Doing Our Work: Race in America

An Introduction

I’ve had a few requests for book suggestions this last week so I’ve put a list together below. As a white woman in America I need to do my own work of listening and learning and books provide just such an avenue. So over the last 4 years I have been broadening the voices in my personal library by intentionally purchasing and reading authors of color. But, as a colleague, Rev. Salim Kaderbhai eloquently explained, “Reading a book and watching a movie will not make it so that you too have something to lose when things like this happen. Build relationships and get to know, deeply, people who are losing and being beaten down by the system right now. You say this is important, so make time for it.” So, even as I write this list and as you will read it, it is imperative that we understand that reading books isn’t enough. We need to read, listen, learn AND we need to build real, deep and lasting relationships. 

If you do chose to read one of these or another book on race, consider purchasing it if you are able. Part of changing systemic racism in America is to help change the publishing world. It is SUPER RACIST (in case you were unaware). Purchasing and supporting, in this case, Black authors matters. We are putting money where our mouth is and paying a fair wage for their creative work from which we benefit. If you don’t have the means, you don’t have the means, and in that case beg, borrow or get it from the library. But if you have the means and are longing to do something, do something and purchase the books. Support these creatives.


My Top 4

These are a mix between fiction and non-fiction. I’m Still Here and Between the World and Me are shorter and very manageable reads. They are written by Americans who are living the Black experience right now and writing about it. The Hate U Give is an incredible YA novel of a young girl’s experience with a police shooting and Parable of the Sower is classic speculative fiction that comments deeply on America’s political, social and religious structures.

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1)
Between the World and Me
The Hate U Give

The following are ranked in a very subjective order of my taste and which I think would be appealing to a wide audience …so please take it for what it’s worth.


I am a strong believer that fiction shares experience just as much as non-fiction. If you are a fiction lover, START HERE! It will serve you well and start proving you an empathetic lens to read the non-fiction.
P.S. This was very hard for me to “rate” so….

YA Fiction

You know I love me my YA fiction, so I divided it out…


So this list speaks directly to racism and the church and/or theology.


This might seem odd but I kid you not, if you enjoy poetry or want to dive into the more emotive side of the Black experience do not undervalue poetry…ever.

Whites on Race

There are only two books written by white authors that I would ever recommend and I would only do so alongside a book written by a person of color. So promise me; don’t let one of these be the only book you read about race, deal?

Additional Reading Lists

These are a couple lists that I have saved to refer back to periodically. They include a lot of children’s suggestions which I don’t go into above.

My Current “To-Read” List

In case you are interested…I am currently re-reading, Last Black Unicorn right now and Just Mercy is on the docket for next month’s book club. These others are ones I will be picking up this year for sure.