The President's Blog

Three Books On Race and White Supremacy

My alma mater recently asked me to recommend three books that help explain the moment we’re in. I thought I would share those here, too.

The Fire Next Time
By James Baldwin

Hands down, this book is one of the most important treatments of the deleterious effects of race and white supremacy in the U.S. ever written. Upon a recent re-reading — and it pains me to say this — it remains as relevant today as it was when Baldwin first published it in 1963.

Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own
By Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

Glaude’s book speaks powerfully to the moment we are living through in our nation. It is fundamentally a meditation on how James Baldwin worked his way back to hope from his own moment of despair about white supremacy and its (once again, quite literal) deadly effects (i.e., the murders of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Medgar Evers). 

At one level the book functions as a self-help book — in the very best possible way — written just for what we are going through right now. It’s compelling in that it gives us permission to feel the despair of our moment, while urging us back to hope so that we may, in Baldwin’s words, “begin again.”

The Alchemy of Race and Rights: Diary of a Law Professor
By Patricia J. Williams

For those who imagine that education or wealth protect Black people from the effects of racism and white supremacy, I recommend Williams’ book — one of my favorite works of criticism of all time. Through a compelling mix of legal analysis, critical race theory, and personal anecdote, Williams gives us a glimpse into the effects of race in our professional, political, and personal lives. 

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