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Black Lives Matter: Home

Last Updated: Sep 16, 2020 10:31 AM

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The nationwide reckoning with longstanding racial injustice in America -- in education, employment, housing, medical care, voting rights, and above all in the criminal justice system -- has gained unstoppable momentum in recent weeks. The books on this page are fuel for this struggle. They are listed alphabetically by author's last name, and, where available, link directly to electronic editions accessible to current UB users only. This guide is a work in progress, and is far from exhaustive. Suggestions for additions or changes are most welcome, and should be addressed to Michael Kicey, Humanities Liaison Librarian at UB Libraries.

Left: A protester speaks during demonstrations in Charlotte, North Carolina, 30 May 2020. Image author: Clay Banks. Image source: Unsplash. Image license: Unsplash license.

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This book is a vivid participant ethnography conducted from inside of Ferguson protests as the Black Lives Matter movement catapulted onto the global stage. Sociologist Andrea S. Boyles offers an everyday montage of protests, social ties, and empowerment that coalesced to safeguard black lives while igniting unprecedented twenty-first‑century resistance. Focusing on neighborhood crime prevention and contentious black citizen–police interactions in the context of preserving black lives, this book examines how black citizens work to combat disorder, crime, and police conflict. Boyles offers an insider’s analysis of cities like Ferguson, where a climate of indifference leaves black neighborhoods vulnerable to conflict, where black lives are seemingly expendable, and where black citizens are held responsible for their own oppression. This work serves as a reminder that community empowerment is still possible in neighborhoods experiencing police brutality and interpersonal violence.

Cobbina Hands Up cover artHands Up, Don't Shoot: Why the Protests in Ferguson and Baltimore Matter, and How They Changed America by Jennifer E. Cobbina. New York: New York University Press, 2019.

Following the high-profile deaths of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and twenty-five-year-old Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland, both cities erupted in protest over the unjustified homicides of unarmed black males at the hands of police officers. These local tragedies―and the protests surrounding them―assumed national significance, igniting fierce debate about the fairness and efficacy of the American criminal justice system. Yet, outside the gaze of mainstream attention, how do local residents and protestors in Ferguson and Baltimore understand their own experiences with race, place, and policing? In this book, Jennifer Cobbina draws on in-depth interviews with nearly two hundred residents of Ferguson and Baltimore, conducted within two months of the deaths of Brown and Gray. She examines how protestors in both cities understood their experiences with the police, how those experiences influenced their perceptions of policing, what galvanized Black Lives Matter as a social movement, and how policing tactics during demonstrations influenced subsequent mobilization decisions among protesters. Ultimately, she humanizes people’s deep and abiding anger, underscoring how a movement emerged to denounce both racial biases by police and the broader economic and social system that has stacked the deck against young black civilians. This work is a remarkably current, on-the-ground assessment of the powerful, protestor-driven movement around race, justice, and policing in America.

Hillstrom Black Lives Matter cover artBlack Lives Matter: From A Moment to a Movement by Laurie Collier Hillstrom. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood/ABC-Clio, 2018.

This concise yet comprehensive reference book provides an overview of the Black Lives Matter movement, from its emergence in response to the police-involved deaths of unarmed black people to its development as a force for racial justice in America. This much-needed text places the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement within the broader context of the African American struggle for equality in America, from the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s to the violent protests against white supremacy that took place in Charlottesville in 2017. Specific topics include the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012, which gave rise to the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter; the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, which launched the rise of the movement; and the fatal shootings of police officers in Dallas, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 2016, which sparked bitter backlash. It also covers the virulent alt-right backlash against BLM and the ways in which BLM leaders are responding to the challenge.

Lebron Making of BLM cover artThe Making of Black Lives Matter: The Brief History of an Idea by Christopher J. Lebron. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Started in the wake of George Zimmerman's 2013 acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin, the #BlackLivesMatter movement has become a powerful and uncompromising campaign demanding redress for the brutal and unjustified treatment of black bodies by law enforcement in the United States. The movement is only a few years old, but as Christopher J. Lebron argues in this book, the sentiment behind it is not; the plea and demand that "Black Lives Matter" comes out of a much older and richer tradition arguing for the equal dignity -- and not just equal rights -- of black people. This book presents a condensed and accessible intellectual history that traces the genesis of the ideas that have built into the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Drawing on the work of revolutionary black public intellectuals, including Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, Langston Hughes, Zora Neal Hurston, Anna Julia Cooper, Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, and Martin Luther King Jr., Lebron clarifies what it means to assert that "Black Lives Matter" when faced with contemporary instances of anti-black law enforcement. He also illuminates the crucial difference between the problem signaled by the social media hashtag and how we think that we ought to address the problem. As Lebron states, police body cameras, or even the exhortation for civil rights mean nothing in the absence of equality and dignity. To upset dominant practices of abuse, oppression and disregard, we must reach instead for radical sensibility. Radical sensibility requires that we become cognizant of the history of black thought and activism in order to make sense of the emotions, demands, and arguments of present-day activists and public thinkers.

Five Days Moore cover artFive Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City by Wes Moore with Erica L. Green. New York: OneWorld, 2020.

When Freddie Gray was arrested for possessing an “illegal knife” in April 2015, he was, by eyewitness accounts that video evidence later confirmed, treated “roughly” as police loaded him into a vehicle. By the end of his trip in the police van, Gray was in a coma from which he would never recover. In the wake of a long history of police abuse in Baltimore, this killing felt like the final straw—it led to a week of protests, then five days described alternately as a riot or an uprising that set the entire city on edge and caught the nation's attention. While attending Gray’s funeral, Wes Moore saw every stratum of the city come together: grieving mothers, members of the city’s wealthy elite, activists, and the long-suffering citizens of Baltimore—all looking to comfort one another, but also looking for answers. He knew that when they left the church, these factions would spread out to their own corners, but that the answers they were all looking for could be found only in the city as a whole. Moore—along with journalist Erica Green—tells the story of the Baltimore uprising both through his own observations and through the eyes of other Baltimoreans: Partee, a conflicted black captain of the Baltimore Police Department; Jenny, a young white public defender who’s drawn into the violent center of the uprising herself; Tawanda, a young black woman who’d spent a lonely year protesting the killing of her own brother by police; and John Angelos, scion of the city’s most powerful family and executive vice president of the Baltimore Orioles, who had to make choices of conscience he’d never before confronted. Each shifting point of view contributes to an engrossing, cacophonous account of one of the most consequential moments in our recent history.

Richardson Bearing Witness cover artBearing Witness While Black: African Americans, Smartphones, and the New Protest #Journalism by Allissa V. Richardson. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.

This work tells the story of this century's most powerful Black social movement through the eyes of 15 activists who documented it. At the height of the Black Lives Matter uprisings, African Americans filmed and tweeted evidence of fatal police encounters in dozens of US cities--using little more than the device in their pockets. Their urgent dispatches from the frontlines spurred a global debate on excessive police force, which claimed the lives of African American men, women, and children at disproportionate rates. This groundbreaking book reveals how the perfect storm of smartphones, social media, and social justice empowered Black activists to create their own news outlets, which continued a centuries-long, African American tradition of using the news to challenge racism. This is the first book of its kind to identify three overlapping eras of domestic terror against African American people--slavery, lynching, and police brutality--and explain how storytellers during each period documented its atrocities through journalism. What results is a stunning genealogy--of how the slave narratives of the 1700s inspired the Abolitionist movement; how the black newspapers of the 1800s galvanized the anti-lynching and Civil Rights movements; and how the smartphones of today have powered the anti-police brutality movement. This lineage of black witnessing, Allissa V. Richardson argues, is formidable and forever evolving.


Police band

The last days of colonialism taught America's revolutionaries that soldiers in the streets bring conflict and tyranny. As a result, our country has generally worked to keep the military out of law enforcement. But according to investigative reporter Radley Balko, over the last several decades, America's cops have increasingly come to resemble ground troops. The consequences have been dire: the home is no longer a place of sanctuary, the Fourth Amendment has been gutted, and police today have been conditioned to see the citizens they serve as an other -- an enemy. Today's armored-up policemen are a far cry from the constables of early America. The unrest of the 1960s brought about the invention of the SWAT unit-which in turn led to the debut of military tactics in the ranks of police officers. Nixon's War on Drugs, Reagan's War on Poverty, Clinton's COPS program, the post-9/11 security state under Bush and Obama: by degrees, each of these innovations expanded and empowered police forces, always at the expense of civil liberties. And these are just four among a slew of reckless programs. In this book, Balko shows how politicians' ill-considered policies and relentless declarations of war against vague enemies like crime, drugs, and terror have blurred the distinction between cop and soldier. His fascinating, frightening narrative shows how over a generation, a creeping battlefield mentality has isolated and alienated American police officers and put them on a collision course with the values of a free society.

Davis Policing Black Man cover artPolicing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment, edited by Angela J. Davis. New York: Vintage Books, 2017.

This work explores and critiques the many ways the criminal justice system impacts the lives of African American boys and men at every stage of the criminal process, from arrest through sentencing. Essays range from an explication of the historical roots of racism in the criminal justice system to an examination of modern-day police killings of unarmed black men. The contributors discuss and explain racial profiling, the power and discretion of police and prosecutors, the role of implicit bias, the racial impact of police and prosecutorial decisions, the disproportionate imprisonment of black men, the collateral consequences of mass incarceration, and the Supreme Court’s failure to provide meaningful remedies for the injustices in the criminal justice system. This book is an enlightening must-read for anyone interested in the critical issues of race and justice in America.

Forman Locking Up Our Own cover artLocking up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Forman. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2017.

Former public defender James Forman, Jr. is a leading critic of mass incarceration and its disproportionate impact on people of color. In this book, 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 and the 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. This work 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.

Vitale End of Policing cover artThe End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale. New York: Verso, 2018.

Recent weeks have seen an explosion of protest against police brutality and repression. Among activists, journalists and politicians, the conversation about how to respond and improve policing has focused on accountability, diversity, training, and community relations. Unfortunately, these reforms will not produce results, either alone or in combination. The core of the problem must be addressed: the nature of modern policing itself. This book attempts to spark public discussion by revealing the tainted origins of modern policing as a tool of social control. It shows how the expansion of police authority is inconsistent with community empowerment, social justice— even public safety. Drawing on groundbreaking research from across the world, and covering virtually every area in the increasingly broad range of police work, Alex Vitale demonstrates how law enforcement has come to exacerbate the very problems it is supposed to solve. In contrast, there are places where the robust implementation of policing alternatives—such as legalization, restorative justice, and harm reduction—has led to a decrease in crime, spending, and injustice. The best solution to bad policing may be an end to policing.


Mass Incarceration headline

Seldom does a book have the impact of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. Since it was first published in 2010, it has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it helped inspire the creation of the Marshall Project and the new $100 million Art for Justice Fund; it has been the winner of numerous prizes, including the prestigious NAACP Image Award; and it has spent nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Most important of all, it has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists and organizations motivated by Michelle Alexander’s unforgettable argument that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” As the Birmingham News proclaimed, it is “undoubtedly the most important book published in this century about the U.S.” Now, ten years after it was first published, The New Press is proud to issue a tenth-anniversary edition with a new preface by Michelle Alexander that discusses the impact the book has had and the state of the criminal justice reform movement today.

Bauer American Prison cover artAmerican Prison: A Reporter's Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment by Shane Bauer. New York: Penguin Books, 2019.

In 2014, Shane Bauer was hired for $9 an hour to work as an entry-level prison guard at a private prison in Winnfield, Louisiana. An award-winning investigative journalist, he used his real name; there was no meaningful background check. Four months later, his employment came to an abrupt end. But he had seen enough, and in short order he wrote an exposé about his experiences that won a National Magazine Award and became the most-read feature in the history of the magazine Mother Jones. Still, there was much more that he needed to say. In this book, Bauer weaves a much deeper reckoning with his experiences together with a thoroughly researched history of for-profit prisons in America from their origins in the decades before the Civil War. For, as he soon realized, we can't understand the cruelty of our current system and its place in the larger story of mass incarceration without understanding where it came from. Private prisons became entrenched in the South as part of a systemic effort to keep the African-American labor force in place in the aftermath of slavery, and the echoes of these shameful origins are with us still. The private prison system is deliberately unaccountable to public scrutiny. Private prisons are not incentivized to tend to the health of their inmates, or to feed them well, or to attract and retain a highly-trained prison staff. Though Bauer befriends some of his colleagues and sympathizes with their plight, the chronic dysfunction of their lives only adds to the prison's sense of chaos. To his horror, Bauer finds himself becoming crueler and more aggressive the longer he works in the prison, and he is far from alone. A blistering indictment of the private prison system, and the powerful forces that drive it, this work is a necessary human document about the true face of justice in America.

 

Gilmore Golden Gulag cover artGolden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California by Ruth Wilson Gilmore. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2007.

Since 1980, the number of people in U.S. prisons has increased more than 450%. Despite a crime rate that has been falling steadily for decades, California has led the way in this explosion, with what a state analyst called “the biggest prison building project in the history of the world.” This work provides the first detailed explanation for that buildup by looking at how political and economic forces, ranging from global to local, conjoined to produce the prison boom. In an informed and impassioned account, Ruth Wilson Gilmore examines this issue through statewide, rural, and urban perspectives to explain how the expansion developed from surpluses of finance capital, labor, land, and state capacity. Detailing crises that hit California’s economy with particular ferocity, she argues that defeats of radical struggles, weakening of labor, and shifting patterns of capital investment have been key conditions for prison growth. The results―a vast and expensive prison system, a huge number of incarcerated young people of color, and the increase in punitive justice such as the “three strikes” law―pose profound and troubling questions for the future of California, the United States, and the world. This book provides a rich context for this complex dilemma, and at the same time challenges many cherished assumptions about who benefits and who suffers from the state’s commitment to prison expansion.

Pettit Invisible Men cover artInvisible Men: Mass Incarceration and the Myth of Black Progress by Becky Pettit. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2012.

For African American men without a high school diploma, being in prison or jail is more common than being employed―a sobering reality that calls into question post-Civil Rights era social gains. Nearly 70 percent of young black men will be imprisoned at some point in their lives, and poor black men with low levels of education make up a disproportionate share of incarcerated Americans. In this work, sociologist Becky Pettit demonstrates another vexing fact of mass incarceration: most national surveys do not account for prison inmates, a fact that results in a misrepresentation of U.S. political, economic, and social conditions in general and black progress in particular. Pettit provides an eye-opening examination of how mass incarceration has concealed decades of racial inequality, marshalling a wealth of evidence correlating the explosion in prison growth with the disappearance of millions of black men into the American penal system. She shows that, because prison inmates are not included in most survey data, statistics that seemed to indicate a narrowing black-white racial gap―on educational attainment, work force participation, and earnings―instead fail to capture persistent racial, economic, and social disadvantage among African Americans. Since correctional budgets provide primarily for housing and monitoring inmates, with little left over for job training or rehabilitation, a large population of young men are not only invisible to society while in prison but also ill-equipped to participate upon release. This book provides a vital reality check for social researchers, lawmakers, and anyone who cares about racial equality. The book shows that more than a half century after the first civil rights legislation, the dismal fact of mass incarceration inflicts widespread and enduring damage by undermining the fair allocation of public resources and political representation, by depriving the children of inmates of their parents' economic and emotional participation, and, ultimately, by concealing African American disadvantage from public view.


Protest, Charlotte, NC, 5/5/2020

Charlotte, North Carolina, 30 May 2020. Image author: Clay Banks. Image source: Unsplash. Image license: Unsplash license.

Race in dialogue headline

As Ferguson, Missouri, erupted in August 2014, and media commentators across the ideological spectrum referred to the angry response of African Americans as “black rage,” historian Carol Anderson wrote a remarkable op-ed in The Washington Post suggesting that this was, instead, "white rage at work. With so much attention on the flames," she argued, "everyone had ignored the kindling." Since 1865 and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, every time African Americans have made advances towards full participation in our democracy, white reaction has fueled a deliberate and relentless rollback of their gains. 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. Compelling and dramatic in the unimpeachable history it relates, this book will add an important new dimension to the national conversation about race in America.

Coates Between World and Me cover artBetween the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2015.

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men -- bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden? This work is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, this book clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.

DiAngelo White Fragility cover artWhite Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. Boston: Beacon Press, 2018.

In this “vital, necessary, and beautiful book” (Michael Eric Dyson), antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and “allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people’” (Claudia Rankine). Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.

Oluo So You Want cover artSo You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo. New York: Seal Press, 2019.

Widespread reporting on aspects of white supremacy--from police brutality to the mass incarceration of Black Americans--has put a media spotlight on racism in our society. Still, it is a difficult subject to talk about. How do you tell your roommate her jokes are racist? Why did your sister-in-law take umbrage when you asked to touch her hair--and how do you make it right? How do you explain white privilege to your white, privileged friend? In this book, Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to "model minorities" in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life. "Oluo gives us -- both white people and people of color -- that language to engage in clear, constructive, and confident dialogue with each other about how to deal with racial prejudices and biases." --National Book Review


Testimony headline

In December 1981, Mumia Abu-Jamal was shot and beaten into unconsciousness by Philadelphia police. He awoke to find himself shackled to a hospital bed, accused of killing a cop. He was convicted and sentenced to death in a trial that Amnesty International has denounced as failing to meet the minimum standards of judicial fairness. In this book, Mumia gives voice to the many people of color who have fallen to police bullets or racist abuse, and offers the post-Ferguson generation advice on how to address police abuse in the United States. This collection of his radio commentaries on the topic features an in-depth essay written especially for this book to examine the history of policing in America, with its origins in the white slave patrols of the antebellum South and an explicit mission to terrorize the country's black population. Applying a personal, historical, and political lens, Mumia provides a righteously angry and calmly principled radical black perspective on how racist violence is tearing our country apart and what must be done to turn things around.

Cooper Eloquent Rage cover artEloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper. New York: Picador, 2018.

So what if it’s true that Black women are mad as hell? They have the right to be. In the Black feminist tradition of Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper reminds us that anger is a powerful source of energy that can give us the strength to keep on fighting. Far too often, Black women’s anger has been caricatured into an ugly and destructive force that threatens the civility and social fabric of American democracy. But Cooper shows us that there is more to the story than that. Black women’s eloquent rage is what makes Serena Williams such a powerful tennis player. It’s what makes Beyoncé’s girl power anthems resonate so hard. It’s what makes Michelle Obama an icon. Eloquent rage keeps us all honest and accountable. It reminds women that they don’t have to settle for less. When Cooper learned of her grandmother's eloquent rage about love, sex, and marriage in an epic and hilarious front-porch confrontation, her life was changed. And it took another intervention, this time staged by one of her homegirls, to turn Brittney into the fierce feminist she is today. In Brittney Cooper’s world, neither mean girls nor fuckboys ever win. But homegirls emerge as heroes. This book argues that feminism, friendship, and faith in one's own superpowers are all we really need to turn things right side up again.

 

Irving Waking Up White cover artWaking Up White: and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving. Cambridge, MA: Elephant Room Press, 2014.

For twenty-five years, Debby Irving sensed inexplicable racial tensions in her personal and professional relationships. As a colleague and neighbor, she worried about offending people she dearly wanted to befriend. As an arts administrator, she didn't understand why her diversity efforts lacked traction. As a teacher, she found her best efforts to reach out to students and families of color left her wondering what she was missing. Then, in 2009, one "aha!" moment launched an adventure of discovery and insight that drastically shifted her worldview and upended her life plan. In this book, Irving tells her often cringe-worthy story with such openness that readers will turn every page rooting for her-and ultimately for all of us.

Khan-Cullors Terrorist cover artWhen They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & asha bandele. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2018.

Raised by a single mother in an impoverished neighborhood in Los Angeles, Patrisse Khan-Cullors experienced firsthand the prejudice and persecution Black Americans endure at the hands of law enforcement. For Patrisse, the most vulnerable people in the country are Black people. Deliberately and ruthlessly targeted by a criminal justice system serving a white privilege agenda, Black people are subjected to unjustifiable racial profiling and police brutality. In 2013, when Trayvon Martin’s killer went free, Patrisse’s outrage led her to co-found Black Lives Matter with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. Condemned as terrorists and as a threat to America, these loving women founded a hashtag that birthed the movement to demand accountability from the authorities who continually turn a blind eye to the injustices inflicted upon people of Black and Brown skin. Championing human rights in the face of violent racism, Patrisse is a survivor. She transformed her personal pain into political power, giving voice to a people suffering inequality and a movement fueled by her strength and love to tell the country―and the world―that Black Lives Matter. This book is Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele’s reflection on humanity. It is an empowering account of survival, strength and resilience and a call to action to change the culture that declares innocent Black life expendable.


Systemic headline

Volume 1 | Volume 2. When the first Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, there were no “white” people there. Nor, according to colonial records, would there be for another sixty years. In this seminal two-volume work, The Invention of the White Race, Theodore W. Allen tells the story of how America’s ruling classes created the category of the “white race” as a means of social control. Since that early invention, white privileges have enforced the myth of racial superiority, and that fact has been central to maintaining ruling-class domination over ordinary working people of all colors throughout American history. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, Martin Luther King outlined a dream of an America where people would not be judged by the color of their skin. That dream has yet to be realized, but some three centuries ago it was a reality. Back then, neither social practice nor law recognized any special privileges in connection with being white. But by the early decades of the eighteenth century, that had all changed. Racial oppression became the norm in the plantation colonies, and African Americans suffered under its yoke for more than two hundred years. Since publication in the mid-nineties, The Invention of the White Race has become indispensable in debates on the origins of racial oppression in America. In this updated edition, scholar Jeffrey B. Perry provides a new introduction, a short biography of the author and a study guide.

Baptist Half Has Never cover artThe Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist. New York: Basic Books, 2016.

Americans tend to cast slavery as a pre-modern institution -- the nation's original sin, perhaps, but isolated in time and divorced from America's later success. But to do so robs the millions who suffered in bondage of their full legacy. As historian Edward E. Baptist reveals in this prizewinning book, the expansion of slavery in the first eight decades after American independence drove the evolution and modernization of the United States. In the span of a single lifetime, the South grew from a narrow coastal strip of worn-out tobacco plantations to a continental cotton empire, and the United States grew into a modern, industrial, and capitalist economy. Told through intimate slave narratives, plantation records, newspapers, and the words of politicians, entrepreneurs, and escaped slaves, this work offers a radical new interpretation of American history.

Eubanks Automating Inequality cover artAutomating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor by Virginia Eubanks. New York: Picador/St. Martin's Press, 2019.

The State of Indiana denies one million applications for healthcare, foodstamps and cash benefits in three years―because a new computer system interprets any mistake as “failure to cooperate.” In Los Angeles, an algorithm calculates the comparative vulnerability of tens of thousands of homeless people in order to prioritize them for an inadequate pool of housing resources. In Pittsburgh, a child welfare agency uses a statistical model to try to predict which children might be future victims of abuse or neglect. Since the dawn of the digital age, decision-making in finance, employment, politics, health and human services has undergone revolutionary change. Today, automated systems―rather than humans―control which neighborhoods get policed, which families attain needed resources, and who is investigated for fraud. While we all live under this new regime of data, the most invasive and punitive systems are aimed at the poor. In this book, Virginia Eubanks systematically investigates the impacts of data mining, policy algorithms, and predictive risk models on poor and working-class people in America. The book is full of heart-wrenching and eye-opening stories, from a woman in Indiana whose benefits are literally cut off as she lays dying to a family in Pennsylvania in daily fear of losing their daughter because they fit a certain statistical profile. The U.S. has always used its most cutting-edge science and technology to contain, investigate, discipline and punish the destitute. Like the county poorhouse and scientific charity before them, digital tracking and automated decision-making hide poverty from the middle-class public and give the nation the ethical distance it needs to make inhumane choices: which families get food and which starve, who has housing and who remains homeless, and which families are broken up by the state. In the process, they weaken democracy and betray our most cherished national values. This deeply researched and passionate book could not be more timely.

Hill Nobody cover artNobody: Casualties of America's War on the Vulnerable, From Ferguson to Flint and Beyond by Marc Lamont Hill. New York: Atria Books, 2017.

In this “thought-provoking and important” (Library Journal) analysis of state-sanctioned violence, Marc Lamont Hill carefully considers a string of high-profile deaths in America—Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and others—and incidents of gross negligence by government, such as the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. He digs underneath these events to uncover patterns and policies of authority that allow some citizens become disempowered, disenfranchised, poor, uneducated, exploited, vulnerable, and disposable. To help us understand the plight of vulnerable communities, he examines the effects of unfettered capitalism, mass incarceration, and political power while urging us to consider a new world in which everyone has a chance to become somebody. Heralded as an essential text for our times, Marc Lamont Hill’s galvanizing work embodies the best traditions of scholarship, journalism, and storytelling to lift unheard voices and to address the necessary question, “how did we get here?"

Kendi Stamped cover artStamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi. New York: Bold Type Books, 2017.

The National Book Award-winning history of how racist ideas were created, spread, and deeply rooted in American society. Some Americans insist that we're living in a post-racial society. But racist thought is not just alive and well in America--it is more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues, racist ideas have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit. In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. He uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to drive this history: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis. As Kendi shows, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. They were created to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and the nation's racial inequities. In shedding light on this history, this work offers us the tools we need to expose racist thinking. In the process, he gives us reason to hope.

Rothstein Color of Law cover artThe Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein. New York: Liveright Publishing, 2018.

Widely heralded as a “masterful” (Washington Post) and “essential” (Slate) history of the modern American metropolis, this book offers “the most forceful argument ever published on how federal, state, and local governments gave rise to and reinforced neighborhood segregation” (William Julius Wilson). Exploding the myth of de facto segregation arising from private prejudice or the unintended consequences of economic forces, Richard Rothstein describes how the American government systematically imposed residential segregation: with undisguised racial zoning; public housing that purposefully segregated previously mixed communities; subsidies for builders to create whites-only suburbs; tax exemptions for institutions that enforced segregation; and support for violent resistance to African Americans in white neighborhoods. A groundbreaking, “virtually indispensable” study that has already transformed our understanding of twentieth-century urban history (Chicago Daily Observer), this work forces us to face the obligation to remedy our unconstitutional past.


Protester speaks, Charlotte, NC, 6/2/20

Charlotte, North Carolina, 30 May 2020. Image author: Clay Banks. Image source: Unsplash. Image license: Unsplash license.

Complete list headline

Abu-Jamal Black Lives Ever cover art
Adichie Dear Ijeawele cover art
Alexander New Jim Crow cover art
Allen Invention of White Race cover art
Anderson One Person cover art
Anderson White Rage cover art
Balko Rise of Warrior Cop cover art
Balto Occupied Territory cover art
Banaji and Greenwald cover art
Baptist Half Has Never cover art
Barak Class Race cover art
Barkow Prisoners of Politics cover art
Bauer American Prison cover art
Baumgartner Suspect Citizens cover art
Bazelon Charged cover art
Bennett White Uncomfortable cover art
Bolgiano Virtuous cover art
Bonilla-Silva Without Racists cover art
Boyles Race Place cover art
Boyles Can't Stop cover art
Brown I'm Still Here cover art
Bunyasi Stay Woke cover art
Butler Chokehold cover art
Camp Policing Planet cover art
Carruthers Unapologetic cover art
Chang We Gon' Be cover art
Clear Imprisoning cover art
Coates Beautiful Struggle cover art
Coates Between World and Me cover art
Cobbina Hands Up cover art
Cooper Eloquent Rage cover art
Cooper and Thompson cover art
Correia Wall cover art
Crass Towards Other America cover art
Crump Open Season cover art
Davis Policing Black Man cover art
Davis Prisons Obsolete cover art
DeGruy Post Traumatic Slave cover art
DiAngelo White Fragility cover art
Diverlus Until Free cover art
Domanick Blue cover art
Dyson Tears We Cannot Stop cover art
Biased Eberhardt cover art
Eddo-Lodge Why No Longer cover art
Edwards Black Lives Matter cover art
Engler Uprising cover art
Epp Pulled Over cover art
Eubanks Automating Inequality cover art
Felker-Kantor Policing Los Angeles cover art
Ferguson Big Data cover art
Ferguson Report cover art
Racecraft Fields cover art
Fleming Less Stupid cover art
Flynn Hidden Rules cover art
Forman Locking Up Our Own cover art
Limits of Community Policing cover art
Gilmore Golden Gulag cover art
Glaude Democracy in Black cover art
González and Torres cover art
Gordon Conversations in Black cover art
Greene Shots Bridge cover art
Gruber Feminist War cover art
Gunter Race Gangs cover art
Two Nations Hacker cover art
Halley Seeing White cover art
Harcourt Counterrevolution cover art
Hattery and Smith cover art
Herivel and Wright Profiteers cover art
Hill Nobody cover art
Hillstrom Black Lives Matter cover art
Hinton War on Poverty cover art
bell hooks Killing Rage cover art
Horace Black Blue cover art
Irving Waking Up White cover art
Jackson Survival Math cover art
Heart of Whiteness Jensen cover art
Jerkins Undoing cover art
Broken Heart Johnson cover art
Feminista Reclaiming cover art
When Affirmative Action Katznelson cover art
Kendi Antiracist cover art
Kendi Stamped cover art
Kennedy et al Bureaucracy cover art
Khan-Cullors Terrorist cover art
Kilgore Understanding cover art
King Riot Cops cover art
King Make Change cover art
Laymon How to Slowly cover art
Lebron Making of BLM cover art
LeBrón Life and Death cover art
Haney Lopez Dog Whistle Politics cover art
They Can't Kill Us All Lowery cover art
Luttrell White People and BLM cover art
Mac Donald War on Cops cover art
Policing Black Lives Maynard cover art
McIlwain Black Software cover art
McIvor Mourning in America cover art
Mckesson Other Side cover art
Metzl Dying of Whiteness cover art
Moore No Ashes cover art
Five Days Moore cover art
Morris Pushout cover art
Muhammad Condemnation of Blackness cover art
Natapoff Punishment cover art
Nelson Police Brutality cover art
Niedermeier Color of Third Degree cover art
Norris We Keep Us Safe cover art
Oluo So You Want cover art
Omi and Winant cover art
Orejuela and Shonekan cover art
Painter History White cover art
Palmiotto Police Use of Force cover art
Pegues Black and Blue cover art
Perry Breathe Letter cover art
Pettit Invisible Men cover art
Pfaff Locked In cover art
Pinckney Blackballed cover art
Rahtz Race Riots cover art
Ralph Torture Letters cover art
Ransby Making BLM cover art
Reed Art of Protest cover art
Reisig and Kane cover art
Richardson Bearing Witness cover art
Ritchie Invisible No More cover art
Robinson Can't Touch cover art
Roediger How Race Survived cover art
Ross Blackballed cover art
Rothstein Color of Law cover art
Saad Me and White Supremacy cover art
Schenwar et al Who Do You cover art
Schneider Power Race cover art
Schrader Badges cover art
Shaw Activist's Handbook cover art
Smith Invisible Man cover art
Solomon and Rankin cover art
Shin Good Time cover art
Sparrow Handcuffed cover art
Stinson Criminology cover art
Stroud Thin Blue Lie cover art
Stuart Down Out cover art
Wing Sue Race Talk cover art
Taibbi Divide cover art
Takaki Different Mirror cover art
Tatum Why All Black Kids cover art
Taylor Torture Machine cover art
Taylor From BLM to Liberation cover art
Taylor How We Get Free cover art
Taylor Race for Profit cover art
Thurston How to Be Black cover art
Touré Afraid Post-Blackness cover art
Vesely-Flad Racial Purity cover art
Vitale End of Policing cover art
Ward Fire This Time cover art
Ward Men We Reaped cover art
Watkins Beast Side cover art
Watkins We Speak cover art
Weitzer Race and Policing cover art
Williams Charleston Syllabus cover art
Williams Our Enemies in Blue cover art
Wise Between Barack cover art
Wise Colorblind cover art
Wise White Like Me cover art
Woods Blackhood cover art
Young What Doesn't cover art
Zack White Privilege cover art
Zamalin Antiracism cover art
Zimring When Police Kill cover art