This is not a comprehensive bibliography, but it does contain many important and readable books and DVD’s that will inform the reader about issues of race and racism.  An attempt has been made to identify well-recommended books, with an emphasis on more recent titles.  We welcome recommendations of other titles to add to this bibliography.

Nonfiction (including memoirs and biographies)
Children’s books
DVD’s (including both feature films and documentaries)

(Virtually all of these books and DVD’s are available at the Jones Library in Amherst.)


Understanding Contemporary Racism

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander. New Press, 2012.

Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race, by Debby Irving.  Elephant Room Press, 2014.

Race: Are We So Different? by Alan H. Goodman, Yolanda T. Moses, and Joseph L. Jones. Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.

A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race from the Colonial Era to Obama’s America, by Jacqueline Jones. Basic Books, 2013.

Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald. Delacorte Press, 2013.  A psychological approach to racism.

Understanding and Dismantling Racism: The Twenty-first Century Challenge to White America, by Joseph Barndt.  Fortress Press, 2007.

Two-Faced Racism, by Leslie Houts Picca and Joe R. Feagin.  Routledge, 2007.

Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism & Wrecked the Middle Class, by Ian Haney Lopez.  Oxford University Press, 2014.


African Americans

Life upon These Shores: Looking at African American History, 1513-2008, by Henry Louis Gates. Knopf, 2011.

The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom, by Marcus Rediker. Viking, 2012. A gripping story of the successful 1839 rebellion aboard ship that changed that the nature of the abolitionist movement.

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, by Annette Gordon-Reed. Norton & Co, 2008.

Slavery in the Connecticut Valley of Massachusetts, by Robert H. Romer.  Levellers Press, 2009.

Ten Hills Farm: The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North, by C. S. Manegold. Princeton University Press, 2010. A history of 150 years of slavery in New England.

A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League, by Ron Suskind.  Broadway Books, 1998.  The moving story of Cedric Jennings, a young African American, and all that he faces growing up in the ghetto and going to the Ivy League.

Slavery by Another Name: The Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II, by Douglas A. Blackmon. Anchor Books, 2008.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson. Random House, 2010.

Pillar of Fire: America during the King Years, by Taylor Branch. Simon and Schuster, 1998.

Blood Done Sign My Name, by Timothy B. Tyson. Crown Publishers, 2004. Examines the 1970 murder of a black veteran in North Carolina.

Cape Verdean Americans

So Ends This Day: The Portuguese in American Whaling, by Donald Warrin. Publ by Univ. of Mass Dartmouth, 2010. Tells how Cape Verdeans, who spoke a creole based on Portuguese and African languages, were hired to work on American whaling  ships in the 19th century, and over time immigrated with their families to Massachusetts, the home of the whaling fleet.

“Some Kind of Funny ‘Porto Rican’: A Cape Verdean American Story,” DVD produced by Clare Andrade-Watkins.  SPIA Media Productions, 2006.


Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States, by Felipe Fernández-Armesto. Norton & Co, 2014.

Latino Americanos: el legado de 500 años que dio forma a una nación, by Ray Suarez. Celebra, published by the Penguin Group (USA), 2013.

Asian Americans

Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, by Helen Zia. FSG, 2000.

Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans, by Ronald T. Takaki. Penguin, 1989.

Native Americans

1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus, by Charles Mann. Knopf, 2006.

The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity, by Jill Lepore. Knopf, 1988. A history of the savage race war that was fought across the Pioneer Valley and southern New England in the 17th century.

The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America, by James Wilson. Grove Press, 1998.

Whiteness and White Privilege

Inheriting the Trade: A Northern Family confronts Its Legacy as the Largest Slave-Trading Dynasty in U.S. History, by Thomas Norman DeWolf. Beacon Press, 2008.

Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America, by Tanner Colby. Viking, 2012.

White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, by Tim Wise.  Soft Skull, 2008.

Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk About Race and How to Do It, by Shelly Tochluk (Second Edition).  Rowman and Littlefield Education, 2010.

Learning to Be White, by Thandeka.  Continuum, 1999.


African American

Twelve Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup. Penguin Books, 2013. The memoir that inspired the new feature film.

Grace of Silence, by Michele Norris. Pantheon Books, 2010. The author is cohost of NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother, by James McBride. Riverhead Books, 1996.

Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama. Crown, 1995.


My Beloved World, by Sonia Sotomayor. Alfred A. Knopf, 2013. (Also available in Spanish.)

A Place to Stand: The Making of a Poet, by Jimmy Santiago Baca. Grove Press, 2001.

Asian American

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, by Loung Ung. Harper, 2006.

Cooked Seed: A Memoir, by Anchee Min. Bloomsbury, 2013. A Chinese-American memoir.

Fresh off the Boat, by Eddie Huang. Spiegel and Grau, 2013. A Chinese-American memoir.

Native American

Rez Life: An Indian’s Journey through Reservation Life, by David Treuer. Atlantic Monthly Press, 2012.


W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, by David L. Lewis. Holt, 1993. About the distinguished African American scholar, activist, and resident of Western Massachusetts for whom the UMass library is named.

Malcolm X: A life of Reinvention, by Marable Manning. Viking, 2011.

The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White, by Daniel J. Sharfstein. Penguin Press, 2011.

When a Heart Turns Rock Solid: The Lives of Three Puerto Rican Brothers on and off the Streets, by Timothy Black. Pantheon Books, 2009. A sociologist befriends and follows the lives of 3 brothers for almost 2 decades in Springfield, Mass.

Intersections between Racism & Other Oppressions

More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City, by William Julius Wilson. Norton & Co, 2009.

Black, White, and Jewish, by Rebecca Walker. Riverhead Books, 2001.

For All of Us One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey, by Richard Blanco. Beacon, 2013. A Latino poet and openly gay man reflects on his life and his participation in President Obama’s inauguration ceremony.


The Souls of Black Folk, by W. E. B. Du Bois. Oxford University Press, 2007 (1st published in 1903). By the distinguished scholar, activist, and resident of Western Massachusetts.

Passing, by Nella Larsen. Modern Library, 2000 (1st published in 1929). A novel about two light-skinned African American women.

Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston.  Harper, 2006 (1st published in 1937). A novel about an African American woman.

From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans, by John Hope Franklin. McGraw Hill, 2000 (1st published in 1947).

A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. Harper & Row, 1986.


Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Knopf, 2013. About recent immigrants from Nigeria.

Forgotten Country, by Catherine Chung. Riverhead Books, 2012. About Korean Americans.

Muaddi Darraj, S. (2007). The inheritance of exile: Stories from South Philly. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.  (re: Arab Americans)

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz. Riverhead Books, 2007. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. About Dominican immigrants.

The Round House, by Louise Erdrich. Harper, 2012. Winner of the National Book Award. About an Ojibwe family living on a reservation in North Dakota.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie. Little, Brown, & Co., 2007.

American Dervish, by Ayad Akhtar. Little, Brown, & Co, 2012. About Pakistani immigrants.

The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri. Mariner Books, 2004. About immigrants from India.

The Known World, by Edward P. Jones. Amistad, 2003. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. About African Americans during slavery.

Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Knopf, 1993. The author won the Nobel Prize for Literature. About African Americans.

* * *

Selected titles* in the Jones Library Children’s Department on the subject of race, racism, race relations and civil rights:

For younger readers:

Author                               Title

Adoff, Arnold   Black is Brown is Tan

Coleman, Evelyn   White Socks Only

Davol, Marguerite W.   Black, White, Just Right!

Diggs, Taye   Chocolate Me!

Faulkner, Matt   A Taste of Colored Water

Fox, Mem  Whoever You Are

Garland, Sarah   Billy and Belle

Hoffman, Mary   Amazing Grace

Hoffman, Mary   Boundless Grace

Newton, Vanessa   Let Freedom Sing

Parr, Todd   It’s Okay to Be Different

Pinkney, Sandra L.   Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children

Shange, Ntozake   White Wash

Tarpley, Natasha Anastasia   I Love My Hair

TuTu, Desmond   Desmond and the Very Mean Word: A Story of Forgiveness

Tyler, Michael   The Skin You Live In

For middle readers:

Clinton, Catherine   When Harriet Met Sojourner

Dennis, Y. W. & Addasi, M. (2013). A kid’s guide to Arab American history: More than 50 activities. Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press.

Green, Jen   Talking About Racism

Grunsell, Angela   Racism

Hopkinson, Deborah   Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt

In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers

Ingram, Scott   The 1963 Civil Rights March

Koestler, Rachel A.   Going to School During the Civil Rights Movement

Lester, Julius   Let’s Talk About Race

Lishak, Antony   Racism

Morrison, Toni   Remember: The Journey to School Integration

Sanders, Pete   Racism

Senker, Cath   Why Are People Prejudiced?

Shihab-Nye, N. (1997). Sitti’s secrets. New York, NY: Aladdin Paperbacks: An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Divisions. (re: Arab Americans)

Weatherford, Carole   The Beatitudes: From Slavery to Civil Rights

For older readers:

Archer, Jules   They Had a Dream: The Civil Rights Struggle from Frederick Douglass to Marcus  Garvey to Martin Luther King and Malcolm X

Bolden, Tonya   Tell All the Children Our Story: Memories and Mementos of Being Young and  Black in America

Dolan, Sean   Pursuing the Dream: From the Salma-Montgomery March to the Formation of PUSH (1965-1971)

Haskins, James   Drama of African-American History: The Rise of Jim Crow

Hunter-Gault, Charlayne   To the Mountaintop: My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement

Levinson, Cynthia Y.   We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March

Marcovitz, Hal   Teens and Race

Osborne, Linda Barrett   Miles to Go for Freedom: Segregation and Civil Rights in the Jim Crow Years

Seba, Jaime   Gallup Guide for Youth Facing Persistent Prejudice: Blacks

*There are many more fiction titles on these topics.



Central Park Five.  Dir. Ken Burns et al. PBS, 2013.

Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965. Creat. Henry Hampton. PBS Home Video, 2010.

The House I Live in. Dir. Eugene Jarecki. Virgil Films, 2013. An exploration of the impact of the war on drugs.

How Racism Harms White Americans: A Lecture by [University of Massachusetts professor] John H. Bracey Jr.  Dir. Sut Jhally. Media Education Foundation, 2013.

Latino Americans: The 500-Year Legacy that Shaped a Nation.  Dir. David Belton and Sonia Fritz. Latino Public Broadcasting, 2013.

Latinos beyond Reel:  Challenging a Media Stereotype.  Dir. Miguel Picker and Chyng Sun. Media Education Foundation, 2012.

Linsanity.  Dir. Evan Jackson Leong. Ketchup Entertainment, 2014. A portrait of basketball player Jeremy Lin and his struggles to overcome stereotypes.

Race: The Power of an Illusion. Dir. Christine Herbes-Sommers et al. California Newsreel, 2003.

“Some Kind of Funny ‘Porto Rican’”:  A Cape Verdean American Story. Dir. Claire Andrade-Watkins. SPIA Media Productions, 2006.

Tim Wise: On White Privilege: Racism, White Denial, and the Cost of Inequality.  Media Education Foundation, 2008. Lecture filmed at Middlebury College.

Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North. Dir. Katrina Browne, Alla Kovgan, and Jude Ray. California Newsreel, 2008.  The story of a white family learning of their ancestors’ roles in the slave trade and retracing the routes traveled.

Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? Series Creator & Exec. Producer Larry Adelman. California Newsreel, 2008.

Feature Films

The Butler. Dir. Lee Daniels. Anchor Bay Entertainment 2014.

Django Unchained.  Dir. Quentin Tarantino. Anchor Bay Entertainment, 2013.

Farewell to Manzanar. Dir. John Korty. Japanese American National Museum, 2011 (1976 film). A recounting of the Japanese American internment.

Forty-Two: The Jackie Robinson Story.  Dir. Brian Helgeland. Warner Home Video, 2013.

Many thanks to the Reference Librarians at the Jones Library (and a few other contributors) for their work in preparing these bibliographies.