“The plague of racism is insidious, entering into our minds as smoothly and quietly and invisibly as floating airborne microbes enter into our bodies to find lifelong purchase in our bloodstreams.” Maya Angelou
In a universe on perpetual pause, Maya could have easily been talking about COVID-19 anxieties, rather than her prophetic words about the most insidious conditions we continue to harbor and spread; racism, bigotry, discrimination and force. Their impact on our lives is seemingly intractable, the current attention to this widespread angst, extraordinary. There is no better time to take deliberate action and dismantle the foundations of intolerance and prejudice that inform us and our delivery of health care.
Though we can argue that the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, May 25th, 2020 galvanized this need for insightful, inclusive resources, many people have been doing this work for decades, revealing the historical underpinnings of racism, asking for change, combating assumptions, and imagining equality, representation, diversity and empathy. Following are lists of books, web site compilations of books and resources, blog posts and links to online articles for those who want to be deeply informed about matters of race and systemic racism.
If you would like to add to the list, please send titles or resources to Micaela.email@example.com. Thank you to UW’s Schools of Medicine & Public Health (SMPH), Nursing, Pharmacy and Veterinary Medicine’s administrators for supporting and promoting an environment that encourages discussion and actions related to addressing and dismantling systemic racism in its care of patients, education of students and inclusion of a diverse staff and faculty.
This recent compilation from Kelly Tyrrell at UWMadScience includes some of the health sciences initiatives addressing this environment. SMPH offers the BEAM Initiative, the School of Nursing supports the Wisconsin Network for Research Support to help researchers effectively communicate and reach project participants and other stakeholders, particularly those from underrepresented communities. UW’s School of Veterinary Medicine has pledged a commitment to diversity and includes a local chapter of the VOICE Club.
The local Student National Medicine Association has created a White Coats for Black Lives (WCFBL) chapter, part of a national movement aiming to eliminate racial bias in medical practice. WCFBL held an event at the Madison Capitol on Saturday, June 13th. Here is a Wisconsin State Journal article, “White coats, black lives: Hundreds of health professionals rally for racial equality,” including photos.
There is profoundly important work to be done regarding these subjects, obviously in recent, newsworthy cities, but also in attentive towns, like Madison, where inequities are still evident in many enclaves. Reading these books, sincerely discussing their topics, and supporting existent or new programs that address inequities is a good practice to get into.
There may be some redundancy in the lists. The titles that make multiple lists might well be the ones to start with, like the top three recommended by SMPH’s Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Elizabeth Petty, M.D. and twelve more that currently or historically resonate for readers and reviewers. Go to the bottom of this post for ideas on obtaining copies of the books listed here and below.
- Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor, Layla F. Saad
- Just Mercy: The Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo
- White Rage by Carol Anderson
- How to be an AntiRacist by Ibram X Kendi
- History Teaches Us to Resist and the Power of Protest by Mary Frances Berry
- American Lynching by Ashraf H. A. Rushdy
- The Fire This Time by Jesmyn Ward
- The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin (1963)
- Ebony rising : short fiction of the greater Harlem Renaissance era, edited by Craig Gable
- Racism Without Racists by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
- Raising Our Hands: How White Women Can Stop Avoiding Hard Conversations, Start Accepting Responsibility, and Find Our Place on the New Frontlines. By Jenna Arnold
- Thick and other essays, by Tressie McMillan Cottom
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- The Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, edited by Cherrie Moraga & Gloria Anzaldua
These two lists (and short descriptions) were gathered by Buzz Feed’s book editor, Arianna Rebolini.
From Women’s Health, by Aryelle Siclait: 11 Essential Books about Race That Should be on Your Reading List
Collected by Huffington Post’s Zeba Blay, 16 Books About Race, before the current escalation in racial tensions.
From Kirkus Reviews, 10 Books that Challenge Racism
From Good Reads on white privilege:
From Bustle’s Sadie Trombetta and K.Y. Colyard, 17 Books On Race Every White Person Needs to Read
- Also from Sadie: 10 Books About Race to Read Instead of Asking a Person of Color to Explain things to You
- Some titles not included in the other lists. Arcadia warns that many books on their race and racism list are now on back order.
Systemic racism has informed and exacerbated countless public health issues in communities of color. The management of chronic diseases like diabetes, compromised maternal and infant health, challenging access to insurance and care, nutritional constraints inherent in food deserts, untreated mental health illnesses, and violence and police brutality have all contributed to poor outcomes in the lives of marginalized people. Particularly for those in the health care fields, this is a start:
- Black Man in White Coat by Damon Tweedy, MD—a first person narrative of being a black physician in predominantly white spaces.
- Medical Stigmata: Race, Medicine, and the Pursuit of Theological Liberation by Kirk A. Johnson
- Just Medicine: A Cure for Racial Inequality in American Health Care by Dayna Bowen Matthew
- Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury & Healing by Dr. Joy Degruy
- Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland by Jonathan Metzl, MD., on racism, and health policy.
- The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World by Michael Marmot
- Race, Ethnicity, and Health: A Public Health Reader, edited by Thomas A. LaVeist and Lydia A. Issac
- The Impact of Demographics on Health and Health Care: Race, Ethnicity and Other Social Factors by Jennie Jacobs Kronenfeld
- Black & Blue: The Origins and Consequences of Medical Racism by John Hoberman
- From Goodreads on health disparities.
- On Race and Medicine: Insider Perspectives by Richard Garcia, M.D. (editor)
- Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream: A Memoir, by Dr. Frank L. Douglas
Web site (health sciences) content:
Racism as a Public Health Issue, by Jacqueline Howard
Racism in Medicine, by Jacqueline Howard
The Impact of Racist Patients from Minority Nurse (2014)
There are countless discussions, articles and posts about racism in health science schools, residencies and practice. Other resources will be added to as collection grows. Also coming, books about the history of race and racism in health care, a few are on the various book lists.
History of Race and the Health Sciences:
Diabetes: A History of Race and Disease by Arleen M. Tuchman, coming, August, 2020
Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington
Nursing Civil Rights: Gender and Race in the Army Nurse Corps by Charissa J. Threat.
Dying in the City of the Blues: Sickle Cell Anemia and the Politics of Race and Health by Keith Wailoo
Black Women in White: Racial Conflict and Cooperation in the Nursing Profession, 1890-1950, by Darlene Clark Hine
Environmental Health and Racial Equity in the United States by Robert D. Bullard, PhD; Glenn S. Johnson, PhD; and Angel O. Torres, MCP
Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology by Deirdre Cooper Owens
Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco’s Chinatown, by Nayan Shah (2001)
Noxious New York: The Racial Politics of Urban Health and Environmental Justice, by Julie Sze (2006)
All American Health Dilemma: A Medical History of African Americans and the Problem of Race: Beginnings to 1900, by W. Michael Byrd and Linda A. Clayton, (2000).
Jam packed with resources for children:
Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup
A blog with resources for talking about race with young children.
23 Books That Teach Young Kids about Diversity, Inclusion, and Equality by Stacey Hersher
How do I make sure I’m not raising the next “Amy Cooper?” (video)
For younger readers, check out Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You — Kendi’s adaptation of both Stamped and How to Be an Antiracist, co-written with Jason Reynolds.
Storytelling and history:
Added June 29th, 2020: From Instagram’s @badformreview, 50 Books by Black Authors: For you to buy and read because they’re excellent books, not just tools for you to be less racist. https://www.instagram.com/p/CBirE8DgFlN/
Books that pulse with truths, books for everyone.
From Ibram X. Kendi, An Antiracist Reading List, a list of books to help American transcend its racist heritage.
And, an interview with Kendi, re black racists.
Additional Online Resources and Commentary:
According to author, Gretchen Rubin, you might want to print a copy of Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein’s “Anti-Racism Resources“, compiled soon after Breonna Taylor was murdered, that suggests books (for children and adults), documentaries, podcasts, movies, TV, and links for learning more about promoting racial justice.
This, via Instagram; educator, Victoria Alexander @victoriaalxndr posted, on May 30, 2020, “I’ve been getting a lot of questions from my non-Black friends about how to be a better ally to Black people. I suggest unlearning and relearning through literature as just one good jumping off point, and have broken up my anti-racist reading list into sections.”
From Madisonian, April Kigeya, A Different kind of Stress
From writer, Mireille Harper on Allyship
Speaking of allies, Courtney Ariel on For our White Friends desiring to be Allies.
From Minneapolis, MPD150
Alternatives to calling the Police
From Corinne Shutack, What white people can do for racial justice, in 2017. Now even more on point.
A prescient post from Anthea Butler, We Know Protests Work.
From former President Obama on turning points.
Podcasts (added 6/16/2020):
By Brian H. Williams, M.D.: Race, Violence & Medicine
By Scene on Radio: Seeing White
Food for thought:
Writer, Sandra Guzman on Amy Cooper in Central Park.
From blogger, Katie Anthony, on Five Racist Anti-Racism Responses “Good” White Women Give to Viral Posts
Thoughtful, representational inclusion:
Added 6/29/2020, Madison’s James Edward Mills, The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors. www.joytripproject.com
From the National Museum of African American History, talking about race.
Bird watchers of color. Raising awareness.
The time of COVID-19 makes sharing books difficult, but not impossible. Ebling Library may be purchasing hard copies for their collection, which can be checked out when we reopen. Some of the books will be discussed online in the next few weeks.
Many titles may currently be held in the UW-Madison system libraries or Madison Public Library. Check their catalogs for availability. Some titles may be available in electronic versions through sources like Google Books. Check During the COVID-19 closures, also consider purchasing them independently through your bookseller of choice.
Speaking of purchasing and the support of black owned businesses, the African American Literature Book Club has a compilation.
And, this list via @jennilcrain
Or, for example, local, independent and thoughtful: Room of One’s Own, overwhelmed, but taking phone orders.
Thanks to UW colleagues, educators, health care professionals, friends, Facebook and Instagram acquaintances, and The Library as Incubator Project (created by three UW ISchool alumni) for many of the original shares. Image from State Street, Madison, Wisconsin, June 5th, 2020, by Micaela.
Author: Micaela Sullivan-Fowler, M.S., M.A. History of the Health Sciences/Curator of Rare Books/Head of Marketing & Communications for Ebling Library. 608 658-8821