Content warning: racism, murder, police brutality
For the past two weeks, protesters have rallied throughout the country to decry the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other black Americans killed by law enforcement. We’ve been inspired by our community’s response; thousands marched in Boston on Sunday, and the movement continues to gather momentum.
During that time we’ve also received a staggering number of orders for books on racism, activism, privilege, and intersectional struggle. Unfortunately (but unsurprisingly), many of our favorite titles on those subjects are temporarily sold out nationwide, and publishers are scrambling to reprint them. We’re taking orders through our online store and we’ll get the physical books in your hands as soon as we can, but you can take advantage of these virtual texts right away, at no cost.
The links at the end of the book descriptions below all lead to free editions as of June 8th, 2020, and they only scratch the surface; you can find a wealth of other educational media at the Black History Month Library.
Are Prisons Obsolete? (Open Media Series)
With her characteristic brilliance, grace and radical audacity, Angela Y. Davis has put the case for the latest abolition movement in American life: the abolition of the prison. As she quite correctly notes, American life is replete with abolition movements, and when they were engaged in these struggles, their chances of success seemed almost unthinkable.
For generations of Americans, the abolition of slavery was sheerest illusion. Similarly,the entrenched system of racial segregation seemed to last forever, and generations lived in the midst of the practice, with few predicting its passage from custom. The brutal, exploitative (dare one say lucrative?) convict-lease system that succeeded formal slavery reaped millions to southern jurisdictions (and untold miseries for tens of thousands of men, and women). Few predicted its passing from the American penal landscape. Davis expertly argues how social movements transformed these social, political and cultural institutions, and made such practices untenable. Download the free ebook.
Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect?: Police Violence and Resistance in the United States
What is the reality of policing in the United States? Do the police keep anyone safe and secure other than the very wealthy? How do recent police killings of young black people in the United States fit into the historical and global context of anti-blackness? This collection of reports and essays (the first collaboration between Truthout and Haymarket Books) 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. Download the free ebook.
The End of Policing
Recent years have seen an explosion of protest against police brutality and repression. Among activists, journalists and politicians, the conversation about how to respond and improve policing has focused on accountability, diversity, training, and community relations. Unfortunately, these reforms will not produce results, either alone or in combination. The core of the problem must be addressed: the nature of modern policing itself.
This book attempts to spark public discussion by revealing the tainted origins of modern policing as a tool of social control. It shows how the expansion of police authority is inconsistent with community empowerment, social justice— even public safety. Drawing on groundbreaking research from across the world, and covering virtually every area in the increasingly broad range of police work, Alex Vitale demonstrates how law enforcement has come to exacerbate the very problems it is supposed to solve. Download the free ebook.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
In the searing pages of this classic autobiography, originally published in 1964, Malcolm X, the Muslim leader, firebrand, and anti-integrationist, tells the extraordinary story of his life and the growth of the Black Muslim movement. His fascinating perspective on the lies and limitations of the American Dream, and the inherent racism in a society that denies its nonwhite citizens the opportunity to dream, gives extraordinary insight into the most urgent issues of our own time. The Autobiography of Malcolm X stands as the definitive statement of a movement and a man whose work was never completed but whose message is timeless. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand America. Download the free ebook.
The Wretched of the Earth
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. Fanon's masterwork is a classic alongside Edward Said's ORIENTALISM or THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X, 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 postindependence 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. Download the free ebook.
killing rage: Ending Racism
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 twenty-three 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. Download the free ebook.
Police: A Field Guide
[A]n illustrated handbook to the methods, mythologies, and history that animate today’s police. It is a survival manual for encounters with cops and police logic, whether it arrives in the shape of officer friendly, Tasers, curfews, non-compliance, or reformist discourses about so-called bad apples. In a series of short chapters, each focusing on a single term, such as the beat, order, badge, throw-down weapon, and much more, authors David Correia and Tyler Wall present a guide that reinvents and demystifies the language of policing in order to better prepare activists—and anyone with an open mind—on one of the key issues of our time: police brutality. In doing so, they begin to chart a future free of this violence—and of police. Download the free ebook.
Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment (Routledge Classics)
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. Download the free ebook.