Dismantling systemic racism requires individuals, especially those privileged by a racist system, to proactively inform themselves, recognize their role, and take an active stand against the racism inherent in our society – including SMU. The resources below are by no means exhaustive, but can help you get started in that process.

Antiracism/Talking About Race

America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, Jim Wallis

America’s problem with race has deep roots, with the country’s foundation tied to the near extermination of one race of people and the enslavement of another. Racism is truly our nation’s original sin. “It’s time we right this unacceptable wrong,” says bestselling author and leading Christian activist Jim Wallis. Fifty years ago, Wallis was driven away from his faith by a white church that considered dealing with racism to be taboo. His participation in the civil rights movement brought him back when he discovered a faith that commands racial justice. Yet as recent tragedies confirm, we continue to suffer from the legacy of racism. The old patterns of white privilege are colliding with the changing demographics of a diverse nation. The church has been slow to respond, and Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour of the week. In America’s Original Sin, Wallis offers a prophetic and deeply personal call to action in overcoming the racism so ingrained in American society. He speaks candidly to Christians–particularly white Christians–urging them to cross a new bridge toward racial justice and healing.

Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, Mahzarin R. Banaji

The self-perception that one is able to assess others in a fair and accurate way is challenged as the authors explore the hidden biases we all carry from a lifetime of exposure to cultural attitudes about age, gender, race ethnicity, religion, social class, sexuality, disability status, and nationality. This book questions the extent to which our perceptions of social groups — without our awareness or conscious control — shape our likes and dislikes and our judgments about people’s character, abilities and potential. Biases based on experience are revealed with the Implicit Association Test.

How to Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi

“The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it — and then dismantle it.” Ibram X. Kendi’s concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America — but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it. In this book, Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, bringing it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism. How to Be an Antiracist is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.

How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide, Crystal Marie Fleming

How to Be Less Stupid About Race is your essential guide to breaking through the half-truths and ridiculous misconceptions that have thoroughly corrupted the way race is represented in the classroom, pop culture, media, and politics. Centuries after our nation was founded on genocide, settler colonialism, and slavery, many Americans are kinda-sorta-maybe waking up to the reality that our racial politics are (still) garbage. But in the midst of this reckoning, widespread denial and misunderstandings about race persist, even as white supremacy and racial injustice are more visible than ever before. Drawing upon critical race theory, as well as her own experiences as a queer black millennial college professor and researcher, Fleming unveils how systemic racism exposes us all to racial ignorance—and provides a road map for transforming our knowledge into concrete social change.

Killing Rage: Ending Racism, bell hooks

One of our country’s premier cultural and social critics, bell hooks has always maintained that eradicating racism and eradicating sexism must go hand in hand. But whereas many women have been recognized for their writing on gender politics, the female voice has been all but locked out of the public discourse on race. Killing Rage speaks to this imbalance. These essays are written from a black and feminist perspective, and they tackle the bitter difficulties of racism by envisioning a world without it. They address a spectrum of topics having to do with race and racism in the United States: psychological trauma among African Americans; friendship between black women and white women; anti-Semitism and racism; and internalized racism in movies and the media. And in the title essay, hooks writes about the “killing rage”―the fierce anger of black people stung by repeated instances of everyday racism―finding in that rage a healing source of love and strength and a catalyst for positive change.

Race Matters, Cornell West

First published in 1993, on the one-year anniversary of the Los Angeles riots, Race Matters became a national best seller that has gone on to sell more than half a million copies. This classic treatise on race contains Dr. West’s most incisive essays on the issues relevant to black Americans, including the crisis in leadership in the Black community, Black conservatism, Black-Jewish relations, myths about Black sexuality, and the legacy of Malcolm X. The insights Dr. West brings to these complex problems remain relevant, provocative, creative, and compassionate.

So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo

A current, constructive, and actionable exploration of today’s racial landscape, offering straightforward clarity that readers of all races need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide. In So You Want to Talk About Race, Editor at Large of The Establishment, Ijeoma Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the “N” word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions readers don’t dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans. Oluo is an exceptional writer with a rare ability to be straightforward, funny, and effective in her coverage of sensitive, hyper-charged issues in America. Her messages are passionate but finely tuned, and crystalize ideas that would otherwise be vague by empowering them with aha-moment clarity.

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America, Michael Eric Dyson

Fifty years ago, Malcolm X told a white woman who asked what she could do for the cause, ‘Nothing.’ Michael Eric Dyson believes he was wrong. Now he responds to that question. If society is to make real racial progress, people must face difficult truths, including being honest about how Black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, Robin D’Angelo

In this groundbreaking and timely book, antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility. 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 explores how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.

Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”: And Other Conversations about Race, Beverly Tatum

With a discussion guide and a new Epilogue by the author, this is the fifth anniversary edition of the bestselling work on the development of racial identity. Shares real-life examples and current research that support the author’s recommendations for “straight talk” about racial identity, identifying practices that contribute to self-segregation in childhood groups.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge

In 2014, award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote on her blog about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren’t affected by it. Her words hit a nerve. The post went viral and comments flooded in from others desperate to speak up about their own experiences. Galvanized, she decided to dig into the source of these feelings. Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge has written a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary examination of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today.

Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice, bell hooks

What are the conditions needed for folks to bridge cultural and racial divides? In ‘Writing Beyond Race’, noted cultural critic Bell Hooks attempts to model the constructive ways scholars, activists, and readers can challenge and change systems of domination.

History

Stamped from the Beginning : the Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, Ibram X. Kendi

Americans like to insist that we are living in a postracial, color-blind society. In fact, racist thought is alive and well; it has simply become more sophisticated and more insidious. And as historian Ibram X. Kendi argues, racist ideas in this country have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit. Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Stamped from the Beginning uses the lives of five major American intellectuals to offer a window into the contentious debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists. From Puritan minister Cotton Mather to Thomas Jefferson, from fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to brilliant scholar W.E.B. Du Bois to legendary anti-prison activist Angela Davis, Kendi shows how and why some of our leading proslavery and pro-civil rights thinkers have challenged or helped cement racist ideas in America. As Kendi provocatively illustrates, racist thinking did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Racist ideas were created and popularized in an effort to defend deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and to rationalize the nation’s racial inequities in everything from wealth to health. While racist ideas are easily produced and easily consumed, they can also be discredited.

A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America, Ronald T. Takaki

Upon its first publication, A Different Mirror was hailed by critics and academics everywhere as a dramatic new retelling of our nation’s past. Beginning with the colonization of the New World, it recounted the history of America in the voice of the non-Anglo peoples of the United States–Native Americans, African Americans, Jews, Irish Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and others–groups who helped create this country’s rich mosaic culture.

A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn

With a new introduction by Anthony Arnove, this edition of the classic national bestseller chronicles American history from the bottom up, throwing out the official narrative taught in schools—with its emphasis on great men in high places—to focus on the street, the home and the workplace. A People’s History of the United States is the only volume to tell America’s story from the point of view of—and in the words of—America’s women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, the working poor, and immigrant laborers. As historian Howard Zinn shows, many of our country’s greatest battles—the fights for a fair wage, an eight-hour workday, child-labor laws, health and safety standards, universal suffrage, women’s rights, racial equality—were carried out at the grassroots level, against bloody resistance. Covering Christopher Columbus’s arrival through President Clinton’s first term, A People’s History of the United States features insightful analysis of the most important events in our history.

An African American and Latinx history of the United States, Paul Ortiz

Spanning more than two hundred years, An African American and Latinx History of the United States is a revolutionary, politically charged narrative history, arguing that the Global South” was crucial to the development of America as we know it. Scholar and activist Paul Ortiz challenges the notion of westward progress as exalted by widely taught formulations such as “manifest destiny” and “Jacksonian democracy,” and shows how placing African American, Latinx, and Indigenous voices unapologetically front and center transforms US history into one of the working class organizing against imperialism. Drawing on rich narratives and primary source documents, Ortiz links racial segregation in the Southwest and the rise and violent fall of a powerful tradition of Mexican labor organizing in the twentieth century, to May 1, 2006, known as International Workers’ Day, when migrant laborers–Chicana/os, Afrocubanos, and immigrants from every continent on earth–united in resistance on the first “Day Without Immigrants.” As African American civil rights activists fought against Jim Crow laws and Mexican labor organizers warred against the suffocating grip of capitalism, Black and Spanish-language newspapers, abolitionists, and Latin American revolutionaries coalesced around movements built between people from the United States and people from Central America and the Caribbean. And in stark contrast to the resurgence of “America first” rhetoric, Black and Latinx intellectuals and organizers today have urged the United States to build bridges of solidarity with the nations of the America. Incisive and timely, this bottom-up history, told from the interconnected vantage points of Latinx and African Americas, reveals the radically different ways that people of the diaspora have addressed issues still plaguing the United States today, and it offers a way forward in the continued struggle for universal civil rights.

Memoirs/Biographies

Angela Davis: An Autobiography, Angela Davis

From a childhood on Dynamite Hill in Birmingham, Alabama, to one of the most significant political trials of the century, Angela Davis describes in full the story of her life: from Carrie A. Tuggle Elementary School to the U.S. Communist Party; from her political activity in a New York high school to the Soledad Brothers; from the faculty of the Philosophy Department at UCLA to the FBI’s list of the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives. In spite of voluminous print devoted to Angela Davis, a curious privacy has always surrounded her – a privacy still intact. Until this publication, no one had managed to provide us with the whole story: What was her childhood really like? How deep were the influences of a Southern and a European education? What precipitated her into political activism? What was her relationship with the Soledad Brothers? How did she elude the FBI? Where did she go? What did she do? Who helped her? This book tells not only what happened, but more important, how she felt about the events, the people, and herself. A powerful and commanding story told with warmth, brilliance, humor and conviction.

Eloquent rage : A Black feminist discovers her superpower, Brittney Cooper

In the Black feminist tradition of Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper reminds us that anger is a powerful source of energy that can give us the strength to keep on fighting. Yet too often Black women’s anger has been caricatured into an ugly and destructive force that threatens the civility and social fabric of American democracy. But Cooper shows us that there is more to the story than that. Black women’s eloquent rage is what makes Serena Williams such a powerful tennis player. It’s what makes Beyoncé’s girl power anthems resonate so hard. It’s what makes Michelle Obama an icon. Eloquent rage keeps us all honest and accountable. It reminds women that they don’t have to settle for less.  These times demand the fierce honesty of Brittney Cooper, who reminds us that ultimately feminism, friendship, and faith in one’s own superpowers are all we really need to turn things right-side up again.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Brian Stevenson

From one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time comes an unforgettable true story about the redeeming potential of mercy. Bryan Stevenson was a gifted young attorney when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending the poor, the wrongly condemned, and those trapped in the furthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man sentenced to die for a notorious murder he didn’t commit. The case drew Stevenson into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship – and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, Patrisse Khan-Cullors

A memoir by the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement explains the movement’s position of love, humanity, and justice, challenging perspectives that have negatively labeled the movement’s activists while calling for essential political changes

Housing/Segregation/Migration

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, Richard Rothstein

In this history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, explodes the myth that America’s cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation–that is, through individual prejudices, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. Rather, The Color of Law incontrovertibly makes it clear that it was de jure segregation–the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments–that actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day. Rothstein chronicles an untold story that begins in the 1920s, showing how this process of de jure segregation began with explicit racial zoning, as millions of African Americans moved in a great historical migration from the South to the North. As Jane Jacobs established in her classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, it was the deeply flawed urban planning of the 1950s that created many of the impoverished neighborhoods we know. Now, Rothstein expands our understanding of this history, showing how government policies led to the creation of officially segregated public housing and the demolition of previously integrated neighborhoods. While urban areas rapidly deteriorated, the great American suburbanization of the post-World War II years was spurred on by federal subsidies for builders on the condition that no homes be sold to African Americans. Finally, Rothstein shows how police and prosecutors brutally upheld these standards by supporting violent resistance to black families in white neighborhoods. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited future discrimination but did nothing to reverse residential patterns that had become deeply embedded. Yet recent outbursts of violence in cities like Baltimore, Ferguson, and Milwaukee show us precisely how the legacy of these earlier eras contributes to persistent racial unrest. Rothstein’s invaluable examination demonstrates that only by relearning American urban history can we finally pave the way for the nation to remedy its unconstitutional past.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, Isabel Wilkerson

In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America.

Justice/Legal System, Policing

Chokehold: Policing Black Men, Paul Butler

“Cops, politicians, and ordinary people are afraid of black men. The result is the Chokehold: laws and practices that treat every African American man like a thug. In this explosive new book, an African American former federal prosecutor shows that the system is working exactly the way it’s supposed to. Black men are always under watch, and police violence is widespread–all with the support of judges and politicians. In his no-holds-barred style, Butler, whose scholarship has been featured on 60 Minutes, uses new data to demonstrate that white men commit the majority of violent crime in the United States. For example, a white woman is ten times more likely to be raped by a white male acquaintance than be the victim of a violent crime perpetrated by a black man. Butler also frankly discusses the problem of black on black violence and how to keep communities safer–without relying as much on police. Chokehold powerfully demonstrates why current efforts to reform law enforcement will not create lasting change. Butler’s controversial recommendations about how to crash the system, and when it’s better for a black man to plead guilty–even if he’s innocent–are sure to be game-changers in the national debate about policing, criminal justice, and race relations”

Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?, Mumia Abu-Jamal

In December 1981, Mumia Abu-Jamal was shot and beaten into unconsciousness by Philadelphia police. He awoke to find himself shackled to a hospital bed, accused of killing a cop. He was convicted and sentenced to death in a trial that Amnesty International has denounced as failing to meet the minimum standards of judicial fairness. In Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?, Mumia gives voice to the many people of color who have fallen to police bullets or racist abuse, and offers the post-Ferguson generation advice on how to address police abuse in the United States. This collection of his radio commentaries on the topic features an in-depth essay written especially for this book to examine the history of policing in America, with its origins in the white slave patrols of the antebellum South and an explicit mission to terrorize the country’s black population. Applying a personal, historical, and political lens, Mumia provides a righteously angry and calmly principled radical black perspective on how racist violence is tearing our country apart and what must be done to turn things around.

If They Come in the Morning…: Voices of Resistance, Edited by Angela Davis

One of America’s most historic political trials is undoubtedly that of Angela Davis. Opening with a letter from James Baldwin to Davis, and including contributions from numerous radicals such as Black Panthers George Jackson, Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale and Erica Huggins, this book is not only an account of Davis’s incarceration and the struggles surrounding it, but also perhaps the most comprehensive and thorough analysis of the prison system of the United States.

Since the book was written, the carceral system in the US has seen unprecedented growth, with more of America’s black population behind bars than ever before. The scathing analysis of the role of prison and the policing of black populations offered by Davis and her comrades in this astonishing volume remains as pertinent today as the day it was first published. Featuring contributions from George Jackson, Bettina Aptheker, Bobby Seale, James Baldwin, Ruchell Magee, Julian Bond, Huey P. Newton, Erika Huggins, Fleeta Drumgo, John Clutchette, and others.

Policing Black Bodies: How Black Lives are Surveilled and How to Work for Change, Angela J. Hattery and Earl Smith

Policing Black Bodies goes beyond chronicling isolated incidents of injustice to look at the broader systems of inequality in our society, how they’re structured, how they harm Black people, and how we can work for positive change. The book discusses the school-to-prison pipeline, mass incarceration and the prison boom, the unique ways Black women and trans people are treated, wrongful convictions and the challenges of exoneration, and more. Each chapter of the book opens with a true story, explains the history and current state of the issue, and looks toward how we can work for change. The book calls attention to the ways class, race, and gender contribute to injustice, as well as the perils of colorblind racism that by pretending not to see race we actually strengthen, rather than dismantle, racist social structures. Policing Black Bodies is a powerful call to acknowledge injustice and work for change.

The Burning House: Jim Crow and the Making of Modern America, Anders Walker

In this dramatic reexamination of the Jim Crow South, Anders Walker demonstrates that racial segregation fostered not simply terror and violence, but also diversity, one of our most celebrated ideals. He investigates how prominent intellectuals like Robert Penn Warren, James Baldwin, Eudora Welty, Ralph Ellison, Flannery O’Connor, and Zora Neale Hurston found pluralism in Jim Crow, a legal system that created two worlds, each with its own institutions, traditions, even cultures. The intellectuals discussed in this book all agreed that black culture was resilient, creative, and profound, brutally honest in its assessment of American history. By contrast, James Baldwin likened White culture to a “burning house,” a frightening place that endorsed racism and violence to maintain dominance. Why should Black Americans exchange their experience for that? Southern whites, meanwhile, saw themselves preserving a rich cultural landscape against the onslaught of mass culture and federal power, a project carried to the highest levels of American law by Supreme Court justice and Virginia native Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Anders Walker shows how a generation of scholars and judges has misinterpreted Powell’s definition of diversity in the landmark case Regents v. Bakke, forgetting its Southern origins and weakening it in the process. By resituating the decision in the context of Southern intellectual history, Walker places diversity on a new footing, independent of affirmative action but also free from the constraints currently placed on it by the Supreme Court. With great clarity and insight, he offers a new lens through which to understand the history of civil rights in the United States.

The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, Khalil Gibran Muhammad

How did we come to think of race as synonymous with crime? A brilliant and deeply disturbing biography of the idea of black criminality in the making of modern urban America, The Condemnation of Blackness reveals the influence this pernicious myth, rooted in crime statistics, has had on our society and our sense of self. Black crime statistics have shaped debates about everything from public education to policing to presidential elections, fueling racism and justifying inequality. How was this statistical link between blackness and criminality initially forged? Why was the same link not made for whites? In the age of Black Lives Matter and Donald Trump, under the shadow of Ferguson and Baltimore, no questions could be more urgent.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander

As the United States celebrates the nation’s “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of young black men in major American cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life. Although Jim Crow laws have been wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status – much like their grandparents before them.” “In this incisive critique, former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander provocatively argues that we have not ended racial caste in America: we have simply redesigned it. Alexander shows that, by targeting black men 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 color blindness. The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community – and all of us – to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.

Politics & Government

Blackballed: The Black Vote and US Democracy, Darryl Pinckney

Blackballed is Darryl Pinckney’s meditation on a century and a half of Black participation in US electoral politics. In this combination of memoir, historical narrative, and contemporary political and social analysis, he investigates the struggle for Black voting rights from Reconstruction through the civil rights movement, leading up to the election of Barack Obama as president. Interspersed throughout the historical narrative are Pinckney’s own memories of growing up during the civil rights era, his unsure grasp of the events he saw on television or heard discussed, and the reactions of his parents to the social changes that were taking place at the time and later to Obama’s election. He concludes with an examination of the current state of electoral politics, the place of Blacks in the Democratic coalition, and the ongoing efforts by Republicans to suppress the Black vote, with particular attention to the Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike down part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and what it may mean for the political influence of Black voters in future elections. Blackballed also includes ‘What Black Means Now,’ an essay on the history of the Black middle class, stereotypes about Blacks and crime, and contemporary debates about ‘post-Blackness’ and breaking free of essentialist notions of being Black.

Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America’s Heartland, Jonathan Metzl

With the rise of the Tea Party and the election of Donald Trump, many middle- and lower-income white Americans threw their support behind conservative politicians who pledged to make life great again for people like them. But as Dying of Whiteness shows, the right-wing policies that resulted from this white backlash put these voters’ very health at risk–and, in the end, threaten everyone’s well-being. Physician and sociologist Jonathan M. Metzl travels across America’s heartland seeking to better understand the politics of racial resentment and its impact on public health. Interviewing a range of Americans, he uncovers how racial anxieties led to the repeal of gun control laws in Missouri, stymied the Affordable Care Act in Tennessee, and fueled massive cuts to schools and social services in Kansas. Although such measures promised to restore greatness to white America, Metzl’s systematic analysis of health data dramatically reveals they did just the opposite: these policies made life sicker, harder, and shorter in the very populations they purported to aid. Thus, white life expectancies fell, gun suicides soared, and school dropout rates rose. Powerful, searing, and sobering, Dying of Whiteness ultimately demonstrates just how much white America would benefit by emphasizing cooperation, rather than chasing false promises of supremacy.

Films & Documentaries

I Am Not Your Negro – James Baldwin and Race in America, Kino Lorber

An Oscar-nominated documentary narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO explores the continued peril America faces from institutionalized racism. In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House. The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends–Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only thirty completed pages of his manuscript. Filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and flood of rich archival material. I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO is a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter. It is a film that questions black representation in Hollywood and beyond. And, ultimately, by confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassination of these three leaders, Baldwin and Peck have produced a work that challenges the very definition of what America stands for.

Ethnic Notions: African American Stereotypes and Prejudice, California Newsreel

ETHNIC NOTIONS is Marlon Riggs’ Emmy-winning documentary that takes viewers on a disturbing voyage through American history, tracing for the first time the deep-rooted stereotypes which have fueled anti-black prejudice. Dehumanizing caricatures permeated popular culture from the 1820s to the Civil Rights period and implanted themselves deep in the American psyche. Through these images we can begin to understand the evolution of racial consciousness in America.

Race – The Power of an Illusion; The Difference Between Us, California Newsreel

The Difference Between Us examines the contemporary science – including genetics – that challenges our common sense assumptions that human beings can be bundled into three or four fundamentally different groups according to their physical traits.

Race – The Power of an Illusion; Episode Two – The Story We Tell, California Newsreel

The Story We Tell uncovers the roots of the race concept in North America, the 19th century science that legitimated it, and how it came to be held so fiercely in the western imagination. The episode is an eye-opening tale of how race served to rationalize, even justify, American social inequalities as “natural.”

Race – The Power of an Illusion; The House We Live In, California Newsreel

The House We Live In asks, If race is not biology, what is it? This episode uncovers how race resides not in nature but in politics, economics and culture. It reveals how our social institutions “make” race by disproportionately channeling resources, power, status and wealth to white people.

Selma, Ava DuVernay

Civil-rights activists march from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery to secure voting rights for black Americans in this docudrama, which focuses on the actions of Martin Luther King Jr.

White Like Me: Race, Racism & White Privilege in America, Media Education Foundation

White Like Me, based on the work of anti-racist educator and author Tim Wise, explores race and racism in the US through the lens of whiteness and white privilege. Wise offers a look back at the race-based white entitlement programs that built the American middle class, and argues that our failure as a society to come to terms with this legacy of white privilege continues to perpetuate racial inequality and race-driven political resentments today. White Like Me shows how white privilege continues to shape individual attitudes, electoral politics, and government policy in ways too many white people never stop to think about.

Further Reading/Listening Suggestions

Institutionalized Racism: A Syllabus, JSTOR

1619 podcast, hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones, The New York Times

 

Compiled by Ramón García, Research & User Experience Intern, SMU Libraries

AA-CUL(CMIT)

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