University of Portsmouth English Literature Resources in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter and Anti-racism

Following requests for suggested reading, and in response to our own sense of a need to keep educating ourselves, the staff and students of English Literature at Portsmouth have put together this reading list of informative works regarding ‘race’. These are works that we have read, that have moved us and that have motivated our discussions in classrooms and our curriculum. Situated in Southern England, as a diverse community of many cultures and ethnicities, we have varying experiences of racism. We are aware of our geographical distance from the events taking place in the United States, yet also that there are many similarities to the experiences of those who receive racist treatment in our home communities – whether they are strangers, neighbours, friends, colleagues, family or ourselves.

Novels, poetry and plays from the Early Modern period through to our contemporary times have returned to this subject over and over again. The disturbing truths that are revealed by the writers on this list, reflecting what we see in the images projected from around the world, remind us that there is so much work to be done to overcome racism and its consequences. The responsibility of literary scholars is to read, to interpret, to understand and to apply our knowledge to the way we reimagine and react to the world around us.

A special thank you to our remarkable students for their contributions to this collaborative list. Many of these books are a part of the English Literature curriculum and others are suggestions from additional reading. These are a tiny sample of the extraordinary books that are available that address the topic of racism. I hope this list helps you to find some guidance and understanding where you are seeking it and gives you a starting point for your continued reading.


Non-Fiction — Autobiographies

Maya Angelou I know Why the Caged Bird Sings (and sequels)

Malcolm X The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Richard Wright Black Boy

Frederick Douglass Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

Harriet Jacobs Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Olaudah Equiano The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano: or, Gustavus Vassa, the African



Jamaica Kincaid Lucy

Ralph Ellison Invisible Man

Zora Neale Hurston Their Eyes Are Watching God

Toni Morrison The Bluest Eye

Toni Morrison Beloved

(In fact, anything by Toni Morrison!)

Bernadine Evaristo Girl Woman Other

James Baldwin Go Tell it on the Mountain

Zadie Smith White Teeth

Colson Whithead The Underground Railroad 

Colson Whithead The Nickel Boys

Alice Walker The Colour Purple

Okorafor, N. (2015). Binti. (in fact the Binti series)


Non-fiction – Commentary, Theory and Criticism

Speeches of Malcolm X

Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the World and Me

W E B DuBois The Souls of Black Folk

Afua Hirsch Brit(ish): on race, identity and belonging

Akala Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire

David Chariandy I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to my Daughter

Ibram X Kendi How to be an Anti-Racist

Angela Davis If They Come in the Morning…: Voices of Resistance

W E B DuBois Darkwater: Voices from within the Veil

Michele Wallace Invisibility Blues: From Pop to Theory

Collins, P. H. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment

Eddo-Lodge, R. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race.

Hobbs, A. A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life.

bell hooks, ‘Postmodern Blackness’

Toni Morrison,The Origin of Others.

Nelson, A. (2018). ‘AfroFuturism: Past-Present Visions’

Rattansi, A. Racism: A Very Short Introduction.

Layla F. Saad Me and White Supremacy



Poetry of Yosef Komunyakaa

Poetry of Langston Hughes

Poetry of Maya Angelou (especially ‘And Still I Rise’)

Poetry of Audre Lourde

Poetry of Dionne Brand





Nnedi Okorafor: Sci-fi stories that imagine a future Africa | TED Talk. (n.d.). Retrieved 28 March 2019, from — Race in Early Modern/Premodern Times




No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes

%d bloggers like this: