Philosophy of Race Reading List

Education is crucial to dismantling white supremacy. In the wake of current events, many folks are turning to books to continue to educate themselves on race, resistance, anti-blackness, and white privilege. Of course, I want you to read How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi, and White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. But as those and many popular titles are selling out and currently on backorder (Wow! Yay!), here are a few alternatives for the philosophically minded. Obviously, this is not meant to be an exhaustive or comprehensive list in any way, just a selection of texts that I have learned from over the years. These texts are philosophical, but that does not mean that they are inaccessible. It does mean that (perhaps with the exception of DuBois and Davis) you may not come across them on one of the many other race-centered reading lists that are circulating at the moment. Click on the links to read descriptions, and leave a comment if you’d like more information from me on any of these authors or titles. Or if there is a question that you are especially interested in exploring, I may be able to recommend another title for you.

The Racial Contract – Charles Mills

The Souls of Black Folk — W.E.B. DuBois

Black Skin, White Masks — Franz Fanon

Racial Formation in the United States – Michael Omi and Howard Winant

Philosophy of Race: An Introduction – Naomi Zack

Women, Race & Class — Angela Davis

Ain’t I a Woman — bell hooks

Black Bodies, White Gazes – George Yancy

Black Feminist Thought — Patricia Hill Collins

This is just a place to start! To continue this conversation, I’m going to write a series of posts that distill some of the critical concepts of Charles Mills’ The Racial Contract. Briefly, Mills argues that 1) white supremacy exists, 2) white supremacy should be thought of as a political system, and 3) that system can be theorized as based on a contract between whites, a racial contract upheld by political, moral, and epistemological claims. I’ll get into it! I have taught this book in several intro to philosophy courses; it is not very long, and it is accessible for folks that aren’t accustomed to reading philosophical texts. If you’d like to read along, the book is available as a free PDF here, or place an order with your favorite independent bookseller.

What are you reading to deepen your understanding? Leave your own recommendations in the comments!

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