5 Books to Help Combat Workplace Racism


I recently read an article by Robin DiAngelo on white fragility in the work place. DiAngelo is famed for her talk on unpacking whiteness and several books on white privilege and race. Her work as an educator and consultant has been influential to my own and some lines in her recent piece really stuck out to me;

"The goal of my work is to make visible the inevitable racist assumptions held, and patterns displayed, by white people conditioned from living in a white supremacist culture."

Whiteness is a challenging concept to tackle, particularly for white folks who perceive themselves to be entirely unracist and free from prejudiced thoughts and actions. However, the discussion of whiteness, white privilege and white supremacy are essential to conversations on improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Here are some really great books that help to confront some of these systemic issues and begin essential conversations around race:

1. WHITE FRAGILITY: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

Robin DiAngelo


In this groundbreaking and timely book, antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility. Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo explores how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.

2. Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race

Reni Eddo-Lodge


In 2014, award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren't affected by it. She posted a piece on her blog, entitled: 'Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race'. Her words hit a nerve. The post went viral and comments flooded in from others desperate to speak up about their own experiences. Galvanised by this clear hunger for open discussion, she decided to dig into the source of these feelings. Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism.

3. Deep Diversity: Overcoming Us vs. Them

Shakil Choudhury


What if our interactions with those different from us are strongly influenced by things happening below the radar of awareness, hidden even from ourselves? Deep Diversity explores this question and argues that "us vs. them" is an unfortunate but normal part of the human experience due to reasons of both nature and nurture.

To really work through issues of racial difference and foster greater levels of fairness and inclusion, argues Shakil Choudhury, requires an understanding of the human mind—its conscious and unconscious dimensions. Deep Diversity integrates Choudhury’s twenty years of experience with interviews with researchers in social neuroscience, implicit bias, psychology, and mindfulness. Using a compassionate but challenging approach, Choudhury helps readers identify their own bias and offers practical ways to break the "prejudice habits" we have all learned, in order to tackle systemic discrimination.

4. So You Want to Talk about Race?

Ijeoma Oluo


In So You Want to Talk About Race, Editor at Large of The Establishment Ijeoma Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the "N" word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions readers don't dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans.

Oluo is an exceptional writer with a rare ability to be straightforward, funny, and effective in her coverage of sensitive, hyper-charged issues in America. Her messages are passionate but finely tuned and crystalize ideas that would otherwise be vague by empowering them with aha-moment clarity.

5. What If?: Short Stories to Spark Diversity Dialogue

Steve L. Robbins


In What If?, Robbins provides twenty-six inspiring, lively, and sometimes deeply personal stories illustrating diversity and inclusion concepts. He offers insight and practical advice on how to reconcile unity with diversity and reframe our organizations for competitive advanges. He adds tips and suggestions for putting keylearning into action in your organization, ending each chapter with questions, an activity, and an assignment to inspire you to be more open-minded and inclusive and to discover how the ideas presented in the book might apply to your daily life at work and at home.


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