Resources on Race, Racism and Resistance in the African American Experience

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.

Non-Fiction

The Alchemy of Race and Rights, Patricia J. Williams

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.

How to be an Anti-Racist, Ibram X. Kendi

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.

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, Ibram X. Kendi

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.

Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates

Written as a love letter to his teenage son about the feelings, symbolism and realities associated with being black in the United States.

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood, Trevor Noah

Born a Crime is not just an unnerving account of growing up in South Africa under apartheid, but a love letter to the author's remarkable mother.

You Have The Right...: A Constitutional Guide to Policing the Police, Laura Coates

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: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander

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. 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.

A History of Prison and Confinement in Africa, Florence Bernault

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.

Your Silence Will Not Protect You Essays, Audre Lorde

Your Silence Will Not Protect You is a 2017 posthumous collection of essays, speeches and poems by African American author and poet Audre Lorde. 

The Source of Self-Regard, Toni Morrison

A rich gathering of her timeless essays and speeches, spanning four decades. This volume speaks pointedly to today's social and political moment though the essays, speeches and meditations. Though they were written over the course of four decades, virtually every entry feels strikingly relevant right now.

Resisting Racism and Xenophobia: Global Perspectives on Race, Gender, and Human Rights, Faye Harrison

There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation, Paul Gilroy

Articles

“The Case for Reparations,” Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic

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.

"How White Americans Used Lynchings to Terrorize and Control Black People," Jamiles Lartey and Sam Morris, The Guardian

Unravelling Race for the 21st Century,” Faye Harrison

Addresses the complexities of race with global perspective.

“Why Police Abolition Must Be About Ending White Supremacy,” Kevin Rigby, medium.com

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.

“There Is a Peril that Black and Brown Citizens Face Even When We Are Doing Something as Banal as Bird Watching a Woodpecker Peck,” Sandra Guzman, NBC News

Fiction

Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler

Passover, Antoinette Nwandu

The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas 

A young-adult novel on police violence

Tyler Johnson Was Here, Jay Coles

A young-adult novel on police violence

Music Playlist

Alicia Keys, "How It Feels To Fly"

Bernice Johnson Reagon, "Freedom in the Air"

Bob Mould, “American Crisis”

The founder of Saint Paul underground band Hüsker Dü, Bob Mould released "American Crisis," the lead single from his album Blue Hearts, on June 3. The song touches on Trump-era politics and the current COVID-19 pandemic. Proceeds will be split between two Minnesota organizations, the Black Visions Collective and OutFront Minnesota.

Conway The Machine, “Front Lines”

Griselda Records rapper Conway The Machine paused work on his upcoming album From King to a God to release "Front Lines" on June 1 in response to the national protests against police

D Smoke and SiR, “Let Go”

The song "Let Go," written the day of George Floyd's killing on May 25 and released later in May

Dre, “Captured on a iPhone”

Dre, one half of production duo Cool & Dre, released his song "Captured on a iPhone" on May 30, dedicated to the black people whose police killings weren't.

Dua Saleh, “body cast”

Minneapolis musician, artist and activist Dua Saleh released the song "body cast" on May 30, 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.

Fannie Lou Hamer, "Go Tell It on the Mountain"

Gregory Porter, "Insanity"

James Brown, "Say It Loud – I’m Black And I’m Proud"

Mahalia Jackson, "Amazing Grace"

Miles Davis & Chaka Khan, "Human Nature"

Muthafuckin’ eXquire, “Bootlicker (Burn Baby Burn)”

Nina Simone, "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free"

NWA “Fuck the Police”

Papoose, “Tribute”

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. 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.

Syl Johnson, "Is It Because I’m Black"

Teejayx6 and TM88, “BLACK LIVES MATTER”

Detroit rapper Teejayx6 teamed up with Lil Uzi Vert producer TM88 for a protest song simply titled "BLACK LIVES MATTER."

The Freedom Singers, "We Shall Not Be Moved"

Toshi Reagon, "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around" 

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 American.

Tupac, Tupac: Resurrection soundtrack

Podcasts

Jemele Hill, Jemele Hill is Unbothered: A Spotify Original Podcast

Andrew Ti and Tawny Newsome, Yo, Is This Racist? 

Reni Eddo-Lodge and Renay Rich, About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge 

Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham, Still Processing 

Glynn Washington, Snap Judgment

John L. Hanson, In Black America

Larry Wilmore, Black on the Air

Over the summer we will add more reading and listening material to our Facebook page.