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Selections from "An Antiracist Reading List," by Ibram X. Kendi (NY Times)
"To build a nation of equal opportunity for everyone, we need to dismantle this spurious legacy of our common upbringing. One of the best ways to do this is by reading books. Not books that reinforce old ideas about who we think we are, what we think America is, what we think racism is. Instead, we need to read books that are difficult or unorthodox, that don’t go down easily. Books that force us to confront our self-serving beliefs and make us aware that “I’m not racist” is a slogan of denial.
The reading list below is composed of just such books — a combination of classics, relatively obscure works and a few of recent vintage. Think of it as a stepladder to antiracism, each step addressing a different stage of the journey toward destroying racism’s insidious hold on all of us."
Please note that this is only showing the items the Clark Family Library holds in the collection.
Publication Date: The University of North Carolina Press, 2000
In this ambitious work, first published in 1983, Cedric Robinson demonstrates that efforts to understand black people's history of resistance solely through the prism of Marxist theory are incomplete and inaccurate. Marxist analyses tend to presuppose European models of history and experience that downplay the significance of black people and black communities as agents of change and resistance. Black radicalism must be linked to the traditions of Africa and the unique experiences of blacks on western continents, Robinson argues, and any analyses of African American history need to acknowledge this. To illustrate his argument, Robinson traces the emergence of Marxist ideology in Europe, the resistance by blacks in historically oppressive environments, and the influence of both of these traditions on such important twentieth-century black radical thinkers as W. E. B. Du Bois, C. L. R. James, and Richard Wright.
Chronicling the emergence of deeply embedded notions of black people as a dangerous race of criminals by explicit contrast to working-class whites and European immigrants, this fascinating book reveals the influence such ideas have had on urban development and social policies.
A decade after the Human Genome Project proved that human beings are not naturally divided by race, the emerging fields of personalized medicine, reproductive technologies, genetic genealogy, and DNA databanks are attempting to resuscitate race as a biological category written in our genes. In this provocative analysis, leading legal scholar and social critic Dorothy Roberts argues that America is once again at the brink of a virulent outbreak of classifying population by race. By searching for differences at the molecular level, a new race-based science is obscuring racism in our society and legitimizing state brutality against communities of color at a time when America claims to be post-racial. Moving from an account of the evolution of race--proving that it has always been a mutable and socially defined political division supported by mainstream science--Roberts delves deep into the current debates, interrogating the newest science and biotechnology, interviewing its researchers, and exposing the political consequences obscured by the focus on genetic difference. Fatal Invention is a provocative call for us to affirm our common humanity.
"If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free." --Combahee River Collective Statement Winner of the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction The Combahee River Collective, a path-breaking group of radical black feminists, was one of the most important organizations to develop out of the antiracist and women's liberation movements of the 1960s and 70s. In this collection of essays and interviews edited by activist-scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, founding members of the organization and contemporary activists reflect on the legacy of its contributions to Black feminism and its impact on today's struggles. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor writes on Black politics, social movements, and racial inequality in the United States. Her book From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation won the 2016 Lannan Cultural Freedom Award for an Especially Notable Book. Her articles have been published in Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, Jacobin, New Politics, The Guardian, In These Times, Black Agenda Report, Ms., International Socialist Review, and other publications. Taylor is Assistant Professor in the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University.
West Indian immigrants to the United States fare better than native-born African Americans on a wide array of economic measures, including labor force participation, earnings, and occupational prestige. Some researchers argue that the root of this difference lies in differing cultural attitudes toward work, while others maintain that white Americans favor West Indian blacks over African Americans, giving them an edge in the workforce. Still others hold that West Indians who emigrate to this country are more ambitious and talented than those they left behind. In West Indian Immigrants, sociologist Suzanne Model subjects these theories to close historical and empirical scrutiny to unravel the mystery of West Indian success. West Indian Immigrants draws on four decades of national census data, surveys of Caribbean emigrants around the world, and historical records dating back to the emergence of the slave trade. Model debunks the notion that growing up in an all-black society is an advantage by showing that immigrants from racially homogeneous and racially heterogeneous areas have identical economic outcomes. Weighing the evidence for white American favoritism, Model compares West Indian immigrants in New York, Toronto, London, and Amsterdam, and finds that, despite variation in the labor markets and ethnic composition of these cities, Caribbean immigrants in these four cities attain similar levels of economic success. Model also looks at "movers" and "stayers" from Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad, and Guyana, and finds that emigrants leaving all four countries have more education and hold higher status jobs than those who remain. In this sense, West Indians immigrants are not so different from successful native-born African Americans who have moved within the U.S. to further their careers. Both West Indian immigrants and native-born African-American movers are the "best and the brightest"--they are more literate and hold better jobs than those who stay put. While political debates about the nature of black disadvantage in America have long fixated on West Indians' relatively favorable economic position, this crucial finding reveals a fundamental flaw in the argument that West Indian success is proof of native-born blacks' behavioral shortcomings. Proponents of this viewpoint have overlooked the critical role of immigrant self-selection. West Indian Immigrants is a sweeping historical narrative and definitive empirical analysis that promises to change the way we think about what it means to be a black American. Ultimately, Model shows that West Indians aren't a black success story at all--rather, they are an immigrant success story.
Publication Date: New York : Ballantine Books, 1973, c1965.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X was published in 1965, the result of a collaboration between human rights activist Malcolm X and journalist Alex Haley. Haley coauthored the autobiography based on a series of in-depth interviews he conducted between 1963 and Malcolm X's 1965 assassination. The Autobiography is a spiritual conversion narrative that outlines Malcolm X's philosophy of black pride, black nationalism, and pan-Africanism. After the leader was killed, Haley wrote the book's epilogue.[a] He described their collaborative process and the events at the end of Malcolm X's life.
The Blacker the Berry: A Novel of Negro Life (1929) is a novel by American author Wallace Thurman, associated with the Harlem Renaissance. The novel tells the story of Emma Lou Morgan, a young black woman with dark skin. It begins in Boise, Idaho and follows Emma Lou in her journey to college at USC and a move to Harlem, New York City for work. Set during the Harlem Renaissance, the novel explores Emma Lou's experiences with colorism, discrimination by lighter-skinned African Americans due to her dark skin. She learns to come to terms with her skin color in order to find satisfaction in her life.
Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison powerfully examines our obsession with beauty and conformity--and asks questions about race, class, and gender with her characteristic subtly and grace. In Morrison's best-selling first novel, Pecola Breedlove--an 11-year-old Black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others--prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment. Here, Morrison's writing is "so precise, so faithful to speech and so charged with pain and wonder that the novel becomes poetry" (The New York Times).
"With the rise of the Tea Party and the election of Donald Trump, many middle- and lower-income white Americans threw their support behind conservative politicians who pledged to make life great again for people like them. But as Dying of Whiteness shows, the right-wing policies that resulted from this white backlash put these voters' very health at risk--and, in the end, threaten everyone's well-being. Physician and sociologist Jonathan M. Metzl travels across America's heartland seeking to better understand the politics of racial resentment and its impact on public health. Interviewing a range of Americans, he uncovers how racial anxieties led to the repeal of gun control laws in Missouri, stymied the Affordable Care Act in Tennessee, and fueled massive cuts to schools and social services in Kansas. Although such measures promised to restore greatness to white America, Metzl's systematic analysis of health data dramatically reveals they did just the opposite: these policies made life sicker, harder, and shorter in the very populations they purported to aid. Thus, white life expectancies fell, gun suicides soared, and school dropout rates rose. Powerful, searing, and sobering, Dying of Whiteness ultimately demonstrates just how much white America would benefit by emphasizing cooperation, rather than chasing false promises of supremacy"--Publisher's description.
Publication Date: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018.
"Locking Up Our Ownis an engaging, insightful, and provocative reexamination of over-incarceration in the black community. James Forman Jr. carefully exposes the complexities of crime, criminal justice, and race. What he illuminates should not be ignored." --Bryan Stevenson, author ofJust Mercy and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative "A beautiful book, written so well, that gives us the origins and consequences of where we are . . . I can see why [the Pulitzer prize] was awarded." --Trevor Noah, The Daily Show Former public defender James Forman, Jr. is a leading critic of mass incarceration and its disproportionate impact on people of color. In Locking Up Our Own, he seeks to understand the war on crime that began in the 1970s and why it was supported by many African American leaders in the nation's urban centers. Forman shows us that the first substantial cohort of black mayors, judges, and police chiefs took office amid a surge in crime and drug addiction. Many prominent black officials, including Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Barry and federal prosecutor Eric Holder, feared that the gains of the civil rights movement were being undermined by lawlessness--and thus embraced tough-on-crime measures, including longer sentences and aggressive police tactics. In the face of skyrocketing murder rates andthe proliferation of open-air drug markets, they believed they had no choice. But the policies they adopted would have devastating consequences for residents of poor black neighborhoods. A former D.C. public defender, Forman tells riveting stories of politicians, community activists, police officers, defendants, and crime victims. He writes with compassion about individuals trapped in terrible dilemmas--from the men and women he represented in court to officials struggling to respond to a public safety emergency. Locking Up Our Own enriches our understanding of why our society became so punitive and offers important lessons to anyone concerned about the future of race and the criminal justice system in this country.
In her profound and courageous New York Times bestseller, Janet Mock establishes herself as a resounding and inspirational voice for the transgender community--and anyone fighting to define themselves on their own terms. With unflinching honesty and moving prose, Janet Mock relays her experiences of growing up young, multiracial, poor, and trans in America, offering readers accessible language while imparting vital insight about the unique challenges and vulnerabilities of a marginalized and misunderstood population. Though undoubtedly an account of one woman's quest for self at all costs, Redefining Realness is a powerful vision of possibility and self-realization, pushing us all toward greater acceptance of one another--and of ourselves--showing as never before how to be unapologetic and real.
Publication Date: Trumansburg, NY : Crossing Press, c1984.
Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches is a collection of essential essays and speeches written by Audre Lorde, a woman who wrote from the particulars of her identity: Black woman, lesbian, poet, activist, cancer survivor, mother, and feminist writer.
Fair and long-legged, independent and articulate, Janie Crawford sets out to be her own person -- no mean feat for a black woman in the '30s. Janie's quest for identity takes her through three marriages and into a journey back to her roots.
Publication Date: New York : Henry Holt and Co., 2007, c2006.
"Once in a while a book comes along that projects the spirit of an era; this is one of them . . . Vibrant and expressive . . . A well-researched and well-written work." --The Philadelphia Inquirer With the rallying cry of "Black Power!" in 1966, a group of black activists, including Stokely Carmichael and Huey P. Newton, turned their backs on Martin Luther King's pacifism and, building on Malcolm X's legacy, pioneered a radical new approach to the fight for equality. Drawing on original archival research and more than sixty original oral histories, Peniel E. Joseph vividly invokes the way in which Black Power redefined black identity and culture and in the process redrew the landscapeof American race relations. In a series of character-driven chapters, we witness the rise of Black Power groups such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Black Panthers, and with them, on both coasts of the country, a fundamental change in the way Americans understood the unfinished business of racial equality and integration. Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour traces the history of the Black Power movement, that storied group of men and women who would become American icons of the struggle for racial equality.
Outstanding Academic Title, Choice In the 1960s and 70s, the two most important black nationalist organizations, the Nation of Islam and the Black Panther Party, gave voice and agency to the most economically and politically isolated members of black communities outside the South. Though vilified as fringe and extremist, these movements proved to be formidable agents of influence during the civil rights era, ultimately giving birth to the Black Power movement. Drawing on deep archival research and interviews with key participants, Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar reconsiders the commingled stories of--and popular reactions to--the Nation of Islam, Black Panthers, and mainstream civil rights leaders. Ogbar finds that many African Americans embraced the seemingly contradictory political agenda of desegregation and nationalism. Indeed, black nationalism, he demonstrates, was far more favorably received among African Americans than historians have previously acknowledged. It engendered minority pride and influenced the political, cultural, and religious spheres of mainstream African American life for the decades to come. This updated edition of Ogbar's classic work contains a new preface that describes the book's genesis and links the Black Power movement to the Black Lives Matter movement. A thoroughly updated essay on sources contains a comprehensive review of Black Power-related scholarship. Ultimately, Black Power reveals a black freedom movement in which the ideals of desegregation through nonviolence and black nationalism marched side by side.
Publication Date: New York : Abbeville Press, c1996.
With a striking selection of images and a lively, informative text, Steven Kasher captures the danger, drama, and bravery of the civil rights movement. After an introduction explaining the significance of photography to the movement, the text in this important book proceeds from the Montgomery bus boycott through the students, local, and national movements; the big marches; Freedom summer; Malcolm X; and the death of Martin Luther King. Each chapter begins with a fast-paced narrative of a crucial event in the movement, complemented by a portfolio of the most effective and evocative photographs of the subject. Ranging from the well known to the rare, these images were shot by such photographers as Richard Avedon, Danny Lyon, Charles Moore, Gordon Parks, Dan Weiner, and more than fifty others. Many of the pictures are accompanied by thought-provoking remembrances and analysis by various photographers and participants.
Recommended by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Book Riot and Autostraddle Nominated for a 2019 NAACP Image Award, a groundbreaking collection of profiles of African American women leaders in the twentieth-century fight for civil rights During the Civil Rights Movement, African American women did not stand on ceremony; they simply did the work that needed to be done. Yet despite their significant contributions at all levels of the movement, they remain mostly invisible to the larger public. Beyond Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King, most Americans would be hard-pressed to name other leaders at the community, local, and national levels. In Lighting the Fires of Freedom Janet Dewart Bell shines a light on women's all-too-often overlooked achievements in the Movement. Through wide-ranging conversations with nine women, several now in their nineties with decades of untold stories, we hear what ignited and fueled their activism, as Bell vividly captures their inspiring voices. Lighting the Fires of Freedom offers these deeply personal and intimate accounts of extraordinary struggles for justice that resulted in profound social change, stories that are vital and relevant today. A vital document for understanding the Civil Rights Movement, Lighting the Fires of Freedom is an enduring testament to the vitality of women's leadership during one of the most dramatic periods of American history.