5 books you should read right now to educate yourself about racism

As America once again grapples with police brutality and race following the mass protests in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, there has been a call for people to educate themselves on privilege and the history of racism in the US.

By reading, people can gain a different perspective from the past and present to create some semblance of self-awareness by learning to not only better themselves but also understand why people protest and why this moment matters long after the protests end.

Ladders asked Jennifer Gomez, the co-founder and CMO of oneKIN, an online marketplace that focuses on independent retailers of color, for book recommendations in order to self-reflect and educate. oneKIN is the online retailer for Sister’s Uptown Bookstore located in Washington Heights, which curated its own list and includes several other important reads.

Gomez highlighted a few she considers essential reading, including some children’s book recommendations for parents. Each is linked to oneKIN’s online store and will be restocked in the coming days.

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

“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.”





Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism by Derrick Bell

“In Faces at the Bottom of the Well, civil rights activist and legal scholar Derrick Bell uses allegory and historical example to argue that racism is an integral and permanent part of American society. African American struggles for equality are doomed to fail so long as the majority of whites do not see their own well-being threatened by the status quo. Bell calls on African Americans to face up to this unhappy truth and abandon a misplaced faith in inevitable progress. Only then will blacks, and those whites who join with them, be in a position to create viable strategies to alleviate the burdens of racism.”




What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America by Michael Eric Dyson

“What Truth Sounds Like exists at the tense intersection of the conflict between politics and prophecy – of whether we embrace political resolution or moral redemption to fix our fractured racial landscape. The future of race and democracy hangs in the balance.”





Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison

“An important book for readers of all ages, this beautifully illustrated and engagingly written volume brings to life true stories of black men in history. Among these biographies, readers will find aviators and artists, politicians and pop stars, athletes and activists. The exceptional men featured include writer James Baldwin, artist Aaron Douglas, filmmaker Oscar Devereaux Micheaux, lawman Bass Reeves, civil rights leader John Lewis, dancer Alvin Ailey, and musician Prince. The legends in Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History span centuries and continents, but each one has blazed a trail for generations to come.”




Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o

“Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.

In this stunning debut picture book, actress Lupita Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.”