Learn to Be Anti-Racist

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

At the Russell Library, we are committed to fostering an equitable society in which all people have the opportunity to transform their lives for the better. Libraries are in a unique position to provide these opportunities by offering free access to high-quality, reliable information and technologies that connect people and promote full participation in our democracy.

However, we also need to recognize that even in democratic institutions like public libraries, people have not historically been treated equally. The staff and Board of Trustees of the Russell Library pledge to our beloved community that we will do the hard work that needs to be done, and we will call out injustice when we see it. We will admit when we are wrong and we will educate ourselves in order to do and be better. We are committed to equal opportunity in hiring as well as representation on our Board of Trustees, and in our collections of materials, our programs, and our publicity and services. We will continue to learn and grow through consistent and ongoing training in equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Hatred, fear and ignorance have no place in our community. At the Russell Library, we pledge to promote awareness, inclusion, and understanding of our shared humanity now, and always.

Ramona Burkey, Library Director
Eamonn Wisneski, President, Russell Library Board of Trustees

Suggested Reading for Teens & Adults

If You Want to Learn about Anti-Racism, These 10 Books are a Start

If the nationwide uprising following the murder of George Floyd has left you eager to actively dismantle racism in your community and learn more about the practice of antiracism, one of the best things you can do to educate yourself is crack open a book.

5 Books about Black Movements and Sytematic Racism in America

This is a guest post for Book Riot from Lawrence Ware. He is a teaching assistant professor of philosophy at Oklahoma State University and co-director of the Center for Africana Studies.

17 Books on Race Every White Person Needs to Read

It’s becoming clear that unless we do something to stop it, the hate and violence will only get worse. A good first step to take? Educating yourself with these books on race all white people should read, because it is up to all of us to put an end to racism.

Borrow a Title

Russell Library has most of the books mentioned above in a wide variety of formats: hardcover, ebook, audiobook. Search our online catalog and place a hold. You can also send us an email or give us a call!

TED Talks

How to Overcome Our Biases? Walk Boldly Toward Them.

Diversity advocate Vernā Myers looks closely at some of the subconscious attitudes we hold toward out-groups. She makes a plea to all people: Acknowledge your biases. Then move toward, not away from, the groups that make you uncomfortable. In a funny, impassioned, important talk, she shows us how.

An Interview with the Founders of Black Lives Matter

Born out of a social media post, the Black Lives Matter movement has sparked discussion about race and inequality across the world. In this spirited conversation, the movement’s three founders share what they’ve learned. Their advice on how to participate in ensuring freedom for everybody: join something, start something and “sharpen each other, so that we all can rise.”

We Need to Talk about an Injustice

In an engaging and personal talk — with cameo appearances from his grandmother and Rosa Parks — human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson shares some hard truths about America’s justice system, starting with a massive imbalance along racial lines: a third of the country’s black male population has been incarcerated at some point in their lives.

How to Get Serious about Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Imagine a workplace where the lessons we learn about diversity at work actually transform the things we do, think and say outside the office. How do we get there? In this candid talk, inclusion advocate Janet Stovall shares a three-part action plan for creating workplaces where people feel safe and expected to be their unassimilated, authentic selves.

How Racism Makes Us Sick

David R. Williams measured the impact of discrimination on well-being, going beyond traditional measures like income and education to reveal how factors like implicit bias, residential segregation and negative stereotypes create and sustain inequality. In this eye-opening talk, Williams presents evidence for how racism is producing a rigged system — and offers hopeful examples of programs across the US that are working to dismantle discrimination.

An Unflinching Look at Racial Violence

Conceptual artist and TED Fellow Sanford Biggers uses painting, sculpture, video and performance to spark challenging conversations about the history and trauma of black America. Join him as he details two compelling works and shares the motivation behind his art. “Only through more thoughtful dialogue about history and race can we evolve as individuals and society,” Biggers says.

The Racial Politics of Time

Cultural theorist Brittney Cooper examines racism through the lens of time, showing us how historically it has been stolen from people of color, resulting in lost moments of joy and connection, lost years of healthy quality of life and the delay of progress. A candid, thought-provoking take on history and race that may make you reconsider your understanding of time, and your place in it.

The Urgency of Intersectionality

Now more than ever, it’s important to look boldly at the reality of race and gender bias — and understand how the two can combine to create even more harm. Kimberlé Crenshaw uses the term “intersectionality” to describe this phenomenon; as she says, if you’re standing in the path of multiple forms of exclusion, you’re likely to get hit by both.

Racism Has a Cost for Everyone

Racism makes our economy worse — and not just in ways that harm people of color, says public policy expert Heather C. McGhee. From her research and travels across the US, McGhee shares startling insights into how racism fuels bad policymaking and drains our economic potential — and offers a crucial rethink on what we can do to create a more prosperous nation for all.

Kids and Racism

Social Justice: 15 Titles to Address Inequality, Equality, and Organizing for Young Readers

These titles explain complex issues such as racism, sexism, environmentalism, and immigration. While far from an exhaustive list, these texts will be a strong foundation for budding activists.

Beware the Bigoted Subtext of Children's Literature

 The stereotypical representations—or omission altogether—of people of color in modern children’s literature promote a Eurocentric worldview and value system that denotes nonwhiteness as inferior.

Social Justice Books

SocialJusticeBooks.org is a project of Teaching for Change, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide teachers and parents with the tools to create schools where students learn to read, write and change the world.


As US racial divisions and inequities grow sharper and more painful, the work of envisioning and creating systems of authentic racial inclusion and belonging in the United States remains work in progress. Reversing the trend must begin in our homes, schools, and communities with our children’s hearts and minds.

More Resources

Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture

A list of characteristics of white supremacy culture which show up in our organizations from the Showing Up for Racial Justice Website.

Implicit Bias Test

Project Implicit is a non-profit organization and international collaboration between researchers who are interested in implicit social cognition – thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control. The goal of the organization is to educate the public about hidden biases and to provide a “virtual laboratory” for collecting data on the Internet.

Reading While White

Working for racial diversity and inclusion in books for childen and teens.

Project Ready

This site hosts a series of free, online professional development modules for school and public youth services librarians, library administrators, and others interested in improving their knowledge about race and racism, racial equity, and culturally sustaining pedagogy. The primary focus of the Project READY curriculum is on improving relationships with, services to, and resources for youth of color and Native youth.

How to Check in with Black Friends & Coworkers

Before you check in with your Black friends and coworkers, read this.

Taking Action

Read. Question. Speak Out. Take Action.

Racial Justice CoalitionBlack Lives Matter