5 Fascinating Books on Race Relations Every Social Worker Should Read

5 Important Books on Race Relations

  • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?
  • RACE: Are We So Different?
  • Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  • Born a Crime

Every social worker needs to read about race relations to excel in their career. This is a profession that involves confronting racial injustice and working with clients who have been affected by it. Without actively trying to learn about race in America, social workers can’t completely understand their clients.

1. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?

Now on its fifth edition, this classic book by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum breathed new life into discussions on race relations in the United States. Dr. Daniel Tatum is a well-known professor of psychology. She turned her decades of research on the psychology of racism into an easily digestible work on the economic and social factors that lead to social segregation even today. This is a great book for social workers who don’t know where to start their education on race.

2. RACE: Are We So Different?

This academic book on race relations will help social workers better understood the actual meaning of race. Anthropologists and photographers have turned the long-standing museum exhibit and website into a single text. It aims to debunk the usual understanding of race as a biological fact and explore the social norms that guide race. For example, why is President Barack Obama, a man born to a white woman and a Black father, considered to be black rather than white or biracial?

3. Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom

Why is a book on public schools on a list of the most important books on race relations for social workers? Because author Lisa Delpit has written a powerful message to white, middle-class workers in the helping professions. According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most social workers are white, just like most public school teachers. Delpit argues that white-majority institutions intimidate families of color, who feel unequipped to navigate them. Social workers can follow Delpit’s tips for bridging the gap between the world of middle-class, college-educated social workers and the communities where they work.

4. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Social workers shouldn’t overlook this medical humanities book on race. Almost no one other book in America has managed to capture the difficult experiences of Black Americans struggling to understand the past horrors of a white-dominated healthcare system. Any medical or hospital social workers should read this to understand why Black clients may be reluctant to seek healthcare services.

5. Born a Crime

Not every book on a list of books about race relations needs to be academic or formal. Comedian Trever Noah has written a heart-warming story about his experiences growing up in apartheid South Africa. It’s a great way for social workers to learn about race relations around the world. With Noah’s growing popularity as the host of “The Daily Show,” his story of childhood discrimination is becoming widely known in the states. Social workers who work with African immigrants or young clients who admire Noah will benefit from this book. So will anyone else looking for a hilarious and touching memoir about race relations in a colonized country.

Related Resource: Top 10 Affordable Online Masters in Social Work 2018

Social work requires a lifelong commitment to learning. Reading one of these five great books about race relations is something every social worker should do.

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