With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control - relegating millions to a permanent second-class status - even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness.
From Stevenson's website: “Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machinations, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.”
From Tressie McMillan Cottom’s review of the book: “Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between The World and Me is two texts masquerading as one. One is a treatise on having “Baltimore eyes” in a moment when places like Baltimore are giving birth to social movements. The other text is an actual letter to his son that grapples with identity, anxiety, and what the moment means to those who cannot turn it off.”
The Woman Who Watches over the World by Linda Hogan
From the back cover: “In this powerful memoir, Hogan recounts her American Indian identity, her difficult childhood as the daughter of an army sergeant, her love affair at the age of twelve with an older man, the legacy of alcoholism, and her adopted daughters’ troubled history. She reveals how tribal histories are passed down through generations, blending her personal narrative with the stories of important Indian peoples, European myth and thought, and events in a broken America.”
From her website: “Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.”
From GoodReads: “First published in 1952 and immediately hailed as a masterpiece, Invisible Man is one of those rare novels that have changed the shape of American literature. For not only does Ralph Ellison's nightmare journey across the racial divide tell unparalleled truths about the nature of bigotry and its effects on the minds of both victims and perpetrators, it gives us an entirely new model of what a novel can be. As he journeys from the Deep South to the streets and basements of Harlem, from a horrifying "battle royal" where black men are reduced to fighting animals, to a Communist rally where they are elevated to the status of trophies, Ralph Ellison's nameless protagonist ushers readers into a parallel universe that throws our own into harsh and even hilarious relief.”
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Publication Date: 1992-05-22
From a New Republic article by Victoria Bond: “Set in rural Georgia in the early twentieth century, the narrative is about abuse: physical, emotional, and sexual—the story of a black woman who is raped by her stepfather and only escapes to be caught in a relationship with another tyrannical man, Mr. —…[The novel] has everything to do with black women’s rejection of respectability politics: from the lesbian relationship between Celie and Shug, Mr.—’s ex-lover; to the representation of traditional Christianity as small-minded and stifling; to the narrative’s assertion that domestic violence arises from patriarchal hysteria about women’s strength, not our weakness.”
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Publication Date: 1991-04-03
From Barnes & Noble: “The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Told in a series of vignettes—sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous—Sandra Cisneros’ masterpiece is a classic story of childhood and self-discovery.”
By Justin Chin; links to sample poems from the book
From Amazon: “In Bite Hard, Chin explores his identity as an Asian, a gay man, an artist, and a lover. He rails against both his own life experiences and society's limitations and stereotypes with scathing humor, bare-bones honesty, and unblinking detail. Whether addressing ‘what really goes on in the kitchen of Chinese restaurants’ or a series of ex-boyfriends, all named Michael, Chin displays his remarkable emotional range and voice as a poet. His raw, incantatory, stream-of-consciousness poems confront issues of race, desire, and loss with a compelling urgency that reflects his work as in performance, speaking directly to an audience.”
Audio and text for this speech by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
From the King Institute Encyclopedia: "King exhorts the president and members of Congress to ensure voting rights for African Americans and indicts both political parties for betraying the cause of justice"
From the platform's introduction: “In response to the sustained and increasingly visible violence against Black communities in the U.S. and globally, a collective of more than 50 organizations representing thousands of Black people from across the country have come together with renewed energy and purpose to articulate a common vision and agenda… We have created this platform to articulate and support the ambitions and work of Black people. We also seek to intervene in the current political climate and assert a clear vision, particularly for those who claim to be our allies, of the world we want them to help us create.”
From the website: “Published by the Native Law Centre since 1996, Justice as Healing is a newsletter that deals with Aboriginal concepts of Justice founded upon Aboriginal knowledge and language and rooted in Aboriginal experiences and feelings of wrongs and indignation. While there is no one single theory of Aboriginal justice, the common theme remains the necessity of Aboriginal knowledge healing Aboriginal people.”
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde; Cheryl Clarke (Foreword by)
From the back cover: “Presenting the essential writings of black lesbian poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider celebrates an influential voice in twentieth-century literature. In this charged collection of fifteen essays and speeches, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change. Her prose is incisive, unflinching, and lyrical, reflecting struggle but ultimately offering messages of hope. This commemorative edition includes a new foreword by Lorde scholar and poet Cheryl Clarke, who celebrates the ways in which Lorde's philosophies resonate more than twenty years after they were first published. These landmark writings are, in Lorde's own words, a call to ‘never close our eyes to the terror, to the chaos which is Black which is creative which is female which is dark which is rejected which is messy which is. . . .’”
(also includes The New Jim Crow, which is listed at the top of this page)
From Amazon: “In Black Feminist Thought, originally published in 1990, Patricia Hill Collins set out to explore the words and ideas of Black feminist intellectuals and writers, both within the academy and without. Here Collins provides an interpretive framework for the work of such prominent Black feminist thinkers as Angela Davis, bell hooks, Alice Walker, and Audre Lorde. Drawing from fiction, poetry, music and oral history, the result is a superbly crafted and revolutionary book that provided the first synthetic overview of Black feminist thought and its canon.”
From Bloomsbury Publishing: “From the Civil War to our combustible present, acclaimed historian Carol Anderson reframes our continuing conversation about race, chronicling the powerful forces opposed to black progress in America...Carefully linking...historical flashpoints when social progress for African Americans was countered by deliberate and cleverly crafted opposition, Anderson pulls back the veil that has long covered actions made in the name of protecting democracy, fiscal responsibility, or protection against fraud, rendering visible the long lineage of white rage.”
From his website: “Ari Berman charts both the transformation of American democracy under the Voting Rights Act and the counterrevolution that has sought to limit voting rights from 1965 to the present day...Berman brings the struggle over voting rights to life through meticulous archival research, in-depth interviews with key figures in the debate and incisive on-the-ground reporting. He vividly takes the reader from the demonstrations of the civil rights movement to the halls of Congress to the chambers of the Supreme Court.”
From UC Press: “Paul Ortiz throws a powerful light on the struggle of black Floridians to create the first statewide civil rights movement against Jim Crow. Concentrating on the period between the end of slavery and the election of 1920, Emancipation Betrayed vividly demonstrates that the decades leading up to the historic voter registration drive of 1919-20 were marked by intense battles during which African Americans struck for higher wages, took up arms to prevent lynching, forged independent political alliances, boycotted segregated streetcars, and created a democratic historical memory of the Civil War and Reconstruction.”
From a review by Donald R. Kinder: “Tesler’s subject is racialization: the process whereby racial considerations are brought more heavily to bear on political evaluations. His claim is that Obama’s omnipresence as president and his embodiment of blackness has produced widespread racialization in the white public.”
From Princeton University Press: “George Fredrickson surveys the history of Western racism from its emergence in the late Middle Ages to the present. Beginning with the medieval antisemitism that put Jews beyond the pale of humanity, he traces the spread of racist thinking in the wake of European expansionism and the beginnings of the African slave trade...Fredrickson then makes the first sustained comparison between the color-coded racism of nineteenth-century America and the antisemitic racism that appeared in Germany around the same time...The book concludes with a provocative account of the rise and decline of the twentieth century's overtly racist regimes--the Jim Crow South, Nazi Germany, and apartheid South Africa--in the context of world historical developments.”
Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano; Cedric Belfrage (Translator)
From a review in the Monthly Review: “Rather than chronology, geography, or political successions, Eduardo Galeano has organized the various facets of Latin American history according to the patterns of five centuries of exploitation. Thus he is concerned with gold and silver, cacao and cotton, rubber and coffee, fruit, hides and wool, petroleum, iron, nickel, manganese, copper, aluminum ore, nitrates, and tin. These are the veins which he traces through the body of the entire continent, up to the Rio Grande and throughout the Caribbean, and all the way to their open ends where they empty into the coffers of wealth in the United States and Europe.”
Collection assembled by Jon Greenberg
Includes four categories of links: “Reading Articles Written Specifically for White Americans,” “Understanding Whiteness, White Privilege, Microaggressions, and a History of Racial Discrimination,” “Joining Groups,” and “Parenting Racially-Conscious Children”
Collection assembled by NYC Stands with Standing Rock
From the Preface: “This syllabus project contributes to the already substantial work of the Sacred Stones Camp, Red Warrior Camp, and the Oceti Sakowin Camp to resist the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatens traditional and treaty-guaranteed Great Sioux Nation territory… The different sections and articles place what is happening now in a broader historical, political, economic, and social context going back over 500 years to the first expeditions of Columbus, the founding of the United States on institutionalized slavery, private property, and dispossession, and the rise of global carbon supply and demand.”
The Anti-Racist Alliance is a collective of social workers, educators, and other professionals working to bring analysis and understanding of structural power dynamics into their work. ARA members offer "Undoing Racism" workshops with social workers, faith-based organizations, teachers and parents, and other groups.
"INCITE! is a nation-wide network of radical feminists of color working to end violence against women, gender non-conforming, and trans people of color, and our communities. We support each other through direct action, critical dialogue, and grassroots organizing." (from website)
"The Southern Poverty Law Center is a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society.
Founded by civil rights lawyers Morris Dees and Joseph Levin Jr. in 1971, the SPLC is internationally known for tracking and exposing the activities of hate groups. Our innovative Teaching Tolerance program produces and distributes – free of charge – documentary films, books, lesson plans and other materials that promote tolerance and respect in our nation’s schools." (from website)