Resources on Race, Racism and Resistance
We provide these curated sources as one means of reflecting on the lived experiences of Black Americans in the 21st century as shaped and constrained by more than four centuries of racial bias and racism in a democratic society.
The Alchemy of Race and Rights is an eloquent autobiographical essay in which the author reflects on the intersection of race, gender and class. In deliberately transgressing such boundaries, she pursues a path toward racial justice that is, ultimately, transformative. The book is deeply moving and not so, finally, just because racism is wrong — we all know that. What we don’t know is how to unthink the process that allows racism to persist. This Williams enables us to see. The result is a testament of considerable beauty, a triumph of moral tactfulness. The result, as the title suggests, is magic.
Kendi's concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America — but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. Instead of working with the policies and system we have in place, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it.
In his memoir, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law and science — including the story of his own awakening to antiracism — bringing it all together in a cogent, accessible form. He begins by helping us rethink our most deeply held, if implicit, beliefs and our most intimate personal relationships (including beliefs about race and IQ and interracial social relations) and reexamines the policies and larger social arrangements we support. How to Be an Antiracist promises to become an essential book for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step of contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable 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, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose racist thinking. In the process, he gives us reason to hope.
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?
Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 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, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.
Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Noah was born to a white Swiss father and a Black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Noah was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Noah and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.
Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious and fervently religious mother — his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.
The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Noah illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.
Is it legal to record the police? When do police have the right to search your person, home, or car? Do you have the right to walk away when stopped by the police? Knowing the answers to these questions will help protect you and the officer. And it may just save your life. Laura Coates, former federal prosecutor and civil rights attorney, arms you with everything you need to know when facing the police.
The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status — denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement. Since its publication in 2010, the book has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year; been dubbed the "secular bible of a new social movement" by numerous commentators, including Cornel West; and has led to consciousness-raising efforts in universities, churches, community centers, re-entry centers and prisons nationwide. The New Jim Crow tells a truth our nation has been reluctant to face. Michelle Alexander shows that, by targeting Black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness.
Over the last 30 years, a substantial literature on the history of American and European prisons has developed. This collection is among the first in English to construct a history of prisons in Africa. Topics include precolonial punishments, living conditions in prisons and mining camps, ethnic mapping, contemporary refugee camps, and the political use of prison from the era of the slave trade to the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
"Lorde seems prophetic, perhaps alive right now, writing in and about the U.S. of 2017 in which a misogynist with white supremacist followers is president. But she was born in 1934, published her first book of poetry in 1968 and died in 1992. Black, lesbian and feminist; the child of immigrant parents; poet and essayist, writer and activist, Lorde knew about harboring multitudes. Political antagonists tried, for instance, to discredit her among Black students by announcing her sexuality, and she decided: “The only way you can head people off from using who you are against you is to be honest and open first, to talk about yourself before they talk about you.” Over and over again, in the essays, speeches and poems collected in Your Silence Will Not Protect You, Lorde emphasizes how important it is to speak up. To give witness: “What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence?”
-From The Guardian. Oct. 4, 2017. R.O. Kwon
A rich gathering of her timeless essays and speeches, spanning four decades. This volume speaks pointedly to today's social and political moment through the essays, speeches and meditations. Though they were written over the course of four decades, virtually every entry feels strikingly relevant right now.
Faye V. Harrison's collection of essays focuses on the intersections between race, gender, sexuality, class and nationality that exert a huge influence on human rights conflicts around the world. Using compelling examples, the authors illustrate the central premise that understanding the dynamics of these intersections has important implications for effectively confronting oppression and constructing positive change. Investigating conflicts in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australia, they also reflect upon political concerns and anxieties worldwide that have grown out of the catastrophe of 9/11. The contributors comprise an internationally diverse group of anthropologists and human rights activists concerned with global, culturally diverse, gendered experiences. This anthology will be valuable to instructors, human rights workers and applied professionals in anthropology, gender studies, ethnic studies and international human rights.
Paul Gilroy demonstrates the enormous complexity of racial politics in England today. Exploring the relationships among race, class and nation as they have evolved over the past 20 years, he highlights racist attitudes that transcend the left-right political divide. He challenges current sociological approaches to racism as well as the ethnocentric bias of British cultural studies.
Two hundred and fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.
The Guardian is in Montgomery, Alabama, to cover the opening of America’s first memorial to lynching victims. The legacy of such brutal, racist murders is still largely ignored.
Addresses the complexities of race with a global perspective.
This essay connects the role of the police during the novel coronavirus pandemic to the maintenance and authorization of a white supremacist social order. It argues that police accountability efforts in themselves are insufficient and that a demand for abolition must not only include the abolition of police and prisons but the reorganization of life such that a necropolitical racial calculus no longer determines the life chances of anyone.
Amy Cooper in Central Park exposed the danger of birding while Black. But I've always known it.
When global climate change and economic crises lead to social chaos in the early 2020s, California becomes full of dangers, from pervasive water shortages to masses of vagabonds who will do anything to live to see another day. Fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina lives inside a gated community with her preacher father, family and neighbors, sheltered from the surrounding anarchy. In a society where any vulnerability is a risk, she suffers from hyper empathy, a debilitating sensitivity to others' emotions.
Precocious and clear-eyed, Lauren must make her voice heard in order to protect her loved ones from the imminent disasters her small community stubbornly ignores. But what begins as a fight for survival soon leads to something much more: the birth of a new faith and a startling vision of human destiny.
From an extraordinary new voice in American theater, a startling play that examines the cyclical ravages of racial injustice and violence on two young Black men.
Moses and Kitch stand around on the corner — talking shit, passing the time and hoping that maybe today will be different. As they dream of their promised land, a stranger wanders into their space with his own agenda and derails their plans. Emotional and lyrical, Pass Over crafts everyday profanities into poetic and humorous riffs, exposing the unquestionable human spirit of young men stuck in a cycle that they are desperately trying to escape. Spike Lee directed a film version of the play that premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and South by Southwest and was produced by Amazon Studios. A provocative riff on the Book of Exodus and Waiting for Godot, Pass Over is a remarkable work of politically-charged theater by a bold new American voice.
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does — or does not — say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
A young man searches for answers after the death of his brother at the hands of police in this striking debut novel for readers of The Hate U Give.
When Marvin Johnson's twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid.
The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it's up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and as he mourns a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean.
Tyler Johnson Was Here is a powerful and moving portrait of youth and family that speaks to the serious issues of today from gun control to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Alicia Keys: "My goal is to empower Black America"
The founder of Saint Paul underground band Hüsker Dü, Bob Mould released "American Crisis," the lead single from his album Blue Hearts, June 3, 2020. The song touches on Trump-era politics and the COVID-19 pandemic. Proceeds will be split between two Minnesota organizations, the Black Visions Collective and OutFront Minnesota.
Griselda Records rapper Conway the Machine paused work on his album From King to a God to release "Front Lines" on June 1, 2020 in response to the national protests against police.
The song "Let Go," written the day of George Floyd's killing May 25, 2020 and released later in May.
Dre, one half of production duo Cool & Dre, released his song "Captured on a iPhone" on May 30, 2020, dedicated to the Black people whose police killings weren't.
Minneapolis musician, artist and activist Dua Saleh released the song "body cast" on May 30, 2020, directing proceeds to Minnesota's Black Visions Collective. This is terrifying for us as we mourn a member of the community. ‘body cast’ is a song about police brutality and injustice.
In a time of darkness on the Delta, of darkness covering the earth and gross darkness the people, the light yet shone. From the black bottom lands and the dark swamps to the hills and distant mountaintops, a voice was heard from a daughter of Zion living in the midst of suffering but able to rejoice greatly, a daughter of Jerusalem who could shout with faith, for she believed, "Behold, thy King cometh unto thee."
Fannie Lou Hamer is remembered most for her proclamation of the Word, especially through songs like "This Little Light," an old song of faith with new words but the same underlying biblical message. Its scripture references were familiar to her original audiences of poor black people in the churches, fields, highways, and prisons of Mississippi:
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine…
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!
Jesus gave it to me now, I'm gonna let it shine...
I've got the light of freedom, I'm gonna let it shine...
All over the Delta, I'm gonna let it shine...
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!
Hamer accepted the power of the gospel within and the joyful work of shouting and sharing and spreading the light.
In the song, Brown addresses racism against Black Americans, and the need for Black empowerment.
Miles Davis and Chaka Khan, two infamous music artists, performed together live in 1989.
Brooklyn-based rapper Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire released a song called “Bootlicker (Burn Baby Burn)” as a tribute to everyone who has been impacted by police brutality. All proceeds from the record will go toward The Bail Project, a non-profit organization that pays bail for people in need and combats racial and economic disparities in the bail system.
The song served as an anthem for the Civil Rights Movement in America in the 1960s. A widely played version was recorded by Nina Simone in 1967 on her Silk & Soul album.
"Fuck tha Police" is a protest song by American hip-hop group N.W.A that appears on the 1988 album Straight Outta Compton as well as on the group's N.W.A. Greatest Hits compilation. The lyrics protest police brutality and racial profiling, and the song ranked number 425 on Rolling Stone's 2004 list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Underground rapper Papoose remembers 27 Black people beaten and killed by police officers and in acts of racism with the song "Tribute," released June 1, 2020. He lists victims for each letter of the alphabet, from Emmett Till to Rodney King to George Floyd, with U recognizing the unknown victims of racial violence.
"Is It Because I'm Black" is a song recorded in 1969 by blues and soul singer Syl Johnson. Johnson later said: "After Martin Luther King got killed, I wanted to write a song. ... I didn’t want to write no song about hating this people or hating that people. ... I really didn’t have no vendetta against people. It’s a sympathy song."
Detroit rapper Teejayx6 teamed up with Lil Uzi Vert producer TM88 for a protest song simply titled "Black Lives Matter."
SNCC field secretary Cordell Reagon assembled The Freedom Singers in the summer of 1962. They performed and led civil rights singing across the country at concert venues, college campuses, churches, demonstrations and folk festivals. "We Shall Not Be Moved" was a staple in their repertoire.
We struggle in a political climate that still tolerates and actively encourages systemic discrimination. Toshi Reagon is a one-woman celebration of all that's dynamic, progressive and uplifting in America.
Emmy Award-winning journalist and Webby Award winner Jemele Hill shares her unbothered, nuanced opinions on news, pop culture, politics and sports. She also conducts intimate interviews with some of the biggest names and most thought-provoking contributors to culture, music and entertainment. New episodes air every Monday.
Yo, Is This Racist?, hosted by Andrew Ti, creator of the popular blog of the same name, is now a weekly podcast. Every Wednesday, Ti, co-host Tawny Newsome, and their guests answer questions from fan-submitted voicemails and emails about whether or not something is, in fact, racist.
From the author behind the bestselling Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, comes a podcast that takes the conversation a step further. Featuring key voices from the last few decades of anti-racist activism, About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge looks at the recent history that led to the politics of today.
Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham are working it out in this show about culture. That means television, film, books, music — but also the culture of work, dating and the internet, and how those fit together.
Before creating the Snap Judgment radio show, Glynn Washington worked as an educator, diplomat, community activist, actor, political strategist, fist-shaker, mountain-hollerer and foot stomper.
Washington composed music for the Kunst Stoff dance performances in San Francisco, rocked live spoken word poetry in Detroit, joined a band in Indonesia, wrote several screenplays, painted a daring series of self-portraits, released a blues album and thinks his stories are best served with cocktails.
John L. Hanson is the producer and host of the nationally syndicated radio series In Black America. It’s heard on home station KUT Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m., as well as weekly on close to 20 stations across the country. The weekly podcast of In Black America, the only nationally broadcast Black-oriented public affairs radio program, is one of KUT’s most popular podcasts.
Emmy Award-winning producer, actor and comedian Larry Wilmore is back on the air, hosting a podcast where he weighs in on the issues of the week and interviews guests in the worlds of politics, entertainment, culture, sports and beyond.