Getting their intersectional read on, surely. (LOC)

A U.S./Canadian Race & Racism Reading List

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
6 min readJan 23, 2016


Some people are aware that I grew up in an activist family with a somewhat unique intellectual history, and that has given me a unique preparation for engaging in the discussion about race and feminism and more broadly the oppressive structures of the society we live within. But it is also the case that I have spent a lot of time on self-education, partly as a means of survival and partly to be an accomplice in the struggles of people who experience different but interlocking oppressive structures from me.

The following is a reading list of the books on race and racism in the U.S. and Canada that have been most influential for my husband (who is an Ethnic Studies scholar) and me, although I left most of the stuff about decolonization on my Decolonising Science Reading List. Some books appear on both the U.S. list and the Canada list because the border between these two colonially-produced countries is actually pretty porous. The Canada list is shorter in part because there is less scholarship on race coming out of Canada than the U.S. — in part because the Canadian academic establishment has traditionally been far less supportive of it, especially on Black topics, in part because Canadian population is 10x smaller than the U.S. — but also because my time there was much shorter, and I know less. You’ll notice that there is a lot of fiction and some poetry here. That is because our histories are not merely a collection of facts but also a matter of stories, and sometimes fiction is the best way to communicate the truth. I make no claims about completeness and will probably periodically edit the list, especially to include important articles such as Kimberlé Crenshaw’s article on intersectionality and James Baldwin’s On Being White. These are just the books that have influenced us inside and outside of the classroom and which we found to be net helpful, rather than harmful.

How to use this list: Every single book (or poem as the case may be) is linked to Amazon, not because I want to encourage you to buy from Amazon but because it is the website with the most comprehensive information about each title. I recommend opening every link, systematically, and reading about each and every title. This may take a couple of hours, depending on how quickly you read. However long it takes you, do it. If you decide to make a purchase, I strongly encourage you to buy these books from Teaching for Change or Powell’s City of Books. I also encourage you to push your local library to order a copy of anything they don’t have and/or to consider donating a copy if they will allow you. Finally, yes the list is not organized in any serious way because every organizing principle I thought of had a problem. I am still deciding what I want to do about that. 1/24/2016

United States

Roots, Alex Haley

Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954–1965, Juan Williams, intro by Julian Bond (also please see the documentary)

How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, Kiese Laymon

Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde

The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin

Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race, Matthew Frye Jacobson

The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics, George Lipsitz

A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America, Ronald Takaki

Pursuing Intersectionality, Unsettling Dominant Imaginaries, Vivian May

Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, Chandra Talpade Mohanty

Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law, Dean Spade

Native Son, Richard Wright

The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison

Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros

Cane, Jean Toomer

Atomik Aztex, Sesshu Foster

Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill (also known as Someone Knows My Name for American readers)

Freedom With Violence: Race, Sexuality and the US State, Chandan Reddy

Black, White & Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self, Rebecca Walker

I Wonder as I Wander: An Autobiographical Journey, Langston Hughes

Racial Formation in the United States, Michael Omi and Howard Winant

All the Women Are White, All The Blacks Are Men, But Some Of Us Are Brave, eds. Akasha (Gloria T.) Hull, Patricia Bell-Scott, & Barbara Smith

Good Wives, Nasty Wenches & Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race and Power in Colonial Virginia, Kathleen Brown

Mansfield Park, Jane Austen (Ok, so technically this one is about the Caribbean, but it’s connected to how U.S. and Canadian fortunes were made.)

Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans, Ronald Takaki

Einstein on Race and Racism, Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor

The Einstein File: J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret War Against the World’s Most Famous Scientist, Fred Jerome

Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays, Eula Bliss

Black Skin, White Masks, Frantz Fanon

Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism, Noenoe K. Silva

Asian Americans: The Movement and the Moment, ed. Steve Louie and Glenn Omatsu

Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America, Mae M. Ngai

Indians in Unexpected Places, Philip J. Deloria

American Indian Activism: Alcatraz to the Long Walk, ed. Troy Johnson, Joanne Nagel, and Duane Champagne

Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity, J. Kēhaulani Kauanui

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown

The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, Manning Marable

By Any Means Necessary, Malcolm X

Why We Can’t Wait, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California, Ruth Wilson Gilmore

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

Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live In, C.L.R. James

Moby Dick: The Norton Critical Edition, Herman Melville

Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, Gloria Anzaldua

This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women of Color, eds. Cherríe Moraga & Gloria Anzaldúa

Narrative of Sojourner Truth, Sojourner Truth

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass

John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights, David S. Reynolds

The State of Native America: Genocide, Colonization and Resistance, ed. M. Annette Jaimes

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America, Vivek Bald

Blood, Bread and Poetry: Selected Prose, Adrienne Rich

The Burning of Paper Instead of Children (poem), Adrienne Rich

An Atlas of the Difficult World (poem), Adrienne Rich

Origins and History of Consciousness (poem), Adrienne Rich

The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes

Tropic of Orange, Karen Tei Yamashita

I Hotel, Karen Tei Yamashita

Black Anti-Semitism and Jewish Racism, eds. James Baldwin and Nat Hentoff

Southland, Nina Revoyr

Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, eds. Adrienne Maree Brown & Walidah Imarisha

The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, C.L.R. James

Country of Origin, Don Lee

Yellow, Don Lee

Love Marriage: A Novel, V.V. Ganeshananthan

Any Known Blood, Lawrence Hill

Sex, Race and Class-The Perspective of Winning: A Selection of Writings 1952–2011, Selma James

Asian Settler Colonialism: From Local Governance to the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawaii, eds. Candace Fujikane & Jonathan Y. Okamura

Strangers & Neighbors: Relations between Blacks & Jews in the United States, eds. Maurianne Adams and John H. Bracey, intro by Julian Bond

Social Death: Racialized Rightlessness and the Criminalization of the Unprotected, Lisa Marie Cacho

Adoptionland: From Orphans to Activists, eds. Jasmine Myung Ja, Michael Allen Potter, & Allen L. Vance

Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities, Craig Steven Wilder

The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale and Princeton, Jerome Karabel


The Hanging of Angelique: The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montreal, Afua Cooper

Black, George Elliott Clarke

The Truth About Stories, Thomas King

The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill

art on black, d’bi.young Anitafrika

A Short History of Indians in Canada {stories}, Thomas King

Funny You Don’t Look Like One: Observations from a Blue-Eyed Ojibway (but read the whole series), Drew Hayden Taylor

Black Canadians: History, Experience, Social Conditions, Joseph Mensah

Razing Africville: A Geography of Racism, Jennifer J. Nelson

Bloodletting and Other Miraculous Cures, Vincent Lam

Green Grass, Running Water, Thomas King

Dead White Writer On The Floor (play), Drew Hayden Taylor

Any Known Blood, Lawrence Hill

Eyeing the North Star: Directions in African-Canadian Literature, George Elliott Clarke

Black Berry, Sweet Juice, Lawrence Hill

Porcupines and China Dolls, Robert Arthur Alexie

The Black Atlantic Reconsidered: Black Canadian Writing, Cultural History and the Presence of the Past, Winfried Siemerling

Love Marriage, V.V. Ganeshananthan

Box of Treasures or Empty Box? Twenty Years of Section 35, eds. Ardith Walkem & Halie Bruce