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Antiracism Summer Reading List

This summer’s recommended reads from the Institutional Antiracism and Accountability Project includes autobiographies, graphic novels, children’s books, and much more.

Multicolored books on a bookshelf

As summer gets into full swing, the Ash Center invites you to explore a summer reading list curated by the Institutional Antiracism and Accountability Project featuring compelling memoirs, autobiographies, and historical accounts. From tales of the desegregation of Boston’s school system to an exploration of Latinos’ new collective identity within America’s racialized world to the brutal truth behind the racialized disparities of student debt, this list brings you powerful insights geared toward challenging our perspectives and changing the status quo.

Our History Has Always Been Contraband In Defense of Black Studies,” edited by Colin Kaepernick, Robin D. G. Kelley, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Why we chose this book: Since its founding, Black Studies has been under relentless attack. This collection is fighting back, featuring 50+ vital readings, including a chapter by IARA Director, Professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad.

We Refuse to Forget: A True Story of Black Creeks, American Identity and Power,” by Caleb Gayle

Why we chose this book: The history of Black Creeks’ exclusion — and their current fight for citizenship — is an insightful example of an ongoing process of justice, truth–telling, and healing, which the IARA team is exploring in a three-year research project about to be published.

Fighting to Breathe: Race, Toxicity, and the Rise of Youth Activism in Baltimore,” by Nicole Fabricant

Why we chose this book: For anyone doing organizing work like these students, this is an inspiring story filled with practical strategies for effecting change at the intersection of climate and racial justice.

Before Busing: A History of Boston’s Long Black Freedom Struggle,” by Zebulon Vance Miletsky

Why we chose this book: Miletsky goes beyond the standard narrative about Boston’s history of school desegregation by laying out the specific tactics and campaigns used to achieve this landmark change.

City of Dispossessions: Indigenous Peoples, African Americans, and the Creation of Modern Detroit,” by Kyle T. Mays

Why we chose this book: This publication asks a rewarding question: How does comparing the historical experiences of Native Americans and African Americans in an urban context help us comprehend histories of race, sovereignty, and colonialism?

The Whiteness of Wealth: How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans–and How We Can Fix It,” by Dorothy A. Brown

Why we chose this book: Brown’s investigation directly connects to institutional accountability in academia: the racial disparities of student debt.

Stamped from the Beginning: A Graphic History Of Racist Ideas In America,” by Ibram X. Kendi and Joel Christian Gill

Why we chose this book: Kendi and Gill are offering a new way for folks to learn about history of race in the U.S., and that’s exactly what this country needs right now.

The Future of Black Studies,” by Abdul Alkalimat

Why we chose this book: As curricula on Black Studies in the U.S. is under attack, Alkalimat is celebrating the field’s accomplishments thus far — and envisioning its future.

We Are Water Protectors,” by Carole Lindstrom

Why we chose this book: Lindstrom tells a powerful story about community organizing with valuable takeaways for readers of all ages.

Chain of Change: Struggles for Black Community Development,” by Mel King

Why we chose this book: In honor of Mel King’s passing earlier this year, his work is well worth a revisit.

Concepcion: An Immigrant Family’s Fortunes,” by Albert Samaha

Why we chose this book: Concepcion explores what it might mean to reckon with the unjust legacy of imperialism.

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning,” by Cathy Park Hong

Why we chose this book: IARA’s work focuses on institutional racism, so this book is a wonderful balance, offering a poetic, humorous perspective on what race means personally and emotionally.

Inventing Latinos: A New Story of American Racism,” by Laura E. Gómez

Why we chose this book: Gómez takes a look at the way Americans understand race today by tracing ‘Latinx’ as an emerging racial identity.

Decolonizing Wealth,” by Edgar Villanueva

Why we chose this book: Here’s a provocative analysis of the colonial dynamics at play in philanthropy and finance — and why reparations can help.

When the Hood Comes: Off Racism and Resistance in the Digital Age,” by Rob Eschmann

Why we chose this book: This is a timely study examining how racism manifests online and highlights the antiracist tactics rising to oppose it.

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Antiracism Summer Reading List
Collage of cover photos of all of the books

Feature

Antiracism Summer Reading List

15 noteworthy recent releases handpicked by the Institutional Antiracism and Accountability (IARA) Project.

Art Imitates Nation: A Conversation with Hank Willis Thomas
Hank William Thomas speaking with Sarah Elizabeth Lewis

Video

Art Imitates Nation: A Conversation with Hank Willis Thomas

Artist Hank Willis Thomas spoke with Harvard professor Sarah Elizabeth Lewis about how love guides his artwork at a Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics forum.