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An Anti-Racist Reading List

There is much work to be done on race in America, and all of us must take an active role in building an anti-racist society.

The Library is a source of information for all, and dedicated to elevating the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color through our programming and collections.

We’re also committed to interrogating our own systems, policies, and work as an institution. 

We’ve curated a list of books on the history of racism and anti-racist work as a starting point. We encourage white people to examine their own privilege by reading White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, and to explore the work of Ibram X. Kendi on anti-racism. While you’re waiting for a copy of Stamped or How to Be an Anti-Racist, you can read many of his essays online. 

Don’t underestimate the power of works of fiction to dispel racism and help in “the struggle to be fully human and to see that others are fully human,” (from Kendi, How to be an Anti-Racist).

Pick up Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston, or Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, or The Cities We Became by N. K. Jeminson or Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. 

These conversations aren’t only for adults, either. We need to teach our children about race, and we need to talk with them about racism and police violence. Not just in the wake of protest and outrage, but in everyday conversations. Read them picture books with characters that reflect the experiences of their Black and Indigenous neighbors. Explicitly discuss race after reading Julius Lester’s Let’s Talk About Race

Listen to the Black community, and hear their ideas, demands, and dreams. Challenge power structures that deny the voices and experiences of Black people. Be an advocate in ending police brutality and protecting Black lives. 

SBPL Digital Resources

Other Resources

Local Organizations

"Revolution is not a one-time event." - Audre Lorde

Images: Juneteenth celebration at Santa Barbara Public Library, 2019; Black Lives Matter logo; historical photo from Black Gold

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