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Diversity in the (Virtual) Stacks: Antiracism Resources

Cover of Ibram X. Kendi's How to Be an Antiracist.

Diversity in the Stacks aims to build library collections that represent and reflect the University’s diverse population. 

In recent weeks, unjust, unfair, and unwarranted acts of violence against the Black community have galvanized the United States — and the world — into protest against the insidiousness and perpetuity of racism in American society. These protests have been a clarion call for individuals to examine their own racial conditioning. 

In How to Be an Antiracist (2019), Ibram X. Kendi defines an antiracist as “one who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing an antiracist idea.” (13) An antiracist idea is “any idea that suggests that the racial groups are equal in all their apparent differences — that there is nothing right or wrong with any racial group.” (20)

Elsewhere in How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi makes the point that the terms “racist” and “antiracist” “are not permanent tattoos” — that internalized racist ideation can be transformed into conscious antiracism. (22)  To begin this difficult work, people are turning to books. As of the date of writing, nine of the top ten titles on the New York Times’ Nonfiction Bestseller List are treatises on antiracism and racial injustice.

Writers have often employed their craft to combat racism by transforming readers, from Frederick Douglass to Audre Lorde, from James Baldwin to Robin DiAngelo. The Penn Libraries hosts a wide and up-to-date range of antiracism literature, and we have compiled a list of many of these resources for access and use by the Penn community. Subjects include implicit bias, structural oppression, systematic violence against people of color, and the history of racism.

We, as librarians, have come to this project humbly, aware that many of our personal and professional experiences are grounded in privilege and the very systemic white supremacy that we hope to interrogate and dismantle. We also come to this project with genuine compassion, with anger on behalf of our Black community, and with the sincere desire to use our networks, resources, and collective knowledge to contribute to the changes that must be made. This list is a pledge of active allyship to our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities. 

The initial list of resources was offered by faculty who are engaged with and committed to anti-racism, by activist scholars, and by organizations within Penn which primarily serve and support students, faculty, and staff of color. Our intention is to hold space for members of our community to recommend additional content and to incorporate as many recommendations into this list as is feasible. Please contact any of the following librarians by email with suggestions.

  • Richard James | Nursing Liaison
  • Anne Larrivee | Social Science Librarian & Collection Analyst
  • Patty Lynn | Librarian for the Graduate School of Education & Education Bibliographer
  • Nick Okrent | Coordinator and Librarian for Humanities Collections