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Research Guides | Library | Amherst College
Racial Justice Resource Guide
These books and films are available online to the Amherst College community. This guide is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather a starting point for learning and thinking about some of these topics.
Antiracism Inc by Paula Ioanide (Editor); Alison Reed (Editor); Felice Blake (Editor)Antiracism Inc., co-edited by Felice Blake, Paula Ioanide, and Alison Reed, traces the ways people along the political spectrum appropriate, incorporate, and neutralize antiracist discourses to perpetuate injustice. It also examines the ways organizers continue to struggle for racial justice in the context of such appropriations. Antiracism Inc. reveals how antiracist claims can be used to propagate racism, and what we can do about it. While related to colorblind, multicultural, and diversity discourses, the appropriation of antiracist rhetoric as a strategy for advancing neoliberal and neoconservative agendas is a unique phenomenon that requires careful interrogation and analysis. Those who co-opt antiracist language and practice do not necessarily deny racial difference, biases, or inequalities. Instead, by performing themselves conservatively as non-racists or liberally as 'authentic' antiracists, they purport to be aligned with racial justice even while advancing the logics and practices of systemic racism. Antiracism Inc. therefore considers new ways of struggling toward racial justice in a world that constantly steals and misuses radical ideas and practices. The critical essays and poetry collected here focus on people and methods that do not seek inclusion in the hierarchical order of gendered racial capitalism. Rather, they focus on aggrieved peoples who have always had to negotiate state violence and cultural erasure, but who also work to build the worlds they envision. These collectivities seek to transform social structures and establish a new social warrant guided by what W.E.B. Du Bois called "abolition democracy," a way of being and thinking that privileges people, mutual interdependence, and ecological harmony over individualist self-aggrandizement and profits. Further, these aggrieved collectivities reshape social relations away from the violence and alienation inherent to gendered racial capitalism, and towards the well-being of the commons. Antiracism Inc. articulates methodologies that strive toward freedom dreams without imposing monolithic or authoritative definitions of resistance. Because power seeks to neutralize revolutionary action through incorporation as much as through elimination, these freedom dreams, as well as the language used to articulate them, are constantly transformed through the critical and creative interventions stemming from the active engagement in liberation struggles. In addition to critical essays by Felice Blake ("How Does Black Cultural Criticism 'Work' in the Age of Antiracist Incorporation?"), Kevin Fellezs ("Nahenahe Soft, Sweet, Melodious], the Sound of Kanaka Maoli Native Hawaiian] Refusal"), Daniel Martinez HoSang ("A Wider Type of Freedom"), Paula Ioanide ("Defensive Appropriations"), George Lipsitz ("The Logic of 'Illogical' Opposition: Tools and Tactics for Tough Times"), Alison Reed ("Gentrifying Disciplines: The Institutional Management of Trauma and Creative Dissent"), Phia S. Salter + Glenn Adams ("Provisional Strategies for Decolonizing Consciousness"), and Barbara Tomlinson ("Wicked Problems and Intersectionality Telephone"), the volume also includes poetry by Dubian Ade, Jari Bradley, Dahlak Brathwaite, Corinne Contreras, Ebony P. Donnley, Colin Masashi Ehara, David Scott (YDS), Daniel Hershel Silber-Baker, and Sophia Terazawa, as well as interviews with Diana Zu iga (CURB, Californians United for a Responsible Budget) and with Gaby Hernandez and Marissa Garcia (PODER, People Organizing for the Defense and Equal Rights of Santa Barbara Youth).
Publication Date: 2019
From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor; Mia Ellis (Narrated by)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 postracial 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.
Publication Date: 2016
Hands up, Don't Shoot by Jennifer E. CobbinaUnderstanding the explosive protests over police killings and the legacy of racism 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 Hands Up, Don't Shoot, 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. Hands Up, Don't Shoot is a remarkably current, on-the-ground assessment of the powerful, protestor-driven movement around race, justice, and policing in America.
Publication Date: 2019
Making All Black Lives Matter by Barbara Ransby"A powerful -- and personal -- account of the movement and its players."--The Washington Post "This perceptive resource on radical black liberation movements in the 21st century can inform anyone wanting to better understand . . . how to make social change."--Publishers Weekly The breadth and impact of Black Lives Matter in the United States has been extraordinary. Between 2012 and 2016, thousands of people marched, rallied, held vigils, and engaged in direct actions to protest and draw attention to state and vigilante violence against Black people. What began as outrage over the 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin and the exoneration of his killer, and accelerated during the Ferguson uprising of 2014, has evolved into a resurgent Black Freedom Movement, which includes a network of more than fifty organizations working together under the rubric of the Movement for Black Lives coalition. Employing a range of creative tactics and embracing group-centered leadership models, these visionary young organizers, many of them women, and many of them queer, are not only calling for an end to police violence, but demanding racial justice, gender justice, and systemic change. In Making All Black Lives Matter, award-winning historian and longtime activist Barbara Ransby outlines the scope and genealogy of this movement, documenting its roots in Black feminist politics and situating it squarely in a Black radical tradition, one that is anticapitalist, internationalist, and focused on some of the most marginalized members of the Black community. From the perspective of a participant-observer, Ransby maps the movement, profiles many of its lesser-known leaders, measures its impact, outlines its challenges, and looks toward its future.
Publication Date: 2018
The Next American Revolution by Grace Lee Boggs; Scott KurashigeThe pioneering Asian American labor organizer and writer's vision for intersectional and anti-racist activism. In this powerful, deeply humanistic book, Grace Lee Boggs, a legendary figure in the struggle for justice in America, shrewdly assesses the current crisis--political, economical, and environmental--and shows how to create the radical social change we need to confront new realities. A vibrant, inspirational force, Boggs has participated in all of the twentieth century's major social movements--for civil rights, women's rights, workers' rights, and more. She draws from seven decades of activist experience, and a rigorous commitment to critical thinking, to redefine "revolution" for our times. From her home in Detroit, she reveals how hope and creativity are overcoming despair and decay within the most devastated urban communities. Her book is a manifesto for creating alternative modes of work, politics, and human interaction that will collectively constitute the next American Revolution--which is unraveling before our eyes.
Publication Date: 2012
Pushing Back by Ariella RotramelThis book explores women of color's grassroots leadership in organizations that are not singularly identified with feminism. Centered in New York City, Pushing Back brings an intersectional perspective to communities of color as it addresses injustices tied to domestic work, housing, and environmental policies and practices. Ariella Rotramel shows how activists respond to injustice and marginalization, documenting the ways people of color and the working class in the United States recognize identity as key to the roots of and solutions to injustices such as environmental racism and gentrification. Rotramel further provides an in-depth analysis of the issues that organizations representing transnational communities of color identify as fundamental to their communities and how they frame them. Introducing the theoretical concept of "queer motherwork," Rotramel explores the forms of advocacy these activists employ and shows how they negotiate internal diversity (gender, race, class, sexuality, etc.) and engage broader communities, particularly as women-led groups. Pushing Back highlights case studies of two New York-based organizations, the pan-Asian/American CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities (formerly the Committee Against Anti- Asian Violence) and South Bronx's Mothers on the Move/ Madres en Movimiento (MOM). Both organizations are small, women-led community organizations that have participated in a number of progressive coalitions on issues such as housing rights, workers' rights, and environmental justice at the local, national, and global levels.
Publication Date: 2020
Vanguard by Martha S. JonesThe epic history of African American women's pursuit of political power -- and how it transformed America. In the standard story, the suffrage crusade began in Seneca Falls in 1848 and ended with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. But this overwhelmingly white women's movement did not win the vote for most black women. Securing their rights required a movement of their own. In Vanguard, acclaimed historian Martha S. Jones offers a new history of African American women's political lives in America. She recounts how they defied both racism and sexism to fight for the ballot, and how they wielded political power to secure the equality and dignity of all persons. From the earliest days of the republic to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and beyond, Jones excavates the lives and work of black women -- Maria Stewart, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Fannie Lou Hamer, and more -- who were the vanguard of women's rights, calling on America to realize its best ideals.
Publication Date: 2020
My Face Is Black Is True by Mary Frances BerryAcclaimed historian Mary Frances Berry resurrects the remarkable story of ex-slave Callie House who, seventy years before the civil-rights movement, demanded reparations for ex-slaves. A widowed Nashville washerwoman and mother of five, House (1861-1928) went on to fight for African American pensions based on those offered to Union soldiers, brilliantly targeting $68 million in taxes on seized rebel cotton and demanding it as repayment for centuries of unpaid labor. Here is the fascinating story of a forgotten civil rights crusader: a woman who emerges as a courageous pioneering activist, a forerunner of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.