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Acclaimed poet Shane McCrae's latest collection is a book about freedom told through stories of captivity. Historical persona poems and a prose memoir at the center of the book address the illusory freedom of both black and white Americans. In the book's three sequences, McCrae explores the role mass entertainment plays in oppression, he confronts the myth that freedom can be based upon the power to dominate others, and, in poems about the mixed-race child adopted by Jefferson Davis in the last year of the Civil War, he interrogates the infrequently examined connections between racism and love.
Born into slavery in 1818, Frederick Douglass escaped to freedom and became a passionate advocate for abolition and social change and the foremost spokesperson for the nation’s enslaved African American population in the years preceding the Civil War. My Bondage and My Freedom is Douglass’s masterful recounting of his remarkable life and a fiery condemnation of a political and social system that would reduce people to property and keep an entire race in chains.
In 1773, the slave Phillis Wheatley literally wrote her way to freedom. The first person of African descent to publish a book of poems in English, she was emancipated by her owners in recognition of her literary achievement. For a time, Wheatley was the most famous black woman in the West. But Thomas Jefferson, unlike his contemporaries Ben Franklin and George Washington, refused to acknowledge her gifts as a writera repudiation that eventually inspired generations of black writers to build an extraordinary body of literature in their efforts to prove him wrong. In The Trials of Phillis Wheatley, Henry Louis Gates Jr. explores the pivotal roles that Wheatley and Jefferson played in shaping the black literary tradition. Writing with all the lyricism and critical skill that place him at the forefront of American letters, Gates brings to life the characters, debates, and controversy that surrounded Wheatley in her day and ours.
Originally published in 1903, Souls introduced a number of now-canonical terms into the American conversation about race, among them double-consciousness, and it sounded the ominous warning that "the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line." Unlike Du Bois's more scholarly work, Souls blends narrative and autobiographical essays, and it continues to reach a wide domestic and international readership. This moving homage to black life and culture and its sharp economic and historical critique are more important than ever, resonating with today's unequivocal demand that Black Lives Matter in the twenty-first century.
A profound new rendering of the struggle by African-Americans for equality after the Civil War and the violent counter-revolution that resubjugated them, as seen through the prism of the war of images and ideas that have left an enduring racist stain on the American mind. The abolition of slavery in the aftermath of the Civil War is a familiar story, as is the civil rights revolution that transformed the nation after World War II. But the century in between remains a mystery: if emancipation sparked 'a new birth of freedom' in Lincoln's America, why was it necessary to march in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s America? In this new book, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., one of our leading chroniclers of the African-American experience, seeks to answer that question in a history that moves from the Reconstruction Era to the 'nadir' of the African-American experience under Jim Crow, through to World War I and the Harlem Renaissance.
Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see black youth seated together in the cafeteria. Of course, it's not just the black kids sitting together-the white, Latino, Asian Pacific, and, in some regions, American Indian youth are clustered in their own groups, too. The same phenomenon can be observed in college dining halls, faculty lounges, and corporate cafeterias. What is going on here? Is this self-segregation a problem we should try to fix, or a coping strategy we should support? How can we get past our reluctance to talk about racial issues to even discuss it? And what about all the other questions we and our children have about race? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, asserts that we do not know how to talk about our racial differences: Whites are afraid of using the wrong words and being perceived as "racist" while parents of color are afraid of exposing their children to painful racial realities too soon.
"This is a community curated list of books, poems, articles and blog posts that explore race, not only in St. Louis, but America as a whole. By no means a full comprehensive list, here are a few to get you started on the trail of understanding what's happening."
Compiled by workers at Left Bank Books in St. Louis.
Below are links to ebooks in our collection from this list. You need Juniata credentials to access these links.
"On January 20, 1942, black oil mill worker Cleo Wright assaulted a white woman in her home and nearly killed the first police officer who tried to arrest him. An angry mob then hauled Wright out of jail and dragged him through the streets of Sikeston, Missouri, before burning him alive.Wright's death was, unfortunately, not unique in American history, but what his death meant in the larger context of life in the United States in the twentieth-century is an important and compelling story. After the lynching, the U.S. Justice Department was forced to become involved in civil rights concerns for the first time, provoking a national reaction to violence on the home front at a time when the country was battling for democracy in Europe.Dominic Capeci unravels the tragic story of Wright's life on several stages, showing how these acts of violence were indicative not only of racial tension but the clash of the traditional and the modern brought about by the war. Capeci draws from a wide range of archival sources and personal interviews with the participants and spectators to draw vivid portraits of Wright, his victims, law-enforcement officials, and members of the lynch mob. He places Wright in the larger context of southern racial violence and shows the significance of his death in local, state, and national history during the most important crisis of the twentieth-century."
"Strange Fruit Volume I is a collection of stories from early African American history that represent the oddity of success in the face of great adversity. Each of the nine illustrated chapters chronicles an uncelebrated African American hero or event. From the adventures of lawman Bass Reeves, to Henry'Box'Brown's daring escape from slavery."
"William Thomas Scott (1839–1917) was an entrepreneur and political activist from East Saint Louis and Cairo, Illinois, who in 1904 briefly became the first African American nominated by a national party for president of the United States before his scandalous past forced him to step aside. A free man before the Civil War, Scott was a charismatic hustler who built his fortune through both vice trades and legal businesses including hotels, saloons, and real estate. Publisher and editor of the Cairo Gazette and an outspoken advocate for equal rights, he believed in political patronage and frequently rebelled against political bosses who failed to deliver, whether they were white, black, Republican, or Democrat. Scott helped build the National Negro Liberty Party to forward economic, political, and legal rights for his race. But the hustling that had brought him business success proved his undoing as a national political figure. He was the NNLP's initial presidential nominee, only to be replaced by a better-educated and more socially acceptable candidate, George Edwin Taylor."
In the early twentieth century, Marcus Garvey sowed the seeds of a new black pride and determination. Attacked by the black intelligentsia and ridiculed by the white press, this Jamaican immigrant astonished all with his black nationalist rhetoric. In just four years, he built the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), the largest and most powerful all-black organization the nation had ever seen. With hundreds of branches, throughout the United States, the UNIA represented Garvey's greatest accomplishment and, ironically, the source of his public disgrace. Black Moses brings this controversial figure to life and recovers the significance of his life and work. “Those who are interested in the revolutionary aspects of the twentieth century in America should not miss Cronon's book. It makes exciting reading.”—The Nation “A very readable, factual, and well-documented biography of Marcus Garvey.”—The Crisis, NAACP “In a short, swiftly moving, penetrating biography, Mr. Cronon has made the first real attempt to narrate the Garvey story. From the Jamaican's traumatic race experiences on the West Indian island to dizzy success and inglorious failure on the mainland, the major outlines are here etched with sympathy, understanding, and insight.”—Mississippi Valley Historical Review (Now the Journal of American History). “Good reading for all serious history students.”—Jet “A vivid, detailed, and sound portrait of a man and his dreams.”—Political Science Quarterly
"Powerful strategies and practical tools for white people committed to racial justice In 2016, the president-elect of the United States openly called for segregation and deportation based on race and religion. Meanwhile, inequalities in education, housing, health care, and the job market continue to prevail, while increased insecurity and fear have led to an epidemic of scapegoating and harassment of people of color. Yet, recent polls show that only thirty-one percent of white people in the United States believe racism is a major societal problem; at the same time, resistance is strong, as highlighted by indigenous struggles for land and sovereignty and the Movement for Black Lives. Completely revised and updated, this fourth edition of Uprooting Racism offers a framework around neoliberalism and interpersonal, institutional, and cultural racism, along with stories of resistance and white solidarity. It provides practical tools and advice on how white people can work as allies for racial justice, engaging the reader through questions, exercises, and suggestions for action, and includes a wealth of information about specific cultural groups such as Muslims, people with mixed heritage, Native Americans, Jews, recent immigrants, Asian Americans, and Latino/as. Previous editions of Uprooting Racism have sold more than 50,000 copies. This accessible, personal, supportive, and practical guide is ideal for students, community activists, teachers, youth workers, and anyone interested in issues of diversity, multiculturalism, and social justice. Paul Kivel is an award-winning author and an accomplished trainer and speaker. He has been a social justice activist, a nationally and internationally recognized anti-racism educator, and an innovative leader in violence prevention for over forty years."
"Privatization has been on the right-wing agenda for years. Health care, schools, Social Security, public lands, the military, prisons—all are considered fair game. Through stories, analysis, impassioned argument—even song lyrics—Si Kahn and Elizabeth Minnich show that corporations are, by their very nature, unable to fulfill effectively what have traditionally been the responsibilities of government. They make a powerful case that the market is not the measure of all things, and that a vital public sector is an indispensable component of a healthy democracy."
"An essential reference for anyone attempting to fathom the complex state of our nation. With fascinating and often surprising information on everything from incarceration rates, lending practices, and the arts to marriage, voting habits, and green jobs, the contextualized material in this book will better attune readers to telling trends while challenging commonly held, yet often misguided, perceptions. A compilation that at once highlights measures of incredible progress and enumerates the disparate impacts of social policies and practices, this book is a critical tool for advocates, educators, and policy makers. Black Stats offers indispensable information that is sure to enlighten discussions and provoke debates about the quality of Black life in the United States todayand help chart the path to a better future.There are less than a quarter-million Black public school teachers in the U.S.representing just 7 percent of all teachers in public schools.Approximately half of the Black population in the United States lives in neighborhoods that have no White residents.In the five years before the Great Recession, the number of Black-owned businesses in the United States increased by 61 percent.A 2010 study found that 41 percent of Black youth feel that rap music videos should be more political.There are no Black owners or presidents of an NFL franchise team.78 percent of Black Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant, compared with 56 percent of White Americans."
"By beginning a conversation that encourages self-examination and compassion, Combined Destinies invites readers to look at how white Americans have been hurt by the very ideology that their ancestors created. Editors Ann Todd Jealous and Caroline T. Haskell, both experienced psychotherapists skilled at facilitating dialogue about racial issues, are cognizant of the challenges that even the thought of such conversations often presents. Their book is based on the premise that for positive and lasting change to occur, hearts as well as minds must be opened. This courageous anthology posits that unearned privilege has damaged the psyche of white people as well as their capacity to understand racism. Drawing on the intimate stories of diverse contributors, Combined Destinies is organized thematically, with individual chapters focusing on topics such as guilt, shame, silence, and resistance. The book includes an extensive reader's guide, posing questions for discussion pertaining to each chapter and offering readers a chance to explore their own experiences."
"Witnessing Whiteness invites readers to consider what it means to be white, describes and critiques strategies used to avoid race issues, and identifies the detrimental effect of avoiding race on cross-race collaborations. The author illustrates how racial discomfort leads white people toward poor relationships with people of color. Questioning the implications our history has for personal lives and social institutions, the book considers political, economic, socio-cultural, and legal histories that shaped the meanings associated with whiteness. Drawing on dialogue with well-known figures within education, race, and multicultural work, the book offers intimate, personal stories of cross-race friendships that address both how a deep understanding of whiteness supports cross-race collaboration and the long-term nature of the work of excising racism from the deep psyche. Concluding chapters offer practical information on building knowledge, skills, capacities, and communities that support anti-racism practices, a hopeful look at our collective future, and a discussion of how to create a culture of witnesses who support allies for social and racial justice. For book discussion groups and workshop plans, please visit www.witnessingwhiteness.com."
"Campaigning for president in 1980, Ronald Reagan told stories of Cadillac-driving'welfare queens'and'strapping young bucks'buying T-bone steaks with food stamps. In trumpeting these tales of welfare run amok, Reagan never needed to mention race, because he was blowing a dog whistle: sending a message about racial minorities inaudible on one level, but clearly heard on another. In doing so, he tapped into a long political tradition that started with George Wallace and Richard Nixon, and is more relevant than ever in the age of the Tea Party and the first black president. In Dog Whistle Politics, Ian Haney López offers a sweeping account of how politicians and plutocrats deploy veiled racial appeals to persuade white voters to support policies that favor the extremely rich yet threaten their own interests. Dog whistle appeals generate middle-class enthusiasm for political candidates who promise to crack down on crime, curb undocumented immigration, and protect the heartland against Islamic infiltration, but ultimately vote to slash taxes for the rich, give corporations regulatory control over industry and financial markets, and aggressively curtail social services. White voters, convinced by powerful interests that minorities are their true enemies, fail to see the connection between the political agendas they support and the surging wealth inequality that takes an increasing toll on their lives. The tactic continues at full force, with the Republican Party using racial provocations to drum up enthusiasm for weakening unions and public pensions, defunding public schools, and opposing health care reform. Rejecting any simple story of malevolent and obvious racism, Haney López links as never before the two central themes that dominate American politics today: the decline of the middle class and the Republican Party's increasing reliance on white voters. Dog Whistle Politics will generate a lively and much-needed debate about how racial politics has destabilized the American middle class-white and nonwhite members alike."
"Raised with twelve brothers in a part of the segregated South that provided no school for African American children through the 1940s, Sylvia Bell White went North as a teenager, dreaming of a nursing career and a freedom defined in part by wartime rhetoric about American ideals. In Milwaukee she and her brothers persevered through racial rebuffs and discrimination to find work. Barred by both her gender and color from employment in the city's factories, Sylvia scrubbed floors, worked as a nurse's aide, and took adult education courses. When a Milwaukee police officer killed her younger brother Daniel Bell in 1958, the Bell family suspected a racial murder but could do nothing to prove it—until twenty years later, when one of the two officers involved in the incident unexpectedly came forward. Daniel's siblings filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city and ultimately won that four-year legal battle. Sylvia was the driving force behind their quest for justice. Telling her whole life story in these pages, Sylvia emerges as a buoyant spirit, a sparkling narrator, and, above all, a powerful witness to racial injustice. Jody LePage's chapter introductions frame the narrative in a historical span that reaches from Sylvia's own enslaved grandparents to the nation's first African American president. Giving depth to that wide sweep, this oral history brings us into the presence of an extraordinary individual. Rarely does such a voice receive a hearing. Winner, Wisconsin Historical Society Book Award of Merit."
"All about Skin features twenty-seven stories by women writers of color whose short fiction has earned them a range of honors, including John Simon Guggenheim Fellowships, the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, the Flannery O'Connor Award, and inclusion in the Best American Short Stories and O. Henry anthologies. The prose in this multicultural anthology addresses such themes as racial prejudice, media portrayal of beauty, and family relationships and spans genres from the comic and the surreal to startling realism. It demonstrates the power and range of some of the most exciting women writing short fiction today. The stories are by American writers Aracelis González Asendorf, Jacqueline Bishop, Glendaliz Camacho, Learkana Chong, Jennine Capó Crucet, Ramola D., Patricia Engel, Amina Gautier, Manjula Menon, ZZ Packer, Princess Joy L. Perry, Toni Margarita Plummer, Emily Raboteau, Ivelisse Rodriguez, Metta Sáma, Joshunda Sanders, Renee Simms, Mecca Jamilah Sullivan, Hope Wabuke, and Ashley Young; Nigerian writers Unoma Azuah and Chinelo Okparanta; and Chinese writer Xu Xi. "
"For nearly forty years the United States has been gripped by policies that have placed more than 2.5 million Americans in jails and prisons designed to hold a fraction of that number of inmates. Our prisons are not only vast and overcrowded, they are degrading—relying on racist gangs, lockdowns, and Supermax-style segregation units to maintain a tenuous order.Mass Incarceration on Trial examines a series of landmark decisions about prison conditions—culminating in Brown v. Plata, decided in May 2011 by the U.S. Supreme Court—that has opened an unexpected escape route from this trap of tough on crime” politics. This set of rulings points toward values that could restore legitimate order to American prisons and, ultimately, lead to the demise of mass incarceration. Simon argues that much like the school segregation cases of the last century, these new cases represent a major breakthrough in jurisprudence—moving us from a hollowed-out vision of civil rights to the threshold of human rights and giving court backing for the argument that, because the conditions it creates are fundamentally cruel and unusual, mass incarceration is inherently unconstitutional.Since the publication of Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow, states around the country have begun to question the fundamental fairness of our criminal justice system."