12 Books Worth Reading If You’re Looking For Ways To Educate Yourself On Black History

Contributor: PEDESTRIAN.TV

One of the great things about social media is the opportunity for BIPOC voices to be mass-shared, and that’s happening now. The Black Lives Matter protests around the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police have spawned a mass global movement, and part of that has been resource-sharing posts from BIPOC folks listing books, podcasts and Instagram accounts worth getting onto if you’re trying to educate yourself.

Something that struck a chord with me was this tweet from Roxane Gay.


We’re being asked to avoid asking for more labour from our BIPOC friends, and instead to read the resources they recommend.

The below list of reading resources is absolutely not exhaustive, and we will continue to update it as an evolving resource for self-education.

1. Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge

From award-winning British journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge, Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race originated from a blog post she penned about her frustration with the way discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren’t affected by it.

2. The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas

This fiction book about a teenager living between two worlds – her poor black neighbourhood, and the elite prep school she attends – made waves when it was released for its message about police brutality and systemic racism in America.

3. So You Want To Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo

A New York Times bestseller, Oluo‘s exploration of the modern racial landscape has been widely praised for its clarity and actionable messaging. A fantastic resource if you want to learn more about microaggressions, systemic discrimination and other complex issues you may know of, but have little understanding about.

4. How To Be An Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi

Kendi is the founder of the Antiracism Research and Policy Center, and this book is all about how neutrality is not an option – when we aren’t antiracist, we are complicit in racism. Kendi had his own revelation on this front which he writes about in his book, which was called “the most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind” by the New York Times.

5. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison was one of the most lauded novelists in America, but The Bluest Eye is showing up on many BIPOC reading lists – it centres on Pecola, a young girl who wishes to have the blue eyes of her privileged (and white) schoolmates. Other Morrison books of note are Song Of Solomon and Beloved, which won the Pulitzer Prize.

7. Growing Up Aboriginal In Australia, Anita Heiss

An anthology compiled with the explicit intent to showcase the diversity of experiences of Aboriginal Australians, this book features accounts from Adam Goodes, Miranda Tapsell, Tara June Winch and many other Indigenous Australians from varying walks of life – cities, remote communities, the coast and the desert.

8. Welcome To Country, Marcia Langton

I read someone saying this is like “the Lonely Planet guide to Indigenous Australia” and immediately bought a copy – I love travelling Australia but more and more, feel I need to understand our land from the perspective of those who were here first.

This is a beautiful tabletop-style book that you’ll use forever – it’s part an educational resource for understanding Indigenous Australian culture, particularly in relation to the land, and part a travel guide that is less about “here’s a pretty view to visit”, and more about the cultural significance of popular spots to visit.

9. The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander

First published in 2010, Alexander‘s now globally famous work inspired the creation of The Marshall Project, a nonprofit online news source covering criminal justice in America, as well as a massive push for criminal justice reform in America. This is the book to read for insight into BIPOC incarceration.

10. White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo

It’s important to note that DiAngelo is the only white author in this list, however this book has been noted by many BIPOC as an excellent education resource for white people wanting to understand their own ingrained racism. It focuses on our defensive reactions to being confronted about racism, from fear and guilt to anger, and what we can do to engage more constructively so we aren’t perpetuating racial inequality.

11. Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe

Multi-award winning and one of the most talked about books of the last few years, Dark Emu is an investigation into the false history we were taught about Indigenous Australians pre-invasion. It’s both a look back from a new perspective, and a lesson in how European invasion led to a complete mismanagement of the land.

12. Australia Day, Stan Grant

The long-awaited follow up to Grant’s critically acclaimed debut Talking To My Country, Australia Day presents uncomfortable truths to Australians. From the Indigenous struggle for belonging and identity in this country, to what reconciliation actually looks like, this is an important book for any Aussie.