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Social Justice Reading List: 2020

Popular Social Justice Titles Read by Campus Communities and Incoming College Freshmen across the US

2020


Social Justice Reading List


Colleges and universities across the US develop reading programs for their campus community or their incoming freshmen. These books, selected by faculty, students, and administrators, are intended as a shared central theme of reference to stimulate students' critical thinking as well as academic discussion among campus community members. This year, many schools chose books that focus on social justice themes of structural racism, sexuality, and immigration. MTC Library has compiled a collection of some of the most popular titles read by campus communities and incoming freshmen from colleges and universities across the US.


 

Algorithms of Opression Book Cover Art

Algorithms of Oppression

by Safiya Umoja Noble

A revealing look at how negative biases against women of color are embedded in search engine results and algorithms Run a Google search for "black girls"--what will you find? "Big Booty" and other sexually explicit terms are likely to come up as top search terms. But, if you type in "white girls," the results are radically different. The suggested porn sites and un-moderated discussions about "why black women are so sassy" or "why black women are so angry" presents a disturbing portrait of black womanhood in modern society. In Algorithms of Oppression, Safiya Umoja Noble challenges the idea that search engines like Google offer an equal playing field for all forms of ideas, identities, and activities. Data discrimination is a real social problem; Noble argues that the combination of private interests in promoting certain sites, along with the monopoly status of a relatively small number of Internet search engines, leads to a biased set of search algorithms that privilege whiteness and discriminate against people of color, specifically women of color. Through an analysis of textual and media searches as well as extensive research on paid online advertising, Noble exposes a culture of racism and sexism in the way discoverability is created online. As search engines and their related companies grow in importance--operating as a source for email, a major vehicle for primary and secondary school learning, and beyond--understanding and reversing these disquieting trends and discriminatory practices is of utmost importance. An original, surprising and, at times, disturbing account of bias on the internet, Algorithms of Oppression contributes to our understanding of how racism is created, maintained, and disseminated in the 21st century.

Michelle Obama Photo Book CoverArt

Becoming

by Michelle Obama

An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States. In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America--the first African American to serve in that role--she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her--from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world's most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it--in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations--and whose story inspires us to do the same.

Named #1 New York Times Best Seller, Oprah's Book Club Pick, and NAACP Image Award Winnder

Between the World and Me

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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'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, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER * NAMED ONE OF TIME'S TEN BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE DECADE * PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST * NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST   Hailed by Toni Morrison as "required reading," a bold and personal literary exploration of America's racial history by "the most important essayist in a generation and a writer who changed the national political conversation about race" (Rolling Stone)   NAMED ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL BOOKS OF THE DECADE BY CNN * NAMED ONE OF PASTE'S BEST MEMOIRS OF THE DECADE * NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review * O: The Oprah Magazine * The Washington Post * People * Entertainment Weekly * Vogue * Los Angeles Times * San Francisco Chronicle * Chicago Tribune * New York * Newsday * Library Journal * Publishers Weekly

Book of Unknown Americans Book Cover Art

The Book of Unknown Americans

by Cristina Henríquez

PS3608.E565 B66 2015

When fifteen-year-old Maribel Rivera sustains a terrible injury, the Riveras leave behind a comfortable life in Mexico and risk everything to come to the United States so that Maribel can have the care she needs. Once they arrive, it's not long before Maribel attracts the attention of Mayor Toro, the son of one of their new neighbors, who sees a kindred spirit in this beautiful, damaged outsider. Their love story sets in motion events that will have profound repercussions for everyone involved. Here Henríquez seamlessly interweaves the story of these star-crossed lovers, and of the Rivera and Toro families, with the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America. The Book of Unknown Americans is a stunning novel of hopes and dreams, guilt and love--a book that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be American.

Named a New York Times and Washington Post Notable Book, an NPR Great Read, The Daily Beast's Novel of the Year, and a Mother Jones, Oprah.com, School Library Journal, and BookPage Best Book of the Year

Born a Crime Book Cover Art

Born a Crime

by Trevor Noah

PN2287.N557 A3 2016

Trevor Noah's unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor 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, Trevor 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, Trevor 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, Trevor 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. Praise for Born a Crime "Compelling . . . By turns alarming, sad and funny, [Trevor Noah's] book provides a harrowing look, through the prism of Mr. Noah's family, at life in South Africa under apartheid. . . . 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."--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Named #1 New York Times Best Seller, One of Paste's Best Memoirs of the Decade, One of the Best Books of the Year by Michiko Kakutani, New York Times * USA Today * San Francisco Chronicle * NPR * Esquire * Newsday * Booklist

Book Cover Art - Black and White Cross

Christians and the Color Line

Edited by J. Russel Hawkins and Phillip Luke Sinitiere

BT734.2 .C47 2014

Since Oxford University Press's publication in 2000 of Michael Emerson and Christian Smith's groundbreaking study, Divided by Faith (DBF), research on racialized religion has burgeoned in a variety of disciplines in response to and in conversation with DBF. This conversation has moved outsideof sociological circles; historians, theologians, and philosophers have also engaged the central tenets of DBF for the purpose of contextualizing, substantiating, and in some cases, contesting the book's findings. In a poll published in January 2012, nearly 70% of evangelical churches professed adesire to be racially and culturally diverse. Currently, only around 8% of them have achieved this multiracial status.To an unprecedented degree, evangelical churches in the United States are trying to overcome the deep racial divides that persist in their congregations. Not surprisingly, many of these evangelicals have turned to DBF for solutions. The essays in Christians and the Color Line complicate the researchfindings of Emerson and Smith's study and explore new areas of research that have opened in the years since DBF's publication. The book is split into two sections. The chapters in the first section consider the history of American evangelicalism and race as portrayed in DBF. In the second sectionthe authors pick up where DBF left off, and discuss how American churches could ameliorate the problem of race in their congregations while also identifying problems that can arise from such attempted amelioration.

Dear White Christians Book  Cover Art

Dear White Christians

by Jennifer Harvey

In this provocative book Jennifer Harvey argues for a radical shift in how justice-committed white Christians think about race. She calls for moving away from the reconciliation paradigm that currently dominates interracial relations and embracing instead a reparations paradigm. Harvey presents an insightful historical analysis of the painful fissures that emerged among activist Christians toward the end of the Civil Rights movement, and she shows the necessity of bringing "white" racial identity into clear view in order to counter today's oppressive social structures. A deeply constructive, hopeful work, Dear White Christians will help readers envision new racial possibilities, including concrete examples of contemporary reparations initiatives. This book is for any who care about the gospel call to justice but feel stuck trying to get there, given the ongoing prevalence of deep racial divisions in the church and society at large.

Educated Book Cover Art

Educated

by Tara Westover

CT3262 .I2 W47 2018

An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home. "Beautiful and propulsive . . . Despite the singularity of [Tara Westover's] childhood, the questions her book poses are universal: How much of ourselves should we give to those we love? And how much must we betray them to grow up?"--Vogue "Westover has somehow managed not only to capture her unsurpassably exceptional upbringing, but to make her current situation seem not so exceptional at all, and resonant for many others."--The New York Times Book Review

#1 NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL, AND BOSTON GLOBE BESTSELLER * NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW * ONE OF PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA'S FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR * BILL GATES'S HOLIDAY READING LIST * FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE'S AWARD IN AUTOBIOGRAPHY * FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE'S JOHN LEONARD PRIZE FOR BEST FIRST BOOK * FINALIST FOR THE PEN/JEAN STEIN BOOK AWARD * FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES BOOK PRIZE NAMED ONE OF PASTE'S BEST MEMOIRS OF THE DECADE * NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post * O: The Oprah Magazine * Time * NPR * Good Morning America * San Francisco Chronicle * The Guardian * The Economist * Financial Times * Newsday * New York Post * theSkimm * Refinery29 * Bloomberg * Self * Real Simple * Town & Country * Bustle * Paste * Publishers Weekly * Library Journal * LibraryReads * BookRiot * Pamela Paul, KQED * New York Public Library

Evicted Book Cover Art

Evicted

by Matthew Desmond

HD7287.96 .U6 D47 2016

One of the most acclaimed books of our time, this modern classic "has set a new standard for reporting on poverty" (Barbara Ehrenreich, The New York Times Book Review). In Evicted, Princeton sociologist and MacArthur "Genius" Matthew Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they each struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Hailed as "wrenching and revelatory" (The Nation), "vivid and unsettling" (New York Review of Books), Evicted transforms our understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving one of twenty-first-century America's most devastating problems. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible. 

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE * NAMED ONE OF TIME'S TEN BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE DECADE * NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY President Barack Obama * The New York Times Book Review * The Boston Globe * The Washington Post * NPR * Entertainment Weekly * The New Yorker * Bloomberg * Esquire * BuzzFeed * Fortune * San Francisco Chronicle * Milwaukee Journal Sentinel * St. Louis Post-Dispatch * Politico * The Week * Chicago Public Library * BookPage * Kirkus Reviews * Library Journal *  Publishers Weekly * Booklist * Shelf Awareness WINNER OF: The National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction * The PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction * The Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction * The Hillman Prize for Book Journalism * The PEN/New England Award * The Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE AND THE KIRKUS PRIZE "Evicted stands among the very best of the social justice books."--Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto and Commonwealth  "Gripping and moving--tragic, too."--Jesmyn Ward, author of Salvage the Bones "Evicted is that rare work that has something genuinely new to say about poverty."--San Francisco Chronicle

Exist West Book Cover Art

Exit West

by Mohsin Hamid

An astonishingly visionary love story that imagines the forces that drive ordinary people from their homes into the uncertain embrace of new lands.  In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet--sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors--doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. . . . Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

An instant New York Times Bestseller "It was as if Hamid knew what was going to happen to America and the world, and gave us a road map to our future... At once terrifying and ... oddly hopeful." -Ayelet Waldman, The New York Times Book Review "Moving, audacious, and indelibly human." -Entertainment Weekly, "A" rating "A breathtaking novel...[that] arrives at an urgent time." -NPR.org   As featured in the Skimm, on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Fresh Air, PBS Newshour, the cover of the New York Times Book Review, and more.

Food Justice

by Robert Gottlieb & Anupama Joshi

In today's food system, farm workers face difficult and hazardous conditions, low-income neighborhoods lack supermarkets but abound in fast-food restaurants and liquor stores, food products emphasize convenience rather than wholesomeness, and the international reach of American fast-food franchises has been a major contributor to an epidemic of "globesity." To combat these inequities and excesses, a movement for food justice has emerged in recent years seeking to transform the food system from seed to table. In Food Justice, Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshi tell the story of this emerging movement. A food justice framework ensures that the benefits and risks of how food is grown and processed, transported, distributed, and consumed are shared equitably. Gottlieb and Joshi recount the history of food injustices and describe current efforts to change the system, including community gardens and farmer training in Holyoke, Massachusetts, youth empowerment through the Rethinkers in New Orleans, farm-to-school programs across the country, and the Los Angeles school system's elimination of sugary soft drinks from its cafeterias. And they tell how food activism has succeeded at the highest level: advocates waged a grassroots campaign that convinced the Obama White House to plant a vegetable garden. The first comprehensive inquiry into this emerging movement, Food Justice addresses the increasing disconnect between food and culture that has resulted from our highly industrialized food system.

The Fire This Time Book Cover Art

The Fire This Time

by Jesmyn Ward

A surprise New York Times bestseller, these groundbreaking essays and poems about race--collected by National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward and written by the most important voices of her generation--are "thoughtful, searing, and at times, hopeful. The Fire This Time is vivid proof that words are important, because of their power to both cleanse and to clarify" (USA TODAY). In this bestselling, widely lauded collection, Jesmyn Ward gathers our most original thinkers and writers to speak on contemporary racism and race, including Carol Anderson, Jericho Brown, Edwidge Danticat, Kevin Young, Claudia Rankine, and Honoree Jeffers. "An absolutely indispensable anthology" (Booklist, starred review), The Fire This Time shines a light on the darkest corners of our history, wrestles with our current predicament, and imagines a better future. Envisioned as a response to The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin's groundbreaking 1963 essay collection, these contemporary writers reflect on the past, present, and future of race in America. We've made significant progress in the fifty-odd years since Baldwin's essays were published, but America is a long and painful distance away from a "post-racial society"--a truth we must confront if we are to continue to work towards change. Baldwin's "fire next time" is now upon us, and it needs to be talked about; The Fire This Time "seeks to place the shock of our own times into historical context and, most importantly, to move these times forward" (Vogue).

Heavy Book Cover Art

Heavy

by Kiese Laymon

E185.97.L394 A3 2018

In this powerful and provocative memoir, genre-bending essayist and novelist Kiese Laymon explores what the weight of a lifetime of secrets, lies, and deception does to a black body, a black family, and a nation teetering on the brink of moral collapse. Kiese Laymon is a fearless writer. In his essays, personal stories combine with piercing intellect to reflect both on the state of American society and on his experiences with abuse, which conjure conflicted feelings of shame, joy, confusion and humiliation. Laymon invites us to consider the consequences of growing up in a nation wholly obsessed with progress yet wholly disinterested in the messy work of reckoning with where we've been. In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence, to his suspension from college, to his trek to New York as a young college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, anorexia, obesity, sex, writing, and ultimately gambling. By attempting to name secrets and lies he and his mother spent a lifetime avoiding, Laymon asks himself, his mother, his nation, and us to confront the terrifying possibility that few in this nation actually know how to responsibly love, and even fewer want to live under the weight of actually becoming free. A personal narrative that illuminates national failures, Heavy is defiant yet vulnerable, an insightful, often comical exploration of weight, identity, art, friendship, and family that begins with a confusing childhood--and continues through twenty-five years of haunting implosions and long reverberations.

*Named a Best Book of 2018 by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Buzzfeed (Nonfiction), The Undefeated, Library Journal (Biography/Memoirs), The Washington Post (Nonfiction), Southern Living (Southern), Entertainment Weekly, and The New York Times Critics* *WINNER of the Andrew Carnegie Medal and FINALIST for the Kirkus Prize *

A Hope in the Unseen Book Cover Art

A Hope in the Unseen

by Ron Suskind

The inspiring, true coming-of-age story of a ferociously determined young man who, armed only with his intellect and his willpower, fights his way out of despair. In 1993, Cedric Jennings was a bright and ferociously determined honor student at Ballou, a high school in one of Washington D.C.'s most dangerous neighborhoods, where the dropout rate was well into double digits and just 80 students out of more than 1,350 boasted an average of B or better. At Ballou, Cedric had almost no friends. He ate lunch in a classroom most days, plowing through the extra work he asked for, knowing that he was really competing with kids from other, harder schools. Cedric Jennings's driving ambition--which was fully supported by his forceful mother--was to attend a top college. In September 1995, after years of near superhuman dedication, he realized that ambition when he began as a freshman at Brown University. But he didn't leave his struggles behind. He found himself unprepared for college: he struggled to master classwork and fit in with the white upper-class students. Having traveled too far to turn back, Cedric was left to rely on his intelligence and his determination to maintain hope in the unseen--a future of acceptance and reward. In this updated edition, A Hope in the Unseen chronicles Cedric's odyssey during his last two years of high school, follows him through his difficult first year at Brown, and tells the story of his subsequent successes in college and the world of work. Eye-opening, sometimes humorous, and often deeply moving, A Hope in the Unseen weaves a crucial new thread into the rich and ongoing narrative of the American experience.

How to Be an Antiracist Book Cover Art

How to Be an Antiracist

by Ibram X. Kendi

E184 .A1 K344 2019

Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and reenergizes the conversation about racism--and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. At its core, racism is a powerful system that creates false hierarchies of human value; its warped logic extends beyond race, from the way we regard people of different ethnicities or skin colors to the way we treat people of different sexes, gender identities, and body types. Racism intersects with class and culture and geography and even changes the way we see and value ourselves. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas--from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities--that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves. Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science with his own personal story of awakening to antiracism. This is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond the awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a just and equitable society. Praise for How to Be an Antiracist "Ibram X. Kendi's new book, How to Be an Antiracist, couldn't come at a better time. . . . Kendi has gifted us with a book that is not only an essential instruction manual but also a memoir of the author's own path from anti-black racism to anti-white racism and, finally, to antiracism. . . .  How to Be an Antiracist gives us a clear and compelling way to approach, as Kendi puts it in his introduction, 'the basic struggle we're all in, the struggle to be fully human and to see that others are fully human.' "--NPR "Kendi dissects why in a society where so few people consider themselves to be racist the divisions and inequalities of racism remain so prevalent. How to Be an Antiracist punctures the myths of a post-racial America, examining what racism really is--and what we should do about it."--Time

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * From the National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning comes a "groundbreaking" (Time) approach to understanding and uprooting racism and inequality in our society--and in ourselves. "The most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind."--The New York Times NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review * Time * NPR * The Washington Post * Shelf Awareness * Library Journal * Publishers Weekly * Kirkus Reviews

How We Fight for Our Lives Book Cover Art

How We Fight for Our Lives

by Saeed Jones

Haunted and haunting, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir about a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence--into tumultuous relationships with his family, into passing flings with lovers, friends, and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another--and to one another--as we fight to become ourselves. An award-winning poet, Jones has developed a style that's as beautiful as it is powerful--a voice that's by turns a river, a blues, and a nightscape set ablaze. How We Fight for Our Lives is a one-of-a-kind memoir and a book that cements Saeed Jones as an essential writer for our time.

From award-winning poet Saeed Jones, How We Fight for Our Lives--winner of the Kirkus Prize and the Stonewall Book Award--is a "moving, bracingly honest memoir" (The New York Times Book Review) written at the crossroads of sex, race, and power. One of the best books of the year as selected by The New York Times; The Washington Post; NPR; Time; The New Yorker; O, The Oprah Magazine; Harper's Bazaar; Elle; BuzzFeed; Goodreads; and many more. "People don't just happen," writes Saeed Jones. "We sacrifice former versions of ourselves. We sacrifice the people who dared to raise us. The 'I' it seems doesn't exist until we are able to say, 'I am no longer yours.'"

Book Cover Art - Photo of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

by Rebecca Skloot

RC265.6 .L24 S55 2011

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine: The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, which are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. 

Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family—past and present—is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of. 

Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family—especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah. Deborah was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Had they killed her to harvest her cells? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance? 

Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “The story of modern medicine and bioethics—and, indeed, race relations—is refracted beautifully, and movingly.”—Entertainment Weekly • ONE OF THE “MOST INFLUENTIAL” (CNN), “DEFINING” (LITHUB), AND “BEST” (THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER) BOOKS OF THE DECADE • WINNER OF THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE HEARTLAND PRIZE FOR NONFICTION • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • Entertainment Weekly • O: The Oprah Magazine • NPR • Financial Times • New York • Independent (U.K.) • Times (U.K.) • Publishers Weekly • Library Journal • Kirkus Reviews • Booklist • Globe and Mail

Just Mercy Book Cover Art

Just Mercy

by Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn't commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship--and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever. Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer's coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice. Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction * Winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction * Winner of a Books for a Better Life Award * Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize * Finalist for the Kirkus Reviews Prize * An American Library Association Notable Book "Every bit as moving as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways more so . . . a searing indictment of American criminal justice and a stirring testament to the salvation that fighting for the vulnerable sometimes yields."--David Cole, The New York Review of Books "Searing, moving . . . Bryan Stevenson may, indeed, be America's Mandela."--Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times "You don't have to read too long to start cheering for this man. . . . The message of this book . . . is that evil can be overcome, a difference can be made. Just Mercy will make you upset and it will make you hopeful."--Ted Conover, The New York Times Book Review "Inspiring . . . a work of style, substance and clarity . . . Stevenson is not only a great lawyer, he's also a gifted writer and storyteller."--The Washington Post "As deeply moving, poignant and powerful a book as has been, and maybe ever can be, written about the death penalty."--The Financial Times "Brilliant."--The Philadelphia Inquirer

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING MICHAEL B. JORDAN AND JAMIE FOXX * A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice--from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time. "[Bryan Stevenson's] dedication to fighting for justice and equality has inspired me and many others and made a lasting impact on our country."--John Legend NAMED ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL BOOKS OF THE DECADE BY CNN * Named One of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times * The Washington Post * The Boston Globe * The Seattle Times * Esquire * Time

Lab Girl Book Cover Art

Lab Girl

by Hope Jahren

Geobiologist Hope Jahren has spent her life studying trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Lab Girl is her revelatory treatise on plant life--but it is also a celebration of the lifelong curiosity, humility, and passion that drive every scientist. In these pages, Hope takes us back to her Minnesota childhood, where she spent hours in unfettered play in her father's college laboratory. She tells us how she found a sanctuary in science, learning to perform lab work "with both the heart and the hands." She introduces us to Bill, her brilliant, eccentric lab manager. And she extends the mantle of scientist to each one of her readers, inviting us to join her in observing and protecting our environment. Warm, luminous, compulsively readable, Lab Girl vividly demonstrates the mountains that we can move when love and work come together.   

Winner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science/Subaru Science Books & Film Prize for Excellence in Science Books  Finalist for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award  One of the Best Books of the Year: The Washington Post, TIME.com, NPR, Slate, Entertainment Weekly, Newsday, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Kirkus Reviews

Book Cover Art - Barbed Wire

Locking up Our Own

by James Forman, Jr.

HV9950 .F655 2017

In Locking Up Our Own, 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. Locking Up Our Own 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.

Winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction Long-listed for the National Book Award Finalist, Current Interest Category, Los Angeles Times Book Prizes One of The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of 2017 Short-listed for the Inaugural Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice Former public defender James Forman, Jr. is a leading critic of mass incarceration and its disproportionate impact on people of color.

Me and White Supremacy Book Cover Art

Me and White Supremacy

by Layla Saad

This eye-opening book challenges you to do the essential work of unpacking your biases, and helps white people take action and dismantle the privilege within themselves so that you can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too. "Layla Saad is one of the most important and valuable teachers we have right now on the subject of white supremacy and racial injustice."? New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert Based on the viral Instagram challenge that captivated participants worldwide, Me and White Supremacytakes readers on a 28-day journey, complete with journal prompts, to do the necessary and vital work that can ultimately lead to improving race relations. Updated and expanded from the original workbook (downloaded by nearly 100,000 people), this critical text helps you take the work deeper by adding more historical and cultural contexts, sharing moving stories and anecdotes, and including expanded definitions, examples, and further resources, giving you the language to understand racism,and to dismantle your own biases, whether you are using the book on your own, with a book club, or looking to start family activism in your own home. This book will walk you step-by-step through the work of examining: Examining your own white privilege What allyship really means Anti-blackness, racial stereotypes, and cultural appropriation Changing the way that you view and respond to race How to continue the work to create social change Awareness leads to action, and action leads to change. For readers of White Fragility, White Rage, So You Want To Talk About Race, The New Jim Crow, How to Be an Anti-Racist and more who are ready to closely examine their own beliefs and biases and do the work it will take to create social change.

The New York Times and USA Today bestseller!  "Layla Saad moves her readers from their heads into their hearts, and ultimately, into their practice. We won't end white supremacy through an intellectual understanding alone; we must put that understanding into action." ?Robin DiAngelo, author of New York Timesbestseller White Fragility

The #MeToo Reckoning Book Cover Art

The #MeToo Reckoning

by Ruth Everhart

The #MeToo movement has revealed sexual abuse and assault in every sphere of society, including the church. But victims are routinely ignored by fellow Christians who deny their accounts and fail to bring accountability to the perpetrators. All too often, churches have been complicit in protecting abusers, reinforcing patriarchal power dynamics, and creating cultures of secrecy, shame, and silence. Pastor and survivor Ruth Everhart shines a light on the prevalence of sexual abuse and misconduct within faith communities. She candidly discloses stories of how she and others have experienced assault in church settings, highlighting the damage done to individuals, families, and communities. Everhart offers hope to survivors as she declares that God is present with the violated and stands in solidarity with victims. Scriptural narratives like those of Tamar and Bathsheba carry powerful resonance in today's context, as do the accounts of Jesus' interactions with women. God is at work in the midst of this #MeToo moment to call the church to repentance and deliver us from violence against the vulnerable.

★ Publishers Weekly starred review.

Not Free, Not for All

by Cheryl Knott

Americans tend to imagine their public libraries as time-honored advocates of equitable access to information for all. Through much of the twentieth century, however, many black Americans were denied access to public libraries or allowed admittance only to separate and smaller buildings and collections. While scholars have examined and continue to uncover the history of school segregation, there has been much less research published on the segregation of public libraries in the Jim Crow South. In fact, much of the writing on public library history has failed to note these racial exclusions. In Not Free, Not for All, Cheryl Knott traces the establishment, growth, and eventual demise of separate public libraries for African Americans in the South, disrupting the popular image of the American public library as historically welcoming readers from all walks of life. Using institutional records, contemporaneous newspaper and magazine articles, and other primary sources together with scholarly work in the fields of print culture and civil rights history, Knott reconstructs a complex story involving both animosity and cooperation among whites and blacks who valued what libraries had to offer. African American library advocates, staff, and users emerge as the creators of their own separate collections and services with both symbolic and material importance, even as they worked toward dismantling those very institutions during the era of desegregation.

On the Other Side of Freedom Book Cover Art

On the Other Side of Freedom

by DeRay McKesson

In August 2014, twenty-nine-year-old activist DeRay Mckesson stood with hundreds of others on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, to push a message of justice and accountability. These protests, and others like them in cities across the country, resulted in the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement. Now, in his first book, Mckesson lays down the intellectual, pragmatic, and political framework for a new liberation movement. Continuing a conversation about activism, resistance, and justice that embraces our nation's complex history, he dissects how deliberate oppression persists, how racial injustice strips our lives of promise, and how technology has added a new dimension to mass action and social change. He argues that our best efforts to combat injustice have been stunted by the belief that racism's wounds are history, and suggests that intellectual purity has curtailed optimistic realism. The book offers a new framework and language for understanding the nature of oppression. With it, we can begin charting a course to dismantle the obvious and subtle structures that limit freedom. Honest, courageous, and imaginative, On the Other Side of Freedom is a work brimming with hope. Drawing from his own experiences as an activist, organizer, educator, and public official, Mckesson exhorts all Americans to work to dismantle the legacy of racism and to imagine the best of what is possible. Honoring the voices of a new generation of activists, On the Other Side of Freedom is a visionary's call to take responsibility for imagining, and then building, the world we want to live in.

"Hope and insight and empathy spring from every page. . . . [McKesson] stares down the faces of bigotry and unfreedom and cynicism and doesn't flinch in writing out our marching orders toward freedom." --Ibram X. Kendi, #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist From the internationally recognized civil rights activist/organizer and host of the podcast Pod Save the People, a meditation on resistance, justice, and freedom, and an intimate portrait of a movement from the front lines.

The Other Wes Moore

by Wes Moore

Two kids with the same name lived in the same decaying city. One went on to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader. The other is serving a life sentence in prison. Here is the story of two boys and the journey of a generation.   In December 2000, the Baltimore Sun ran a small piece about Wes Moore, a local student who had just received a Rhodes Scholarship. The same paper also ran a series of articles about four young men who had allegedly killed a police officer in a spectacularly botched armed robbery. The police were still hunting for two of the suspects who had gone on the lam, a pair of brothers. One was named Wes Moore.  Wes just couldn't shake off the unsettling coincidence, or the inkling that the two shared much more than space in the same newspaper. After following the story of the robbery, the manhunt, and the trial to its conclusion, he wrote a letter to the other Wes, now a convicted murderer serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. His letter tentatively asked the questions that had been haunting him: Who are you? How did this happen? That letter led to a correspondence and relationship that have lasted for several years. Over dozens of letters and prison visits, Wes discovered that the other Wes had had a life not unlike his own: Both had grown up in similar neighborhoods and had had difficult childhoods, both were fatherless; they'd hung out on similar corners with similar crews, and both had run into trouble with the police. At each stage of their young lives they had come across similar moments of decision, yet their choices would lead them to astonishingly different destinies. Told in alternating dramatic narratives that take readers from heart-wrenching losses to moments of surprising redemption, The Other Wes Moore tells the story of a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world.

Religious Intolerance in America Book Cover Art

Religious Intolerance in America

Edited by John Corrigan, Lynn S. Neal

BR517 .R45 2020

The story of religion in America is one of unparalleled diversity and protection of the religious rights of individuals. But that story is a muddied one. This new and expanded edition of a classroom favorite tells a jolting history--illuminated by historical texts, pictures, songs, cartoons, letters, and even t-shirts--of how our society has been and continues to be replete with religious intolerance. It powerfully reveals the narrow gap between intolerance and violence in America. The second edition contains a new chapter on Islamophobia and adds fresh material on the Christian persecution complex, white supremacy and other race-related issues, sexuality, and the role played by social media. John Corrigan and Lynn S. Neal's overarching narrative weaves together a rich, compelling array of textual and visual materials. Arranged thematically, each chapter provides a broad historical background, and each document or cluster of related documents is entwined in context as a discussion of the issues unfolds. The need for this book has only increased in the midst of today's raging conflicts about immigration, terrorism, race, religious freedom, and patriotism.

Slavery's Long Shadow Book Cover Art

Slavery's Long Shadow

Edited by James L. Gorman, Jeff W. Childers, and Mark W. Hamilton

At the center of the story of American Christianity lies an integral connection between race relations and Christian unity. Despite claims that Jesus Christ transcends all racial barriers, the most segregated hour in America is still Sunday mornings when Christians gather for worship. 

In Slavery’s Long Shadow fourteen historians and other scholars examine how the sobering historical realities of race relations and Christianity have created both unity and division within American churches from the 1790s into the twenty-first century. The book’s three sections offer readers three different entry points into the conversation: major historical periods, case studies, and ways forward. Historians as well as Christians interested in racial reconciliation will find in this book both help for understanding the problem and hope for building a better future.

Despite claims that Jesus Christ transcends all racial barriers, the most segregated hour in America still comes every Sunday morning, when Christians gather for worship. In Slavery's Long Shadow fourteen scholars examine how the sober-ing historical realities of race relations and Christianity have created both unity and division within American churches from the 1790s into the twenty-first century. The book's three sections offer readers three different entry points into the conversation: major historical periods, case studies, and ways forward. Histor-ians and any Christians interested in racial reconciliation will find that this book helpfully illuminates our Christian and national past and points us toward a more unified future.

There There Book Cover Art

There There

by Tommy Orange

Tommy Orange's wondrous and shattering novel follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. Among them is Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind. Dene Oxendene, pulling his life together after his uncle's death and working at the powwow to honor his memory. Fourteen-year-old Orvil, coming to perform traditional dance for the very first time. Together, this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American--grappling with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, with communion and sacrifice and heroism. Hailed as an instant classic, There There is at once poignant and unflinching, utterly contemporary and truly unforgettable.

National Bestseller One of The New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year One of the Best Books of the Year: The Washington Post, NPR, Time, O, The Oprah Magazine, The Dallas Morning News, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, BuzzFeed, San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe   Winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award Winner of the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize Winner of the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize Winner of an American Book Award   Shortlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction Shortlisted for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize   "Powerful. . . . There There has so much jangling energy and brings so much news from a distinct corner of American life that it's a revelation." --The New York Times

White Fragility

by Robin Diangelo

HT1521 .D486 2018

The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality. 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. Download readers guides at www.beacon.org/whitefragility.


 Explore All Sides of an Issue

This online resource covers today's hottest social issues, from capital punishment to immigration to marijuana. Informed, differing views help to develop critical-thinking skills and allow researchers to draw their own conclusions.

 


 

Featured Topics

 

American Dream

The Supreme Court Rules to Support DACAThe American Dream refers to a common aspiration among Americans to improve their lives. Though the American Dream is often framed as a singular concept, the idea can mean different things to different people at different times. One popular definition involves a desire to achieve material success, typically represented by home ownership. Other definitions depend on achieving more than one's parents and providing one's children with opportunities to achieve even more. For many people abroad, the United States represents a land of opportunity where people can exercise their rights freely and enjoy greater social mobility than in other countries.

 

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter ProtestorsBlack Lives Matter (BLM) is a civil rights movement and activist network that originated from a hashtag campaign on social media in 2013. The #BlackLivesMatter campaign gained momentum online in the wake of a jury finding George Zimmerman not guilty of the second-degree murder of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African American high school student whom Zimmerman shot and killed. Zimmerman claimed self-defense, but many people saw the jury's dismissal of the charges as racially biased. As a social movement, BLM has focused largely on a lack of accountability for violence committed against African Americans, particularly police violence.

 

Criminal Justice Reform

State Representative Jordan Harris at a Rally for Probation ReformActivists and lawmakers have led calls to reform the US criminal justice system. Reports of corruption, civil rights violations, and racial and ethnic disparities in arrest and imprisonment rates have led to questions about how the system can be improved. Proponents of criminal justice reform have identified several areas where innovation could lead to a more fair and effective system. The fields of forensic science, policing, and sentencing offer opportunities to improve public safety and the relationships between communities and their governments.

 

Equal Rights Amendment

Start of New Legislative Session Energizes ERA Supporters in State of VirginiaActivists and lawmakers have led calls to reform the US criminal justice system. Reports of corruption, civil rights violations, and racial and ethnic disparities in arrest and imprisonment rates have led to questions about how the system can be improved. Proponents of criminal justice reform have identified several areas where innovation could lead to a more fair and effective system. The fields of forensic science, policing, and sentencing offer opportunities to improve public safety and the relationships between communities and their governments.


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