August 22, 2017

Resources for Well-Intentioned folks who want to Educate themselves about Racism.

It’s been a week since Nazis marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, and many people are still reeling from the events that took place.

In the last week, I’ve seen many well-intentioned white folks who are shocked and surprised asking for education, mainly from people of color. The most notable was Lady Gaga when she tweeted:

“For the Black Community, tell us ways the non-racist white community who loves u can do better to help influence the country? #HowWeDoBetter.” 

There was mixed reaction to her response, with the primary point being that it is not the responsibility of people of color to educate white folks.

Racial education is hard work. It’s exhausting, emotionally depleting, and requires massive amounts of inner strength to keep going. Not only is it draining, it can also be dangerous as many folks who have the courage to speak up get doxxed and receive threats of violence.

However, we do want those folks to be educated and informed, so here is a list of books you can read and movies you can watch that will help you educate yourself:


1. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Alexander discusses how the rise of Jim Crow laws and mass incarceration have served as a de facto replacement to slavery. Alexander breaks down the statistics, facts, and figures, leaving readers no doubt that the main factor in mass incarceration is not criminality, but race.

2. Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence by Derald Wing Sue

Sue exposes how discomfort in race discussions often leads to an avoidance of dealing with the issues that continue to cause harm. This is helpful in learning how to navigate discussions on racism with wisdom and sensitivity.

3. White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son by Tim Wise

Tim Wise discusses openly the privileges he gets by virtue of being white while also discussing the hardships people of color endure because they are not. This book helps readers understand how privilege impacts everyone and how white folks can work to dismantle it.

4. Killing Rage: Ending Racism by bell hooks

Noted as one of the leading voices against racism of our generation, bell hooks examines the various ways to eradicate racism and covers trauma, friendship, anti-Semitism, the intersection between racism and feminism, and much more.

5. White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson

This is a powerful explication of the phenomenon of white rage that occurs when black Americans attempt to achieve equality and shows the pattern of systemic oppression throughout history.


1. “13th

This powerful documentary that is available on Netflix walks viewers through the “intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States.”

2. “I Am Not Your Negro

This documentary based on the unfinished book of James Baldwin titled Remember this House, shows the history of racism in the United States, including Baldwin’s recollections of civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X.

3. “The Color of Fear

This documentary puts a group of men together for a weekend—two white, two Latino, two Asian, and two black. They discuss race, racism, and share their experiences. Deeply moving, powerful, and sometimes explosive, this documentary will change how you view race relations in the U.S.

4. “A Class Divided

This film is about Jane Elliott’s now-famous experiment in which she created a classroom experience that reflected the realities of racism in the 1960s. Elliott’s work was so profound and challenging to the status quo that she received death threats. Elliott began treating children with brown eyes the same way black Americans were being treated and noted the ways it changed her students on both sides.

5. “The Color Purple

This powerful movie rendition of Alice Walker’s famous book shows the realities of living as a black woman in America—in particular, the challenges of being one of the lowest ranking members of society. Touching and heart-wrenching, this movie will change your life forever.

This list should be enough to get you started on your journey to understanding the complexities of racism, white supremacy, and the perils people of color face. If you need more resources or are looking for more in depth training, please feel free to reach out to me and I’ll point you in the right direction.


Author: Lisa Vallejos, PhD
Image: Twitter
Editor: Leah Sugerman
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Social Editor: Sara Kärpänen


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