Dismantling Racism: 21 Books, Podcasts and Films to Help You Be an Activist and Ally

Understanding racism is the first step to its undoing. With this in mind, we've compiled a list of books, documentaries and podcasts that have helped our self-education on prejudice and privilege past and present, and show how non-black people can be actively anti-racist.

If you do choose to buy one of these books, consider ordering from London's black-owned independent bookshops such as Pepukayi Books, Sevenoaks Bookshop, Jacaranda Books and New Beacon Books, which was the UK's first black publisher and bookshop.

Want to be anti-racist? Start your self-education with these books and shows


Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad

Subtitled "How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World", Saad's guide sheds light on how, consciously or not, our behaviours and biases perpetuate white supremacy and thereby helps readers to stop inflicting damage on people of colour. If you want to make a change but don't know where to start, this one's for you.

Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Davis

Since the killing of George Floyd, quotes by pioneering activist Davis have flooded social media, such as: "in a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist." Instead of simply liking a meme, pick up this book which reflects on the importance of black feminism, intersectionality, prison abolitionism and the legacies of previous liberation struggles. Finished? Read If They Come in the Morning, in which Davis recounts her own incarceration and offers a scathing analysis of the policing of black people.

So You Want to Talk About Race? by Ijeoma Oluo

To dismantle white supremacy, we need constructive conversations around race. Oluo answers common questions from non-black people - what are microaggressions? is police brutality really about race? - as well as offering advice on talking with friends and family.

All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes by Maya Angelou

While travel lets us experience different destinations and cultures, the people actually writing the stories about them are disproportionately white. Meeting Faith by black Buddhist nun Faith Adele and Emily Raboteau's Searching for Zion are great tales of self-discovery by black women travel writers, though we really couldn't put down Angelou's account of her time in Ghana, where she experienced revelations about belonging and bigotry.

White Fragility by Robin Diangelo

Why are white people so uncomfortable talking about racism? Diangelo examines how an unwillingness to recognise privilege along with a defensive attitude to cries of racism prevent meaningful dialogue and reinforce inequality. This book helps us confront the fact that racism is not merely an act, but "a complex, interconnected system" that must be changed.

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

Baldwin was a prophet of the civil rights movement. Divided into parts - a letter written on the centenary of the abolition of slavery and a personal reflection on Baldwin's years in Harlem - this book exposes racial injustices in history and religion, and demands change. He writes: "We, the black and white, deeply need each other here if we are really to become a nation." Among Baldwin's other titles are If Beale Street Could Talk, Another Country and I Am Not Your Negro, of which the Bafta-winning film adaptation is especially moving.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Eddo-Lodge feeds the hunger for discussion around erased black histories, whitewashed feminism, class-based racism and the ignorance of white privilege in Britain. The author has urged everyone who buys a copy of her book to match the money with a donation to a justice group, or borrow the book and donate the money you would have spent instead. You can also listen to Reni's nine-part podcast series About Race, as she explores themes at the heart of her book with key voices from anti-racist activism. For more on the black British experience, read The Good Immigrant or Bernardine Evaristo's Girl, Woman, Other.

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde

"Revolution is not a one-time event," writes self-proclaimed "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet" Audre Lorde in this searing anthology - written between 1976 and 1984 - which roasts racism along with sexism, classism, homophobia and ageism. To understand what's happening now, she says, it's important to understand how history has shaped this moment.

When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele

"Twelve. That was the year that I learned that being Black and poor defined me more than being bright and hopeful and ready." Turning pain into power, Khan-Cullors (co-founder of Black Lives Matter) uses her call-to-arms memoir to expose the human stories behind the statistics and headline atrocities committed against black people. To learn more about the rise of Black Lives Matter, watch this documentary or this TED interview.

The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon

Published in 1961 by French psychiatrist Frantz Fanon, one of the leading anti-colonialist thinkers of the 20th century, The Wretched of the Earth explores the dehumanising effects of colonisation and disenfranchisement as well as the role of violence in the fight for freedom.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

A touching and challenging read, Between the World and Me is an intimate letter penned to Coates' teenage son about the feelings, symbolism and realities associated with being black in the US. Part memoir, part history, it sheds light on the racism that seeps through schools, police and the streets. "Racist violence," he writes, "has been woven into American culture." If this gets you thinking, try Coates' We Were Eight Years in Power too.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Hayley

This may have been published in 1965, but its message resonates today. "If you want something, you had better make some noise," says Malcolm X. Based on a series of interviews conducted in the years before his assassination, the book traces his life through Harlem's underworld, a prison conversion to the Nation of Islam and the founding of the Organisation of Afro-American Unity, chronicling his views on religion, race and black nationalism along the way. Done reading? Watch Spike Lee's 1992 film adaptation.

How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X Kendi

Personal experience, history and science combine in this blueprint for building an anti-racist society. If you're asking yourself "what more can I do right now?", leaf through these pages to find out how you can go beyond being "not racist" to working to create a more just society.

Brit(ish) by Aufa Hirsch

If someone was born in Britain, and their parents were born in Britain, why do people keep asking where they're from? Hirsh paints a picture of the country in denial about both its imperial past and racist present. Personal and provocative, the book explores how we got into this situation and makes a rallying cry for change. Like this? Pick up Akala's Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire next.

Documentaries, films & shows


There's a lot of history crammed into this documentary, which traces the mass incarceration of black people to the ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865, which prohibited slavery "except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted". Director DuVernay argues that this loophole has been exploited to maintain racial hierarchy.

Whose Streets?

This documentary follows the demonstrations after the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, which sparked the Black Lives Matter movement, shedding light on underreported police brutality. "The police showed up to a peaceful candlelight vigil," says one resident, "and boxed them in." To further acquaint yourself with the history of protest, watch LA 92 and Selma, a dramatisation of marches led by Martin Luther King Jr.

Dear White People

To understand white privilege, microaggressions and the way discrimination is entrenched in our everyday, binge on Dear White People, in which students of colour navigate daily slights and slippery politics at an Ivy League college that's not nearly as "post-racial" as it believes.


Code Switch by NPR

Expect no-holds-barred conversations about race and the way it impacts every part of society from politics to pop culture and the workplace. Episodes include "A Decade of Watching Black People Die", "What Does 'Hood Feminism' Mean for a Pandemic?" and "After the Cameras Leave".

No Country for Young Women

To educate yourself on how women of colour navigate life, love and work in a white man's world, tune in to No Country for Young Women, hosted by Londoners Sadia Azmat and Monty Onanuga. There's no tiptoeing around the taboo here.

Intersectionality Matters with Kimberlé Crenshaw

Critical race theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the word "intersectionality". Hosting this podcast from the African American Policy Forum, she brings the term to life through animated discussion with political organisers, journalists and writers covering topics such as COVID-19 in prisons and the crossover between race, gender and sexuality.

1619 by The New York Times

In August 1619, a ship carrying 20 enslaved Africans arrived in the English colony of Virginia. Few aspects of modern-day America have been untouched by this event. In this series based on The 1619 Project by The New York Times Magazine, Pulitzer-winning racial injustice reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones reexamines the history of the US in the long shadow of that moment, highlighting the contributions of black Americans in building US democracy, wealth and culture over the four centuries since.

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