The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Diversity Book Club - Reading List


Available through the UMass Library

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

“The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it — and then dismantle it,” writes professor Ibram X. Kendi. That is the essence of antiracism: the action that must follow both emotional and intellectual awareness of racism. Kendi sits down with journalist Jemele Hill to explore what an antiracist society might look like, how we can play an active role in building it, and what being an antiracist in your own context might mean.

Women, Race & Class- Angela Davis 

A powerful study of the women's liberation movement in the U.S., from abolitionist days to the present, that demonstrates how it has always been hampered by the racist and classist biases of its leaders. From the widely revered and legendary political activist and scholar Angela Davis.

The Fire Next Time- James Baldwin (audiobook)

An autobiographical account of Baldwin’s experiences growing up in New York. It is divided into accounts of his encounters with Christianity and, later, with the Nation of Islam. Out of these compelling stories develops Baldwin’s urgent political, religious critique of America. Baldwin locates religion as the root cause of oppression in America. He indicts religion for perpetuating narrow thinking, promoting separatism, and urging racial violence. Though Baldwin’s critique is charged with anger at white America, the essay is deeply compassionate and concludes by imagining an alternative America that has overcome racial division. Baldwin proposes that white and black citizens must enact radical personal and social change, moving toward deeper thought, understanding and growth as one nation

Sister Outsider- Audre Lorde 

Presenting the essential writings of black lesbian poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider celebrates an influential voice in twentieth-century literature. In this charged collection of fifteen essays and speeches, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change. Her prose is incisive, unflinching, and lyrical, reflecting struggle but ultimately offering messages of hope.

Black Feminist Thought- Patricia Hill Collins

In spite of the double burden of racial and gender discrimination, African-American women have developed a rich intellectual tradition that is not widely known. In Black Feminist Thought, originally published in 1990, Patricia Hill Collins set out to explore the words and ideas of Black feminist intellectuals and writers, both within the academy and without. Here Collins provides an interpretive framework for the work of such prominent Black feminist thinkers as Angela Davis, bell hooks, Alice Walker, and Audre Lorde. Drawing from fiction, poetry, music and oral history, the result is a superbly crafted and revolutionary book that provided the first synthetic overview of Black feminist thought and its canon.

Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect?

This collection of reports and essays  explores police violence against black, brown, indigenous and other marginalized communities, miscarriages of justice, and failures of token accountability and reform measures. It also makes a compelling and provocative argument against calling the police.Contributions cover a broad range of issues including the killing by police of black men and women, police violence against Latino and indigenous communities, law enforcement's treatment of pregnant people and those with mental illness, and the impact of racist police violence on parenting, as well as specific stories such as a Detroit police conspiracy to slap murder convictions on young black men using police informant and the failure of Chicago's much-touted Independent Police Review Authority, the body supposedly responsible for investigating police misconduct. The title Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? is no mere provocation: the book also explores alternatives for keeping communities safe.

Assata: An Autobiography- Assata Shakur

On May 2, 1973, Black Panther Assata Shakur (aka JoAnne Chesimard) lay in a hospital, close to death, handcuffed to her bed, while local, state, and federal police attempted to question her about the shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike that had claimed the life of a white state trooper. Long a target of J. Edgar Hoover's campaign to defame, infiltrate, and criminalize Black nationalist organizations and their leaders, Shakur was incarcerated for four years prior to her conviction on flimsy evidence in 1977 as an accomplice to murder. This intensely personal and political autobiography belies the fearsome image of JoAnne Chesimard long projected by the media and the state. With wit and candor, Assata Shakur recounts the experiences that led her to a life of activism and portrays the strengths, weaknesses, and eventual demise of Black and White revolutionary groups at the hand of government officials. The result is a signal contribution to the literature about growing up Black in America that has already taken its place alongside The Autobiography of Malcolm X and the works of Maya Angelou.

How We Get Free- Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

The Combahee River Collective, a group of radical black feminists, was one of the most important organizations to develop out of the anti-racist and women's liberation movements of the 1960s and 70s. In this collection, founding members of the organization and contemporary activists reflect on the legacy of its contributions to black feminism and its impact on today's struggle.

No One is Illegal- Justin Akers Chacón and Mike Davis

Countering the chorus of anti-immigrant voices that have grown increasingly loud in the current political moment, No One is Illegal exposes the racism of anti-immigration vigilantes and puts a human face on the immigrants who risk their lives to cross the border to work in the United States.This second edition has a new introduction to frame the analysis of the struggle for immigrant rights and the roots of the backlash. 

All Our Relations- Winona LaDuke

This eagerly awaited non-fiction debut by acclaimed Native environmental activist Winona LaDuke is a thoughtful and in-depth account of Native resistance to environmental and cultural degradation.LaDuke's unique understanding of Native ideas and people is born from long years of experience, and her analysis is deepened with inspiring testimonies by local Native activists sharing the struggle for survival.On each page of this volume, LaDuke speaks forcefully for self-determination and community. Hers is a beautiful and daring vision of political, spiritual, and ecological transformation.All Our Relations features chapters on the Seminoles, the Anishinaabeg, the Innu, the Northern Cheyenne, and the Mohawks, among others.

Policing the Planet

Combining firsthand accounts from activists with the research of scholars and reflections from artists, Policing the Planet traces the global spread of the broken-windows policing strategy, first established in New York City under Police Commissioner William Bratton. It’s a doctrine that has vastly broadened police power the world over—to deadly effect.

With contributions from #BlackLivesMatter cofounder Patrisse Cullors, Ferguson activist and Law Professor Justin Hansford, Director of New York–based Communities United for Police Reform Joo-Hyun Kang, poet Martín Espada, and journalist Anjali Kamat, as well as articles from leading scholars Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Robin D. G. Kelley, Naomi Murakawa, Vijay Prashad, and more, Policing the Planet describes ongoing struggles from New York to Baltimore to Los Angeles, London, San Juan, San Salvador, and beyond.

The Souls of Black Folk- W.E.B. Du Bois

The Souls of Black Folk is a 1903 work of American literature by W. E. B. Du Bois. It is a seminal work in the history of sociology and a cornerstone of African-American literature. The book contains several essays on race, some of which the magazine Atlantic Monthly had previously published.

Black Reconstruction- W.E.B. Du Bois

The pioneering work in the study of the role of Black Americans during Reconstruction by the most influential Black intellectual of his time. This pioneering work was the first full-length study of the role black Americans played in the crucial period after the Civil War, when the slaves had been freed and the attempt was made to reconstruct American society. Hailed at the time, Black Reconstruction in America 1860–1880 has justly been called a classic.

Wretched of the Earth- Frantz Fanon

A distinguished psychiatrist from Martinique who took part in the Algerian Nationalist Movement, Frantz Fanon was one of the most important theorists of revolutionary struggle, colonialism, and racial difference in history. The Wretched of the Earth is a brilliant analysis of the psychology of the colonized and their path to liberation. Bearing singular insight into the rage and frustration of colonized peoples, and the role of violence in effecting historical change, the book incisively attacks the twin perils of post independence colonial politics: the disenfranchisement of the masses by the elites on the one hand, and intertribal and interfaith animosities on the other. Fanon’s analysis, a veritable handbook of social reorganization for leaders of emerging nations, has been reflected all too clearly in the corruption and violence that has plagued present-day Africa. The Wretched of the Earth has had a major impact on civil rights, anticolonialism, and black consciousness movements around the world, and this bold new translation by Richard Philcox reaffirms it as a landmark

Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition- Glen Coulthard 

Coulthard challenges recognition as a method of organizing difference and identity in liberal politics, questioning the assumption that contemporary difference and past histories of destructive colonialism between the state and Indigenous peoples can be reconciled through a process of acknowledgment. He examines an alternative politics, seeking to revalue, reconstruct, and redeploy Indigenous cultural practices based on self-recognition.

The Other Wes Moore- Wes Moore

Two kids named Wes Moore were born blocks apart within a year of each other. Both grew up fatherless in similar Baltimore neighborhoods and had difficult childhoods; both hung out on street corners with their crews; both ran into trouble with the police. How, then, did one grow up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader, while the other ended up a convicted murderer serving a life sentence? Wes Moore, the author of this fascinating book, sets out to answer this profound question. In alternating 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.

The New Jim Crow - 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… 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.”

Are Prisons Obsolete? - Angela Davis

In these newly collected essays, interviews, and speeches, world-renowned activist and scholar - Angela Y. Davis illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world. Reflecting on the importance of black feminism, intersectionality, and prison abolitionism for today's struggles, Davis discusses the legacies of previous liberation struggles, from the Black Freedom Movement to the South African anti-Apartheid movement. She highlights connections and analyzes today's struggles against state terror, from Ferguson to Palestine. Facing a world of outrageous injustice, Davis challenges us to imagine and build the movement for human liberation. And in doing so, she reminds us that "Freedom is a constant struggle."

The Possessive Investment in Whiteness- George Lipsitz 

Attacking the common view that whiteness is a meaningless category of identity, this book shows that public policy and private prejudice insure that whites wind up on top of the social hierarchy. It probes into the social and material rewards that accrue to the possessive investment in whiteness.

Killing the Black Body- Dorothy Roberts 

In 1997, this groundbreaking book made a powerful entrance into the national conversation on race. In a media landscape dominated by racially biased images of welfare queens and crack babies, Killing the Black Body exposed America’s systemic abuse of Black women’s bodies. From slave masters’ economic stake in bonded women’s fertility to government programs that coerced thousands of poor Black women into being sterilized as late as the 1970s, these abuses pointed to the degradation of Black motherhood—and the exclusion of Black women’s reproductive needs in mainstream feminist and civil rights agendas.

Divided Sisters- Wilson and Russell 

Since the advent of the women's movement, women have often expressed the belief that black and white women in society have a great many common concerns, and are in fact natural allies. The reality is more sobering. In Divided Sisters, Midge Wilson and Kathy Russell, the acclaimed authors of The Color Complex, tackle the nature of relationships between black and white women, and explore how they do, and don't, get along. Based on scores of interviews, cultural literature and extensive research, Divided Sisters examines relations between black and white women as children, as adults, at school and in college, at work and at home. Truthfully as adults relatively few women feel they are close friends with a woman from another racial background. The book exposes many of the challenges and obstacles that complicate interracial relationships in a society with a long history of racial inequality. What Midge and Kathy discover is that the concerns and frustrations of black and white women are often different, and that these differences are frequently not communicated.

This Bridge Called My Back- Cherríe Moraga

The book centers on the experiences of women of color and emphasizes the points of what is now called intersectionality within their multiple identities, challenging white feminists who made claims to solidarity based on sisterhood. Writings in the anthology, along with works by other prominent feminists of color, call for a greater prominence within feminism for race-related subjectivities, and ultimately laid the foundation for third wave feminism. nces are frequently not communicated.

The Color of Law- Richard Rothstein 

It argues with exacting precision and fascinating insight how segregation in America—the incessant kind that continues to dog our major cities and has contributed to so much recent social strife—is the byproduct of explicit government policies at the local, state, and federal levels.

Things That Make White People Uncomfortable- Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett is a Super Bowl Champion, a three-time Pro Bowl defensive end, a fearless activist, a feminist, a grassroots philanthropist, an organizer, and a change maker. He's also one of the most scathingly humorous athletes on the planet, and he wants to make you uncomfortable. Bennett adds his unmistakable voice to discussions of racism and police violence, Black athletes and their relationship to powerful institutions like the NCAA and the NFL, the role of protest in history, and the responsibilities of athletes as role models to speak out against injustice. Following in the footsteps of activist-athletes from Muhammad Ali to Colin Kaepernick, Bennett demonstrates his outspoken leadership both on and off the field.Written with award-winning sportswriter and author Dave Zirin, Things that Make White People Uncomfortable is a sports book for our turbulent times, a memoir, and a manifesto as hilarious and engaging as it is illuminating.

Class Struggle and the Color Line- Paul Heideman

As Black oppression moves again to the forefront of American public life, the history of radical approaches to combating racism has acquired renewed relevance. Collecting, for the first time, source materials from a diverse array of writers and organizers, this reader provides a new perspective on the complex history of revolutionary debates about fighting anti-Black racism. Contextual material from the editor places each contribution in its historical and political setting, making this volume ideal for both scholars and activists.

Class Struggle and the Color Line- Paul Heideman

As Black oppression moves again to the forefront of American public life, the history of radical approaches to combating racism has acquired renewed relevance. Collecting, for the first time, source materials from a diverse array of writers and organizers, this reader provides a new perspective on the complex history of revolutionary debates about fighting anti-Black racism. Contextual material from the editor places each contribution in its historical and political setting, making this volume ideal for both scholars and activists.

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa- Walter Rodney

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa is a 1972 book written by Walter Rodney that takes the view that Africa was deliberately exploited and underdeveloped by European colonial regimes. One of his main arguments throughout the book is that Africa developed Europe at the same rate as Europe underdeveloped Africa.

Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition- Cedric Robinson

In this ambitious work, first published in 1983, Cedric Robinson demonstrates that efforts to understand black people's history of resistance solely through the prism of Marxist theory are incomplete and inaccurate. Marxist analyses tend to presuppose European models of history and experience that downplay the significance of black people and black communities as agents of change and resistance. Black radicalism must be linked to the traditions of Africa and the unique experiences of blacks on western continents, Robinson argues, and any analyses of African American history need to acknowledge this. To illustrate his argument, Robinson traces the emergence of Marxist ideology in Europe, the resistance by blacks in historically oppressive environments, and the influence of both of these traditions on such important twentieth-century black radical thinkers as W. E. B. Du Bois, C. L. R. James, and Richard Wright.

The Beautiful Struggle- Ta-Nehisi Coates

Paul Coates was an enigmatic god to his sons: a Vietnam vet who rolled with the Black Panthers, an old-school disciplinarian and new-age believer in free love, an autodidact who launched a publishing company in his basement dedicated to telling the true history of African civilization. Most of all, he was a wily tactician whose mission was to carry his sons across the shoals of inner-city adolescence—and through the collapsing civilization of Baltimore in the Age of Crack—and into the safe arms of Howard University, where he worked so his children could attend for free. With a remarkable ability to reimagine both the lost world of his father’s generation and the terrors and wonders of his own youth, Coates offers readers a small and beautiful epic about boys trying to become men in black America and beyond.

Black Skin, White Masks- Frantz Fanon

Few modern voices have had as profound an impact on the black identity and critical race theory as Frantz Fanon, and Black Skin, White Masks  represents some of his most important work. Fanon’s masterwork is now available in a new translation that updates its language for a new generation of readers. A major influence on civil rights, anti-colonial, and black consciousness movements around the world, Black Skin, White Masks is the unsurpassed study of the black psyche in a white world. Hailed for its scientific analysis and poetic grace when it was first published in 1952, the book remains a vital force today from one of the most important theorists of revolutionary struggle, colonialism, and racial difference in history.

Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England- Jean M. O’Brien

Across nineteenth-century New England, antiquarians and community leaders wrote hundreds of local histories about the founding and growth of their cities and towns. Ranging from pamphlets to multivolume treatments, these narratives shared a preoccupation with establishing the region as the cradle of an Anglo-Saxon nation and the center of a modern American culture. They also insisted, often in mournful tones, that New England’s original inhabitants, the Indians, had become extinct, even though many Indians still lived in the very towns being chronicled. In Firsting and Lasting, Jean M. O’Brien argues that local histories became a primary means by which European Americans asserted their own modernity while denying it to Indian peoples. Erasing and then memorializing Indian peoples also served a more pragmatic colonial goal: refuting Indian claims to land and rights. Drawing on more than six hundred local histories from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island written between 1820 and 1880, as well as censuses, monuments, and accounts of historical pageants and commemorations, O’Brien explores how these narratives inculcated the myth of Indian extinction, a myth that has stubbornly remained in the American consciousness.


Other Titles

Racial Formation in the United States- Omi and Winant 

Omi and Winant provide an account of how concepts of race are created and transformed, how they become the focus of political conflict, and how they come to shape and permeate both identities and institutions. The steady journey of the U.S. toward a majority nonwhite population, the ongoing evisceration of the political legacy of the early post-World War II civil rights movement, the initiation of the ‘war on terror’ with its attendant Islamophobia, the rise of a mass immigrants rights movement, the formulation of race/class/gender ‘intersectionality’ theories, and the election and reelection of a black President of the United States

This Bridge Called My Back- Cherríe Moraga

The book centers on the experiences of women of color and emphasizes the points of what is now called intersectionality within their multiple identities, challenging white feminists who made claims to solidarity based on sisterhood. Writings in the anthology, along with works by other prominent feminists of color, call for a greater prominence within feminism for race-related subjectivities, and ultimately laid the foundation for third wave feminism. 

Things That Make White People Uncomfortable- Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett is a Super Bowl Champion, a three-time Pro Bowl defensive end, a fearless activist, a feminist, a grassroots philanthropist, an organizer, and a change maker. He's also one of the most scathingly humorous athletes on the planet, and he wants to make you uncomfortable. Bennett adds his unmistakable voice to discussions of racism and police violence, Black athletes and their relationship to powerful institutions like the NCAA and the NFL, the role of protest in history, and the responsibilities of athletes as role models to speak out against injustice. Following in the footsteps of activist-athletes from Muhammad Ali to Colin Kaepernick, Bennett demonstrates his outspoken leadership both on and off the field.Written with award-winning sportswriter and author Dave Zirin, Things that Make White People Uncomfortable is a sports book for our turbulent times, a memoir, and a manifesto as hilarious and engaging as it is illuminating.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings- Maya Angelou

Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide. Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.

Critical Race Theory: An Introduction- Stefanic & Delgado

The contributions, from a stellar roster of established and emerging scholars, address new topics, such as intersectionality and black men on the "down low." Essays also confront much-discussed issues of discrimination, workplace dynamics, affirmative action, and sexual politics. Also new to this volume are updated section introductions, author notes, questions for discussion, and reading lists for each unit. The volume also covers the spread of the movement to other disciplines such as education.Offering a comprehensive and stimulating snapshot of current race jurisprudence and thought, this new edition of Critical Race Theory is essential for those interested in law, the multiculturalism movement, political science, education, and critical thought.

Radicals in the Barrio- Justin Akers Chacón

Radicals in the Barrio uncovers a long and rich history of political radicalism within the Mexican and Chicano working class in the United States. Chacón clearly and sympathetically documents the ways that migratory workers carried with them radical political ideologies, new organizational models, and shared class experience, as they crossed the border into southwestern barrios during the first three decades of the twentieth-century.


Articles

White People: I Don’t Want You To Understand Me Better, I Want You To Understand Yourselves, Ijeoma Oluo

https://medium.com/the-establishment/white-people-i-dont-want-you-to-understand-me-better-i-want-you-to-understand-yourselves-a6fbedd42ddf

A Timeline of Events that Led to the 2020 “Fed Up-Rising”, Michael Harriot

https://www.theroot.com/a-timeline-of-events-that-led-to-the-2020-fed-up-rising-1843780800

Jews of Color, Covid-19, Civil Unrest — An Argument for Inclusion,  Nate Looney

https://medium.com/@nlooney/jews-of-color-covid-19-civil-unrest-an-argument-for-inclusion-b012ecfd2335

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