Eye-Opening Books and Podcasts
Are you truly free if others around you are not?
Does ignorance of injustice absolve you from responsibility to fight it?
How well do we truly support the vulnerable among us?
Helen Keller wrote,”Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.” Knowing where and how injustice exists is the first step to being aware of the problems faced by those around us and finding ways to effect change. Here are some eye-opening books and podcasts to help you on a journey towards social justice.
Books and Audiobooks
Between the World and Me
The author presents a history of racial discrimination in the United States and a narrative of his own personal experiences of contemporary race relations, offering possible resolutions for the future.
The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row
Anthony Ray Hinton
A man who spent thirty years on death row for a crime he did not commit describes how he became a victim of a flawed legal system, recounting the years he shared with fellow inmates who were eventually executed before his exoneration.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
The founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama recounts his experiences as a lawyer working to assist those desperately in need, reflecting on his pursuit of the ideal of compassion in American justice.
Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era
An award-winning investigative reporter shares the real-life detective story of how Klansmen came to justice in notorious unsolved civil rights cold cases–decades after they had gotten away with murder.
Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration
A Times Magazine investigative journalist exposes the unchecked power of the prosecutor as a driving force in America’s mass incarceration crisis, offering strategic recommendations for reversing discriminatory practices without changing the law.
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town
Chronicles the experiences of several women in Missoula, Montana, who claimed to be raped by University of Montana football players, highlighting the inequities of the law in regard to rape allegations and the treatment of rape victims and perpetrators.
The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You
In her first work of nonfiction, winner of the 2018 UNESCO City of Literature Paul Engle Prize Dina Nayeri–an author whose “exploration of the exile’s predicament is tender and urgent” (The New Yorker)–examines what it means to be a refugee through her own story of childhood escape from Iran, and through the stories of other refugees and asylum seekers.
Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church
The activist and TED speaker Phelps-Roper reveals her life growing up in the most hated family in America. Rich with suspense and thoughtful reflection, her life story exposes the dangers of black-and-white thinking and the need for true humility in a time of angry polarization.
The Middle of Everywhere: Helping Refugees Enter the American Community
The best-selling author of Reviving Ophelia presents a stirring glimpse of the world beyond our borders, told through the tales of refugees who have escaped countries riddled by conflict and ripped apart by war to realize their dream of starting a new life in America, vividly detailing their triumph over adversity.
Things We Didn’t talk About when I was a Girl: A Memoir
A part-memoir, part-true-crime account and testament to female friendship describes how the author navigated sexual trauma by contacting her former friend and rapist, who agreed to come forward and explore how biases shape sexual violence and its perceptions.
A Walk Across the Sun
Orphaned and homeless after a tsunami decimates their coastal India town, teenage sisters Ahalya and Sita Ghai are abducted and sold to a Mumbai brothel owner before they are helped by an American attorney fighting human trafficking.
Thirteen-year-old Lakshmi leaves her poor mountain home in Nepal thinking that she is to work in the city as a maid only to find that she has been sold into the sex slave trade in India and that there is no hope of escape.
In the forest community of Beartown, the possibility that the amateur hockey team might win a junior championship, bringing the hope of revitalization to the fading town, is shattered by the aftermath of a violent act that leaves a girl traumatized.
The Hate U Give
After witnessing her friend’s death at the hands of a police officer, Starr Carter’s life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died.
The Same Sky
Amanda Eyre Ward
A childless woman seeking to adopt crosses paths with a thirteen-year-old Honduran girl on a dangerous journey into Texas with her brother.
Lost Children Archive
A fiercely imaginative novel about a family’s summer road trip across America–a journey that, with breathtaking imagery, spare lyricism, and profound humanity, probes the nature of justice and equality in America today.
White Fragility: Why it’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism
Analyzes defensive moves that white people make when racially challenged, how these actions protect racial inequality, and presents strategies for engaging more constructively in these conversations.
How to be an Antiracist
Ibram X. Kendi
A best-selling author, National Book Award-winner and professor combines ethics, history, law and science with a personal narrative to describe how to move beyond the awareness of racism and contribute to making society just and equitable.
So You Want to Talk about Race
Examines the sensitive, hyper-charged racial landscape in current America, discussing the issues of privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the “N” word.
The New Jim Crow : Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Argues that the War on Drugs and policies that deny convicted felons equal access to employment, housing, education, and public benefits create a permanent under caste based largely on race.
White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son
With a new preface and updated chapters White Like Me is one-part memoir one-part polemical essay collection. It is a personal examination of the way in which racial privilege shapes the daily lives of white Americans in every realm: employment education housing criminal justice and elsewhere.
Me and White Supremacy
Layla F. Saad
Updated and expanded from the original edition, Me and White Supremacy teaches readers how to dismantle the privilege within themselves so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.
The Warmth of Other Suns
An epic history covering the period from the end of World War I through the 1970s chronicles the decades-long migration of African Americans from the South to the North and West through the stories of three individuals and their families.
Stamped From the Beginning
Ibram X. Kendi
A comprehensive history of anti-black racism focuses on the lives of five major players in American history and highlights the debates that took place between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and anti-racists.
On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope
An internationally recognized civil rights activist and popular host of Pod Save the People presents a meditative call to arms on resistance, justice and freedom on the front lines of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice that Shapes What We See, Think, and Do
Jennifer L. Eberhardt, PhD
A Stanford professor, MacArthur grant recipient and leading expert on unconscious racial bias examines the manifestations of automatic racism in today’s world and how they influence contemporary race relations and criminal justice.
When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir
Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
A memoir by the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement explains the movement’s position of love, humanity, and justice, challenging perspectives that have negatively labeled the movement’s activists while calling for essential political changes.
How We Fight for Our Lives
Written from the crossroads of sex, race, and power in America, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir and a haunting reflection of the nation as a whole.
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America
Michael Eric Dyson
A call for change in the United States argues that racial progress can only be achieved after facing difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, and discounted.
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
A collection of short stories reveals the violence, injustice, and painful absurdities that black men and women contend with every day in the United States.
The Color of Law
Argues that laws and policies created by local, state, and federal government deliberately promoted segregation in metropolitan areas during the twentieth century, creating long-lasting consequences.
Punishment without Crime
Takes a look at the inner workings of the massive petty offense system within the United States, exposing the consequences of this flawed system, including sending innocent people to jail and reinforcing racial inequities.
Documents the story of the infamous nineteenth-century Supreme Court ruling in favor of segregation, tracing the half-century of history that shaped the ruling and the reverberations that are still being felt today.
The Central Park Five
Chronicles America’s complicated perceptions of race and crime through the story of the “Central Park 5” — a group of minority teenagers wrongfully convicted and jailed for brutally raping a white woman in New York.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historical struggle to secure voting rights for all people. A dangerous and terrifying campaign that culminated with an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1964.
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
More than 40 years after the Black Panther Party was founded the group and its leadership remain powerful and enduring images in our popular imagination. This will weave together the voices of those who lived this story — police informants journalists white supporters and detractors those who remained loyal to the party and those who left it.
Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008. Based on a true story.
I am not your Negro
Filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished, Remember This House. It is a journey into black history that connects the Civil Rights movement to #BlackLivesMatter. It questions black representation in Hollywood and beyond and examines the lives and assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
A powerful and thought-provoking true story follows young lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his history-making battle for justice. After graduating from Harvard, Bryan had his pick of lucrative jobs. Instead, he heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or who were not afforded proper representation, with the support of local advocate Eva Ansley. One of his first and most incendiary cases is that of Walter McMillian.
The Hate U Give
Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr tries to find her voice in order to stand up for what’s right.
Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer from Colorado, successfully managed to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan and became the head of the local chapter.
As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.
DARK GIRLS is a fascinating and controversial film that goes underneath the surface to explore the prejudices dark-skinned women face throughout the world.
If Beale Street Could Talk
A timeless love story set in early 1970s Harlem involving newly engaged nineteen-year- old Tish and her fiance Fonny who have a beautiful future ahead. But their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Now the pair and their families must fight for justice in the name of love and the promise of the American dream.
In 1965, Rev. James Reeb was murdered in Selma, Alabama. Three men were tried and acquitted, but no one was ever held to account. Fifty years later, two journalists from Alabama return to the city where it happened, expose the lies that kept the murder from being solved and uncover a story about guilt and memory that says as much about America today as it does about the past.
A woman told Louisville police she was raped in January 2018. She expected them to quickly try to arrest the suspect. But an officer on the scene that night didn’t seem to believe her. The detectives weren’t convinced that a crime occurred. And a prosecutor rejected the case well before an arrest was even under consideration. In the first season of Dig, a new podcast from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, we bring you the results of a yearlong look at how rape cases are investigated in Louisville. What we’ve learned: here, the police defer to prosecutors on rape cases — and prosecutors reject the vast majority of cases presented to them. Due to this unusual relationship, most people accused of rape here will never face consequences. Most won’t be arrested or convicted. And the case will be closed anyway.
From prisons to protests, immigration to the environment, Peabody Award-winning Reveal goes deep into the pressing issues of our times. The Atlantic says “the experience of each episode is akin to a spoonful of sugar, even when it’s telling a story about Richard Spencer’s cotton farms or a man’s final days as a heroin addict.” Reveal is a project of The Center for Investigative Reporting and is co-produced with PRX. The show is hosted by Al Letson and partners with reporters and newsrooms around the world, including The Washington Post, ProPublica, APM, The Marshall Project and The Investigative Fund. Reveal is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and has won many broadcast journalism awards, including a duPont and three national Emmys.
The Lost Homes of Detroit
When the Great Recession walloped Detroit, thousands of people fell behind on property taxes and lost their homes. Since 2008, one-third of properties in the city have been tax foreclosed. And homes in majority-black neighborhoods are 10 times more likely to be at risk of tax foreclosure than those in other neighborhoods. Independent producer Mark Betancourt and The Detroit News analyzed massive amounts of data to find out where all this tax debt came from. They found that hundreds of millions of dollars never should have been billed to Detroiters in the first place.
Six Years Separated
An asylum-seeking migrant girl is separated from her family at the border and enters U.S. custody at 10 years old. Now, she’s 17 and still in a shelter, even though her family is ready to take her in. They just can’t find her. They turn to reporter Aura Bogado for help.
Amazon: Behind the Smiles
Shop. Click. And the next day, your purchase is on your doorstep. Amazon has changed the face of shopping, but at a surprisingly high human cost. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming soon, we look at what’s behind those smiling packages and expose the dangers of working at Amazon.
America’s Drug War, Revealed
In 1989, President George H.W. Bush did his first televised broadcast, speaking directly to the nation about an issue he believed was the gravest domestic threat to America: drugs. Specifically, crack cocaine. In the speech, Bush pulled a baggie of crack out of his desk as a prop, saying it had been seized from Lafayette Park, right across the street from the White House. This is the story of how that baggie of crack played into the war on drugs and how those policies are still affecting people today.
Snap Judgment (Storytelling, with a BEAT) mixes real stories with killer beats to produce cinematic, dramatic radio. Snap’s raw, musical brand of storytelling dares listeners to see the world through the eyes of another.
Tell Christy I Love Her
Tom was a cop. Jason was a teenager in a gang. One night in 1997, they had a violent encounter that Tom describes as “inevitable.” Tom and Jason relate the story of that night and the series of events that unfolded in the years afterward.
The Search for No Name Aporval
When 14-year-old Annaporva finally decides to ask her mother about her biological family a story so unexpected unravels – there’s kingpins, death threats, and Maneka Gandhi.
Co-discussants Anna Holmes, Baratunde Thurston, Raquel Cepeda and Tanner Colby host a lively multiracial, interracial conversation about the ways we can’t talk, don’t talk, would rather not talk, but intermittently, fitfully, embarrassingly do talk about culture, identity, politics, power, and privilege in our pre-post-yet-still-very-racial America.
What’s CODE SWITCH? It’s the fearless conversations about race that you’ve been waiting for! Hosted by journalists of color, our podcast tackles the subject of race head-on. We explore how it impacts every part of society — from politics and pop culture to history, sports and everything in between. This podcast makes ALL OF US part of the conversation — because we’re all part of the story.
Intersectionality Matters! is a podcast hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American civil rights advocate and a leading scholar of critical race theory.
Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast features movement voices, stories, and strategies for racial justice. Co-hosts Chevon and Hiba give their unique takes on race and pop culture, and uplift narratives of hope, struggle, and joy, as we continue to build the momentum needed to advance racial justice in our policies, institutions, and culture. Build on your racial justice lens and get inspired to drive action by learning from organizational leaders and community activists.
Pod for the Cause
This podcast was created for those of you wanting to effect change, who understand the importance of restoring our democracy and want to engage in deep conversation around the issues.
Pod Save the People
On Pod Save the People, organizer and activist DeRay Mckesson explores news, culture, social justice, and politics with fellow activists Brittany Packnett Cunningham and Sam Sinyangwe, and writer Dr. Clint Smith. They offer a unique take on the news, with a special focus on overlooked stories and topics that often impact people of color.
Scene on Radio is a podcast that tells stories exploring human experience and American society. In Season 2, the Peabody-nominated Seeing White, Biewen and collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika explored the history and meaning of whiteness