Ultravenus’ top 5 books to read to start unlearning your white privilege

Words by Sian Irvine

Over the last few weeks, there has been a monumental shift in global consciousness. Since the death of George Floyd, the world has started to sit up and pay attention to the macro- and micro-aggressions that black people deal with on a daily basis and have to carefully navigate their way through throughout their whole life.

There has been a lot of talk about what we as white people can do to combat racism in all its forms. One of the key messages I have learned is to do your own research, but use resources from black authors and creators. Google is your friend- but so is Ultravenus, and we have compiled a list of our favourite books to better help white people understand, unlearn and combat racism.

  1. “Natives: Race and Class in the Rulings of Empire” – Akala


Twice honourary doctorate Akala’s debut book is part memoir, part exploration of the social, political and historical factors that have shaped the way Britain deals with race. Covering topics such as education, police brutality, identity and politics, Akala speaks directly and frankly on the way that Britain is complicit in issues surrounding race.


  1. “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race” – Reni Edo-Lodge


A powerfully written polemic addressing the structural and institutional racism that the UK has been built on, “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race” is a work that removes the structure around discussions about race and reclaims the conversation for those who actually experience racism. Covering historical timelines and significant events from British history, alongside personal accounts of racism and micro-aggressions, Edo-Lodge’s book is a must read for anyone wanting to understand what it means to be a black person in Britain, both historically and today. Particularly interesting is the chapter on whitewashed feminism, something we at Ultravenus always strive to educate ourselves on- but there is always space to learn more.


  1. “Superior: The Return of Race Science” – Angela Saini


Science journalist and broadcaster Angela Saini explores where the idea of race came from and what it means in “Superior”, which was awarded Financial Times Book of the Year, Telegraph Top 50 Books of the Year, Guardian Book of the Year and New Statesman Book of the Year. Saini speaks with geneticists, anthropologists, historians and social scientists from across the globe to examine the concept of race, and unpack and dismantle the idea of a ‘superior race’.


  1. “Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging” – Afua Hirsch


One of the key points that has come out of the current anti-racism movement is how whitewashed British history is, particularly when taught in schools. We have seen petitions and campaigns to change the curriculum to teach more black and black British history, and this is a key concept in “Brit(ish)”, which explores what it means to be minority ethnic in Britain today. With the country seemingly in denial about its bloody colonial past, “Brit(ish)” does not only explore how this came about, but calls for urgent change.


  1. “Me and White Supremacy” – Layla Saad


A searing exploration of how entrenched our society is in white supremacy, “Me and White Supremacy” offers an interactive workbook of exercises alongside context and information about how white privilege is within every white person, and it is our duty to unlearn it. What started as an Instagram hashtag #MeAndWhiteSupremacy, the movement snowballed into a blog and then a book. Useful as a tool to tackle institutionalised racism, Saad’s book is also peppered with stories, anecdotes, examples and further resources. The author herself has said that this book is pointless unless you put in the work and do the activities, so get stuck in, and encourage every other white person you know to do so too.

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