Four Anti-Racism Books to Read with a Beer
Literature and Craft Beer Pairings for Progress
Racism is real and deeply entrenched in the United States and most other parts of the world. It’s sad but alarmingly true, and the only way to stamp out the evil is by bringing it to light, confronting it, and making actual changes. Hating the idea of racism isn’t enough. We all have to learn how to and commit to becoming an antiracist to make true and lasting change.
You’ll find a list of great books by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, & People of Color) along with some styles of craft beer that will pair well with them.
We advocate for purchasing books from BIPOC-owned and -run bookstores. We receive no compensation for linking these stores. Simply put, Beer is for Everyone always attempts to prioritize supporting socially-conscious businesses!
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
The book dives deep into racism and how it’s become so ingrained, particularly on the subconscious level. The book defines racism as having three main elements. These include racial inequities, racist policies that are the cause of the inequities, and racist ideas used to justify the policies. He writes that anti-racism is a set of anti-racist policies that are justified by anti-racist ideas, and that can produce racial equity.
The book is part memoir and part social commentary that delves into events in his life, his observations, history, segregation, assimilation, and much more. It helps to teach people how they can confront their own racist beliefs, even if they don’t realize they may have them. The author says that there’s no such thing as being not racist—you are either racist or anti-racist, there can’t be a middle ground where you do nothing.
It’s a fascinating book that helps people to look inward and to learn how to become an anti-racist, just as the title promises.
Ibram X. Kendi has written several books on the subject of race and racism including Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, Stamped: Antiracism and You, and more. How to Be an Antiracist, published in 2019, became his most popular work. It rose to the #1 bestseller spot in the New York Times in 2020. In July of 2020, he became the Director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University.
Beer Pairing: This book invokes a powerful reaction. The strength of Kendi’s words should be paired with a strong beer. Perhaps, a 15% ABV or above. With each sip, drink in the lived experience and voice of one of this generation’s prominent anti-racism advocates.
Purchase from Mahogany Books.
So, You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
For many, race is a difficult subject to broach even though the topic of racial inequality and injustice is pervasive. It’s often hard for people to talk with their family and friends who say things that can be construed as racist, or that are outright racist for fear of confrontation. Oluo understands this and has written a book that helps white people and People of Color to better understand how to communicate and have a productive dialogue.
Subjects covered in the book include intersectionality, police brutality, cultural appropriation, microaggressions, affirmative action, and much more. It gives people the tools they need to understand how to talk with one another and what else they can do to fight against racism.
Ijeoma Oluo is a writer and speaker based out of Seattle, WA. She was named one of The Root’s 100 Most Influential African Americans in 2017, and one of the Most Influential People in Seattle by Seattle Magazine. So, You Want to Talk About Race was a New York Times bestseller.
Beer Pairing: Try a triple West Coast IPA for this Oluo’s work. The piney profiles will pay homage to her Seattle roots while the intensity of the hops and bitterness will give you the courage to have the necessary but difficult conversations.
Purchase from Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books.
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by August Channing Brown
Like many People of Color, the author had her first experience with racism in America when she was a child. She was just seven when she found out that her parents had named her Austin as a means to make future potential employers believe that she was a white man when applying.
The book is Brown’s journey through life and navigating through a world of blatant and subtle racism and discusses how institutions that may claim to mean well and provide equality can often have problems. Her journey is one that is likely familiar to many People of Color, and it can help to open the eyes of white readers. Seeing through this author’s perspective can often help too.
August Channing Brown is a bestselling author, as well as a media producer and public speaker. I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness was a New York Times bestseller.
Beer Pairing: Obviously, Brown’s book calls for a brown ale. Try a deliciously nutty imperial brown to delve into the deep and complex nature of racism through the eyes of August Channing Brown.
Purchase from The Key Bookstore.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
All of the books above are nonfiction, but to round out our list of four great anti-racism books is a novel by the great Toni Morrison. This was Morrison’s first novel, published in 1970, but the fact that it’s 50 years old doesn’t take away from its power or its presence.
The novel tells the story of a young Black girl who is obsessed with the pervasive white standards of the beauty scene. The character prays to be beautiful and wants to have blonde hair and blue eyes more than anything rather than loving and accepting herself.
The book is wonderfully written and it shines a light on the obsession that people have with beauty and trying to conform to certain standards that are so often put in place by the media and those in power in society. It’s just as important today as it was when it was written, and it highlights just how deeply institutionalized racism affects children.
Toni Morrison is the author of many bestselling books. Some of her most notable works include Sula, Home, Jazz, Song of Solomon, and Beloved. It’s not an understatement to say that she helped to reshape the world of literature.
Beer Pairing: For a classic author and a classic novel, pair it with one of the most classic styles: a lager. Despite its simplicity, achieving a perfectly-balanced lager is difficult. But, when it is achieved, it can be timeless.
Purchase from Harriet’s Bookshop.
These are just some of the books that are written by BIPOC about anti-racism. There are many others available and you can find a wealth of content online about being actively against racism. Of course, there are plenty of other types of craft beer that you could try, as well. Read these books and start to reevaluate the way you view the world. As the great Angela Davis has asserted, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist”. Let’s work together to not just be non-racist, but anti-racist. Cheers!