Intro to Racism for White People* – a List of Resources for Learning

Compiled by Jen Willsea

*and anyone else who is interested!




Race: The Power of an Illusion (each episode is about an hour long). Rent to watch here or purchase the DVDs from California Newsreel:

  • Episode 1: The Difference Between Us
  • Episode 2: The Story We Tell
  • Episode 3: The House We Live In (most important to watch of the three, but all are good)

And, this new companion website to the film has lots of clips, materials and resources to explore.


A Conversation on Race – series by The New York Times (each video is about 7 minutes long)


The Danger of a Single Story – TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Shattered Families” stories of undocumented immigrant deportations and the impact on families (short film produced as part of the Shattered Families report produced by Race Forward)


“Sea Change: Navigating Oppression” - a short film by The Icarus Project

“Deconstructing White Privilege with Dr. Robin DiAngelo” - a 20 minute talk

Full length films:

  • Selma
  • 13th
  • Fruitvale Station


Scene On Radio’s Series “Seeing White”



 Check out for MANY more resources!





  • We Too, Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future by Deepa Iyer
  • The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King
  • The Color of Wealth by Meizhu Lui and others
  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
  • White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo
  • Stamped from the Beginning: A Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi


  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


  • Between the World and Me by Ta’Nehisi Coates
  • White Like Me by Tim Wise (recommended for activist types) OR Waking Up White by Debby Irving (for people who don’t identify as activists)

Basic Definitions


The Interaction Institute for Social Change (IISC) defines racism as:


Racism: a system of oppression based on the socially constructed concept of race* exercised by the dominant racial group (whites) over non-dominant racial groups; a system of oppression created to justify social, political, and economic hierarchy.[1]


Racism operates on four levels:[2]

1.    Internalized Racism is the set of private beliefs, prejudices, and ideas that individuals have about the superiority of whites and the inferiority of people of color. Among people of color, it manifests as internalized oppression. Among whites, it manifests as internalized racial superiority.

2.   Interpersonal Racism is the expression of racism between individuals. It occurs when individuals interact and their private beliefs affect their interactions.

3.   Institutional Racism is discriminatory treatment, unfair policies and practices, inequitable opportunities and impacts within organizations and institutions, based on race, that routinely produce racially inequitable outcomes for people  of color and advantages for white people. Individuals within institutions take on the power of the institution when they reinforce racial inequities.

4.   Structural Racism is a system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequality. It is racial bias among institutions and across society. It involves the cumulative and compounding effects of an array of societal factors including the history, culture, ideology and interactions of institutions and policies that systematically privilege white people and disadvantage people of color.

Want to Host a Conversation about these Concepts?

Get started with this Code Switch Listening Party Kit, created by Cynthia Silver Parker of IISC in collaboration with NPR’s Generation Listen:

[1] Adapted from multiple sources.

[2] Source: Race Forward: Center for Racial Justice Innovation