Educate Yourself: Anti-Racist Readings

Current events have once again focused national attention on a long-standing challenge America continually wrestles with: how do we create a country where all are free? At the CSU Libraries, we are reflecting on our role in creating that future and how we can help dismantle systems of oppression present in our libraries and on our campus.

Many reading lists on anti-racism have been curated in recent weeks, and we would be remiss in not sharing where you can read some of these crucial readings at CSU. We encourage you to read and reflect, but not to stop there. Our Principles of Community include Service: to serve your communities, “to give of your time, efforts and resources to promote the well-being of each other.” So read, reflect and take action: serve your community to the best of your ability in order to create a more equitable present and future for your fellow Rams. Remember that being anti-racist happens through a continual series of actions and is not a fixed identity. There is much work to be done.

Finally, the Poudre River Public Library District also has a great list of titles on their Social Justice & Activism Reading List , which can be checked out with your RamCard. Learn how to use your RamCard as your public library card.

Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi Coates

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son.

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The Color of Law

Richard Rothstein

In this groundbreaking history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, explodes the myth that America’s cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation—that is, through individual prejudices, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. Rather, The Color of Law incontrovertibly makes clear that it was de jure segregation—the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments—that actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day. Through extraordinary revelations and extensive research that Ta-Nehisi Coates has lauded as “brilliant” (The Atlantic), Rothstein comes to chronicle nothing less than an untold story that begins in the 1920s, showing how this process of de jure segregation began with explicit racial zoning, as millions of African Americans moved in a great historical migration from the south to the north.As Jane Jacobs established in her classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, it was the deeply flawed urban planning of the 1950s that created many of the impoverished neighborhoods we know. Now, Rothstein expands our understanding of this history, showing how government policies led to the creation of officially segregated public housing and the demolition of previously integrated neighborhoods.

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Dismantling the Racism Machine

Karen Gaffney

While scholars have been developing valuable research on race and racism for decades, this work does not often reach the beginning college student or the general public, who rarely learn a basic history of race and racism. If we are to dismantle systemic racism and create a more just society, people need a place to begin. This accessible, introductory, and interdisciplinary guide can be one such place. Grounded in critical race theory, this book uses the metaphor of the Racism Machine to highlight that race is a social construct and that racism is a system of oppression based on invented racial categories. It debunks the false ideology that race is biological. As a manual, this book presents clear instructions for understanding the history of race, including whiteness, starting in colonial America, where the elite created a hierarchy of racial categories to maintain their power through a divide-and-conquer strategy. As a toolbox, this book provides a variety of specific action steps that readers can take once they have developed a foundational understanding of the history of white supremacy, a history that includes how the Racism Machine has been recalibrated to perpetuate racism in a supposedly “post-racial” era.

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Ebony and Ivy

Craig Steven Wilder

A groundbreaking exploration of the intertwined histories of slavery, racism, and higher education in America, from a leading African American historian. A 2006 report commissioned by Brown University revealed that institution’s complex and contested involvement in slavery—setting off a controversy that leapt from the ivory tower to make headlines across the country. But Brown’s troubling past was far from unique. In Ebony and Ivy, Craig Steven Wilder, a rising star in the profession of history, lays bare uncomfortable truths about race, slavery, and the American academy. Many of America’s revered colleges and universities—from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton to Rutgers, Williams College, and UNC—were soaked in the sweat, the tears, and sometimes the blood of people of color. Slavery funded colleges, built campuses, and paid the wages of professors. Enslaved Americans waited on faculty and students; academic leaders aggressively courted the support of slave owners and slave traders. Significantly, as Wilder shows, our leading universities, dependent on human bondage, became breeding grounds for the racist ideas that sustained them.

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Fatal Invention

Dorothy Roberts

A decade after the Human Genome Project proved that human beings are not naturally divided by race, scientists are attempting to resuscitate race as a biological category. In this provocative analysis, leading legal scholar and social critic Dorothy Roberts argues that America is once again at the brink of a virulent outbreak of classifying population by race. By searching for differences at the molecular level, a new race-based science is obscuring racism in society and legitimising state brutality against communities at a time when America claims to be post-racial.

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The Fire Now

Edited by Remi Joseph-Salisbury, Azeezat Johnson & Beth Kamunge

Not so long ago, many spoke of a “post-racial” era, claiming that advances made by people of colour showed that racial divisions were becoming a thing of the past. But the hollowness of such claims has been exposed by the rise of Trump and Brexit, both of which have revealed deep seated white resentment, and have been attended by a resurgence in hate crime and overt racial hatred on both sides of the Atlantic. At a time when progress towards equality is not only stalling, but being actively reversed, how should anti-racist scholars respond? This collection carries on James Baldwin’s legacy of bearing witness to racial violence in its many forms. Its authors address how we got to this particular moment, arguing that it can only be truly understood by placing it within the wider historical and structural contexts that normalise racism and white supremacy. Its chapters engage with a wide range of contemporary issues and debates, from the whiteness of the recent women’s marches, to anti-racist education, to the question of Black resistance and intersectionality. Mapping out the problems we face, and the solutions we need, the book considers how anti-racist scholarship and activism can overcome the setbacks posed by the resurgence of white supremacy.

Freedom is a Constant Struggle

Angela Y. Davis

Reflecting on the importance of black feminism, intersectionality, and prison abolitionism for today’s struggles, Davis discusses the legacies of previous liberation struggles, from the Black Freedom Movement to the South African anti-Apartheid movement. She highlights connections and analyzes today’s struggles against state terror, from Ferguson to Palestine.

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

The author of Race for Profit carries out “[a] searching examination of the social, political and economic dimensions of the prevailing racial order” (Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow). In this winner of the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize for an Especially Notable Book, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor “not only exposes the canard of color-blindness but reveals how structural racism and class oppression are joined at the hip.”

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From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime

Elizabeth Hinton

How did the land of the free become the home of the world’s largest prison system? Elizabeth Hinton traces the rise of mass incarceration to an ironic source: not the War on Drugs of the Reagan administration but the War on Crime that began during Johnson’s Great Society at the height of the civil rights era.

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Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?

Mumia Abu-Jamal

In December 1981, Mumia Abu Jamal was shot and beaten into unconsciousness by Philadelphia police. He awoke to find himself shackled to a hospital bed, accused of killing a cop. He was convicted and sentenced to death in a trial that Amnesty International has denounced as failing to meet the minimum standards of judicial fairness. In Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?, Mumia gives voice to the many people of color who have fallen to police bullets or racist abuse, and offers the post-Ferguson generation advice on how to address police abuse in the United States. This collection of his radio commentaries on the topic features an in-depth essay written especially for this book to examine the history of policing in America, with its origins in the white slave patrols of the antebellum South and an explicit mission to terrorize the country’s black population. Applying a personal, historical, and political lens, Mumia provides a righteously angry and calmly principled radical black perspective on how racist violence is tearing our country apart and what must be done to turn things around.

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How to Be an Antiracist

Ibram X. Kendi

Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and reenergizes the conversation about racism—and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. At its core, racism is a powerful system that creates false hierarchies of human value; its warped logic extends beyond race, from the way we regard people of different ethnicities or skin colors to the way we treat people of different sexes, gender identities, and body types. Racism intersects with class and culture and geography and even changes the way we see and value ourselves. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves. Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science with his own personal story of awakening to antiracism. This is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond the awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a just and equitable society. 

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Making Sense of Race in Education

Jessica A. Heybach and Sheron Fraser-Burgess

Making Sense of Race in Education: Practices for Change in Difficult Times takes a fresh look at the perennial issue of race in American schools. How do educators, in all settings, confront the issue of race with students and colleagues, given the contemporary backdrop of social movements for racial justice and change? How do educators affect change within their everyday classroom practices without fostering further alienation and discord? Although much has already been written about race and racism in school, this book addresses racial incidents directly and offers practical insights into how P-20 educators can transform these events alongside students and colleagues. Each chapter provides detailed analysis of curriculum, instruction, practices and pedagogical strategies for addressing race while at the same time wrestling with theoretical conceptions of race, justice, and fairness. 

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The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Michelle Alexander

A tenth-anniversary edition of the iconic bestseller with a new preface by the author. Seldom does a book have the impact of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. Since it was first published in 2010, it has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it helped inspire the creation of the Marshall Project and the new $100 million Art for Justice Fund; it has been the winner of numerous prizes, including the prestigious NAACP Image Award; and it has spent nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Most important of all, it has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists and organizations motivated by Michelle Alexander’s unforgettable argument that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”

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The Next American Revolution

Grace Lee Boggs and Scott Kurashige

The pioneering Asian American labor organizer and writer’s vision for intersectional and anti-racist activism. In this powerful, deeply humanistic book, Grace Lee Boggs, a legendary figure in the struggle for justice in America, shrewdly assesses the current crisis—political, economical, and environmental—and shows how to create the radical social change we need to confront new realities. A vibrant, inspirational force, Boggs has participated in all of the twentieth century’s major social movements—for civil rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights, and more. She draws from seven decades of activist experience, and a rigorous commitment to critical thinking, to redefine “revolution” for our times. From her home in Detroit, she reveals how hope and creativity are overcoming despair and decay within the most devastated urban communities. Her book is a manifesto for creating alternative modes of work, politics, and human interaction that will collectively constitute the next American Revolution—which is unraveling before our eyes.

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Race For Profit

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, reeling from a wave of urban uprisings, politicians finally worked to end the practice of redlining. Reasoning that the turbulence could be calmed by turning Black city-dwellers into homeowners, they passed the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, and set about establishing policies to induce mortgage lenders and the real estate industry to treat Black homebuyers equally. The disaster that ensued revealed that racist exclusion had not been eradicated, but rather transmuted into a new phenomenon of predatory inclusion. Race for Profit uncovers how exploitative real estate practices continued well after housing discrimination was banned. The same racist structures and individuals remained intact after redlining’s end, and close relationships between regulators and the industry created incentives to ignore improprieties. Meanwhile, new policies meant to encourage low-income homeownership created new methods to exploit Black homeowners. The federal government guaranteed urban mortgages in an attempt to overcome resistance to lending to Black buyers—as if unprofitability, rather than racism, was the cause of housing segregation. Bankers, investors, and real estate agents took advantage of the perverse incentives, targeting the Black women most likely to fail to keep up their home payments and slip into foreclosure, multiplying their profits. As a result, by the end of the 1970s, the nation’s first programs to encourage Black homeownership ended with tens of thousands of foreclosures in Black communities across the country. The push to uplift Black homeownership had descended into a goldmine for realtors and mortgage lenders, and a ready-made cudgel for the champions of deregulation to wield against government intervention of any kind.   Narrating the story of a sea-change in housing policy and its dire impact on African Americans, Race for Profit reveals how the urban core was transformed into a new frontier of cynical extraction.

Slavery By Another Name

Slavery by Another Name

Douglas A. Blackmon

In this groundbreaking book, Blackmon brings to light one of the most shameful chapters in American history—the re-enslavement of black Americans from the Civil War to World War II—in a moving, sobering account that explores the insidious legacy of white racism that reverberates today.

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So You Want to Talk about Race

Ijeoma Oluo

In this New York Times bestseller, Ijeoma Oluo offers a hard-hitting but user-friendly examination of race in America. Widespread reporting on aspects of white supremacy—from police brutality to the mass incarceration of Black Americans—has put a media spotlight on racism in our society. Still, it is a difficult subject to talk about. How do you tell your roommate her jokes are racist? Why did your sister-in-law take umbrage when you asked to touch her hair—and how do you make it right? How do you explain white privilege to your white, privileged friend? In So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to “model minorities” in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life.

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Stamped from the Beginning

Ibram X. Kendi

The National Book Award winning history of how racist ideas were created, spread, and deeply rooted in American society. Some Americans insist that we’re living in a post-racial society. But racist thought is not just alive and well in America—it is more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues, racist ideas have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit. In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. He uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to drive this history: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis. As Kendi shows, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. They were created to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and the nation’s racial inequities. In shedding light on this history, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose racist thinking. In the process, he gives us reason to hope.

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When They Call You a Terrorist

Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele

A poetic and powerful memoir about what it means to be a Black woman in America—and the co-founding of a movement that demands justice for all in the land of the free. Raised by a single mother in an impoverished neighborhood in Los Angeles, Patrisse Khan-Cullors experienced firsthand the prejudice and persecution Black Americans endure at the hands of law enforcement. For Patrisse, the most vulnerable people in the country are Black people. Deliberately and ruthlessly targeted by a criminal justice system serving a white privilege agenda, Black people are subjected to unjustifiable racial profiling and police brutality. In 2013, when Trayvon Martin’s killer went free, Patrisse’s outrage led her to co-found Black Lives Matter with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. Condemned as terrorists and as a threat to America, these loving women founded a hashtag that birthed the movement to demand accountability from the authorities who continually turn a blind eye to the injustices inflicted upon people of Black and Brown skin. When They Call You a Terrorist is Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele’s reflection on humanity. It is an empowering account of survival, strength and resilience and a call to action to change the culture that declares innocent Black life expendable.

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White Fragility

Robin DiAngelo

Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo explores how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.

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Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?

Beverly Daniel Tatum

The classic, bestselling book on the psychology of racism-now fully revised and updated. Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. These topics have only become more urgent as the national conversation about race is increasingly acrimonious. This fully revised edition is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of race in America.