Key Terms for Targeted Searches: Book | Essay | Popular Article | Documentary | Video | Game | Podcast
Sara Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life (especially relevant is the section, “Diversity Work”)
“In Living a Feminist Life Sara Ahmed shows how feminist theory is generated from everyday life and the ordinary experiences of being a feminist at home and at work. Building on legacies of feminist of color scholarship in particular, Ahmed offers a poetic and personal meditation on how feminists become estranged from worlds they critique—often by naming and calling attention to problems—and how feminists learn about worlds from their efforts to transform them. Ahmed also provides her most sustained commentary on the figure of the feminist killjoy introduced in her earlier work while showing how feminists create inventive solutions—such as forming support systems—to survive the shattering experiences of facing the walls of racism and sexism. The killjoy survival kit and killjoy manifesto, with which the book concludes, supply practical tools for how to live a feminist life, thereby strengthening the ties between the inventive creation of feminist theory and living a life that sustains it.”
Sara Ahmed, On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life
“What does diversity do? What are we doing when we use the language of diversity? Sara Ahmed offers an account of the diversity world based on interviews with diversity practitioners in higher education, as well as her own experience of doing diversity work. Diversity is an ordinary, even unremarkable, feature of institutional life. Yet diversity practitioners often experience institutions as resistant to their work, as captured through their use of the metaphor of the "brick wall." On Being Included offers an explanation of this apparent paradox. It explores the gap between symbolic commitments to diversity and the experience of those who embody diversity. Commitments to diversity are understood as "non-performatives" that do not bring about what they name. The book provides an account of institutional whiteness and shows how racism can be obscured by the institutionalization of diversity. Diversity is used as evidence that institutions do not have a problem with racism. On Being Included offers a critique of what happens when diversity is offered as a solution. It also shows how diversity workers generate knowledge of institutions in attempting to transform them.”
Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
“Once in a great while a book comes along that changes the way we see the world and helps to fuel a nationwide social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book. Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as "brave and bold," this book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." 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—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a ‘call to action.’”
Carol Anderson, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide
“As Ferguson, Missouri, erupted in August 2014, and media commentators across the ideological spectrum referred to the angry response of African Americans as “black rage,” historian Carol Anderson wrote a remarkable op-ed in The Washington Post suggesting that this was, instead, "white rage at work. With so much attention on the flames," she argued, "everyone had ignored the kindling."
Since 1865 and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, every time African Americans have made advances towards full participation in our democracy, white reaction has fueled a deliberate and relentless rollback of their gains. The end of the Civil War and Reconstruction was greeted with the Black Codes and Jim Crow; the Supreme Court's landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision was met with the shutting down of public schools throughout the South while taxpayer dollars financed segregated white private schools; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 triggered a coded but powerful response, the so-called Southern Strategy and the War on Drugs that disenfranchised millions of African Americans while propelling presidents Nixon and Reagan into the White House, and then the election of America's first black President, led to the expression of white rage that has been as relentless as it has been brutal.
Carefully linking these and other historical flashpoints when social progress for African Americans was countered by deliberate and cleverly crafted opposition, Anderson pulls back the veil that has long covered actions made in the name of protecting democracy, fiscal responsibility, or protection against fraud, rendering visible the long lineage of white rage. Compelling and dramatic in the unimpeachable history it relates, White Rage will add an important new dimension to the national conversation about race in America.”
Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America
“Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s acclaimed Racism without Racists documents how, beneath our contemporary conversation about race, there lies a full-blown arsenal of arguments, phrases, and stories that whites use to account for—and ultimately justify—racial inequalities. The fifth edition of this provocative book makes clear that color blind racism is as insidious now as ever. It features new material on our current racial climate, including the Black Lives Matter movement; a significantly revised chapter that examines the Obama presidency, the 2016 election, and Trump’s presidency; and a new chapter addressing what readers can do to confront racism—both personally and on a larger structural level.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
“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.”
Vine Deloria, Jr., Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto
“In his new preface to this paperback edition, the author observes, "The Indian world has changed so substantially since the first publication of this book that some things contained in it seem new again." Indeed, it seems that each generation of whites and Indians will have to read and reread Vine Deloria’s Manifesto for some time to come, before we absorb his special, ironic Indian point of view and what he tells us, with a great deal of humor, about U.S. race relations, federal bureaucracies, Christian churches, and social scientists. This book continues to be required reading for all Americans, whatever their special interest.”
Joe R. Feagin, The White Racial Frame: Centuries of Racial Framing and Counter-Framing
“In this book Joe Feagin extends the systemic racism framework in previous Routledge books by developing an innovative concept, the white racial frame. Now four centuries-old, this white racial frame encompasses not only the stereotyping, bigotry, and racist ideology emphasized in other theories of "race," but also the visual images, array of emotions, sounds of accented language, interlinking interpretations and narratives, and inclinations to discriminate that are still central to the frame’s everyday operations. Deeply imbedded in American minds and institutions, this white racial frame has for centuries functioned as a broad worldview, one essential to the routine legitimation, scripting, and maintenance of systemic racism in the United States. Here Feagin examines how and why this white racial frame emerged in North America, how and why it has evolved socially over time, which racial groups are framed within it, how it has operated in the past and in the present for both white Americans and Americans of color, and how the latter have long responded with strategies of resistance that include enduring counter-frames.
In this new edition, Feagin has included much new interview material and other data from recent research studies on framing issues related to white, black, Latino, and Asian Americans, and on society generally. The book also includes a new discussion of the impact of the white frame on popular culture, including on movies, video games, and television programs as well as a discussion of the white racial frame’s significant impacts on public policymaking, immigration, the environment, health care, and crime and imprisonment issues.”
Ian Haney López, Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism & Wrecked the Middle Class (or the TED Talk)
“Campaigning for president in 1980, Ronald Reagan told stories of Cadillac-driving "welfare queens" and "strapping young bucks" buying T-bone steaks with food stamps. In trumpeting these tales of welfare run amok, Reagan never needed to mention race, because he was blowing a dog whistle: sending a message about racial minorities inaudible on one level, but clearly heard on another. In doing so, he tapped into a long political tradition that started with George Wallace and Richard Nixon, and is more relevant than ever in the age of the Tea Party and the first black president.
In Dog Whistle Politics, Ian Haney López offers a sweeping account of how politicians and plutocrats deploy veiled racial appeals to persuade white voters to support policies that favor the extremely rich yet threaten their own interests. Dog whistle appeals generate middle-class enthusiasm for political candidates who promise to crack down on crime, curb undocumented immigration, and protect the heartland against Islamic infiltration, but ultimately vote to slash taxes for the rich, give corporations regulatory control over industry and financial markets, and aggressively curtail social services. White voters, convinced by powerful interests that minorities are their true enemies, fail to see the connection between the political agendas they support and the surging wealth inequality that takes an increasing toll on their lives. The tactic continues at full force, with the Republican Party using racial provocations to drum up enthusiasm for weakening unions and public pensions, defunding public schools, and opposing health care reform.
Rejecting any simple story of malevolent and obvious racism, Haney López links as never before the two central themes that dominate American politics today: the decline of the middle class and the Republican Party's increasing reliance on white voters. Dog Whistle Politics will generate a lively and much-needed debate about how racial politics has destabilized the American middle class-white and nonwhite members alike.”
Tag: Book, Video
Catherine Prendergast, Literacy and Racial Justice: The Politics of Learning after Brown v. Board of Education
“In anticipation of the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, Catherine Prendergast draws on a combination of insights from legal studies and literacy studies to interrogate contemporary multicultural literacy initiatives, thus providing a sound historical basis that informs current debates over affirmative action, school vouchers, reparations, and high-stakes standardized testing.
As a result of Brown and subsequent crucial civil rights court cases, literacy and racial justice are firmly enmeshed in the American imagination— so much so that it is difficult to discuss one without referencing the other. Breaking with the accepted wisdom that the Brown decision was an unambiguous victory for the betterment of race relations, Literacy and Racial Justice: The Politics of Learning after Brown v. Board of Education finds that the ruling reinforced traditional conceptions of literacy as primarily white property to be controlled and disseminated by an empowered majority. Prendergast examines civil rights era Supreme Court rulings and immigration cases spanning a century of racial injustice to challenge the myth of assimilation through literacy. Advancing from Ways with Words, Shirley Brice Heath’ s landmark study of desegregated communities, Prendergast argues that it is a shared understanding of literacy as white property which continues to impact problematic classroom dynamics and education practices.
To offer a positive model for reimagining literacy instruction that is truly in the service of racial justice, Prendergast presents a naturalistic study of an alternative public secondary school. Outlining new directions and priorities for inclusive literacy scholarship in America, Literacy and Racial Justice concludes that a literate citizen is one who can engage rather than overlook longstanding legacies of racial strife.”
Beverly Daniel Tatum, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race
“Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. These topics have only become more urgent as the national conversation about race is increasingly acrimonious. This fully revised edition is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of race in America.”