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Books we recommend after the George Zimmerman verdict

As book lovers, in times of heartbreak, we are naturally drawn to passionate words and fiery beauty to inspire comfort or inform our next steps. The Zimmerman verdict and the entirety of the trial has left so many of us in the community alternating between a grief-stricken quiet and a rage that is still finding its full shape and eloquence.

This is a hard place to be: to be a justice loving person who sees the world is broken and doesn’t yet know the next steps toward building a more whole future. Many of you came to Charis this week for a quiet place to sit and talk with people who wouldn’t argue with you. Many of you came to Zahra's community yoga class on Sunday morning for somatic healing; some of you went on a medicinal weed walk around Little 5 Points in the rare break of sunshine. Many of you stopped in on your way to march in the West End.  I am very grateful for all of you who are investing in Charis as a community gathering place that can hold your pain, your confusion, your devastating sadness, if only for a moment. 

As community members look around the room and ask what next, we are very aware that what’s next must always be more complexity, not less, more multiplicity, fewer easy answers, more hard conversations, more information. Many of you are asking us what you should be reading these days to help you get through the day, change your community, and change the world. We think the answer is two-fold. We hold up and celebrate the amazing real-time feminist and social-justice writing happening online which is able to be immediately responsive to on the ground situations and movement building. We know you already have your favorites, but we are especially grateful for the work of the writers at the Crunk Feminist Collective and believe that they are creating online feminist community in invaluable ways. We also believe there remains a true need for books in times of crisis and heartbreak. The different timescale of a book allows you to sink in and be healed by a different kind of medicine. To that end we have compiled a short list of books that we are looking to for guidance, support, comfort, and challenge this week. These are not all perfect books; nor is this list exhaustive. It is only meant perhaps to touch a place in you that needs a conversation with the page right now in addition to the other conversations you are having.

What are you reading? What do you recommend? Tweet us @chariscircle  or post it to our Facebook wall at Facebook/CharisBooks. We would love to know the books that are giving you life right now. 

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches By Audre Lorde, Cheryl Clarke (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Audre Lorde, Cheryl Clarke (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781580911863
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Crossing Press - August 1st, 2007

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

The Fire Next Time (Vintage International) By James Baldwin 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.

Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others By Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, Connie Burk Cover Image
ISBN: 9781576759448
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Published: Berrett-Koehler Publishers - May 4th, 2009

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

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times By Pema Chodron Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781570623448
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 Emperor Has No Clothes: Teaching about Race and Racism to People Who Don't Want to Know (Educational Leadership for Social Justice) By Tema Jon Okun Cover Image
ISBN: 9781617351044
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Published: Information Age Publishing - September 9th, 2010

A volume in Educational Leadership for Social Justice Series Editor Jeffrey S. Brooks, University of Missouri-Columbia, Denise E. Armstrong, Brock University; Ira Bogotch, Florida Atlantic University; Sandra Harris, Lamar University; Whitney H.

The Summer We Got Free By Mia McKenzie Cover Image
ISBN: 9780988628601
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Published: Bgd Press, Inc. - November 19th, 2012

At one time a wild young girl and a brilliant artist, Ava Delaney changes dramatically after a violent event that rocks her entire family. Once loved and respected in their community and in their church, they are ostracized by their neighbors, led by their church leader, and a seventeen-year feud between the Delaneys and the church ensues.

Women, Race & Class By Angela Y. Davis Cover Image
ISBN: 9780394713519
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Published: Vintage - February 12th, 1983

A powerful study of the women's liberation movement in the U.S., from abolitionist days to the present, that demonstrates how it has always been hampered by the racist and classist biases of its leaders. From the widely revered and legendary political activist and scholar Angela Davis.

The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics, Revised and Expanded Edition By George Lipsitz Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781592134946
Published: Temple University Press - March 10th, 2006

A People's History of the United States (Modern Classics) By Howard Zinn Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780060838652
Published: Harper Perennial - August 2nd, 2005

Known for its lively, clear prose as well as its scholarly research, 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, working poor, and immigrant laborers.This P.S.

The Prisoner's Wife By Asha Bandele Cover Image
ISBN: 9780671021481
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Published: Scribner - August 1st, 2000

As a favor for a friend, a bright and talented young woman volunteered to read her poetry to a group of prisoners during a Black History Month program. It was an encounter that would alter her life forever, because it was there, in the prison, that she would meet Rashid, the man who was to become her friend, her confidant, her husband, her lover, her soul mate.

Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice By Bell Hooks Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780415539159
Published: Routledge - October 25th, 2012

What are the conditions needed for our nation to bridge cultural and racial divides? By "writing beyond race," noted cultural critic bell hooks models the constructive ways scholars, activists, and readers can challenge and change systems of domination.

Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty By Dorothy Roberts Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679758693
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Published: Vintage - December 29th, 1998

In 1997, this groundbreaking book made a powerful entrance into the national conversation on race. In a media landscape dominated by racially biased images of welfare queens and crack babies, Killing the Black Body exposed America’s systemic abuse of Black women’s bodies.

Medicating Race: Heart Disease and Durable Preoccupations with Difference (Experimental Futures) By Anne Pollock Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780822353447
Published: Duke University Press - October 2nd, 2012

In Medicating Race, Anne Pollock traces the intersecting discourses of race, pharmaceuticals, and heart disease in the United States over the past century, from the founding of cardiology through the FDA's approval of BiDil, the first drug sanctioned for use in a specific race.

Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America's Sorted-Out Cities By Mindy Thompson Fullilove Cover Image
ISBN: 9781613320105
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Published: New Village Press - June 4th, 2013

An identification of the problems of divided neighborhoods and nine tools that can mend them What if divided neighborhoods were causing public health problems? What if a new approach to planning and design could tackle both the built environment and collective well-being at the same time? What if cities could help each other? 

Healing through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair By Miriam Greenspan Cover Image
ISBN: 9781590301012
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Published: Shambhala - May 11th, 2004

Nautilus Book Award Winner - Gold

We Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism in 21st Century America By Elizabeth Betita Martínez (Editor), Matt Meyer (Editor), Mandy Carter (Editor), Cornel West (Foreword by), Alice Walker (Afterword by), Sonia Sanchez (Afterword by) Cover Image
By Elizabeth Betita Martínez (Editor), Matt Meyer (Editor), Mandy Carter (Editor), Cornel West (Foreword by), Alice Walker (Afterword by), Sonia Sanchez (Afterword by)
ISBN: 9781604864809
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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.

Towards Collective Liberation: Anti-Racist Organizing, Feminist Praxis, and Movement Building Strategy By Chris Crass, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (Foreword by), Chris Dixon (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Chris Crass, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (Foreword by), Chris Dixon (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781604866544
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Published: PM Press - May 1st, 2013

Organized into four sections, this collection of essays is geared toward activists engaging with the dynamic questions of how to create and support effective movements for visionary systemic change. These essays and interviews present powerful lessons for transformative organizing.

The Cushion in the Road: Meditation and Wandering as the Whole World Awakens to Being in Harm's Way By Alice Walker Cover Image
ISBN: 9781595588722
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Published: New Press - April 9th, 2013

This gorgeous collection gathers Alice Walker's wide-ranging meditations--many of them previously unpublished--on our intertwined personal, spiritual, and political destinies.

Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling By Marc Mauer, Sabrina Jones, Michelle Alexander (Foreword by) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781595585417
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Published: New Press - April 2nd, 2013

"Do not underestimate the power of the book you are holding in your hands."
--Michelle Alexander

Panther Baby By Jamal Joseph Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616201296
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Published: Algonquin Books - February 7th, 2012

In the 1960s he exhorted students at Columbia University to burn their college to the ground. Today he’s chair of their School of the Arts film division.