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2020-21 The Antiracist Bookshelf

This is a guide for material to learn more about anti-racism. The guide, based on "The Antiracist Bookshelf" created at William & Mary, was created in the 2020-21 academic year, and is no longer being regularly updated.


Image shows a vertical stack of books with stacked on either side of it of titles about antiracism.Note: This guide, based on "The Antiracist Bookshelf" created at William & Mary, was created in the 2020-21 academic year, and is no longer being regularly updated. Individual pages may be updated upon request or for specific needs. For current library DEI activities, please visit our Diversity, Equity, Justice web page

Racism is more than just the individual acts of a few evil folks, but is something that each person needs to consciously and continually address inside themselves. This list aims to serve as a source for self-education as to ways racism and white supremacy are built into the fabric of our society.

Ultimately, we hope this list will inspire you to act. Silence is an immense privilege, one that acts in direct service to fueling the system of white supremacy. By taking an active personal and academic interest in these topics, sharing your knowledge with your networks, and using what you learn to take direct measures toward social justice, you will be one step closer to bringing about the tangible change that we as a society so desperately need.

Remember: there can be no growth without discomfort.

Image Credit: Ideal Bookshelf 1162: Anti-Racism by Jane Mount 

Definitions For This Guide

Anti-racism: It is the active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably (NAC International Perspectives: Women and Global Solidarity).

Intersectionality: Coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, it is the theory that the overlap of various social identities (such as race, gender, sexuality, and class) contributes to the specific type of systemic oppression and discrimination experienced by an individual, and define how one is valued.

Institutional or Systemic Racism: refers specifically to the ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups. The institutional policies may appear neutral on the surface but have an exclusionary impact on particular groups - their effect is to create advantages for white people and oppression and disadvantage for people from groups classified as non-white (Racial Equality Resource).

Historical Trauma: first coined by Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart, it is “a constellation of characteristics associated with massive cumulative group trauma across generations.” These experiences, shared by communities, can result in cumulative emotional and psychological wounds that are carried across generations (University of Minnesota Extension).

Lived Experience: used to describe the first-hand accounts and impressions of living as a member of a minority or oppressed group (Geek Feminist Wiki).

Racism: a complex system of beliefs and behaviors, grounded in a presumed superiority of the white race. These beliefs and behaviors are conscious and unconscious; personal and institutional; and result in the oppression of people of color and benefit the dominant group, white people. A simpler definition is racial prejudice + power = racism (National Conference for Community and Justice).

Whiteness: Racism is based on the concept of whiteness—a powerful fiction enforced by power and violence. ‘Whiteness,’ like ‘color' and ‘Blackness,' are essentially social constructs applied to human beings rather than veritable truths that have universal validity. Whiteness is a constantly shifting boundary separating those who are entitled to have certain privileges from those whose exploitation and vulnerability to violence is justified by their not being white (Kivel, 1996, p. 19) & (Henry & Tator, 2006, p. 46-47).

White Privilege: The unquestioned and unearned set of advantages, entitlements, benefits and choices bestowed upon people solely because they are white. Generally white people who experience such privilege do so without being conscious of it (Peggy McIntosh – Racial Equality Resource