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Anti-Racism and Social Justice

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Explore some of the most talked-about and important non-fiction books on Anti-Racism and Social Justice. Whether it's a hot new book or an older classic, it's here for you.

Cole, Desmond
The skin we're in

In 2015, Canadian writer and activist Cole exposed racism in Canada's police force by denouncing the controversial practice of carding with his article in Toronto Life magazine. Since then Cole has become one of Canada's most celebrated and provocative writers while trying to expose racism in our country and highlight the daily injustices faced by black Canadians. This book chronicles one explosive year -2017-  in Cole's life and work.

Kendi, Ibram X.
How to be an antiracist

In this "a powerful book" that "will spark many conversations, Kendi follows his National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning with a boldly articulated, historically informed explanation of what exactly racist ideas and thinking are, and what their antiracist antithesis looks like both systemically and at the level of individual action." - Publisher's Weekly

Cooper, Brittney C.
Eloquent rage

In this candid collection of essays, Cooper offers incisive commentary on the challenges facing her as a black, woman feminist in the South. She argues that the eloquent rage of black women is valid and necessary, gives people the strength to keep fighting and keeps people honest and accountable.

Brown, Austin Channing
I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

Named by her parents in an effort to get potential employers to assume she was a white male, Brown relays her struggles growing up as a black, female Christian in the U.S. in this intriguing and powerful look at a racialized America. As Publisher's Weekly observes, "Brown's authoritative tone and moving message make this a must-read for those interested in racial justice within the Christian community."

Saad, Layla F.
Me and white supremacy

When Saad started an Instagram challenge trying to get people to own up to the ways in which they were racist, little did she know the challenge would resonate with tens of thousands of people. This book helps people challenge their privilege and look at ways to stop (often unconsciously) hurting people of colour.

DiAngelo, Robin J.
White fragility

According to anti-racist educator DiAngelo, "white fragility" refers to the reactions (usually anger, fear, guilt or feeling offended or attacked) of white people when the topic of racism comes up. She argues that racism isn't something that just mean people do; it's embedded into the fabric of society. So this book is targeted at white people who would like to fight racism by acknowledging their own "white fragility". Publisher's Weekly notes "this slim book is impressive in its scope and complexity; Diangelo provides a powerful lens for examining, and practical tools for grappling with, racism today."

Maynard, Robyn
Policing Black lives

Anti-black racism is often something that Canadians think just happens in the United States, but as this impeccably researched and documented book proves, Canada has a nearly 400-year history of state-sanctioned surveillance, criminalization and incarceration of black people. This call to action, from writer and activist Maynard, is urgently needed as we all try to dismantle institutionalized racism and move towards a more just society.

Eddo-Lodge, Reni.
Why I'm no longer talking to white people about race

When London journalist Eddo-Lodge started a blog about feeling frustrated with discussions of race that were seemingly always led by white people, little did she know she was hitting a nerve. Comments flooded in and this book followed. "With its provocative title, this debut book by Eddo-Lodge is a plainspoken, hard-hitting take on mainstream British society's avoidance of race and the complexities and manifestations of racism." - Publisher's Weekly

Oluo, Ijeoma.
So you want to talk about race

In this book of thoughtful essays about the racial landscape of our times, Oluo explores such hard-hitting topics as police brutality and mass incarceration as well as lighter topics like "how do you tell your roommate her jokes are racist?" or "why you shouldn't touch a black woman's hair".  National Book Review enthuses "Oluo gives us--both white people and people of color--that language to engage in clear, constructive, and confident dialogue with each other about how to deal with racial prejudices and biases."

Joseph, Robert P. C.
21 things you may not know about the Indian Act

This essential guide explores the notorious 1876 Indian Act and how it was used to try to wipe out Indigenous cultures and languages as well as to deny them voting, land and civil rights. Policy decisions made based on this act continue to plague indigenous peoples to this day. The author also provides suggestions about how to move forward with reconciliation. Publisher's Weekly notes that "this pocket-sized primer is a perfect introduction to a troubling legacy with which Canadians continue to wrestle."

Coates, Ta-Nehisi.
Between the world and me

Conversational, compelling and full of emotion, Pulitzer prize finalist Coates presents these essays about race in America as a letter to his son. At once personal and profound, Coates weaves tales of his childhood with reflections on history, policing, education and the on-going racial crisis in the United States. Toni Morrison called it "essential reading".

Talaga, Tanya.
Seven fallen feathers

Seven promising indigenous teens died in Thunder Bay (2000-2001) after they were forced to move hundreds of miles away from their families in order to attend high school. The deaths were all immediately deemed "accidental" (some even before an autopsy had been conducted). Award-winning journalist Talaga investigates these unnecessary deaths, skillfully weaving the stories of these youths into a scathing indictment of institutionalized racism and racist policies at every level of the Canadian government. Publisher's Weekly calls this book "heartbreaking and infuriating, both an important testament to the need for change and a call to action."

Alexander, Michelle.
The new Jim Crow

Alexander argues persuasively that although the Jim Crow laws that segregated black people and turned them into second-class citizens don't exist anymore, mass incarceration has become the new Jim Crow. Once convicted, often wrongly, there are a host of laws (concerning voting, housing, education and employment) that prevent ex-convicts from achieving a good life. Publisher's Weekly urges people to read this "carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book."
 

Dyson, Michael Eric.
What truth sounds like

Sociologist Dyson "delivers a piercing and wide-ranging analysis of American race relations." The focal point of this book is a meeting in 1963 between Sen. Robert Kennedy and some notable black people including writer James Baldwin, singer Lena Horne and Freedom Rider Jerome Smith. After this intense 3-hour meeting, Kennedy came away mad at first but then understanding dawned and Kennedy set about trying to change laws to make things right. To this day, the topics they talked about are the same topics that plague America.

Stevenson, Bryan.
Just mercy

When Stevenson was a young lawyer, he founded the Equal Justice Initiative which provided legal services for the poor or the wrongly condemned. In one of his first cases, he defended Walter McMillian, a black man from the South on death row after being wrongfully accused of two murders by a white con-man who was suspected of killing one of the murder victims. This award-winning book follows Stevenson's journey to try to get McMillian justice and is an indictment of a racist and flawed justice system. 

Moore, Wes
The other Wes Moore

Two kids who lived in Baltimore, were the same age and were both named Wes Moore, grew up to be very different people. One, the author, had a successful life as a Rhodes Scholar, combat veteran and businessman. The other, was convicted of killing a cop and serving a life sentence without parole. That's when the first Moore, haunted by the similarities, started up a correspondence with the incarcerated Moore to try to figure out what societal forces lead the second Moore down a very different path. This searing, illuminating book is the result.