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19 Essential Books to Understand Race and Equity in School

by Isaiah McGee


Many educators have been asking what can I read to better understand race, racism, and its impact on schools and the classroom. In honor of Juneteenth, I compiled a list of 19 essential books that can help educators not only better understand the elusive, pervasive, and persistence impact of race on schools, but also provide them with skills to challenge and mitigate its influence and provide marginalized students, especially Black students, the best learning environment and experience.


So You Want to Talk About Race

Ijeoma Oluo


Gives honest, clear, and constructive, and conversations about race and racism, how to deal with racial prejudices and biases, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life.



Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi Coates


From a personalized viewpoint, Coates confronts the notion of race in America how it was systematically constructed and shaped American history which includes the subjugation of Black people


Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?

Beverly Tatum


Uses research and psychological theory to explain the development of racial identity and the impact that has on racism and belonging.



Is Everyone Really Equal?

Ozlem Sensoy and Robin DiAngelo


This book addresses the most common stumbling blocks to understanding how social inequity is reproduced.



Racism Without Racists

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva


Documents how, beneath our contemporary conversation about race that often leads to “colorblind” philosophy on race, there persist a litany of arguments, phrases, and stories used to systematize and justify racial inequalities.



How to be an Antiracist

Ibram X. Kendi


Kendi uses history, science, and ethics to describe different forms of racism and how it becomes structural; how people are harmed by this structure, and working to undo racism and its component policies in order to build an equitable society.


White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Race

Robin DiAngelo


Explores the counterproductive reactions White people often have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.



Learning in a Burning House

Sonya Douglass Horsford


This quick read looks at the concept of equal education and offers a historical look at the desegregation dilemma and negative consequences of school desegregation on Black communities in the United States.




Culture and Power in the Classroom

Antonia Darder


This book makes the intellectual argument on culture is situated in the classroom experience and how it informs everything we do from curriculum, pedagogy, organization, and daily (sometimes hidden) practices intersect with the power dynamic that exists in schools.



Other People’s Children

Lisa Delpit


Explains how many of the academic problems attributed to children of color are often the result of miscommunication that stems from the struggle with the imbalance of power.



Whistling Vivaldi

Claude Steele


Sifts through empirical studies to explain the concept of stereotype threat which suggests that regardless of our social power or positionality, identity-based stereotypes that have been internalized can cripple performance and potential.



Belonging Through a Culture of Dignity

Floyd Cobb and John Krownapple


Many schools remain trapped in a cycle of equity dysfunction, often because they lack clarity on the fundamental needs of dignity and belonging. Once these are understood, educators can dismantle the barriers to meaningful student relationships, especially across dimensions of difference such as race, and culture, and make changes that reshape the academic experiences.



We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know

Gary Howard


Establishes a critically conscious framework for White, middle-class teachers to become highly effective, culturally relevant, and responsive educators, especially those in the most poorly resourced schools.



Start Where You Are, But Don’t Stay There

Richard Milner


Provides insights and skills for successfully educating diverse student bodies. The book centers on case studies that exemplify the challenges, pitfalls, and opportunities facing teachers in diverse classrooms.



Culturally Proficient Instruction

Kikanza Nuri-Robins, Randall Lindsey, Deloras Lindsey, Raymond Terrell


This book provides tools, resources, and vignettes to frame how educators illustrate what can transform our educational practice to meet the needs of all kids.



For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood

Christopher Emdin


Provides a unique rephasing and practical strategies on how teachers can empower and engage students based on their experiences to create an environment that produces authentic teaching and learning.




The Dreamkeepers

Gloria Ladson-Billings


Provides an explanation of how culturally relevant teaching works and that it is not a matter of race, gender, or teaching style. What matters most is a teacher's efforts to work with the unique strengths a child brings to the classroom.



Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain

Zaretta Hammond


Offers a framework for optimizing student engagement and uses neuroscience research to offer how our cultures program the brain to process data and affect learning relationships.


The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys

Eddie Moore Jr. Ali Michael, Marguerite Penick-Parks


Employs poignant personal stories, current research, and specific activities as an instructional guide to the largest demographic of educators teaching one of the most marginalized populations of students.


Isaiah McGee is a leading partner with Equity and Justice Consulting
 LLC, a consulting, training, and coaching firm focused on professionals, organizations, and businesses searching for resources, pathways, and
 solutions that will lead to growth, engagement, and functionality around issues of social justice and systems equity. Equity and Justice Consulting specializes in being a catalyst in the areas of professional
 development, government relations, policy development, and strategic
 planning.



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