Looking to learn? Or unlearn?

09 June 2020
Here’s a race relations reading list...

What’s happening in the United States and the world right now has all of us considering the ways race, racial inequality and systemic racism affect our everyday lives. For some, this is their first time really grappling with the uncomfortable truths about how deeply these problems are ingrained in our culture.

The US riots come just after Reconciliation Week here in Australia, which reminds us that this is not some far away problem. It’s here with us today.

In 2016 I vowed to only read non-eurocentric books for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, my university syllabus got in the way of that pretty quickly, which in itself should be telling.

I tell you what though – when you've been brought up in Australia on a eurocentric education, it is really difficult to know where to look when you go on that mission to unlearn your habits.

So, I’ve put together this (hopefully) helpful recourse for anyone wanting to educate themselves about race and social justice. And if you’re feeling helpless right now, education is a great place to start.

I’m hopeful we’re seeing a revolution unfolding, and in that spirit, these are some of my favourite non-fiction books to open up a brilliant forum for conversations on race, intersectionality and social justice. Hopefully it helps a bit. 

Race relations reading list

White Tears Brown Scars by Ruby Hamad

An exploration of the weaponisation of white female distress in the face of racial injustice – impeccably researched, controversial (ironically) because of its very nature, this book has resonated with every woman of colour (WoC) who I’ve spoken to about it (including myself).

The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke

A poignant, heartbreaking memoir of a Jamaican-Australian girl in 1980s suburban Sydney trying to navigate life, race, youth and family.

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

A searingly well-researched piece of work that puts everything on the table for non-people of colour (PoC) and asks them to take this knowledge away and educate themselves.

Talking To My Country by Stan Grant

Part autobiography, part blistering analysis of being Indigenous in Australia. Written in Stan Grant’s signature beautiful and emotive language.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I have no words for how much this book made me realise that a black person’s body in America (and the world) is politicised by their sheer existence. So highly relevant in the current climate - but really… it was always relevant.

The Tall Man: The Death of Doomadgee by Chloe Hooper

Every Australian should read this book.

No, wait.

Every person should read this book.

Cameron Doomadgee’s story is just one example of too many, detailing Australia’s chequered, ugly reputation for letting its police treat its Indigenous people with no regard, and with inconceivable and unjustifiable violence. With no repercussions.
Even though the author is a white Australian, I would argue that Chloe Hooper has done a pretty remarkable job of treating this story with the respect it deserves.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

A great intersection between race and feminism. A collection of highly accessible and enjoyable essays that tackle a lot of issues that face WoC/PoC. Does your feminism include the plight of WoC/non-binary PoC/queer PoC?

The cover art for all the books mentioned in this article


Think HQ is a proud ambassador of the Ethnic Communites’ Council of Victoria All One Together campaign to fight racism.


Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash