#ThisIsAmerica #BlackLivesMatter #OscarsSoWhite
Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem and Raymond Obstfeld. Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality beyond Black and White
Combining his personal experiences as a black Muslim male with statistical data, research, and a bit of humor, Abdul-Jabbar explores the divisions in the United States along lines of race, class, religion, and gender, and he offers concrete, easily implemented solutions to fix these ongoing problems. Opening with an examination of the Constitution, the author explains why this document is still a vital part of American democracy. To uphold the Constitution, we must elect officials who think critically about the issues in front of them and use reliable, nonpartisan research to make informed decisions. Providing children with a solid education is the first step. Abdul-Jabbar confronts the race issue head-on, giving readers numerous facts that unequivocally show that racism is still widespread. He suggests public awareness, anti-racist laws, and more minorities on TV and in movies will help combat this. The author also voices the difficulties he’s faced due to his religion, and he proposes interfaith activities and hate-crime laws to ease the tension. Abdul-Jabbar also covers gender equality and the plight of the elderly. His concerns are deep, his arguments well-founded, and his solutions straightforward. The trick is to get people to listen, but Abdul-Jabbar provides a good jumping-off point.
"Heartfelt sentiments on how racism, gender equality, and other social and cultural issues in America can be changed for the betterment of all."
Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
In a bold and innovative argument, Michelle Alexander, a rising legal star, shows readers how the mass incarceration of a disproportionate number of black men amounts to a devastating system of racial control in the US.
"Alarming, provocative and convincing."
Baldwin, James. The Fire Next Time
A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin's early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document. It consists of two "letters," written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism.
Butler, Octavia. Kindred
The first science fiction written by a black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of black American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity. Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given: to protect this young slaveholder until he can father her own great-grandmother.
Butler, Paul. Chokehold: Policing Black Men
Cops, politicians, and ordinary people are afraid of black men. The result is the Chokehold: laws and practices that treat every African American man like a thug. In this explosive new book, an African American former federal prosecutor shows that the system is working exactly the way it’s supposed to. Black men are always under watch, and police violence is widespread—all with the support of judges and politicians. In his no-holds-barred style, Butler, whose scholarship has been featured on 60 Minutes, uses new data to demonstrate that white men commit the majority of violent crime in the United States. For example, a white woman is ten times more likely to be raped by a white male acquaintance than be the victim of a violent crime perpetrated by a black man. Butler also frankly discusses the problem of black on black violence and how to keep communities safer—without relying as much on police. Kirkus Starred Review.
"Smart, filled rightfully with righteous indignation, and demanding broad discussion and the widest audience."
Carlos, John. The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World
Seen around the world, John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s Black Power salute on the 1968 Olympic podium sparked controversy and career fallout. Yet their show of defiance remains one of the most iconic images of Olympic history and the Black Power movement. Here is the remarkable story of one of the men behind the salute, lifelong activist John Carlos.
Chang, Jeff. We Goin’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation
In these provocative, powerful essays acclaimed writer/journalist Jeff Chang takes an incisive and wide-ranging look at the recent tragedies and widespread protests that have shaken the country. Through deep reporting with key activists and thinkers, passionately personal writing, and distinguished cultural criticism, We Gon’ Be Alright links #BlackLivesMatter to #OscarsSoWhite, Ferguson to Washington D.C., the Great Migration to resurgent nativism. Chang explores the rise and fall of the idea of “diversity,” the roots of student protest, changing ideas about Asian Americanness, and the impact of a century of racial separation in housing. He argues that resegregation is the unexamined condition of our time, the undoing of which is key to moving the nation forward to racial justice and cultural equity.
Kirkus Starred Review. "A compelling and intellectually thought-provoking exploration of the quagmire of race relations."
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me
In the 150 years since the end of the Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment (the abolition of slavery), the story of race and America has remained a brutally simple one. It is the story of the black body, exploited to create the country's foundational wealth, violently segregated to unite a nation after a civil war and, today, still disproportionately threatened, locked up and killed in the streets. How can America reckon with its fraught racial history? This book is Ta-Nehisi Coates' attempt to answer that question.
Kirkus Starred Review.
"This moving, potent testament might have been titled 'Black Lives Matter.' Or: 'An American Tragedy.'"
Davis, Angela Y. Are Prisons Obsolete?
With her characteristic brilliance, grace and radical audacity, Angela Y. Davis has put the case for the latest abolition movement in American life: the abolition of the prison. The brutal, exploitative (dare one say lucrative?) convict-lease system that succeeded formal slavery reaped millions to southern jurisdictions (and untold miseries for tens of thousands of men, and women). Few predicted its passing from the American penal landscape. Davis expertly argues how social movements transformed these social, political and cultural institutions, and made such practices untenable. In Are Prisons Obsolete?, Professor Davis seeks to illustrate that the time for the prison is approaching an end. She argues forthrightly for "decarceration", and argues for the transformation of the society as a whole.
Davis, Angela Y. Freedom Is a Constant Struggle
In these newly collected essays, interviews and speeches, world-renowned activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world. Reflecting on the importance of black feminism, intersectionality and prison abolitionism for today's struggles, Davis discusses the legacies of previous liberation struggles, from the Black Freedom Movement to the South African anti-Apartheid movement. She highlights connections and analyses today's struggles against state terror, from Ferguson to Palestine.
Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man
Ralph Ellison's blistering and impassioned first novel tells the extraordinary story of a man invisible 'simply because people refuse to see me'. Published in 1952 when American society was in the cusp of immense change, the powerfully depicted adventures of Ellison's invisible man - from his expulsion from a Southern college to a terrifying Harlem race riot - go far beyond the story of one individual.
“This is Ellison's first novel, but he has complete control of his story and his style. Watch it.”
Fulton, Sybrina and Tracy Martin. Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin
On 12 February 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was walking home with a bag of Skittles and a can of juice when a fatal encounter with a gun-wielding neighborhood watchman ended his young life. In a matter of weeks, Trayvon Martin's name would be spoken by President Obama, honored by professional athletes and passionately discussed all over traditional and social media.
Kirkus Starred Review. "A brave, heart-rending narrative from the parents who lost their son far too soon."
Gyasi, Yaa. Homegoing
Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into two different tribal villages in 18th century Ghana. Effia will be married off to an English colonial, and will live in comfort in the sprawling, palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising half-caste children who will be sent abroad to be educated in England before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the Empire. Her sister, Esi, will be imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle's women's dungeon, and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, where she will be sold into slavery. Stretching from the tribal wars of Ghana to slavery and Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the north to the Great Migration to the streets of 20th century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi's moves through histories and geographies.
"A promising debut that's awake to emotional, political, and cultural tensions across time and continents."
Hill, Marc Lamont. Nobody: Casualties of America's War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond
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?"
"Timely, controversial, and bound to stir already heated discussion."
Kuklin, Susan. No Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row
No Choirboy takes readers inside America's prisons and allows inmates sentenced to death as teenagers to speak for themselves. In their own voices--raw and uncensored--they talk about their lives in prison and share their thoughts and feelings about how they ended up there. Kuklin also gets inside the system, exploring capital punishment itself and the intricacies and inequities of criminal justice in the United States. This is a searing, unforgettable read, and one that could change the way we think about crime and punishment.
"The convicts themselves speak with a wisdom that can only come from years of negotiating the dangers of prison life, and their stories may change more than one mind regarding what makes a criminal."
Lowery, Wesley. They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement
A deeply reported book that brings alive the quest for justice in the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray, offering both unparalleled insight into the reality of police violence in America and an intimate, moving portrait of those working to end it. Kirkus Starred Review. "A timely, significant book."
Magoon, Kekla. How It Went Down
When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson dies from two gunshot wounds, his community is thrown into an uproar. Tariq was black. The shooter, Jack Franklin, is white. In the aftermath of Tariq's death, everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events line up. Day by day, new twists further obscure the truth. Tariq's friends, family, and community struggle to make sense of the tragedy, and to cope with the hole left behind when a life is cut short. In their own words, they grapple for a way to say with certainty: This is how it went down.
Kirkus Starred Review. "This sobering yet satisfying novel leaves readers to ponder the complex questions it raises."
Morris, Monique W. Pushout
Fifteen-year-old Diamond stopped going to school the day she was expelled for lashing out at peers who constantly harassed and teased her for something everyone on the staff had missed: she was being trafficked for sex. After months on the run, she was arrested and sent to a detention center for violating a court order to attend school. Just 16 percent of female students, Black girls make up more than one-third of all girls with a school-related arrest. The first trade book to tell these untold stories, Pushout exposes a world of confined potential and supports the growing movement to address the policies, practices, and cultural illiteracy that push countless students out of school and into unhealthy, unstable, and often unsafe futures.
“A powerful and thought-provoking book of social science.”
Rankine, Claudia. Citizen: An American Lyric
Rankine recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person's ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named "post-race" society. "Frequently powerful, occasionally opaque."
Reynolds, Jason and Brandon Kiely. All American Boys
“Jointly written by authors Jason Reynolds and Brandon Kiely, this teen novel follows the experiences of Rashad, a Black teen savagely beaten by a police officer, and Quinn, a White teen who witnessed the attack. As lines are drawn in the community and at school, both teens struggle to make sense of the larger societal forces shaping their lives.”
"If the hands and agenda of the authors are evident, their passion elevates the novel beyond a needed call to action to a deeply moving experience."
Shin, Sun Yung. A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota
In this provocative book, sixteen of Minnesota's best writers provide a range of perspectives on what it is like to live as a person of color in Minnesota. They give readers a splendid gift: the gift of touching another human being's inner reality, behind masks and veils and politeness. Essays that challenge, discomfort, disorient, galvanize, and inspire all of us to evolve now, for our shared future.
Smith, Mychal Denzel. Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching
How do you learn to be a black man in America? For young black men today, it means coming of age during the presidency of Barack Obama. It means witnessing the deaths of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, and too many more. It means celebrating powerful moments of black self-determination for LeBron James, Dave Chappelle, and Frank Ocean. In Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching, Mychal Denzel Smith chronicles his own personal and political education during these tumultuous years, describing his efforts to come into his own in a world that denied his humanity. Smith unapologetically upends reigning assumptions about black masculinity, rewriting the script for black manhood so that depression and anxiety aren't considered taboo, and feminism and LGBTQ rights become part of the fight. The questions Smith asks in this book are urgent--for him, for the martyrs and the tokens, and for the Trayvons that could have been and are still waiting.
"Realizing that he has more questions than answers, Smith cautiously sketches a useful blueprint for radical and intersectional politics in a country where a black child can grow up to be president but where living while black is still dangerous."
Taylor, Keeanga-Yamahtta. From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
The eruption of mass protests in the wake of the police murders of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City have challenged the impunity with which officers of the law carry out violence against Black people and punctured the illusion of a post-racial America. The Black Lives Matter movement has awakened a new generation of activists. In this stirring and insightful analysis, activist and scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor surveys the historical and contemporary ravages of racism and persistence of structural inequality such as mass incarceration and Black unemployment. In this context, she argues that this new struggle against police violence holds the potential to reignite a broader push for Black liberation.
Thomas, Angie. The Hate U Give
Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.
Kirkus Starred Review. "This story is necessary. This story is important."
Thomas, Etan. We Matter: Athletes and Activism
A former NBA player and current activist and MSNBC commentator returns with a collection of dozens of interviews on the subject of race in America—all supporting the efforts of athletes to speak out and up. Thomas interviews a wide assortment of voices, including media personalities (Chris Hayes, Soledad O’Brien), basketball legends (Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), current stars (Dwayne Wade, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony), intellectuals (Michael Eric Dyson), and family members of young blacks killed by the police (Trayvon Martin’s brother, Eric Garner’s daughter). The commentators offer experiences and opinions that range from wrenching to unsurprising to thought-provoking.
"Voices of pain, anger, and hope resound through these pages—and through the reader's heart."
Ward, Jesmyn. Men We Reaped
In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five young men in her life―to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: Why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth―and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own.
Kirkus Starred Review. "A modern rejoinder to "Black Like Me," "Beloved" and other stories of struggle and redemption—beautifully written, if sometimes too sad to bear."
Watson, Renée. Piecing Me Together
Jade believes she must get out of her poor neighborhood if she's ever going to succeed. Her mother tells her to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. And Jade has: every day she rides the bus away from her friends and to the private school where she feels like an outsider, but where she has plenty of opportunities. But some opportunities she doesn't really welcome, like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for "at-risk" girls. Just because her mentor is black and graduated from the same high school doesn't mean she understands where Jade is coming from. She's tired of being singled out as someone who needs help, someone people want to fix. Jade wants to speak, to create, to express her joys and sorrows, her pain and her hope. Maybe there are some things she could show other women about understanding the world and finding ways to be real, to make a difference
Kirkus Starred Review. "A timely, nuanced, and unforgettable story about the power of art, community, and friendship.”
Whitehead, Colson. The Underground Railroad.
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North. In Whitehead's razor-sharp imagining of the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form: a dilapidated box car pulled along subterranean tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But its placid surface masks an infernal scheme designed for its unknowing black inhabitants.
Kirkus Starred Review. "Whitehead continues the African-American artists' inquiry into race mythology and history with rousing audacity and razor-sharp ingenuity; he is now assuredly a writer of the first rank."
Zoboi, Ibi Aanu. American Street
On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie -- a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola's mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit's West Side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own. Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?
"This book will take root in readers' hearts."