir shows what it means to be a Black woman in America and relives the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
In this monumental book by legal scholar Michelle Alexander, the argument that racial control has not ended in America but merely been repackaged is thoroughly crafted and achieved, serving as a wake-up call for any conscientious person.
When They See Us (Netflix)
Chronicling the events and aftermath of the “Central Park Five” in 1989, When They See Us illustrates how racism, prejudice, and law enforcement can ruin the lives of completely innocent People of Color.
This Oscar-nominated documentary by Ava DuVernay powerfully makes the case that the current prison industrial complex—housing prisoners who provide free labor—was designed to make up for the loss in productivity after the abolishment of slavery.
3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets (HBO)
This documentary follows a Florida case centered around the same Stand-Your-Ground laws that led to George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin. In this case, a different White middle-aged man killed a Black teenager over a dispute involving loud rap music.
Peace Officer (IMDB.TV)
In this documentary, a Utah county sheriff begins investigating the militarization of America’s law enforcement agencies after his son-in-law is killed in a “no-knock” SWAT team raid.