The Race-Focused Books We’re Reading This Fall

By catherine lizette gonzalez Oct 03, 2018

Autumn, the season when we prepare for the imminent wintery cold, is finally here. With the midterm elections quickly approaching in November, progressive candidates of color are bracing for historic contests after scoring several huge upsets over the summer. But the changes that take place outside the ballot box are also salient, through the culture we mold and the creative ways we manifest the fight for racial justice. As the nights grow long and the warm weather recedes, let these books about history, politics, vanguard creators and revolutionaries bring you insight and reflection this fall.


>>“White Kids argues that White children’s perception of race is shaped by their White parents who, intentionally or not, recreate and reinforce racial inequality (NYU Press).  >>“Latinx adds complexity to Latinx racial identity in the United States (Verso). >>In How To Be Less Stupid About Race, Sociologist and Professor Crystal M. Fleming shatters the prevailing misconceptions about race with her own sharp-witted crash course (Beacon).


>>“Bunk takes you through America’s earliest hoaxes to the fake news of today and illustrates how these myths invent racist fears and stereotypes (Graywolf Press). >>Historian Jabari Asim presents compelling essays on Black resistance and survival in We Can’t Breathe (Picador). >> Voter suppression tactics are traced all the way back to the privileged White men who founded the United States in “The Embattled Vote in America(Harvard University Press)  >>“Upending the Ivory Towerrelives the Black Power and civil rights movements that flourished in Ivy League schools throughout the 20th Century (NYU Press). >>“The Injustice Never Leaves You uncovers the horrific stories of Mexican residents who were killed by Texas Rangers, law enforcement and other vigilantes during the early 1900s (Harvard University Press). >>“Black Radical Tradition: A Reader is a sweeping collection of essays and primary texts from several Black revolutionaries including Hubert Harrison, Claudia Jones, Angela Davis and more (Verso).


>>“Modern HERstory pays homage to 70 groundbreaking women and non-binary people who have shaped or are currently shaping the world (Ten Speed Press). >>Activist Charlene Carruthers’ incisive manifesto, Unapologetic,” draws from her experience as an organizer and founder of BYP100 to offer a Black queer feminist approach to building a racial justice movement (Beacon Press). >>Several women of color grapple with their often-complicated relationships to feminism in Can We All Be Feminists? (Penguin Books). >>In the book club-turned-essay collection Well-Read Black Girl prominent Black women writers and creators share how Black literature led to their self-discovery (Ballantine). >>Feminist Wire co-founder Tamura Lomax mines the discourse around Black womanhood in religion and popular culture in Jezebel Unhinged (Duke University Press). >>The anthology Feminisms in Motion compiles a decade of writing by radical women of color (AK Press).

Fiction & Poetry

>>A queer Pinoy immigrates to New York and awakens to the long legacy of American imperialism in the Philippines in “ESL or You Weren’t Here (Nightboat Books). >>Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah reveals the horrors of racism and anti-Black violence through the surreal and satirical short stories in Friday Black (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). >>Poet José Olivares imagines what a Mexican-American heaven could be in Citizen Illegal (Haymarket Press). >>“Pride revamps Jane Austen’s famed novel with an Afro-Latina protagonist set in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins). >>“Training School for Negro Girls captures the layered multitudes of Washington, D.C,. in the fictional stories of Black women and girls (The Feminist Press). >>Erica Dawson’s book-length soliloquy, When Rap Spoke Straight to God,” is a defiant celebration of Blackness (Tin House).

Education & Criminalization

>>Sociologist Eve Ewing revisits the 2013 closure of 54 majority Black Chicago public schools in Ghosts in the Schoolyard (University of Chicago Press). >> “The Schoolhouse Gates parses through Supreme Court decisions that limit students’ Constitutional rights as they pertain to free speech, education access, surveillance and harsh punishment (Pantheon Books). >>“Six By Ten” elevates the stories of incarcerated people who have experienced solitary confinement in U.S. prisons (Voice of Witness). >>A decade of ethnographic research in The Gang Paradox reveals how alarm over gang activity criminalizes Latinx youth along the U.S.-Mexico Border (Columbia University Press).

Biography & Memoir

>>Attorney and former First Lady Michelle Obama’s memoir, "Becoming," chronicles her life from her childhood in the South Side of Chicago to the present (Crown Publish Group). >>"A Journey To Freedom" is the first book-length biography on Mohawk activist Richard Oakes, a leader in the Red Power Movement and the occupation of Alcatraz Island (Yale University Press). >>Scholar and professor Imani Perry paints an intimate portrait of the late legendary playwright Lorraine Hansberry, depicting the "Raisin In the Sun" creator’s leftist origins, activism, queerness and more, in "Looking for Lorraine" (Beacon). >>Editor and essayist Nicole Chung tells her compelling life story, from being raised by adoptive White parents in Oregon to tracing her Korean roots, in "All You Can Ever Know" (Catapult).