The Way Forward is With a Broken Heart: Suggested Readings in the Aftermath of Mike Brown's Death

It is hard to be present in this moment when our hearts and minds are on the people of Ferguson, MO and the killing of Michael Brown. What is happening in Ferguson is not new. It is not exceptional; it is as American as apple pie, but it is still shocking, still heart-wrenching, still incompatible with the stories some tell about what the United States stands for. We are grateful for mediums like twitter and instagram that bring us the news the mainstream media isn't reporting, but as book people, we are also doing what we always do, looking to the foundation of voices and stories that help contextualize the meaning of this moment and help point the way forward. In that spirit we offer a short, and by no means comprehensive, list of books that are helping us think about what is happening in Ferguson. We don't know what will happen next. We only know that it matters deeply that we all pay attention, because, as Alice Walker says, "the way forward is with a broken heart."  

There will be a rally this Wednesday (August 20th) at 7pm in West End Park (1111 Oak St. SW, Atlanta, GA 30310) in solidarity with the people of Ferguson.  All are invited to attend. 

How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America Cover Image
ISBN: 9781932841770
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Published: Agate Bolden - August 13th, 2013

Author and essayist Kiese Laymon is one of the most unique, stirring, and powerful new voices in American writing. How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America is a collection of his essays, touching on subjects ranging from family, race, violence, and celebrity to music, writing, and coming of age in Mississippi.

Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America Cover Image
ISBN: 9780742563162
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Published: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers - August 2008

Challenging Authority argues that ordinary people exercise extraordinary political courage and power in American politics when, frustrated by politics as usual, they rise up in anger and hope and defy the authorities and the status quo rules that ordinarily govern their daily lives. By doing so, they disrupt the workings of important institutions and become a force in American politics.

Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces Cover Image
ISBN: 9781610394574
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Published: PublicAffairs - August 26th, 2014

The last days of colonialism taught America's revolutionaries that soldiers in the streets bring conflict and tyranny. As a result, our country has generally worked to keep the military out of law enforcement. But according to investigative reporter Radley Balko, over the last several decades, America's cops have increasingly come to resemble ground troops.

The Failure of Nonviolence: From the Arab Spring to Occupy Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780939306183
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Left Bank Distribution - August 2013

From the Arab Spring to the plaza occupation movement in Spain, the student movement in the UK and Occupy in the US, many new social movements have started peacefully, only to adopt a diversity of tactics as they grew in strength and collective experiences. The last ten years have revealed more clearly than ever the role of nonviolence.

Freedom with Violence: Race, Sexuality, and the US State Cover Image
ISBN: 9780822351054
Availability: Special Order
Published: Duke University Press - October 3rd, 2011

In Freedom with Violence, Chandan Reddy develops a new paradigm for understanding race, sexuality, and national citizenship. He examines a crucial contradiction at the heart of modernity: the nation-state's claim to provide freedom from violence depends on its systematic deployment of violence against peoples perceived as nonnormative and irrational.

We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement Cover Image
ISBN: 9781479886036
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Published: New York University Press - August 22nd, 2014

Winner of the 2014 Anna Julia Cooper-CLR James Book Award presented by the National Council of Black Studies Winner of the 2014 PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature

In We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement, Akinyele Omowale Umoja argues that armed resistance was critical to the Southern freed

Social Death: Racialized Rightlessness and the Criminalization of the Unprotected Cover Image
ISBN: 9780814723760
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Published: New York University Press - November 12th, 2012

Winner of the 2013 John Hope Franklin Book Prize presented by the American Studies Association Social Death tackles one of the core paradoxes of social justice struggles and scholarship--that the battle to end oppression shares the moral grammar that structures exploitation and sanctions state violence.

The Twilight of Equality: Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics, and the Attack on Democracy Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807079553
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Published: Beacon Press - October 11th, 2004

By now, we've all heard about the shocking redistribution of wealth that's occurred during the last thirty years, and particularly during the last decade. But economic changes like this don't occur in a vacuum; they're always linked to politics.

Black Girl Dangerous on Race, Queerness, Class and Gender Cover Image
ISBN: 9780988628632
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Published: Bgd Press, Inc. - May 12th, 2014

Neoliberalism Cover Image
ISBN: 9780199560516
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Published: Oxford University Press, USA - February 8th, 2010

Anchored in the principles of the free-market economics, "neoliberalism" has been associated with such different political leaders as Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Augusto Pinochet, and Junichiro Koizumi.

The Emperor Has No Clothes: Teaching about Race and Racism to People Who Don't Want to Know Cover Image
ISBN: 9781617351044
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Published: Information Age Publishing - September 9th, 2010

Stokely: A Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9780465013630
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Published: Basic Civitas Books - March 4th, 2014

Stokely Carmichael, the charismatic and controversial black activist, stepped onto the pages of history when he called for "Black Power" during a speech one Mississippi night in 1966. A firebrand who straddled both the American civil rights and Black Power movements, Carmichael would stand for the rest of his life at the center of the storm he had unleashed that night.

Why Do We Fight?: Conflict, War, and Peace Cover Image
ISBN: 9781926973869
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Published: Owlkids - September 10th, 2013

Battles, protests, standoffs, strikes. We hear about them all the time. On the surface, a battle and a protest don't seem to have much in common, but they're really just two ways of handling a dispute. One uses violence, the other uses signs and picket lines. But both start as a disagreement between two groups of people. Both are conflicts.

A is for Activist Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609805395
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Published: Triangle Square - November 19th, 2013

"Reading it is almost like reading Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, but for two-year olds--full of pictures and rhymes and a little cat to find on every page that will delight the curious toddler and parents alike."--Occupy Wall Street

A is for Activist is an ABC board book written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who w

Race Traitor Cover Image
By Noel Ignatiev (Editor), John Garvey (Editor)
ISBN: 9780415913935
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Published: Routledge - November 4th, 2010

Race Traitor brings together voices ranging from tenured university professors to skinheads and prison inmates to discuss the "white question" in America.

We Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism in 21st Century America Cover Image
By Elizabeth Betita Martinez (Editor), Matt Meyer (Editor), Mandy Carter (Editor)
ISBN: 9781604864809
Availability: Special Order
Published: PM Press - October 5th, 2012

A compendium of writings that detail the grassroots actions of social and political activists from the civil rights era of the early 1960s to the present day, this book reviews the major points of intersection between white supremacy and the war machine through historic and contemporary articles from a diverse range of scholars and activists.

We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting for: Inner Light in a Time of Darkness Cover Image
ISBN: 9781595582164
Availability: Special Order
Published: New Press - November 21st, 2007

A New York Times bestseller in hardcover, Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker's We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For was called "stunningly insightful" and "a book that will inspire hope" by Publishers Weekly.

Murder, the Media, and the Politics of Public Feelings: Remembering Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Cover Image
ISBN: 9780253223395
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Published: Indiana University Press - August 18th, 2011

In 1998, the horrific murders of Matthew Shepard a gay man living in Laramie, Wyoming and James Byrd Jr. an African American man dragged to his death in Jasper, Texas provoked a passionate public outrage.

Black Skin, White Masks Cover Image
By Frantz Fanon, Richard Philcox (Translator)
ISBN: 9780802143006
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Published: Grove Press - January 2008

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.

The Wretched of the Earth Cover Image
By Frantz Fanon, Richard Philcox (Translator), Homi K. Bhabha (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780802141323
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Published: Grove Press - March 2005

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 Meaning of Freedom Cover Image
By Angela Y. Davis, Robin D. G. Kelley (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780872865808
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Published: City Lights Books - August 14th, 2012

What is the meaning of freedom? Angela Y. Davis' life and work have been dedicated to examining this fundamental question and to ending all forms of oppression that deny people their political, cultural, and sexual freedom.

Abolition Now!: Ten Years of Strategy and Struggle Against the Prison Industrial Complex Cover Image
ISBN: 9781904859963
Availability: Special Order
Published: AK Press - April 2009

-As new and more virulent articulations of imprisonment, policing, and surveillance have grown over the past decade, one thing remains clear: the prison industrial complex must be abolished.

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The Fire Next Time Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679744726
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Published: Vintage - December 1st, 1992

A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin's early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document.

The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307275967
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Published: Vintage - September 6th, 2011

The Cross of Redemption is a revelation by an American literary master: a gathering of essays, articles, polemics, reviews, and interviews that have never before appeared in book form.

Salvation: Black People and Love Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060959494
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Published: Harper Perennial - December 18th, 2001

Acclaimed visionary and intellectual bell hooks began her exploration of the meaning of love in American culture with the bestselling All About Love: New Visions. Here she continues her love song to the nation in the groundbreaking and soul-stirring Salvation: Black People and Love.Whether talking about the legacy of slavery, relationships and marriage in Black life, the prose an

Where We Stand: Class Matters Cover Image
ISBN: 9780415929134
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Published: Routledge - October 4th, 2000

Drawing on both her roots in Kentucky and her adventures with Manhattan Coop boards, Where We Stand is a successful black woman's reflection--personal, straight forward, and rigorously honest--on how our dilemmas of class and race are intertwined, and how we can find ways to think beyond them.

Killing Rage: Ending Racism Cover Image
ISBN: 9780805050271
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Published: Holt McDougal - October 15th, 1996

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.

All about Love: New Visions Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060959470
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Published: Harper Perennial - January 9th, 2001

"The word "love" is most often defined as a noun, yet...we would all love better if we used it as a verb," writes bell hooks as she comes out fighting and on fire in All About Love. Here, at her most provocative and intensely personal, the renowned scholar, cultural critic, and feminist skewers our view of love as romance.

The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century Cover Image
ISBN: 9780520272590
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Published: University of California Press - May 31st, 2012

A world dominated by America and driven by cheap oil, easy credit, and conspicuous consumption is unraveling before our eyes.

Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807856161
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Published: University of North Carolina Press - February 28th, 2005

One of the most important African American leaders of the twentieth century and perhaps the most influential woman in the civil rights movement, Ella Baker (1903-1986) was an activist whose remarkable career spanned fifty years and touched thousands of lives.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times Cover Image
ISBN: 9781570623448
Availability: Special Order
Published: Shambhala Publications - September 26th, 2000

The beautiful practicality of her teaching has made Pema Chodron one of the most beloved of contemporary American spiritual authors among Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. A collection of talks she gave between 1987 and 1994, the book is a treasury of wisdom for going on living when we are overcome by pain and difficulties. Chodron discusses:

The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times Cover Image
ISBN: 9781570629211
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Published: Shambhala - August 13th, 2002

We always have a choice, Pema Chodron teaches: We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us and make us increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder. Here Pema provides the tools to deal with the problems and difficulties that life throws our way.

I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters Cover Image
By Michael G. Long (Editor), Bayard Rustin, Julian Bond (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780872865785
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Published: City Lights Books - March 20th, 2012


Notes from No Man's Land: American Essays Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555975180
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Published: Graywolf Press - February 3rd, 2009

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism
Winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize

A frank and fascinating exploration of race and racial identity

Notes of a Native Son Cover Image
By James Baldwin, Edward P. Jones (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780807006238
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Published: Beacon Press (MA) - November 20th, 2012

In an age of Black Lives Matter, James Baldwin's essays on life in Harlem, the protest novel, movies, and African Americans abroad are as powerful today as when they were first written. With documentaries like I Am Not Your Negro bringing renewed interest to Baldwin's life and work, Notes of a Native Son serves as a valuable introduction.

Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison Cover Image
ISBN: 9781595589569
Availability: Special Order
Published: New Press - June 3rd, 2014

When teenagers scuffle during a basketball game, they are typically benched. But when Will got into it on the court, he and his rival were sprayed in the face at close range by a chemical similar to Mace, denied a shower for twenty-four hours, and then locked in solitary confinement for a month.

The New Jim Crow Cover Image
By Michelle Alexander, Cornel West (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781595586438
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Published: New Press - January 16th, 2012

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.

The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385527460
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Published: Spiegel & Grau - January 6th, 2009

An exceptional father-son story from the National Book Award-winning author of Between the World and Me about the reality that tests us, the myths that sustain us, and the love that saves us.

Justice While Black: Helping African-American Families Navigate and Survive the Criminal Justice System Cover Image
ISBN: 9781932841909
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Published: Bolden - October 2014

Justice While Black is a must-read for every young black male in America--and for everyone else who cares about their survival and well-being. This is a first-of-its-kind essential guide for African-American families about how to understand the criminal justice system, and about why that system continues to see black men as targets--and as dollar signs.

Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America's Prison Nation Cover Image
ISBN: 9780814776230
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Published: New York University Press - May 22nd, 2012

Black women in marginalized communities are uniquely at risk of battering, rape, sexual harassment, stalking and incest. Through the compelling stories of Black women who have been most affected by racism, persistent poverty, class inequality, limited access to support resources or institutions, Beth E.

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches Cover Image
By Audre Lorde, Cheryl Clarke (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781580911863
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Published: Crossing Press - August 2007

Presenting the essential writings of black lesbian poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider celebrates an influential voice in twentieth-century literature.

Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America Cover Image
ISBN: 9781442220553
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Published: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers - July 29th, 2013

The fifth edition of Racism without Racists is available in June 2017. The paperback ISBN for the fifth edition is 9781442276239. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva's acclaimed Racism without Racists documents how, beneath our contemporary conversation about race, lies a full-blown arsenal of arguments, phrases, and stories that whites use to account for--and ultimately justify--racial inequalities.

Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others Cover Image
ISBN: 9781576759448
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Published: Berrett-Koehler Publishers - May 2009

A longtime trauma worker, Laura van Dernoot Lipsky offers a deep and empathetic survey of the often-unrecognized toll on those working to make the world a better place. We may feel tired, cynical, numb, or like we can never do enough.

The Cushion in the Road: Meditation and Wandering as the Whole World Awakens to Being in Harm's Way Cover Image
ISBN: 9781595589866
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Published: New Press - April 2014

This "impassioned and genuine" (Publishers Weekly) collection of essays gathers the "lavishly gifted" (The New York Times) Alice Walker's wide-ranging meditations on our intertwined personal, spiritual, and political destinies. For the millions of loyal fans who continue to flock to hear her speak, this book invites readers on a journey of political awakening and spiritual insight.