albeit 4.2: For Further Reading

For albeit 4.2 we asked our contributors to submit a list of recommended Black Lives Matter texts:

Emily Abendroth, Karen LepriAndrea Quaid, & Robin Tremblay-McGaw:

Charles Burnett. Killer of Sheep. 1978

Liz Garbus. What Happended Miss Simone? 2015.

Barry Jenkins. Moonlight. 2016.

Chang, Jeff. Who We Be: A Cultural History of Race in Post-Civil Rights America. New York: St.   Martin’s Press, 2014. Chang’s book begins at the end of the Civil Rights Movement, traces demographic shifts in the US, charting their impacts on art, culture and politics. Chang argues that in the wake of the culture wars, the US is experiencing re-segregation.

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me.  New York: Spegel & Grau, 2015. Compelling and beautifully written memoir that explores the history and present of race in America. Inspired by James Baldwin’s “My Dungeon Shook: Letter to My Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation.” The Fire Next Time. New York: The Modern Library, 1995.[originally published in 1963]

McIntosh, Peggy. “Daily Effects of White Privilege. ” from “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming To See Correspondences through Work in Women’s  Studies,” 1988. Useful classroom tool.

Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. New York: Vintage Books, 1992. see our article.

Rankine, Claudia, Beth Loffreda, and Max King Cap. Eds. The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. Albany, NY: Fence Books, 2016. Great collection of a diverse array of artists and writers responding to an open call from Rankine in March 2011 for letters about race and the creative imagination. Work by John Lucas, Charles Bernstein, Dawn Lundy Martin, Sandra Lim, Tracie Morris, Evie Shockley, Ronaldo Wilson, Kyungmi Shin, Francisco Aragon and others.

Suggested Readings:

“What’s Wrong with ‘All Lives Matter’” by George Yancey and Judith Butler, New York Times, January 12, 2015. A compelling interview with philosopher Judith Butler wherein she talks about the history and context of racism in the United States out of which the Black Lives Matter movement emerges. Butler also advocates for the necessity of a deep and unflinching interrogation of whiteness by white individuals. She observes, “Of course there are white people who may be very convinced that they are not racist, but that does not necessarily mean that they have examined, or worked though, how whiteness organizes their lives, values, the institutions they support, how they are implicated in ways of talking, seeing, and doing that constantly and tacitly discriminate. Undoing whiteness has to be difficult work, but it starts, I think, with humility, with learning history, with white people learning how the history of racism persists in the everyday vicissitudes of the present, even as some of us may think we are ‘beyond’ such a history, or even convinced that we have magically become ‘post-racial.’ It is difficult and ongoing work, calling on an ethical disposition and political solidarity that risks error in the practice of solidarity.”

Ferguson is America: Roots of Rebellion by Jamala Rogers, self-published, 2015. Jamala Rogers is a community activist and author with decades of on-the-ground experience in racial justice organizing. She helped found the St. Louis Chapter of the Congress of African People (CAP) in the 1970s and was involved in the African Liberation Support Committee and the National Black Political Assembly. In 1980, she joined other black activists to form the Black United Front. Rogers and other community activists, students, and union organizers founded the Organization for Black Struggle (OBS) in St. Louis, Missouri in 1980 to help the black working class and extol the principles of Black Power. In 1998, Rogers helped form and lead the now-defunct Black Radical Congress (BRC). This rich, layered personal history of political struggle and collective organizing profoundly shapes Rogers’ framing/understanding of the recent events in Ferguson and the public responses (both organized and spontaneous). All proceeds from sales of her book go to the Youth Council for Positive Development.

“Trump Says Go Back, We Say Fight Back” by Robin D.G. Kelley, Boston Review, Nov 15, 2016 In this extended essay, Robin D.G. Kelley lays out his analysis of the resistance work required in the wake of the election of Donald Trump. He offers forth a series of practical steps and suggestions for how to support the ongoing and critical struggles for racial, economic and environmental justice. The efforts of the Black Lives Matter Movement and some of the many other organizations across the country that emerged in its wake (including Million Hoodies, Black Youth Project 100, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, We Charge Genocide, and Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity) are highlighted as models in the effort to “defend all of our targeted communities”. Kelley urges, “We need solidarity more than ever, recognizing that all solidarities are imperfect, often fragile, temporary, and always forged in struggle and sustained through hard work.”

Tiffany A. Flowers:

Almost Grown by Tony Lindsay: Almost Grown is a collection of short stories about how African American youth navigate family, friendship, the streets, and school.

We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led to Success by Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt, and Sharon Draper: We Beat the Street is a novel about a true story of four African American males who overcome the pressures of violence, drugs, and allure of crime to walk a different path. They go to college and stick together until they finish medical school and graduate as doctors..

Lamar Garnes:

I’ve listed each of the texts below not because they are overtly political but use narrative to acknowledge and affirm otherwise marginalized and silenced voices and identities. I only listed a few texted and films because this list could have been never ending. I have listed the texts in no particular order.

Randall Kenan’s A Visitation of Spirits
Gayl Jones’s Corregidora
Toni Morrison’s Home
James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time
Jennie Livingston’s Paris is Burning (film)
John Singleton’s Boyz N the Hood (film)
Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust (film)

Bonus: Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight (film); Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City (album); Solange’s A Seat at the Table (album).

Agnieszka Herra:

Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man

James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me

This novel, collection of essays and epistolary memoir, respectively, powerfully describe the experience of being a black man in America. Even though these works were written in different decades, Ellison, Baldwin, and Coates write about the continued threats for the black body with evocative language. I have especially returned to Ellison’s novel (and Alice Walker’s Meridian!) many times as I think through the way narratives can describe the body during protest.

Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric

Unlike anything I had ever read before, Rankine’s mix of poetry, criticism, art, and essays offers a site to explore the conception of blackness in the U.S. Rankine mostly writes in the second person present, which gives the work a unique voice.

Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station

An important film for anyone interested in the Black Lives Matter Movement, Michael B. Jordan portrays Oscar Grant, a young man who was shot by a police officer in the Bay Area. Grant’s name has often been included in the list of other “hashtagged” names like Michael Brown and Eric Garner who died by the hands of police.

Richard Thomas:

Currently, my favorite book related to the Black Lives Matter Movement is Kelly Brown Douglas’ Stand Your Ground. I like it because it blends history with spirituality to explore the pain of mother after the experience of trauma.

Maria Zappone:

Nadeem Aslam, The Blind Man’s Garden
Michelle Cliff, Free Enterprise
Paul Gilory, Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack


For more recommended texts, see “For Further Reading” in albeit 4.1: Black Lives Matter.