Turn the page: an anti-racist reading list

Two books on chairs.

Taking steps to becoming a better ally begins with education, and we’re gathering the written works to help you do just that

By the Soho House team  Friday 5 June, 2020  Long read

This week, the Desmond Elliott prize for debut writers announced a shortlist of all-Black authors, which included Derek Owusu for That Reminds Me, a coming-of-age story about a young Ghanaian Londoner. For our March House Notes digital cover, just as the world was moving into a life in lockdown, Owusu and fellow #Merky Books author, Jeremiah Emmanuel, shared a frank conversation about the roles and responsibilities of being a Black writer today. 

During this discussion, Owusu asked Emmanuel who he hoped would be the audience for his memoir Dreaming In A Nightmare. Emmanuel replied, ‘I want it to be a voice for the voiceless... Primarily, I want them to know you can achieve your goals. The secondary audience is everyone else at that table; people who can’t necessarily relate to my experiences, but are willing to learn about the issues affecting lots of young people.’

This willingness to learn, that Emmanuel speaks of, is key. And while it should always have been the responsibility of non-Black people to educate themselves on the Black experience and national racist heritages, there is no better time to start than now. Below, we have compiled a list of books to get started – from memoirs by Black pioneers and non-fiction works on the roots of racism, to fiction works by Black authors, past and present. Click here for our list of Black-owned bookstores from which to purchase.

This is in no way a comprehensive list – if you have any suggestions of written works you think should be included, please send us your suggestions at editorial@sohohouse.com. We will be continuously updating this list as we get recommendations. 

The Condemnation Of Blackness: Race, Crime, And The Making Of Modern Urban America by Khalil Gibran Muhammad
Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, And The Politics of Empowerment by Patricia Hill Collins
Me And White Supremacy: How To Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism And Change The World by Layla F Saad
How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age Of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
The Black Presidency: Barack Obama And The Politics Of Race In America by Michael Eric Dyson
What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, And Our Unfinished Conversation About Race In America by Michael Eric Dyson
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon To White America by Michael Eric Dyson
Conversations In Black: On Power, Politics, And Leadership by Ed Gordon
An African American And Latinx History Of The United States by Paul Ortiz 
Chokehold: Policing Black Men by Paul Butler
If They Come In The Morning: Voices Of Resistance by Angela Davis
Heart Of The Race: Black Women’s Lives In Britain by various authors
I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life In Letters by Bayard Rustin
Blues For Mister Charlie by James Baldwin
I Am Not Your Negro by James Baldwin
Blood In The Water by Heather Ann Thompson
Natives: Race And Class In The Ruins Of Empire by Akala
Loud Black Girls: 20 Black Women Writers Ask: What’s Next? by Elizabeth Uviebinené and Yomi Adegoke
The Other Side by Nan Goldin
Barracoon: The Story Of The Last ‘Black Cargo’ by Zora Neale Hurston
When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele 
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
Road Map For Revolutionaries by Elisa Camahort Page, Carolyn Gerin and Jamia Wilson
Killing Rage: Ending Racism by Bell Hooks 
Pushout: The Criminalization Of Black Girls In Schools by Monique W. Morris
Safe: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space by Derek Owusu

The Autobiography Of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays by Damon Young
Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
More Than Enough: Claiming Space For Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) by Elaine Welteroth
Brit(ish): On Race, Identity And Belonging by Afua Hirsch
Dreaming In A Nightmare: Finding A Way Forward In A World That’s Holding You Back by Jeremiah Emmanuel Read an extract that Emmanuel shared with Soho House here.

That Reminds Me by Derek Owusu
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates 
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abi Daré
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Coal (1976) by Audre Lorde
Blue Laws: Selected And Uncollected Poems, and Brown: Poems by Kevin Young 
Lighthead, How To Be Drawn, and American Sonnets For My Past And Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes
King Me by Roger Reeves

The 1619 Project by The New York Times Magazine
Who Gets To Be Afraid In America? By Ibram X. Kendi, The Atlantic
The Intersectionality Wars by Jane Coaston, Vox
Bryan Stevenson On The Frustration Behind The George Floyd Protests by Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker
A Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Explains Why This Time Is Different by Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker


This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons On How To Wake Up, Take Action, And Do The Work by Tiffany Jewell 
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, And You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
A Is For Activist by Innosanto Nagara
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Saturday written and illustrated by Oge Mora
Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
The Youngest Marcher by Cynthia Levinson
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham
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